Tallinn – historic monuments and attractions worth to visit at a weekend

Toompea Hill with fortress wall, tower and Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, view from the tower of St. Olaf's Church, Tallinn, Estonia

The high-rising temples, imposing public edifices, townhouses and residential buildings, remnants of the former defensive system, atmospheric streets and corners, all that makes a city break in Tallinn a great idea. The more so, as the city is a relatively unpopular destination for weekend outings, although it is a true pearl of the North.

Town Hall Square

Tallinn's most beautiful attractions and historic monuments can be found in the Old Town, which is divided into the Lower and Upper quarter. It is not vast, so you can easily explore it just two days. Take your time, move with your own rhythm admiring the beauty and artistry of the local architecture. Adding to its splendour will also be the light, for colours nowhere look more beautiful on a sunny day than in the North. Start your walk at the Town Hall Square, which is the central point of the Lower City and the entire Old Town. It is filled by simple, albeit elegant, townhouses, and its main landmark is the town house with a characteristic octagonal tower at its side. The square is crowded and vibrant with life, also cultural. You can take a seat in one of the local bars and have your first encounter with Estonian cuisine. If you are not hungry, have a cup of coffee and marzipan – Estonian are really good at making it.

Panoramic view of Tallinn Old Town at sunset






It is perhaps the most important street of Tallinn's Old Town. Taking its beginning in the vicinity of the market square and leading north, it is a promenade that is full of city life. There are cafés, pubs and restaurants, boutiques, souvenir shops, galleries as well as street painters, musicians and other artists. Towards the end of the street, you will find a splendid Medieval temple - the snow white Church of St. Olaf with a tall tower and a spire. It has been a characteristic landmark for centuries, aiding the navigation in the city's port. Get inside, where you will be amazed by the fantastically harsh Gothic interior, and then proceed to the observation deck on top of the tower – you will certainly remember the view as one of the most remarkable experiences during your city break in Tallinn.

Defensive system

Neighbouring the Old Town from the west is Snelli Park, a pleasant site for a moment of rest. You must take a walk along the remnants of the defensive wall protecting both the Lower and Upper City, with the most famous of them being the Fat Margaret tower built in the first half of the 16th century. The name is not a coincidence, as the structure's walls are 5 metres thick at places! Together with the gate complex, it is today home to the Maritime Museum.

Church of St. Nicholas

Another mighty Gothic church dating back to the 13th century, it was once a Protestant temple but was deconsecrated in 1945. Thanks to its miraculously saved collections, it is a true treasure trove of late Medieval art. Its beauty is excellently highlighted by the light austere interior. Since it has fantastic acoustic properties, it is sometimes used as a concert hall.

Upper City

View of Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral in Tallinn

You can get to the Upper City in two ways. If you choose the quiet Pikk Jalg, then your route will lead gently upwards between the walls. However, if you decide to take Luhike Jagl, it will be steeper, but in the company of people, shops, cafés and sounds of the city. On the top of Toompea, there is a monastic castle dating back to the Middle Ages - today it is home to the Estonian Parliament. Another grand white church, i.e. the Protestant Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also has Medieval roots. In this part of the city, you might be surprised by the intricate Orthodox Church of Alexander Nevski from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, which is completely out of place aesthetically. It is a remnant of the long domination of the Russian Empire, and also an interesting historic monument. Indeed, although the Eastern church looks as if it was put in the thoroughly Western city quite by accident, it is a valuable witness to the complex history of those lands.


The viewing terrace is the culminating point of the Old Town. A narrow and wooded area between buildings, it offers a wonderful panorama of the city with the Lower City in the foreground, the skyline of modern skyscrapers further in the distance, and the Baltic see on the horison.

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