Tourist attractions in Tallinn

Attraction

Notes

Details & rating

Maritime Museum

(Fat Margaret’s Tower)

Why go?

A well laid out collection of artefacts and exhibitions to illustrate hundreds of years of Estonian maritime activity – including information about the restrictions during the Soviet era, and the terrible loss of the ‘Estonia’ which sank in 1994.

How to make the best of it?

Start at the bottom and work up the spiral central staircase as this is largely chronological. Take time at the top to get outside for the great views.

The tower in which the museum is housed is worth a visit with walls that are 6m thick in places. We liked this museum – it’s not too big, but gives a really good flavour of Tallinn, Estonia and the sea. Some really interesting exhibits and well labeled in English. Top rating from us.

Oleviste Kiriku

(St Olav’s Church)

Why go?

People visit this church in order to climb up the tower to admire the views of Tallinn. The church itself is very plain and simple – having been the victim of two lightening induced fires.

How to make the best of it?

Have a look inside the church – it’s plain and simple but with a pretty altar. Then climb the tower, but be warned that the steps are very worn in places, passing is very difficult, but the views are spectacular.

Sue forgot about Russell’s fear of heights and sent him up the tower, while she investigated the church. He was in need of a lie down when he eventually returned!! He advises that sensible shoes and a steely determination are required for this climb and that although the views are fabulous; watch your footing at the top! mid rating from us – there are views from other places!

Estonia History Museum

Why go?

The building dates from 1410 and was previously the headquarters of the Great Guild – the doors and the doorknockers are original. The main focus in here is archeology & costumes.

How to make the best of it?

Make sure that you visit all sections just so that you’ve seen the whole of the magnificent building. If you’re a Freemason, look out for the section on the founding of the local group in 1770. The coins are interesting too.

This doesn’t tell you very much about Tallinn or Estonia! BUT it is a lovely building and when we visited there was an exhibition about the history of settlement, which was well labeled in English and interesting.Mid rating from us.

Marzipan Museum

Why go?

It’s really a shop! However, there are some interesting bits and pieces about marzipan, and the displays of stuff made out of marzipan are impressive.

How to make the best of it?

Read the wall charts that tell you about the history and how it was initially medicine, and then have a good look round – many fabulous creations to admire!

Russell loves marzipan & was very taken by the idea that this could be viewed as medicine – so he bought & ate quite a lot, but we didn’t notice many immediate health improvementsTop rating – it’s quick, free and a bit different!

Church or the Holy Ghost

Why go?

This was the first church in Tallinn to hold services in Estonian, and has the most beautiful carvings inside.

How to make the best of it?

Make sure you notice the blue faced clock on the outside that dates from the 1700s. This is a small church but once you’re in, take time to look at the carvings that are everywhere.

It’s easy to miss this church – people have said it’s hidden in plain sight! Look out for the clock, pay your 1€ to get in and enjoy the intricate carvings and frescos.Top rating from us – just beautiful.

City Museum

Why go?

Well laid out and very interesting exhibits that tell the Tallinn & Estonia’s development.

How to make the best of it?

Quite an eclectic collection of exhibits, but if you’re pushed for time have a look at the big map of Tallinn, the section on legends and stories and then the top floor for the section on the Soviet occupation.

We love a city museum ad this one doesn’t disappoint. One nice touch was a model of the building in which the museum is housed as it would have looked when it was a house. Sue found the section on the occupation very moving – have your hankies at the ready!Top rating from us. This is a must see.

Toomkirk

(The Dome Church)

Why go?

The oldest church in Tallinn as it was consecrated in 1240. From 1500’s it became the Lutheran church and served the Baltic-Germanic community. It has a stunning display of coats of arms.

How to make the best of it?

If you can find someone to tell you about the church this will be a bonus – it has lots of stories attached to it. Otherwise, have a good wander round & notice the huge organ and the tombs.

We visited the first time with a guide and that helped. However, even without there is lots to look at & some information available.mid rating from us.

Niguliste

(St Nicholas’s Church)

Why go?

No longer a consecrated church, this is now a museum and concert hall and holds a fabulous collection of carvings, chandeliers and pictures, many dating from the 16th century that were luckily removed from the building before it was hit by bombs in 1944.

How to make the best of it?

As in most attractions in Tallinn, this isn’t huge, so you should be able to see everything in a relatively short time. Labeling is in English, and the best thing to do is to just work your way around the exhibition. Take note of the modern stained glass window and the 15th century altarpiece and painting ‘Dance Macabre’ which reminds us that no one escapes death!

We liked St Nicholas’s church – lovely building and fascinating stories told through words, artefacts and pictures. The restoration work took place over a 50 year period and it is lovely to see.Top rating from us.

KUMU

(Estonian Art Museum)

Why go?

More of an exhibition centre than a museum with many temporary exhibitions. This is a museum of mainly Estonian art and is in a purpose built building that looks very modern.

How to make the best of it?

Quite a lot to take in here, but make sure you visit the 4th floor where art from the Soviet era is displayed – interesting commentary about difficult choices.

Amazing building that is built into the side of a steep hill. We found the lay out a bit confusing, but were ok when we got hold of a map. Interesting place – we assumed it would be modern art but although there is some, it is firstly a collection of Estonian art. Good signage in English. A tram ride away from the walled Tallinn but worth a visit if you’re interested. Mid rating from us.

Shops

The shops tend to be on the main street, round by the city wall and then in little co-operative groups inside buildings. Look out for signs and follow to find some amazing collections of handmade scarves, bags, quilts, rugs, cushions and glassware. We love shops and these didn’t disappoint! Great to see some proper local crafts and bits and pieces. Good place for souvenirs. Also very good for amber jewelry.