Tallinn's Top 5 Landmarks

Tallinn Travel

Tallinn, well-known for its medieval charm yet always at the cutting edge of modernity, has had a lot to offer travelers since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The city is a valuable treasure, as evidenced by the inclusion of its historic Old Town district on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Tallinn, Estonia's capital, is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe. Its cobblestone lanes wrap around magnificent old buildings and towering churches. The city is also a great place to visit if you're looking for an urban getaway that combines the comforts of modern life, vibrant nightlife, and luxurious experiences with a thriving cultural scene.

Compared to one another, the three Baltic capitals are different. Rīga reminded me of Stockholm and Vilnius of Poland's city, while Tallinn is unlike any other city – its Gothic Old Town is unique. With brief descriptions of each, here is my list of the five most iconic Tallinn landmarks.

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Tallinn Map

Top 5 Landmarks in Tallinn

1. Tallinn Town Hall

Tallinn Landmark
Tallinn Town Hall at night

The Tallinn Town Hall, which dates from the 13th century, is the only surviving Gothic town hall in the Baltics and Scandinavia. It won a prize in the category of architectural heritage conservation in 2005 for "the revival of the last surviving Gothic Town Hall in Northern Europe and the exemplary revealing of all the historical layers of this icon of the great European tradition of municipal power."

The gray limestone building has two stories and a large basement. Clay tiles cover its roof. The tower, constructed in 1402–1404, originally wore a Gothic pyramid helmet; in 1627, it became 26 meters high in the late Renaissance style. You might want to climb the 64-meter- or 210-foot-high Town Hall tower if you want to get a unique perspective on Tallinn's Old Town.

Address: Raekoja plats 1, Kesklinna linnaosa, Tallinn, Estonia
Website: Tallinn Town Hall

2. Medieval Walls of Tallinn

Medieval Tallinn
View of the Maiden and Artillery Towers from the wall passage

The 13th-century Walls of Tallinn, one of Europe's best-preserved medieval fortifications, include nearly 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) of the original wall, 20 defense towers, and several gates. Undoubtedly, the fortification gives the Old Town of Estonia's capital a fairytale-like charm.

The towers have different names for each other. Many house museums, while a few provide fun activities for youngsters and teens. Walking is possible along the wall that connects Nunne, Sauna, and Kuldjala towers. The Medieval Walls of Tallinn are only a 5-minute stroll from the central train station.

Address: Suur-Kloostri, 10133 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: Tallinn's city wall

3. St. Olaf's Church

Tallinn Landmark
View of St. Olaf's Church from the Patkuli viewing platform

St. Olaf's Church is the tallest medieval structure in Tallinn. The church dates from the 13th century, but it took on its current shape and size in the 16th century. In a legend, Olaf, the church's architect, died when he fell from the tower after building the church. A snake and a toad allegedly came out of his mouth when the body hit the ground. There is a wall-carving depicting this event in the adjoining Virgin Mary Chapel.

The Gothic stellar vault and the 16th-century chapel are the church's main embellishments. Its 124-meter (407-foot) tower is one of the symbols of Estonia's capital. Inside, 232 stairs lead up to the observation deck, open from April to October.

Address: Lai 50, 10133 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: EEKBKL Oleviste kogudus

4. St. Catherine's Passage

Mediaval Tallinn
Old tombstones on the St. Catherine's passage wall

Behind the former 13th-century building of St. Catherine's Church is St. Catherine's Passage, one of the most charming streets in Tallinn's Old Town, just a short distance from the Town Hall. The northern side of the passage has old tombstones that once lined the church and today honor the city's history and heritage.

Feel the old-world vibe created by the cobblestone path and crumbling walls in this iconic passageway, and imagine the street as it was several centuries ago. Take a break for lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes located along the way. It's also a great place for locally made gift items as numerous small open shops offer traditional handcrafted artisan products such as ceramics, decor, jewelry, handpainted silk, and quilts.

St. Catherine's Passage connects buildings 12 and 14 on Vene Street to building 50 on Müürivahe Street.

5. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Orthodox Tallinn
Southern view of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built-in 1900 during Estonia's time as a part of the Tsarist Empire, is the country's principal Russian Orthodox cathedral and one of Tallinn's most magnificent examples of Orthodox sacral architecture. This onion-domed building stands atop Toompea Hill.

It was designed in the Russian Byzantine style by Mikhail Preobrazhensky, a well-known Russian architect born in Vabalninkai town (now in Lithuania but then in the Russian Empire). Among his other notable works: the Church of the Nativity of Christ and St. Nicholas in Florence (Italy), the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice (France), and the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Address: Lossi plats 10, 10130 Tallinn, Estonia
Website: Nevsky sobor

Private Shore Excursion: Tallinn Old Town Walking Tour with Round-Trip Transfer

The 3-hour Tallinn Old Town Private Walking Tour with Round-Trip Transfer is perfect for those who want to explore the historic center of Tallinn with a personal guide, visit cafes and workshops, and relax with private return transfers from and to the cruise terminal gate.

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