Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a little gem nestling on the shores of the Baltic Sea. With its unique blend of medieval charm, modern districts and picturesque coastal landscapes, this city offers an enriching and captivating experience to all who visit. Whether you’re a French student on an internship abroad or a traveller eager to discover new things, Tallinn will surprise you at every turn.
In this article, we list the top 10 places to visit in Tallinn, carefully selected to help you make the most of your stay in Estonia’s capital. Whether you’re passionate about history, architecture, culture or simply looking for adventure, you’ll find a variety of places to explore here, each with its own charm and hidden treasures.
From the majestic medieval old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to trendy modern districts such as Kalamaja, you’ll discover a kaleidoscope of contrasts. Fascinating museums will immerse you in the region’s rich and eventful history, while green spaces and peaceful parks will offer you moments of relaxation and tranquillity. Get ready to lose yourself in the cobbled streets of the old town, discover centuries-old churches, marvel at breathtaking panoramic views from the defence towers and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the lively cafés and bars. Whether you want to delve into history, immerse yourself in local culture or simply enjoy the city’s unique atmosphere, Tallinn has something to offer everyone.
Get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the top 10 places to visit in Tallinn, and let yourself be charmed by this multi-faceted Estonian capital.
The town hall
At the heart of the old town, the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is a lively place full of cafés, restaurants and historic buildings. Admire the magnificent 14th-century Gothic town hall, one of the oldest in Northern Europe. The square is also the starting point for many guided walking tours, allowing you to discover the city’s most important sites.
The old town
Tallinn’s Old Town is a historic gem that transports visitors back to a bygone era. As you stroll through its narrow cobbled streets, you’ll immediately be captivated by the medieval atmosphere that reigns here. The brightly-coloured timber-framed houses, adorned with coats of arms and flowers, give the old town a uniquely picturesque atmosphere. Place de l’Hôtel de Ville is the heart of the old town, surrounded by impressive historic buildings, including the 14th-century Gothic town hall. Here you can sit at an open-air café terrace and enjoy the bustle of the square. Venturing further afield, you’ll discover fascinating medieval churches such as Tallinn Cathedral and St Nicholas’ Church, adorned with magnificent frescoes and religious works of art. Defence towers, such as the Kiek in de Kök tower, bear witness to the city’s military past and offer unbeatable views over the rooftops of the old town. As you stroll through the streets, you’ll also find plenty of shops selling local crafts, art galleries and restaurants serving traditional Estonian dishes. Tallinn’s Old Town is a journey through time, with every corner revealing a new architectural marvel and fascinating history to discover.
Tallinn Cathedral, also known as St Mary’s Cathedral or Tallinn Dormition Cathedral, is one of the city’s most emblematic religious sites. This magnificent Gothic cathedral was built in the 13th century and is located in the heart of the Old Town. As you enter the cathedral, you will immediately be impressed by its elegant interior, with its stone vaults, colourful stained glass windows and richly decorated altar. You can also admire the superb frescoes depicting biblical stories and scenes from the lives of the saints. The cathedral is also known for its many treasures, including a collection of medieval shrines and sacred relics. Attending a mass or concert in this historic venue adds a spiritual dimension to your visit. Climb to the top of the tower for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Tallinn Cathedral is a place of spirituality, history and architectural beauty that is sure to captivate you.
Perched majestically on Toompea hill, Toompea Castle is a Tallinn landmark. Explore its inner courtyards, imposing towers and picturesque gardens. Inside, discover the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a jewel of Russian Orthodox architecture, and visit the Riigikogu, the Estonian parliament.
The Maritime Museum
Discover Estonia’s rich maritime heritage at the Tallinn Maritime Museum. Located in the former seaplane hangars, the museum houses a vast collection of historic ships, model ships and interactive exhibits. Learn more about the importance of the Baltic Sea in Estonian history and culture, and discover stories of courageous sailors and fishermen.
The Kalamaja district
The Kalamaja district is one of Tallinn’s hidden treasures, renowned for its bohemian atmosphere and vibrant art scene. Take a stroll through its picturesque streets and you’ll be captivated by the alternative and creative atmosphere. The district owes its charm to its renovated former industrial warehouses, now home to trendy cafés, designer boutiques, art galleries and cultural spaces. Explore Rue Telliskivi, the backbone of the district, where you’ll find a host of eclectic venues. From the Balti Jaam covered market to trendy cafés and lively bars, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss the Loomelinnak, a former industrial building transformed into a vibrant creative space housing artists’ studios, workshops and cultural events. The district is also full of superb examples of wooden architecture, with its charming, colourful houses. As you stroll through Kalamaja, you’ll also come across lush green parks, such as Pelgulinn Park, where you can relax and enjoy nature. Kalamaja is an ideal place to discover the artistic and alternative soul of Tallinn, where the old blends harmoniously with the new, creating a unique and inspiring atmosphere.
The Museum of the Occupation
Immerse yourself in Estonia’s tormented history at the Museum of the Occupation. The detailed exhibits take you through the periods of Soviet and Nazi occupation, highlighting the struggles and sacrifices of the Estonian people. Through photographs, artefacts and poignant testimonies, you will gain an in-depth understanding of key historical events.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a stroll through the magnificent Kadriorg Park. This 70-hectare landscaped park is a haven of peace, with its well-kept gardens, elegant fountains and shady paths. At the heart of the park is Kadriorg Palace, a sumptuous baroque residence built by Russian Tsar Peter the Great. Explore the richly decorated interior and visit the Kumu Art Museum, which houses a collection of Estonian art from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The Kiek in tower in Kök
The Kiek in de Kök Tower, located near the Viru Gate, is a well-preserved medieval defence tower offering a fascinating insight into Tallinn’s history. Inside, explore the interactive exhibits that trace the city’s evolution from medieval battles to the Soviet era. Climb to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of the city.
The Viru Gate
Finish your visit by admiring the famous Viru Gate, once one of the main entrances to the old town. The gate is accompanied by well-preserved defensive towers that transport you back to medieval times. From the gateway, head towards the shopping street, a lively thoroughfare packed with shops, restaurants, cafés and bars. Enjoy the vibrant street atmosphere, discover unique souvenirs and sample Estonian specialities.
Tallinn, Estonia’s enchanting capital, is packed with historical, architectural and cultural treasures that are sure to captivate visitors. By exploring the top 10 places to visit in Tallinn, you’ll have the opportunity to plunge into the very essence of this fascinating city. From the medieval Old Town, with its cobbled streets and period buildings, to the vibrant modernity of the Kalamaja district, captivating museums and peaceful green spaces, each place offers a unique and rewarding experience. Whether you’re a student looking for new horizons or a traveller with a passion for history and culture, Tallinn has an extraordinary journey in store for you. Imagine wandering through the medieval streets, admiring the architectural monuments and immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of the trendy districts. Whether you choose to visit Tallinn for an internship abroad, a study experience or simply to satisfy your curiosity, this city will not fail to amaze you. Prepare to be transported to a world where the past blends harmoniously with the present, and where every street corner reveals a new story to discover. For your internship in Estonia, the International Horizons team will take care of everything, just contact us! For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.