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Tallinn

Estonia's history is sprinkled liberally with long stretches of foreign domination, beginning in 1219 with the Danes, followed without interruption by the Germans, Swedes, and Russians. Only after World War I, with Russia in revolutionary wreckage, was Estonia able to declare its independence. Shortly before World War II, in 1940, that independence was usurped by the Soviets, who—save for a brief three-year occupation by Hitler's Nazis—proceeded to suppress all forms of national Estonian pride for the next 50 years. Estonia finally regained independence in 1991. In the early 1990s, Estonia's own Riigikogu (Parliament), not some other nation's puppet ruler, handed down from the Upper City reforms that forced Estonia to blaze its post-Soviet trail to the European Union. Estonia has been a member of the EU since 2004, and in 2011, the country and its growing economy joined the Eurozone. Tallinn was also named the European City of Culture in 2011, cementing its growing reputation as a cultural hot spot.

Why cruise Tallinn

Tallinn’s historic old town was (thankfully) largely untouched by war and remains beautifully preserved. Enter through the Viru Gate, which once played an important part in the city’s 14th century defence system. Once you’ve perused the market stalls set up around the gate, head into the picturesque town square, with its beautiful Baltic architecture, Gothic town hall and cobblestoned streets.

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What to see and do

Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform

For the best views of Tallinn, climb Toompea Hill to the Kohtuotsa viewing platform, which provides unobstructed views of the harbour, multicoloured rooftops and bell towers. Toompea Castle, the 13th-century Dome Church and the beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral are all also located on the hill.

St Olaf’s Church

There are many beautiful buildings in Tallinn, one of the most notable is St Olaf’s Church. The well-preserved medieval church, likely built back in the 1200s, features a distinctive high church tower that has been struck by lightning numerous times. The top of the church also provides sweeping views over Tallinn’s old town. The exquisite Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a distinctly more modern affair, having been completed in 1900. The Russian Orthodox church features distinctive black onion domes that are hard to miss.

Enjoy a pint

Beer lovers are very much at home in Tallinn, which has a thriving craft beer scene. Some of the best places in Tallinn to enjoy a pint include Koht, hidden away underneath an archway off a narrow street in Old Town Tallinn, and Speakeasy by Põhjala, a bar run by Põhjala Brewery.

What to expect when travelling to Tallinn

Getting around in Tallinn

The main cruise terminal is located just over a mile from Viru Gate, the main entrance to centre. You can either walk into the old town from the terminal or board one of the shuttle buses, which stop near the gate. The old town can easily be explored by foot.

When to go to Tallinn

The best time to visit Tallinn is during the summer months, but if you want to avoid large crowds, then May and September are relatively quieter.

Currency

Estonia uses the euro. Tallinn is fairly good value for money in comparison to other more expensive Baltic cities.

Visas

You do not require a visa to visit Tallinn.