Discover Tallinn – European Capital of Culture 2011

You won't go thirsty at the Beer House in Tallinn

Since the start of the year, we’ve noticed a big surge in the number of holidays to Tallinn being booked. Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia and European Capital of Culture 2011. We thought it would be a good time to share some of the secrets of this increasingly popular destination so that more of you can enjoy what it has to offer. Situated on the coast in the north of Europe and in the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn is a relatively small city, with a population of 410,050. It’s rich in history and culture, and has some great nightlife too, so there is plenty for visitors to do. With flights taking just 3 hours from the UK and the city centre only a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport, it is a perfect destination for a city break.

The summer months are the most popular time for visitors to head to Tallinn with average maximum temperatures of 20°c. Its northern latitude means that Tallinn enjoys exceptionally long hours of daylight during the summer. May, June and September are the best months to visit if you want to escape the crowds and still enjoy maximum average temperatures between 15 and 20°c.

Tallinn Old Town

Tallinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and its old town, with its cobbled streets and gothic spires, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old town is surrounded by a city wall, dating from the 13th century, and almost half of the original 46 guard towers remain, giving it a real fairytale charm. Its medieval markets, coffee bars and Wi-Fi make this popular area a fascinating fusion of new and old with a unique historic atmosphere.

There are lots of different ways to get out and explore the city including the ubiquitous double decker hop on and off bus for those who want to see the sights but avoid getting blisters. For the young at heart a small train runs a 20 minute tour around the old town and bicycles are readily available for hire including child seats and trailers. The conference bike, a unique bike which seats 7 riders, is also available for hire with or without an experienced guide. For a view of the city from the water, visitors can join a 3 to 4 hour kayak tour on Tallinn bay which involves approximately 9 km of kayaking.

Attractions not to be missed include St Olav’s Church, a 13th century Gothic church which from 1549 to 1625 was the tallest building in the world. Visitors can climb the 124 metre spire for an impressive view of the city. Make sure you don’t climb the spire during a storm though – the spire is an effective lightning conductor and the church has twice burnt to the ground during bad weather. The Tallinn Song Festival Grounds have played an important part in Tallinn’s history and were home to the huge musical demonstration against Soviet rule that set the country on the road to independence. Concerts and festivals take place at this impressive venue throughout the year. For a full list of the many must see attractions visit Tallinn Tourism.

If you want to let your hair down after seeing the sights head to one of Tallinn’s numerous bars or clubs. For a city of its size, Tallinn has a surprisingly high number of watering holes and nightclubs meaning there are plenty of options to choose from.

In our next post we’ll look at some of the best places to stay in Tallinn and let you know which hotels our customers like best.