Many people people one day in Tallinn while traveling on a cruise ship ( July usually being the most crowded month of the year) or on a Helsinki to Tallinn day trip. This means around 6 hours of free time. Surely, this is not enough. But even in this short time, many things can be seen. The guide will show you the old town and all the souvenir shops. If that’s what you are looking for – go for it. Personally, I wouldn’t go on a guided tour because they are boring, and would rather create my own Tallinn one-day itinerary. The tour guide will show you what you pay them for, but there are so many more Tallinn experiences to enjoy. However, if it’s your first visit and you only have these 6 hours, you may still want to go on a guided tour in the old city.
This article will hopefully give you an answer to what to see in Tallinn in one day in case you are here for a little longer. If you are interested in exploring just the old town, consider this article about must see Tallinn museums located in the old Town only. Do you have more than few days? How about renting a car and taking some day trips from Tallinn Estonia!
Is Tallinn worth to visit for one day
Yes, Tallinn is good for one days as well as many days. Many people are asking what are the best things to do in Tallinn Estonia in one day? Well, there is no definite answer to that – it all depends on your interests and energy. For some visitors, medieval history is the priority, and there are plenty of museums to satisfy their interest. Others prefer modern and technological attractions – and we have plenty of those as well! If you are wondering how to see Tallinn in one day, have a look at this blog post I wrote with different itineraries.
Things to see in Tallinn in one day are not limited to old town or even city center – many people take a day trip to Estonian National parks or even other cities. There are many good reasons to visit Estonia, and it’s not all about its capital.
Town Hall Square
It’s best to start your one-day Tallinn itinerary at the town hall square – the heart of Tallinn’s old town. Did you know that Tallinn town hall is the oldest surviving Town Hall in the Baltic countries and Scandinavia? Built in the 13th century, it was first mentioned back in 1322 and by the year 1404, it was finished and got its present looks. Medieval Town Hall square used to be the gathering point for all citizens. Today, Tallinn town hall serves as a ceremonial building of the city government as well as a museum. During the summer months, it’s possible to visit the town hall tower. Town hall entrance is 3€ (free with Tallinn Card). The tower visit ticket is 4€.
Right across the square, you may find the town hall pharmacy (Raeapteek) – the oldest (and still functioning to this day) pharmacy in Europe. Tallinn town hall pharmacy was first mentioned back in 1422. Today, this legendary establishment in the lower town, in addition to traditional pharmacy goods, is selling mementos of times past. You can explore a small museum in the back of the pharmacy and taste various herbal tea blends, picked from local fields. Any walking tour of old town in Tallinn Estonia stops by this legendary place and so should you!
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
One of the highlights of the upper town and Toompea hill is, without a doubt, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It can be spotted from the distance and it surely stands out among other churches and cathedrals. This beautiful Orthodox cathedral was built during the tsar times in 1900, when Estonia was part of Russian Empire. The fate of this cathedral has been dramatic – it was almost destroyed in 1924 when Estonia gained independence for the first time. Luckily, it never happened due to lack of funds at the time. Today, the cathedral building serves as crown of the upper town and for locals it has become another symbol of the Tallinn old town. It’s a must visit on your 1 day in Tallinn trip.
Estonian Maritime Museum – Fat Margaret tower
This little museum has been re-opened in November 2019 and is truly a pearl of the old town. You will have a chance to experience the medieval UNESCO protected defense tower transformed into a modern museum with all the latest tech and real size boat wreck. According to the museum website, you will experience the story of Estonian seafaring from the medieval maritime trade to the modern cruise shipping. For more information, have a look at the museums website
Kadriorg Palace and park
The trace left by Russian Empire on Tallinn is not limited to just Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. One of the most stunning places to see is Kadriorg Palace and it’s beautiful park. Established 1718 by Peter the Great for his beloved wife Cathrine I, this was a residence of the Russian Emperor and is now a residence of all Estonian presidents. The beautiful palace was designed by Italian architect Nicola Michetti. Today, the palace houses Kadriorg Art Museum with nice collection of Estonian and international art pieces.
Kadriorg park is a beloved by Tallinn citizens and guests as a place for long walks. It has numerous fountains, a pond with swans, alleys and tiny Japanese garden. The best time to visit is September and October, when the leaves turn yellow and the park changes its color into gold. The easiest way to reach Kadriorg park is by tram nr 1 or 3. When you face the palace and look left, you can spot a statue of angel holding an Orthodox cross right by the sea across the street – Russalka memorial. This memorial was dedicated to the anniversary of sinking of the Russian warship Rusalka, or “Mermaid” back in 1893 on its way to Finland.
Estonian Open Air Museum
Quite a large museum on the outskirts of Tallinn is a great place to spend a day, especially during warm months. The territory is huge and displays traditional farmhouses from the North, South of Estonia and the islands – how the landlords used to live and work in the former times. The location is perfect due to the fact that it’s right by the sea, so you can enjoy beautiful view of Tallinn bay and imagine what it was like living in a fishing village. Local restaurant offers traditional food and drinks, you can also buy some snacks and sweets as souvenirs.
THE ESTONIAN OPEN AIR MUSEUM IS OPEN DAILY
(except December 24, 25 & 31)
IN SUMMER SEASON April 23 – September 28
Farms, Kuie School and Lau Shop at 10:00 – 18:00
Kolu Inn at 11:00 – 20:00
Museum park, Kolu Inn and handicraft store at 10:00 – 20:00
IN WINTER SEASON September 29 – April 22
Farms*, Kuie School, Lau Shop,
Handicraft Store and Museum Park at 10:00 – 17:00
Kolu Inn at 11:00 – 17:00
IN SUMMER SEASON April 23 – September 28
Adult 10 € / Discount 7 € / Family 20 €
IN WINTER SEASON September 29 – April 22
Adult 8 € / Discount 6 € / Family 16 €
Tallinn TV Tower (Teletorn)
This great new museum (yes, it is a museum) offers a nice view over town. Moreover, interactive exhibition and movies can be enjoyed by the guests. For those interested in action there is a chance to walk on the edge – wearing full safety equipment of course. Guided tours are also available. Kids will find plenty of interactive games and activities. Visiting the tower can easily take a whole day. Make sure to check out their great tasty cafe upstairs.
Opening hours: every day 10-19
Ticket info: Adult 13€, Child under 15y/student 7€
Seaplane Harbour (Lennusadam)
This great new museum consists of different exhibitions related to marine vessels and sea planes. Rebuilt from seaplane hangars, it features cool design and modern media to give visitors best experience. There is even a real seaplane replica. Outside the hangars there is retired steamship open for visitors all year round. Take your time to explore as it is really exciting and authentic. Kids will be entertained by diverse games and simulators. Start you tour by checking out the history of boat making, traveling through the time and getting to know the people who were involved in it. Museum offers a wide selection of marine weapons. If you get hungry, make sure to try some marine-themed meals at the cafe on the second floor.
Seaplane harbour Museum is only a short walk away from Telliskivi Creative city district.
October–April: Tue–Sun, 10.00–18.00; May–September: Mon–Sun, 10.00–19.00
Ticket info: Adult 15€, Child under 18/student 8€
What are some lesser known sights to see when visiting Tallinn Estonia
If this is not your first time in Tallinn Estonia and you are looking for an alternative way to see Tallinn in one day, I would highly recommend going to Telliskivi creative city district. This used to be industrial complex, but now is a popular hang out place. Some of the most popular things to do in Telliskivi are shopping, art galleries and visiting cafes/restaurants. On Fridays and Saturdays, most restaurants are booked out. Locals love to spend time in this area, decorated with amazing street art. Start your tour at Baltic railway station (Balti jaam) with its newly renovated market. Every day, locals come here for fresh fruits and vegetables as well as vintage shopping. Next, keep going along the railway until you see the first bars and cafes. One of them is located inside a real train wagon! Another one is a container!
Lately, a museum called Fotografiska (Swedish photography museum) has been open here. Nearly 600 cultural events take place annually and a flea market is organised on every Saturday. No wonder this is so close to famous Kalamaja district known for its artistic crowd. You can also find 2 theaters here – Theatre Vaba Lava and the theatre Sõltumatu Tantsu Lava.
Where to stay in Tallinn
Tallinn has many different accommodation options for any taste and budget. Renting out a flat has become a national hobby somehow – many people do that here. If you are looking for a little privacy or would like to feel like a local, consider booking a flat in the old town or int he city center. Stuffing the fridge with tasty local food should not be a problem – supermarkets here are cheap and there is plenty of them on every corner. The most common ones are Rimi, Selver and Maxima.
Traditional hostels and hotels can also be found all over the place – from the most expensive 5* like Swissotel to the boutique old town hotels and budget B&Bs. The average price per night will be anything between 30€ and – you name it! Personally, I had a chance to see Taanilinna Hotel 3*, which was great for both its location and amazing feedback by the guests.
PROTO Invention Factory Museum
The newest museum in town, opened its doors in October 2019, Proto is the first educative virtual reality center. The creators of this unique museum have used the 21st century technology to immerse the visitors into great scientific discoveries of past centuries. The museum is located right next to Seaplane Harbour and the visit can be easily combined, especially during weekdays. Some of my colleagues who have visited weren’t impressed, saying that only few of the attractions were working properly, so we might have to wait until this museum has started to function properly.
Adult ticket 12€, children under 6 have free entry.
Energy discovery centre in Tallinn Estonia
Another great place to visit – a unique, family friendly and entertaining centre where you can discover, play and learn! Among other activities, you will explore 101-year-old power plant, learn about distant planets and discoveries in space, study the old diesel engine and witness a unique lightning demonstration! This museum, unlike others, can be found relatively easily and is within walking distance from old town.
Opening hours: working days 10-19, weekends 11-19
Ticket info: Adult 9€, Child under 15y/student 7€
Viru Hotel KGB Museum
Located on 23-rd floor of Viru (Sokos) Hotel, this exciting museum tell the story of once so highly feared Soviet secret service KGB. Viru hotel has a long history and during Soviet Era was accommodating foreign travelers. so of course KGB had interest in being present there as well. The visit is guided and you will learn about the history of KGB activity in Estonia, the way they had spied on visitors and other exciting intelligence stories.
Opening hours: working days 10-17:30
Ticket info: Adult 11€
So, how do YOU like to spend time in Tallinn? Share your thoughts! 🙂
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