Last Updated on May 16, 2019 by Bryony Clapperton
I would very much describe Tallinn Estonia as the must visit Capital of the Baltic countries. I would also say Tallinn is the perfect destination for a city break in Europe.
We arrived here as part of a road trip to to Estonia originating in Germany and loved it.
I’ve read a lot of people fall in love with the City of Tallinn, Estonia over its neighbours Latvia and Lithuania.
Although I equally loved both Latvia and Lithuania equally, during my trip to the Baltic countries, I left this region with Estonia firmly cemented in my mind as my favourite Baltic State.
A road trip to Estonia
After 17 days travelling through five countries, I arrived in Tallinn.
I found myself in the city at the end of a road trip to Estonia that took us 1800km.
So, why is it that I loved Estonia so much?
My love is purely due to my experience. I entered into a bit of a romance with Tallinn Estonia and here’s why.
My time in Estonia was filled purely with fun and new friends, which for me always leaves a lasting fond impression of any destination in my mind.
I’m a sucker for a good time and because of this Estonia would become my favourite of the three Baltic countries I’d spent my time in.
Tallinn as a city is as culturally enriched as both of its Baltic brother’s Lithuania and Latvia, though its Old Town is slightly different.
The city is best known for its inspiring medieval centre which is something that isn’t prominent in the other two Baltic capitals and certainly one of the reasons Tallinn stands above its neighbors in my mind.
The great architecture and backdrop of Tallinn’s medieval past makes the perfect setting for a fun filled European city break.
Exploring Tallinn, Estonia
Where is Tallinn?
The medieval city of Tallinn is a largest city in Estonia.
Its proximity to the ocean, stone buildings, cobbled streets and city walls make The Old Town unique to the Baltics.
Not only is the city a short bus ride from the Gulf of Finland there’s a towering church spire on ever corner and a daily bustling market in the very heart of The Old Town of Tallinn.
It’s not unusual to hear Tallinn be referred to as a Scandinavian wannabe. 80km from Helsinki (that’s a 2 and a half hour ferry to me and you) Estonians definitely don’t mind the stereotype.
The cobbled streets of Old Tallinn are forever packed with tourists and the roads are lined with the coaches they arrived on.
Budget travel in Estonia
Although the presence of tourists brings any city to life it almost guarantees on other thing. You guessed it – inflated prices.
The below budget breakdown is based on sleeping in a hostel and eating out once a day, with a supermarket or fast food lunch to keep costs low. This transport cost is based on public transport.
Eating out in Tallinn isn’t cheap especially in the Old Town and for a budget trip your options are limited as you’re constantly competing with middle aged cruisers who think paying €30 for a burger and chips is okay.
However, I wouldn’t describe any of the capitals in the Baltic region as budget friendly destinations. However, there are always budget options to be found.
Fast food is aplenty in the Baltics and its often worth grabbing a pizza or burger on the go to save on food prices.
Where to eat in Tallinn on a budget
As I mentioned earlier there are plenty of ‘out the box’ budget eating options in any city and Tallinn, Estonia is no exception.
For Tallinn’s ultimate cheap eats check out Route 13 I can honestly say Route 13 is probably the best priced menu in town with two for one cocktails for the record breaking bargain price of €3.80.
The menu at Route 13 is large and varied with lots of options even for veggies. The service can be slow and painful but the food is tasty for its price.
You will struggle to find any eats as budget friendly as Route 13, it’s perfect for a mid day refuel. For pizza try Pronto Pizza €6-7 euros for a delicious pizza or Loca beside The Monk’s Bunk Hostel.
Where to Stay
The Monks Bunk
We arrived at The Monk’s Bunk one day early and luckily they had room for us.
I’m a big fan of staying in hostels and the hostel experience for meeting others and that was no exception in Tallinn when I was originally looking for hostels to stay at and found The Monk’s Bunk.
As far as hostels go, I’d stumbled upon a tourist fave, always a winner. I must admit I’ve stayed at a lot of party hostels. I’ve even spent a few nights at some infamous hostels in Europe but I have never felt more welcome than at The Monk’s Bunk.
You are greeted by a smiling Mancunian and a shot of Black Balsams, a liquor available throughout the Baltics.
Our time staying here was truly a lot of fun thanks to the great staff and guests at The Monk’s Bunk.
If you come to Tallinn looking for a fun time and hope to meet some like minded travellers then I urge you to stay at The Monk’s Bunk.
Book a large dorm and enjoy the endless evening entertainment. There’s even a communal kitchen for the ultimate budget experience!
Things to do in Tallinn, Estonia
Day trips to Pirita
When in any destination I’m always keen to check out the coast. Tallinn was no exception. Although the locals won’t always recommend a day at the beach I wasn’t going to let a few negative reviews ruin my beach day.
From Tallinn to Pirita by public transport is pretty easy. Before we managed to find a bus stop displaying the 1A, 8, 34A and 38 heading to Pirita we realised we weren’t at all looking for a bus stop.
In fact, we were supposed to be looking for a bus terminal. Which is underneath a shipping centre.
Take note, all the buses leave from here. Once you find the main bus terminal the bus takes around 20-25 minutes to get to Pirita.
The white sandy beach is sat on a forest of pine backdrop. The water was a little too cold for swimming during our stay but that didn’t stop others.
There’s toilets and amenities close to the beach including a water sports centre that offers windsurfing and sailing.
There is also an unofficial stone pier at Pirita beach which gives you the opportunity to grab a glimpse of Tallinn’s Old City skyline and the many church spires.
During the warmer months Pitita gets packed with tourists and locals all enjoying the warm rays of the northern sun.
If you have a while in Tallinn don’t be afraid to hit the coast. Along with Pirita there’s Stroomi beach. And Harku Beach on the banks of Lake Tallinn where the weather is much warmer than the coast.
We bought a Tallinn Pass a three day bus ticket for €5 from one of the kiosks just outside of Tallinn’s Old Town. I’d recommend this option if you plan on going to the beach and bus station.
Things to do in Tallinn
There are so many great things to do in Tallinn. As part of our road trip to Estonia we’d already been planning and researching in advance. Some of the best things to do include the following;
- Climb the bell tower of St. Mary’s Cathedral and enjoy all 69 meters of your journey to the top.
- Try the free walking tour, we missed out but heard great reviews from some friends at our hostel.
- Find some of Tallinn’s real secret treats including some of the great viewpoints that look out over the city and demand the perfect photoshoot.
- Make sure you stop by the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral a breathtaking Russian Orthodox Cathedral just off the main tourist trail.
- Whilst exploring the city why not check out the Estonian Architecture Museum or if Architecture isn’t your thing try Toompea Castle or the Estonian Maritime Museum.
Another of the top things to do in Tallinn is the nightlife. During our Monk’s Bunk Bar Crawl we were able to visit Labor Barr. A quirky science and chemistry themed bar with overpriced drinks and banging tunes.
With any great nightlife city you can expect fun times and large groups. This is the same for Tallinn.
Stag Do in Tallinn, Estonia
Stag do’s are popular in Estonia and the other Baltic countries. It is highly likely you’ll bump into a couple of groups of lads on a stag night in Tallinn.
During our road trip to Estonia this was a defining part of our travel as many hostels and locals are not too fond of stag do tourism in Tallinn.
Although stag do’s aren’t always the best behaved in my eyes tourism will always be good for any economy. If you’re planning a stag do to Tallinn – please behave!
Road trip to Estonia by bus
Tallinn Bus Station
As mentioned in my Lithuania Lux Express post, we travelled through the Baltics with Lux Express. Overall we were really pleased with the service and price.
If you plan on taking a similar road trip to Estonia I’d recommend this service.
Money can be saved by buying tickets in advance online. Busy times fill up quickly and often there are few seats left.
The main bus station in Tallinn is around a 20 minute walk from The Old Town. You can jump on several trams to The Old Town. Tickets aren’t checked regularly from what we experienced but as always the risk is yours.
A road trip to Estonia review
The infrastructure throughout the Baltic Countries means bussing to and from one country another is simple, cheap and actually very enjoyable.
I can only imagine the introduction to more rail infrastructure will connect Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will only make travelling this region even better.
Our time in the Baltics wasn’t as budget friendly as we had hoped especially considering we arrived from budget-loving Poland.
Although not the cheapest region of Europe to visit, the Baltic States has it all in terms of tourist offering.
From cheese smothered beer snacks, golden sandy coastline to Pagan history and more.
The Baltics should be top of any European city break bucket list. Our Baltic Countries Road Trip covered 5 countries originating in Germany and ending in Latvia to fly home.
It took us 17 days and many busses to get from Hamburg to Tallinn, but I wouldn’t swap this adventure for anything.
The Baltics are the one to watch as tourism to this region increases as it becomes more accessible through budget flights. I suggest you get there before everyone else does.
A 20-something travel blogger based in Liverpool. Covering all things from Latin America to Liverpool local guides and everything in between.