Tallinn is Estonia’s capital, and with a population of just over 440,000, it’s by far the nation’s largest city. The first mention of Tallinn in recorded history was in 1154. Tallinn’s Old Town was entered on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1997 as an „exceptionally complete and well preserved example of a medieval northern European trading city“. Today's Tallinn is a rapidly developing compact city, with major landmarks, convention facilities and hotels within walking distance. Named Lonely Planet's Best Value Destination of 2018, it is an interesting blend of old and new.
Tallinn’s population is just 440,000. This small size is a huge advantage when it comes to navigating your way around with ease. In fact, its city centre so compact that most hotels, venues, restaurants and sights are within easy walking distance of one another. Instead of hassling with trams, buses, taxis or transfers to get from A to B, you’ll most likely be taking a quick stroll or a bike ride.
Old townBuilt up from the 13th to 16th centuries, when Tallinn – or Reval as it was known then – was a thriving member of the Hanseatic trade league, this enclosed neighbourhood of colourful, gabled houses, half hidden courtyards and grandios churches is, quite rightly, the city's biggest visitor draw. And the fact that it's all neatly packaged within a mostly intact medieval city wall and dotted with guard towers gives it an extra dose of historical charm.
Tallinn’s Old Town is divided into two areas – the lower town and the upper town (also called Toompea). Those two towns were once separated by gates, almost like two different cities. Nowadays, the combination of the upper town on the high limestone hill and the lower town at its foot form an expressive skyline that is visible from a great distance both from land and sea.
KalamajaRight next to the main conference venue Kultuurikatel, you find numerous cafes, bars and galleries have transformed the former industrial complexes of the historical wooden townhouse district, making it the fastest developing area of Tallinn attracting creatives and those young at heart. The lively area is conveniently located between the scenic Tallinn coast and Old Town and hides some unexpected scenes.
One of them being Telliskivi - creative economic enterprise centre, bringing together a diverse range of activities and businesses. From the Telliskivi Street Food Festival to Saturday flea markets, from concerts to standup gigs and experimental theater, this place is alive. Culture and business, entwined in a friendly embrace.
'Kalamaja' literally means 'fish house' in Estonian, and starting from the 14th century the area was traditionally dominated by fishermen, fishmongers and boat wrights. Everything changed in 1870, however, when Tallinn was connected to St. Petersburg by railroad. Suddenly enormous factories started to sprout up in this part of town, bringing with them an influx of thousands of new workers. The wooden houses built to accommodate these workers became Kalamaja's architectural legacy and are now what gives neighbourhood its unforgettable charm.
KadriorgPresidential yet cosy, this romantic inner-city area nearby Tallinn University campus is where you find the president's residence surrounded by a manicured Kadriorg Park. The 18th-century park featuring fountains and streams, is surrounded by equally historical wooden houses.
In the centre of the park is a baroque palace from the early 18th century. The palace hosts the Kadriorg Art Museum where you can find early foreign art – primarily western European and Russian paintings, graphics, sculpture and applied arts from 16th to 20th century.
Only a few hundred meters apart you find the Estonian Art Museum KUMU (built in 2006) that is dedicated to Estonian art, with the permanent exhibition focusing on giving an overview of the local art scene developments from 18th to 21st century.