Thursday, 5 November 2015

Seven Places to See When Visiting Tallinn for the First Time

My youngest brother is set to visit Estonia for the very first time next week. He recently finished his studies at university and is currently travelling around Europe with a group of his friends, a trip that will no doubt create many lasting memories.  I think it is wonderful that he will soon see our ancestral homeland. Naturally I feel very excited for him! He recently asked me about the best places to visit and here are my suggestions.

1. Tallinn's Old Town

A must-see of course. Stunning 13th century architecture, cobblestone paths and beautiful old churches, the Old Town looks like it comes straight out of a fairy-tale book.

2. St. Olaf Church

Built in the 12th century St. Olaf's has long been a famous landmark in Tallinn and was the tallest building in the world from 1549 - 1625. For a small fee visitors can climb up the church tower and take in spectacular views of Tallinn.  Many great photographic opportunities await you here!

3. The Raeapteek - Town Hall Pharmacy

This is the oldest pharmacy in Estonia and one of the oldest continuously running pharmacies in Northern Europe. The Raeapteek has been operating from the same premises in Tallinn since the day it first opened in 1422. That's quite a feat considering some of the turmoil the country has experienced over the centuries. I love this building, not just for its age but because my great-great-grandfather completed his pharmacy apprenticeship here in 1860. I love visiting places knowing my family has been there years before me.

4. Kiek in de Kök & Bastion Passages

If you love a bit of adventure, climbing up towers and exploring old passageways then you'll definitely enjoy a trip to the Kiek in de Kök museum. The building is part of Tallinn's old fortress which was constructed during the 13th century and today houses an interactive museum. This is a great place to learn about Estonia's history and culture.

5. Seaplane Harbour

Recently voted as one of the best museums in Tallinn, the Seaplane Harbour is a must when visiting the city.  Its main attractions are the submarine Lembit, built in 1937, and the vintage steam icebreaker “Suur Tõll” that was built in 1914. In the Seaplane Harbour you will also find many unique artefacts and lots of interactive games such as flight and submarine simulators and shooting with air defence guns. It's lots of fun!

6. Maiasmokk Cafe

A visit to Tallinn is not complete without visiting Estonia's oldest cafe Maiasmokk which literally means 'sweet tooth' in Estonian. Built in 1864, the cafe has been operating from the same location since it opened and has been serving delicious treats ever since. Maiasmokk is famous for its marzipan and a workshop is located on the premises where visitors can watch arts of work being created.

7. Vanaema Juures ( Grandmother's Place)

Tallinn has many great restaurants and it's often difficult to decide which one to try first. The Old Hansa and The Peppersack are two of Tallinn's most popular but if you really want to experience some truly traditional Estonian cuisine then pay a visit to Vanaema Juures. ‘Grandma’s Place’ was one of Tallinn’s most stylish restaurants in the 1930s and still rates as a top choice for traditional, home-style Estonian fare. The antique-furnished, photograph-filled dining room creates a warm cosy atmosphere and during the summer it is possible to sit on the street terrace.