Many visitors to Estonia’s capital come on a day trip from Helsinki or on a shore excursion from a cruise ship and, therefore, only spend a few hours exploring the old town and fail to see the majority of what this city has to offer. If you have the time, however, it is very much worth planning a 2 or 3 days in Tallinn itinerary in order to really do this city justice.
It’s easy on the surface to assume that one day in Tallinn is enough. After all, the Old Town – the main attraction for day trippers to Tallinn – is compact and easily walkable within a couple of hours.
However, this not only means that visitors miss out on the many attractions that lie beyond the Old Town Walls but they also don’t get the chance to see a side of Tallinn that is more representative of day-to-day life in the city.
If you’re interested in getting a holistic feel of the Estonian capital, follow this Tallinn itinerary and see a side of this lovely city that many miss out on!
How Many Days in Tallinn?
So if you’ve been convinced to spend more than a day in the Estonian capital, you’ll likely be wondering how many days to spend in Tallinn.
The city is not too large and it is easy to get around, however, there is actually quite a lot to see and do that you could easily plan to spend 3 days in Tallinn and still feel like you haven’t managed to tick everything off your list.
3 days will allow you to spend a couple of days in the city, dig a bit deeper and also go on a day trip should you wish. Heading out on a day trip from Tallinn is a great way to see more of the country, as well, especially if you don’t have the time to devote to a longer Estonia itinerary.
If you’re a bit pressed for time but still want to get a lot out of the city, then spending 2 days in Tallinn is certainly an option. While you won’t have time to go for a day trip, it will allow you to spend time in the Old Town, explore Kalamaja and Telliskivi and also head to some museums should you wish.
2 to 3 Days in Tallinn Itinerary
Day 1 – Old Town, Kalamaja & Telliskivi
Tallinn Old Town
Though it is important to go beyond the tourist centre in Tallinn, no visit to this city is complete without spending a bit of time in the Old Town – and Tallinn’s Old Town is an absolute stunner.
Because this is the most popular place to visit in Tallinn and the vast majority of tourists don’t venture outside the city walls, it can get very congested.
Keep in mind that Tallinn has quite a large cruise ship port and there are plenty of ferries that carry in eager day trippers each day. Considering that the Old Town is quite small, this means it can feel very packed. So – if you want some peace and quiet, it’s best to get an early start!
Take the first few hours of your Tallinn itinerary getting lost and wandering in the picture-perfect Old Town. Take in the Town Hall in Raekoja Plats, the main square of the city. Wander over to admire the onion domes of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – a beautiful 19th Century Russian Orthodox church.
It’s also a great idea to head to some of the viewing platforms in order to get (obviously) great views of the red roofs and medical fortifications. One of the best places to get views of the town walls, for instance, is from the Patkuli Viewing Platform, where you can get a panoramic view of the entire old part of the city.
If you’re interested in visiting some of the towers and walking along a portion of the walls, then you can also opt to head here for a small fee. There are also countless museums and historic sights to visit in the Old Town that, if you want to learn more about the history of medieval Tallinn, can be very much worth visiting.
For those who do want to enter a few paid attractions, including the city walls, various churches, a number of museums, the Town Hall tower and much more, it can be worth purchasing a Tallinn Card.
With this card, entry into a plethora of sights is free and you can end up saving quite a bit of your hard-earned cash if you plan to visit a lot of different paid attractions. You can purchase the Tallinn Card here.
And if you would like to have a guide while exploring the Old Town, you can opt to go on a free walking tour. If you’d rather have a private guide, consider booking this private walking tour of Tallinn.
From the Old Town, venture a bit beyond the city walls and head into the hip and trendy Kalamaja neighbourhood. Though not quite as old as the Old Town, Kalamaja has seen life since the Middle Ages when it was originally established as a home for fishermen and sailors. In fact, Kalamaja literally translates to ‘fish house’ in Estonian!
Kalamaja has undergone significant gentrification in recent years and is now a hub of life for many young locals. The area is full of cool boutique shops, flea markets, parks, cafes and bars! The area is very peaceful and really feels like a world away from the Old Town, though it only takes about five to ten minutes walk from the city walls to reach the district.
One can spend many hours wandering through Kalamaja’s peaceful streets, made iconic for their wooden houses built at the start of the 20th century.
Kalamaja can be a great place to grab a snack or a meal, especially if you’re looking to avoid the higher prices you will likely find in the Old Town. For a casual, local place, consider heading to the Kalamaja Bakery.
If you’re looking for something a bit more hip, then consider heading to Rohe Kohvik – a vegan cafe with a lot of fantastic options that can suit both those following plant-based diets and “flexitarians” alike.
Telliskivi Creative City
Between Kalamaja and the Old Town, lies Telliskivi Creative City – the epitome of gentrification that has occurred in Tallinn over recent years. The former industrial complex is now the hub of hip, artistic life in the Estonian capital with regular events, plenty of street art, more boutique shops and restaurants and a flea market every Saturday.
Telliskivi is the perfect place to round out the first day of your Tallinn itinerary as there are a number of cool places to explore, lots of art to see and plenty of places to grab a drink or a bite to eat. If you’re looking for a place for a drink, consider heading to the Purtse taproom, which serves beers from the Purtse brewery located in the east of the country.
Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more unique, the nearby Nudist Winery has interesting local fruit wines and spritzes and the Junimperium Distillery & Bar distils its own gin and serves up plenty of cocktails.
For a meal, there are countless restaurants to choose from. F-Hoone is an extremely popular choice and has a lot of great options. Kivi Paber Käärid is another great option and all of their food is completely gluten-free!
Day 2 – Tallinn Harbour and Balti Jaama Turg
Seaplane Harbour Museum
A great way to spend your second day in Tallinn is to explore the many attractions that can be found along, north of the Old Town including Patarei Prison, the Seaplane Harbour & Linnahall.
The Seaplane Harbour Museum in Tallinn is a particularly good option if you’re travelling with children, however, is also a great place to visit for people of all ages!
The museum, which is located in an old Seaplane Hanger, contains exhibits on Estonia’s maritime history; while on the harbour there are a number of ships that can be boarded and explored! You can buy a ticket just to visit the ships for €6 or a combined ticket for the museum and ships for €15. Children’s and students’ tickets are discounted.
Patarei Prison Museum
From the Seaplane Harbour, it is only a short walk to Patarei Prison. The prison was originally built as a fortress in the 19th century but gained notoriety when it started to be used as a prison during Soviet times from 1920. It housed prisoners until the beginning of the 21st century and has since been abandoned.
The prison has since been turned into a museum that you can visit to learn more about Patarei itself and Estonia during Soviet times. It’s an incredibly well-curated museum that will take about an hour or so to go through. Keep in mind that it is quite heavy and may not be suitable for younger children.
The museum, as of right now, is only open seasonally so do check that it is open and operating if you’re planning a visit. There is an €8 fee for entry, with discounts available for children, students, pensioners etc.
From Patarei Prison, walk towards another abandoned Soviet-era structure – Linnahall Concert Hall. It was built for the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics as there were some sailing events that were staged in Tallinn, however, it’s essentially been left to crumble away since then.
As with many other crumbling concrete structures around the world, it has become a popular spot for locals to hang out with friends, typically with a beer or two in hand while enjoying the view of the harbour. Similarly to Patarei Prison, there have been a number of discussions about redesigning this prime spot of real estate in the future so it’s definitely worth visiting soon!
If you’re looking for a place to relax and grab a drink nearby, consider heading to Uba Ja Humal. This is a taproom and bottle shop serving up a number of different Estonian craft beers.
If you’re keen to go for a bit more of a walk, you also could head to the Põhjala Brewery taproom, which is situated a bit closer to the seaplane harbour museum.
Balti Jaama Turg
If all that exploring has got you hungry, then walk away from the harbour towards Tallinn train station where Balti Jaama Market is located. The newly renovated market contains something for everyone and is a great melting pot of people in Tallinn.
You’ll find local residents buying fresh produce for their weekly shop as well as people tucking into their favourite food outlet. There are countless food stalls where you can grab something to eat and there is cuisine from all around the world.
BaoJaam is a very popular option – here they have a number of different bao buns to choose from. Another great option is Veg Machine which has one of the best vegan burgers I’ve ever eaten (it could satisfy even the most ardent of carnivores).
If you’re interested in learning more about the food scene in Tallinn, consider booking this food tour where you can sample the interesting culinary creations of the Estonian capital.
On the top floor of Balti Jamma Turg, you will find a massive flea market that is reminiscent of markets you will find in other former Soviet major cities. Here you can browse through antiques and kitsch and it is really a great place to spend a bit of time, either window shopping or picking up a souvenir from your 2 days in Tallinn.
Day 3 – Lahemaa National Park Day Trip or Pirita
If you only have 2 days in Tallinn, then the previous two days outlined will give you a great introduction to the city. However, if you’re lucky enough to have 3 days in Tallinn then it’s definitely worth including Lahemaa National Park or adding Pirita and the Estonian History Museum to your Tallinn itinerary!
Lahemaa National Park
One of the best things to do if you have 3 days in Tallinn is to visit Lahemaa National Park. Located only about forty minutes from central Tallinn, Lahemaa is known for its incredible bogs and beautiful beaches. If you have a car, it is possible to visit both independently.
The main highlight of Lahemaa National Park is the Viru Bog, which is accessible via public transport (take bus 155 from Balti Jaam). The bog walk is a 6km route, however, if you are travelling with children in a stroller or have mobility challenges, the first kilometres is made to be accessible for wheelchairs etc. The walk is very easy and really worth it.
If you have your own car or are interested in going on an organised tour (this full-day tour is a great option), then you also have the option of visiting the Jagala waterfall and some seaside villages, such as lovely Vosu, which boasts a beautiful beach.
Pirita & Estonian History Museum in Maarjamäe
If you would rather stay within the city on the final day of your Tallinn itinerary, then heading to Pirita and the Estonian History Museum can be a great idea.
Both these attractions are located a bit outside of the centre of Tallinn so you’ll need to utilise public transport to get there – luckily buying tickets is a breeze! The easiest option is to buy QR tickets online and then you scan them when you enter the bus.
To get to the Estonian History Museum in Maarjamäe, take any of the buses that go to Maarjamägi. The main reason we wanted to visit was to see the Soviet Monuments was what they have in the gardens behind the museum.
Here you find a collection of statues of famous Soviet leaders and party members including Lenin and Stalin. The statues haven’t been restored from their damaged states so you will see some missing body parts while others only have a head!
Inside the museum, there is an exhibition on the last 100 years of Estonian history since the founding of an independent Estonian state. You can also visit other branches of the museum in other areas of Tallinn which showcase different exhibits including the Great Guild Hall in the Old Town.
To round off your 3 days in Tallinn, get back on the bus you used to arrive and head to Pirita Beach if visiting during the warmer months. Pirita Beach is a nice city beach that is a great place to have a relaxing afternoon.
There is a forest you walk through behind the beach or even rent a sailboat or go windsurfing. There is also a long promenade you can walk along if you feel like being a bit more active!
Where to Stay in Tallinn
There are lots of accommodation options to choose from in the Estonian capital that can suit all kinds of budgets. If you’re wondering where to stay in Tallinn, have a look at these suggestions:
Savoy Boutique Hotel – A wonderful luxury option located in the Old Town, this boutique hotel is a perfect choice if you’re interested in a plush stay in Estonia’s capital. They have a number of lovely rooms available all within easy distance of the top attractions in Tallinn. Click here to see their availability
Bob W Telliskivi – For those who want to experience Tallinn like a local (or simply want their own space), these apartments are a great option. Located near Telliskivi, they have a few fully-furnished apartments that can suit plenty of visitors. They’re also situated within easy reach of Tallinn’s top sites. Click here to see their availability
Fat Margaret’s Hostel – If you’re on a budget in the Baltics then this hostel is a great option as its a range of affordable dorms as well as private rooms. They are located close to the harbour between Kalamaja and the Old Town and even have their own sauna room! Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Tallinn!
Planning a Tallinn itinerary can feel a bit daunting when you consider just how much there is to in this beautiful city. Whether you have 2 or 3 days to explore the Estonian capital, you’re sure to fall in love with this beautiful place.
Are you planning a trip to Tallinn? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!