Tallinn is the capital and the largest city in Estonia. If you only have one day to explore the city, this guide might be helpful for you. What to do in Tallinn for a day and how to make the most out of this one day? Where to go, eat, and what to see? Welcome to your personal One Day in Tallinn guide.
Where to stay in Tallinn?
If you are budget traveler, you may want to look for something simple, yet stylish and easily accessible. Luckily, our city center as well as the Old town are full of various accommodation options for any taste and budget. Our top pics – small and cosy Bed and Breakfast type of hotels. Staying in old town is the best choice if you only have One Day in Tallinn!
One Day in Tallinn starts in the Old town
What to do in Tallinn for a day? First thing in the morning, we recommend heading straight for old town and exploring its hidden beauty. The earlier – the better. Just before it gets crowded. Sunrise time is quite spectacular and we recommend visiting the upper town during early morning hours. One great advantage of early hours – less crowds, tranquility and freshly bakes coffee smells!
Take your time
Breathe in the atmosphere, explore tiny cobblestone streets, take some scenic photos of empty streets and finally enjoy your morning coffee at one of the numerous cafes. Once you settle down at your table, have a look at this list of old town museums – it’s time to learn about local culture and history. Visiting one or more of them will occupy you for the next few hours, until lunch.
What to do in Tallinn for a day during Lunchtime
Once you are finished with your museum visits on your one day in Tallinn, settle in for quick lunch. One of the good places to try local Estonian food is restaurant Vanaema Juures (“At grannys”). The offer good selection of typical Estonian meals and desserts. As a local, I highly recommend them. Unlike some other popular venues, this one is a true hidden gem with genuine cuisine – something Estonian REALLY eat every day!
Outside Old town
After lunch, it’s time to explore the rest of the city. Here, you have some different options.
City Tour Bus
A bit expensive option, but a good one for someone with little time. The red double decker will drive you all day around town for 27€. You will get to see the most important sightseeing points of interest and listen to the guide. I would consider this option if I was truly short in time.
Rent a bike
Renting a bike is by far the best option for summer months. You will have freedom of movement, and exploring the parks and promenade is best done by bike. You can rent a bike at CityBike in the old town (adr: Vene 33). Another option is to use bicycle sharing system by Sixt.
Last but not least – walking! Take it easy and use your own two legs to get everywhere in Tallinn. The city is really not that big. You can cover all of the city center, Kadriorg Park, Pirita and much more in just few hours.
Proposed itinerary – Pirita
Now that is perhaps the most important question you should be asking. May personal favourite places outside Old town are Kadriorg park and Castle, Russalka Memorial, Pirita promenade, Song Festival Grounds, Pirita Yacht Club and Pirita Convent. All of these places are in the same direction, as shown on the map below:
If you follow this route and end up at Pirita Yacht Club by the dinner time, you should have a dinner at St. Patrick’s Pub. They have fantastic terrace with Sea view, which is excellent place to watch sunset and end your day!
Kadriorg Park and Castle
Built by the Russian Tsar Peter the Great for his wife Jekaterina, this famous park and castle are loved by both locals and visitors. In summer, it’s a great place to relax and take a walk. The palace is also known as a residence of the Estonian president. PS- current president (Kersti Kaljulaid) does not live there. If you decide to visit the park, have a look at Japanese Gardens!
The Russalka memorial was sculpted by Amandus Adamson in 1902, to mark the ninth anniversary of the sinking of the Russian warship Rusalka, or “Mermaid”, which sank en route to Finland in 1893. Today, this beautiful sculpture is a popular photo spot for marrying couples.
Song Festival Grounds
Another must-see on your route are the Song Festival Grounds, where Song and Dance festivals are held every 4 years. Other events, such as beer festivals, big star open air concerts and all sorts of exhibitions are also held here throughout the year.
Pirita Yacht Club
The yacht club was built for 1980s Moscow Olympics and today is a yacht harbour with yachting school, restaurants, sport clubs and SPA hotel. In summer, this is a popular place to hang out by the water. Next to the club you may find public beach.
Formerly known as one of the largest convents in Northern Europe, PIrita Convent was a monastery for both monks and nuns dedicated to St. Brigitta. The convent was active between the 1417 and 1575. Today, only ruins are left. In summer, various outdoor concerts are held here.
Proposed itinerary – Kalamaja
Another itinerary you could go on has a different direction and would look something like this: Linnahall (city hall) – Seaplane harbour (museum) –– Kalamaja district -– Baltic Station market – Telliskivi (for dinner).
Linnahall is a former City Hall building, built in 1980s, that is now closed. The architecture is quite impressive. I remember from the childhood that I used to go there to see various concerts and shows. There was also an indoor ice skating rink.
Seaplane harbour is one of the newest museums, full of animated, high tech exhibitions and hands-on experiences. Outside the main building you can visit a real former Icebreaker ship called Suur Tõll.
This district is known as a trendy, upscale, hipster area where lots of artists, musicians and free spirited people live. The buildings are well renovates and pretty to look at (Instagram-friendly). There are also many famous cafes and bars with great choice of food (including Vegan).
Baltic Station market
Newly renovated, our central market is now a must see and a favourite place to visit. One of the best things about it are tasty street food stalls – bakeries, Vegan, burgers and of course lots of fresh veggies.
If Baltic Station is not enough in terms of food options, Telliskivi district will satisfy almost any food lover. Come here hungry – you will have a huge choice! The place is crazy and has its own vibe with all the graffiti’s and street art. Don’t forget to have a look at flea market with old soviet items and antiques!
Choosing your ideal route
As you can see, renting a bike is indeed the best options to get the most out of your day in Tallinn. Also, one day is hardly enough. But now, when you have all the tools you need, you can compile your own list of the things you’d like to see. You can easily spend all day in the old town, crawling it in and out. Just make sure not to limit yourself and take it easy!
Did you find this list helpful? Let me know about your thoughts in the comments!