One of Europe's most enchanting cities, Tallinn is a heady blend of medieval and modern, with narrow, cobbled streets set beneath the spires of 14th-century churches, and a wild mix of restaurants, cafés, boutiques and nightclubs hidden in the carved stone walls.
The World Heritage-listed Old Town has plenty of distractions for even the most ambitious itinerary. Although large art museums are nonexistent, you'll find some historic gems that illuminate both Tallinn's medieval past and its long grey days under the Soviet yoke. Meanwhile, its growing gallery scene showcases Estonia's most creative 21st-century artists.
Colour isn't limited to the art world. The flare of the streets is decidedly fashion-forward, with Tallinn's boutiques bearing the imprint of rising Estonian designers. This contrasts with the centuries-old artisan traditions of glassblowing, weaving and pottery, all of which make Tallinn such a shoppers' paradise.
Tallinn's café culture is hard to match. Art-Deco patisseries, cosy, candlelit anterooms and breezy, sunlit patios are the settings for strong coffee and people-watching - a fine prelude to the city's alluring restaurants and bars. Decadent old-world dining rooms, charming wine cellars and superstylish bistros provide the backdrop to exquisite dishes from every savoury corner of the globe.
Tallinn's nightlife rages until the morning, with steamy nightclubs, slinky lounges, expat bars and colourful gay clubs, all hidden inside the Old Town walls. Culture seekers can sate themselves with choral concerts, classical recitals, theatre (human or puppet) and plenty of pop, rock and jazz.
Outside the medieval quarters, there's lots to see. Delve into the past at Peter the Great's Kadriorg Palace, a baroque masterpiece surrounded by idyllic woodlands. Or when the summer sun arrives, make like a local and head to Pirita or Väna-Jõesuu for a slice of beach action. There are also coastal islands and a bizarre old cliff-top military base. But don't stop there; you'll find plenty more to discover in this vibrant city.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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