"The Times We Had" - Rooftops of Tallinn's Old Town, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

In my first location-based blog entry I would like to talk about the pearl of the Baltics – Tallinn. From the 18th of April until the 20th I was fortunate enough to visit this lovely place for a third, wonderful, time, since 2012. Tallinn is famous for its red roofs, amber and good, affordable beerbooze. People from Finland and Scandinavia regularly cross the Baltic Sea by ferry to shop in the liquor paradise.

As you know I am living and studying in Sweden at the moment. Thus, I used this chance to participate in the Erasmus Student Network’s biggest event- the Sea Battle – twice. One time last fall and well…this week. This event is characterized by bringing together 2100 students from countless countries, trapping them all on a boat, and letting them have the time of their lives.

Tallink Ferry and Sea Battle Party Boat
Tallink Ferry and Sea Battle Party Boat

The ferry they use has a huge dining room, a café, 2 nightclubs, a casino area, 5 different bars, a sauna, a sundeck and other common areas.

Capoeira Show Performance
Capoeira Show Performance

During the sea battle there are a lot of special events such as fat-suit-sumo, karaoke, pub-quizzes, game-nights, and special acrobatic dance shows, such as seen on the left.

The ferry usually departs Stockholm, Sweden around 5pm, and arrives in Tallinn, Estonia at 10am. People tend to get stuffed at the free buffet, go to the duty-free liquor store on board, buy large amounts of cheap booze, play drinking games, meet new people from everywhere in the world, get wasted, then party all night and go to bed around 6ish (If at all).


In the video below you can see the party at around 4am with Helga (a sex-doll) going wild in the crowd. Calling her & giving her compliments is a common festival tradition:

The next day is used to explore the beautiful old-town of Estonia’s capital, which I would like to tell you a little bit more about. So, this is how I would like to structure this blog entry. I will start telling you a little bit more about the city itself and show you some pictures of my favorite spots. Throughout this entry I will give you some budget tips and tell you what you should not miss.

The Old town

The historical old town is the best preserved medieval town of northern Europe and very famous for its architecture, the red roofs, it’s famous gothic steeple-tops, the winding cobblestone streets and the surrounding city wall.

City wall with red tower steeples
City wall with red tower steeples

Unlike many other European capitals Tallinn managed to maintain its medieval design and the structure from its hanseatic beginning. If you spend some time here you’ll immediately be under Tallinn’s spell and feel its mystical subsistence. One place that really arouses this constitution is the Olde Hansa. It is a restaurant/bar in the very center of the old town.

Olde Hansa
Olde Hansa

Knights and maidens will lure you into the huge building and serve you with medieval dishes, prepared liked in the 15th century, music from the same era and homebrewed beers and herb-drinks.

Medieval musicians perform almost every night – excluding Mondays. On the weekend you will also see some street artist performing with fire in front of the building. Along the streets of the old town you will find plenty antique churches and enormous buildings from the former rich European salesmen coming to Tallinn, along with barns and attics.

If you follow the cobblestone road past the Olde Hansa you will get to the town hall square in the very center of town. In the summer-time plenty of concerts are held here, flee-& food-markets occur and the restaurants are packed, whereas in the wintertime you’ll come to visit a wonderfully decorated Christmasmarket with a tall fir tree in the middle of the square.

One of my favorite spots in town can be reached if you pass the square and climb the stairs along the massive city walls. You will reach a nice lookout.

The red rooftops of Tallin's Old Town, Estonia
The red rooftops of Tallin’s Old Town, Estonia

This place is where we should glance over the red city roofs, let our mind fade, listen to some folk music played by street performers, get a hot chocolate from one of the stalls, and just think about “The times we had”.

"The Times We Had" - Rooftops of Tallinn's Old Town, Estonia
“The Times We Had” – Rooftops of Tallinn’s Old Town, Estonia

Just around the corner is another nice lookout, facing the direction of the harbor. This point can also be reached with a set of endless stairs from the very bottom of the hill the old town was built on. Continuing to stroll around the narrower streets on top of the hill you will eventually reach the pinkish parliament building & the beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, named after a saint whom won the battle of ice, which literally took part on the ice of Lake Peipus in 1242.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn, Estonia
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn, Estonia

The orthodox cathedral was built around a 120 years ago, when Estonia was part of the Russian empire.

After climbing the hill of the old town and looking at all the cute little alley-ways, amber shops, medieval stores & nice sights the city has to offer, I’m sure you’ll be starving or at least thirsty. This is why I have set up a list of places you can reach within the next ten minutes from wherever you are in the old town. I have divided the table into famous places and my favorites including some pricing info. Just be aware that nothing is reeaaaally expensive in Estonia in comparison to other European countries.

Activity Regular Budget
Snack “Foody Allen“, “Wok to Walk“, Fast-Food joints Pastry Kiosk located all over town (see below)
Proper Restaurant “Olde Hansa” (Main dishes around 16-30€)

If you have the budget still a must see!

“Vanaema Juures” (Mains range around 10-16€)
Café “Café Mademoiselle” (Reasonable price and good cake)

“Reval café” (Nice atmosphere, not so good food)

Tipp: “Chocolates de Pierre” not necessarily cheaper but it has great homemade chocolate!
Hostel “16 EUR Hostel” or “Fat Margaret´s” are common, decent, choices “Vana Tom Hostel” (from 8€) or “Tallinn Backpackers” (from 9€)
Bar “Must Puudel” (Soviet Themed)

“Shooters” (Endless array of shots)

“Tops” (Alternatv. for Soviet Theme)

“Valli Baar” (usually live music)

Nightlife & Clubbing “Club Hollywood”, “Klubi Teater” There is no real “cheapest” option here. It depends on the venue.

Basically, my must-see recommendation for you guys is the Hell Hunt (“The Gentle Wolf”). Delicious food for fairly cheap prices & a selection of the best beersall you really need. I have been resting and dining here every single time I have been to Tallinn and will continue doing so. I can recommend almost everything the menu has to offer. One of my favorites is the borscht soup & the traditional Estonian appetizer fried brown bread, rubbed with garlic and a cucumber dip. So simple but so delicious.

If you just want a small snack I’d recommend one of the Pastry Kiosks located around town. As the name suggests they serve pastries stuffed with e.g. meat, spinach, pees, beans, chicken etc. My preferred Kiosk is located very close to the famous city gate of Tallinn (Two towers on the border of the old town, opening the way to the main shopping street). With the gate left behind you, a McDonald’s is to your left. You follow that road (along the city wall) and the pastry store will be located on the next corner on the left. It is a small greenish hut.

Another great pub you should not miss is the Scotland Yard. I did not include it in the table as it is rather expensive. Nonetheless, its authenticity makes up for their prices. They have a traditional Scottish police officer showing you where to sit, as well as all kinds of random, old decoration, such as an electric chair and old weapons. Also, there is a huge aquarium in the middle of the bar with large fish in it. It is located on the bottom of the hill, outside of the old city walls.

One final thing: You should really check out the Olde Hansa, even though it is one of the most expensive places in town, it really fits the town and rounds off your trip back to medieval times. Of course, the choice is yours.

If you are studying in Europe I can only recommend you take part in this ESN-event and visit Tallinn. The second party cruise, the way back, is just as good. Nobody said conquering the Baltic sea would be easy – but I can proudly announce that we made it! All the exzessive partying and city touring was worth it. The view on the trip through Stockholm’s Archipelago the next morning before reaching the harbor compensates for all the blood, sweat & tears that shaped the conquest. See for yourself (No idea why video is turned, even though it has been filmed correctly):

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