Tallinn, Estonia's capital city, is a place that proudly holds on to its roots while moving steadily towards the future. Being home to many historic sites, like the oldest cafe in Estonia and an incredible medieval village and UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can walk around some ancient spaces that have seen the city grow throughout the ages. The people of Tallinn like to keep their traditions and culture alive, and every five years the city hosts the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration which is the biggest cultural festival in the country. This isn't the only time that the city gets festive, since its annual Christmas market is known around the world as well!
The next time that you are traveling to Estonia and want to take advantage of the top Tallinn sights you should consider adding some free attractions to your itinerary. There are so many cool places to visit and it will help you save money as well! Once you've stored your belongings with Bounce luggage storage in Tallinn, you can travel light as you choose from the list below.
Check Out the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral should make your Tallinn bucket list, not only because the building is beautiful but because it is an important reminder of the history of the city. Inside you will find Russian scripts and priests as well as impressive architectural styles and designs. Today the building still serves as a symbol of the Tsar's power from the 19th century.
The exterior of the building is just as beautiful, with the domed towers and intricately carved details. The cathedral is ironically placed near Freedom Square and overlooks the Monument to the Estonian War of Independence. Just next door you will find the Estonian Parliament Building where the current government is located.
Admire the View from Toompea Hill
Toompea Hills stands as the tallest point in Tallinn, naturally making it the best place to go for panoramic views of the city centre. Bring your camera with you since you will definitely want to capture some shots of the modern skyscrapers next to old buildings, and the Baltic Sea peaking out beyond the horizon. Fun fact; some of the city's first structures are thought to have been built on this hill, since the steep incline would ward off intruders!
Still today at the top of the hill you can see the Dome Church which is said to be dated back to the 13th century and is the oldest in the city. You can check out the church for free, and while you are up on the hill make sure to stop by the Patkuli and Kohtu viewing platforms. They are the best spots to go to admire the amazing view!
Tour the City for Free
If this is your first time visiting Tallinn, Estonia then you might want to follow along with a guided tour to learn a bit more about the place you are visiting. The Tallinn free walking tour happens every day, even on holidays, and will begin at 12 pm from the City Tourist Information Centre. Your tour guide will be a knowledgeable and entertaining student who will tell you all about their city in a fun and engaging way!
The tour will take about two hours and should bring you around the main sights of Old Town Tallinn. Afterward, you will know a bit more about the city, and it is a pretty great way to spend an afternoon considering that it doesn't cost any money! Just note that, although the tour is free, donations to the guide are appreciated.
Spot Cool Street Art in Kalamaja
Once you've spent a while in the Old Town and are ready to venture out into new neighborhoods, Kalamaja is a great place to go. This edgy hipster neighborhood used to be an industrial area but has been given a new life since then. Today the old buildings and factories have been repurposed and used as venues for art galleries, museums, cafes and craft beer bars. While you are here you should check out the Seaplane Harbour area which used to be a sea fortress!
If you want to explore the area without spending money, a fun activity can be to stroll around and try spotting some nice street art. This won't be very hard since there are quite a few murals scattered around the neighborhood, and afterward you can take a walk down The Culture Kilometer which runs by a concert hall and other cool attractions. At one point you will also pass by the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, which is also free to enter!
Walk Around the Peaceful Kadriorg Park
When the busyness of the city center gets to be too much it is always nice to take a break in a greenspace or park. In Tallinn, Kadriorg Park is one of the best places to go when you want to relax, and it actually has its own interesting stories associated with it. You will notice that the beautiful park is symmetrical, thanks to the advice given by the Russian Tsar Peter the Great when he visited Tallinn years ago.
During the spring and summertime, the park features colorful flowerbeds and cherry trees blossoming alongside the fountains and gazebos. We suggest taking a picnic here, or just walking around and exploring the area! Nearby you will find gorgeous houses, the Kadriorg Art Museum, the KUMU Art Museum, and the palace of the President of Estonia.
Visit the City Gallery
Just off of the main square of Tallinn, you will find the City Gallery which offers free admission. It houses an impressive collection of modern art that is really interesting to look at and will make you stop and think.
Most of the displays are quite unpredictable and sometimes provocative. The gallery features more than just paintings but also photographs, sculptures, and other exhibitions. Keep it in mind when you are looking for free things to do in Tallinn!
Admire St Catherine's Passage
Tallinn, Estonia is home to quite a few buildings that date back hundreds of years, and one of the best examples of the city's Medieval history is St Catherine's Passage. This old alleyway is quite imposing with tall stone arches and tombstones, some of which date back to the 14th century, and walking down it will make you feel as though you've been transported back in time.
Once you're done admiring the old architecture of the street you can do some window shopping in the small shops selling handicrafts and souvenirs, or grab a bite to eat from one of the cute cafes. This street also houses lots of artist studios and galleries. Some of them offer masterclasses where you can try your hand at making handcrafted items yourself! St Catherine's Passage can be easy to miss, so don't get discouraged if it takes a while to find it.
Browse the Balti Jaam Market
Even if you don't want to spend any money, it can be fun to browse through vintage shops or markets. One of the most interesting places to go in Tallinn is the Balti Jaam Market which is situated close to Tallinn Train Station in the Old Town.
The people at the flea market sell almost everything that you can think of, and you never really know what you might find. Keep an eye out for anything from fresh fruits and vegetables to weird trinkets and old junk. The market is open between 10 am and 5 pm, although some vendors leave early so try to not get there too late.
Take Advantage of Free Museum Sundays
There are so many fantastic Tallinn museums and it is a shame that they usually cost money to enter. However, Tallinn has this wonderful arrangement where they open a lot of them for free on the first Sunday of every month! If you happen to visit Tallinn during that time you should really take the opportunity to stop by an Estonian museum or two to check out their educational and interactive exhibits. Some of the museums that are open for free include the Tallinn City Life Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, the Vilde Museum, the House of Peter the Great, the Song Festival Grounds Visitor Centre and several more!
Other history, science and art museums worth visiting include the Carved Stone Museum, the Estonian History Museum and Great Guild Hall, the De Kök Museum, the Estonian Maritime Museum, the Seaplane Harbour Museum, the Vabamu Museum, and the Estonian Open Air Museum. Some of them will charge an entrance fee, but since you will be saving money with all of these other free attractions you should be able to fit a few of them into your budget!
Go See the Town Hall Pharmacy
You might be wondering what can be so special about a pharmacy, but this one shows the rich history of Tallinn which is what makes it worth a visit. The Town Hall Pharmacy was originally built in 1422 and, being in business for over 500 years, it is actually the longest-running pharmacy in all of Europe!
The establishment is still operating today and provides modern medicine to people from around the whole city. You can also learn a little bit about the way that medicines worked in the Middle Ages if you check out their exhibit on old herbs and cures.
Stop by St Olaf's Church
When you feel like doing some sightseeing you should consider visiting St Olaf's Church. The first church was constructed during the time of medieval Tallinn, but in the 18th century, it was reconstructed in a Gothic style. Today it is one of the many landmarks of the city.
The interior of the church is also quite beautiful, so make time to step inside while you are here. They offer a free tour of the building if you are interested in learning a little bit more about its history. There is also a tower that you can climb which offers stunning views of the city below.
See the City From Above at the Tallinn TV Tower
Speaking of nice views, one of the best places to get a birds-eye-view of the city is at the Tallinn TV Tower. It is a bit of a walk to climb up the 200 steps, but the reward once you reach the top is well worth the effort! Of course, if you would rather take the easy way up you can take a ride on the lift.
It is important to note that entrance to the TV Tower usually charges a fee, but if you have the Tallinn Card you can get in without paying a penny. Another option for great city views is atop the Pärnu Shopping Centre where all of central Tallinn can be seen below your feet.
Make Your Own Food and Beer Tasting Tour
One of the best ways to experience Estonian culture is to try their food and drinks. There are companies that can bring you on an official food tour, but if you want to make your own tasting itinerary that is just as easy.
The best spot to go to eat traditional Estonian food is on Kalev street. This area is home to some fantastic restaurants and bars, as well as the Kalev Chocolate Shop which should definitely be on your list. It was once an old chocolate factory but today it is just a simple chocolate shop. If you stick around you can watch a master chocolate maker at work, or you can sign up for a workshop to try making these tasty treats yourself!
Take a Day Trip to Lahemaa National Park
If you are a nature lover then you will want to make time to visit Lahemaa National Park. This beautiful nature reserve is situated just a short distance away from Tallinn making it the perfect destination for a day trip, especially since entry to the park is free.
This greenspace is special because it is actually the very first National Park in the entire Soviet Union. It dates back to 1971 and is still one of the biggest parks in all of Europe today. The area has lots of beautiful hiking trails going through forests and wetlands as well as small village communities in the area, some with old manors and buildings that date back nearly 500 years.
Save Money by Trying These Free Things To Do
Tallinn is one of the coolest cities in Northern Europe, and taking a vacation here shouldn't break the bank. The Estonian capital actually has quite a lot of free things to offer as long as you know where to look, and there are hidden gems around the entire city. Wander the charming streets and hit some of the popular shopping spots. Keep these things in mind the next time that you visit this part of the Baltic countries!