48 Hours in... Tallinn
Leah Reavley, one of Cox & Kings’ Europe experts, travelled to Tallinn, Estonia’s capital city, earlier this year. Here, she recommends a few of the best things to see and do.
There are now a number of direct flights to Tallinn from London Gatwick with Estonian Air. The flight time is just two hours 40 minutes and there is only a two-hour time difference. Estonian Air offers a very good service with friendly staff and a clean, comfortable aircraft. In Economy, a light snack and a soft drink is included, while a hot meal and alcoholic beverages are available in Business.
Tallinn has many high-quality restaurants offering international cuisine – anything from Russian and Greek to Chinese and Indian. However, Tallinn’s speciality is the local restaurants, serving traditional Estonian food made from local produce. There are some excellent restaurants just outside the city walls near Viru Square. Or, step back in time and try the traditional medieval food at 'Olde Hansa', just behind Town Hall Square.
With an excellent location close to the city walls, the Mekk restaurant at the Hotel Savoy, is a wonderful treat for any visitor. The wide windows look out to the statue of the Chimney sweep, a popular site to see on any tourist map. After a talk with the chef about his concept and ideas for the restaurant’s future, we were served a beetroot, rocket and nut salad, with traditional black bread, followed by tender duck breast with a berry jus, and then a local berry cheesecake. Berries are somewhat of a speciality – you will find many sauces, jams, desserts and even drinks made from the local berries.
The walls of the old town are a must-see for any visitor to Tallinn. The tall orange-pointed chimneys are very distinct, separating the old medieval town from the modern tall and shiny buildings of the harbour area. Great viewpoints can be had from the top of many of the larger hotels, the Kumu museum, the KGB museum and St Olaafs church tower.
The old town itself is full of many winding alleys, beautiful buildings and interesting sights. As you walk through the medieval cobbled streets, you will find quaint restaurants, small cafes, bars, local handicraft and souvenir shops, as well as a wonderful variety of architecture.
As Tallinn is Europe's Capital of Culture for 2011, there are many events and festivals taking place – concerts, parades, puppet shows and even a straw theatre has been built. Estonians are famous for their love of music and singing, and many of the events are centred on music.
1. Take comfortable shoes, the easiest way to get around is by foot.
2. On a longer stay, take a two-hour ferry to Helsinki for the day.
3. Visit the Upper Town’s viewpoint for the perfect photograph of the city.
4. Try the local drink, Vana Tallinn.
5. Stroll through St Catherine's Passage, a beautiful small cobbled alley, home to restaurants and local shops.
6. Touch the buttons on the chimney sweep statue for good luck.
Cox & Kings offers a short break to Tallinn.