As a cruise ship passenger, you don’t have much time to look around Tallinn old town. In fact, you are looking at 6-8 hours, depending on the vessel you are sailing with and its schedule.
Good news is that Tallinn Old town is relatively near to the docks and it doesn’t take longer than 15 minute to reach old town. Whether you are coming on a large international vessel or local Tallinn-Helsinki ferry, old town is just around the corner.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared and figure out beforehand all the sights you are planning to visit. Even though our Old town is rather small, it may get overwhelming very fast. To make things even more complicated, all sorts of tours will promise to show you “everything” in those precious few hours that you have.
Our recommendation – take matters into your own hands, figure out the best things to do in Tallinn, what you’d like to see and stick to your own plan and itinerary. Believe it or not – you really don’t have to do the same tour that everyone else does.
So, here is our list of the best must see museums in Tallinn Old town for cruise passengers – enough for you to choose from and with all the necessary information that you would need in order to decide what’s best for YOU.
Getting to old town
Once you are off the ship, reaching old town is very easy. The walk to the gates of Old town hardly takes longer than 10-15 minutes plus another 10 minutes to Main square (Raekoja plats). You can also consider taking a taxi or Uber if you like, just make sure to check the rate sheet. In that case it may be better to drive to Viru gates. If the weather is nice, walking is the best option!
Must see museums and things to do in Tallinn Old town for cruise passengers
Walking the quiet cobble stoned streets of Old town is an experience of its own. However, if you’d like your visit to be perhaps more memorable, consider visiting these small cozy museums in the heart of old town.
Kiek in de Kök Museum
Address: Komandandi tee 2, 10130 Tallinn
Ticket: Adult €6
Located in one of the the red-roofed artillery towers, this little museum is hard to miss. It’s the best choice if you’d like to learn about birth of the town, the history of its fortifications and main military campaigns and sieges from the 13th to the 18th century. Our pro tip – use original winding stone staircase for more authentic experience. The walls of these old towers still hold the spirit and smells of old times and you forget about time when you are there. For more info, visit museum website here.
Address: Pikk 40, 10133 Tallinn
For all sugar addicts, this is a special place where you can enjoy truly spectacular Marzipan sculpture masterpieces. For groups, classes are available where you can try hands on how to create and color marzipan. Of course, you can just enjoy a cup of coffee and try some delicious marzipan or buy some as a souvenir for your loved ones at home.
Viru Hotel KGB Museum
Address: Viru väljak 4
Located on the 23rd floor of Viru hotel, this little museum is a vivid reminder of what it must have been like living under constant supervision. Unsuspecting guests who stayed at this glamorous hotel were under constant supervision by Soviet spies. Today, it’s just two rooms filled with equipment from the 70’s – old phones and data processing equipment. Access to the museum is available with a guided tour only and the duration is one hour.
Tallinn City Museum
Address: Vene 17
Ticket: Adult €4
The exhibition presents history of Tallinn from medieval times to events of Restoration of Independence of Estonia. The museum is located on three floors, each with it’s own theme. Don’t forget to take English audio guide, it is very helpful.
Estonian Health Care Museum
Address: Lai 30
If you’d like to learn about history of medicine, human anatomy and health care, this museum is for you! You can expect to find interactive lessons and other fun activities. With total space of 1500m2, be prepared for a full day of exploration!
The Museum of Estonian Drinking Culture at the Luscher & Matiesen Distillery
Address: Toom-Rüütli 10, Toompea
Museum + 1 tasting portion of wine: 5,00 €
Believe it or not, the roots of Luscher & Matiesen go back to 1910. Today, the museum presents the history of Estonian drinking culture. What you can expect? Certainly, the best view in Tallinn along atmospheric facilities and high quality wines from European top producers.
Address: Laboratooriumi 31
This museum is truly a highlight if you are interested in learning about medieval history. The tower dates back to 15th century, to the times when Tallinn’s fortifications were built to protect the city. Your family will love the visit, especially kids. Museum is spread over 6 floors and offers many interactive exhibits, like chainmail, armour and medieval replica weapons. You might want to create your own Tallinn coin as a memento of this visit.
Estonian Theatre and Music Museum
Address: Müürivahe 12
Estonian culture is best explored through traditional songs that every Estonian knows by heart. This little museum has a good collection of stories and artifacts that are important part of Estonian cultural heritage.
Fat Margaret Maritime Museum
Address: Pikk 70
Formerly known as cannon tower, today Fat Margareta is hosting part of the Estonian Maritime Museum (together with Seaplane Harbor). This little museum will give you a quick overview of the history of Estonian seafaring and fishing from prehistoric to modern times. By the way – this museum is located at the entrance gates of the old town (if you are walking on foot from your cruise liner).
Important! Fat Margareta is closed for renovation until autumn 2019!
Museum of Russian Icons
Address: Vene 6
This unique little museum in Tallinn old town has a rich collection of Russian icons. Icons are sacred paintings used for veneration in the Orthodox church. A lot of gold paint is used when creating these paintings, so they are indeed very pretty to look at, even if you are not into religion.
Please note that museum is open on demand only, make sure to contact directly if interested.
Apart form various museums, churches are also very interesting and mostly have free entrance. Make sure to peek in at least one of them! I recommend going to the upper town – Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. For the best views of town, consider climbing steep stairs of St. Olaf’s Church. This church has very interesting history, so you might want to get a guide.
You will find 3 very nice photo spots in the upper town, facing in different directions. I recommend visiting all three of them for memorable photos of Tallinn.
Timing it right
Even though you might think you can manage few museum visits in one day, I wouldn’t recommend rushing through them. Surely, some places can be seen in one hour or less while others may require a bit more of your time. I would pick two museum at most and spend the rest of the day soaking up the old town and chilling in one of the nice outdoor cafes (weather permitting). Remember – streets of old town are an experience of its own and a UNESCO World Heritage site. So take your time, explore and have fun in Tallinn!
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