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Things to do in Tallinn - a beginner’s guide

Olympic Park Casino Tallinn
Olympic Casino Tallin

The Festival in Tallinn isn’t just about the poker, blackjack and roulette (although there’ll be 27 events across the week and cash games running 24 hours a day!). We picked Tallinn as our first stop for The Festival Series for a reason - it’s one of Europe’s most beautiful, vibrant and historic cities, not to mention extremely affordable, with restaurants, bars and taxis costing a fraction of what they do in some other European capitals. Karev Tralla, our representative from the Olympic Casino, helped us out with a few suggestions for some of his favourite things to do and see in Tallinn.

Take a stroll through history in the Old Town

It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, it’s just a seven minute cab ride away from the >Hilton Tallinn Park or 20 minutes on foot, and it’s completely free to wander around, taking in the magnificent architecture and general mediaeval vibe. The historic Town Hall Square comes alive with outdoor cafes and bars in the summer, and sometimes there are markets and even festivals to check out. You can pretend you’re the king of Tallinn from the ramparts of Toompea Castle, and then dine like mediaeval royalty at restaurants like Olde Hansa or marvel in religious awe at the richly decorated Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Discover Tallinn’s military history (and try not to giggle at the name) at the Kiek in de Kök artillery tower, and you can even mess about with some old-fashioned weapons yourself at the Tallinn Archery School. If you’re not sure where to start, the nice folks at Olympic Casino can organise private guided tours for groups with knowledgeable and entertaining local guides.

Soak up some culture

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Tallinn is bursting with museums of all kinds, from the highbrow KUMU national art gallery to a tour of historic Estonian architecture at the National Open Air Museum. Particularly fun (and only five minutes in a taxi from the casino!) is the Ajaloo Museum complex, which houses a number of different museums including the Film Museum and Maarjamäe Palace, where you can wander around and feel small while some of the more impressive statuary saved from Estonia’s Soviet past towers over you.

Act cool in Telliskivi & Noblessner

Karev assures us that these two creative hubs are “not just for hipsters” - although they’re both definitely riddled with arty types. Telliskivi Cultural City is a hive of creativity, with stacks of independent designers and artists selling everything from artisan chocolates to street fashion. There are also a number of innovative restaurants showcasing the best of modern Estonian food. The new development at Noblessner - at one time the principal shipbuilding centre for Imperial Russia - is a bit more tony, boasting fine dining restaurants and art galleries as well as some more casual eateries and bars, many with spectacular views over the seafront. Noblessner is also home to the renowned Hall nightclub - an after-dark mecca for techno lovers.

Ride the Retro-Tram

Tallin’s retro-trams are a thoroughly modern method of transport, but designed to look like the ones that were in operation from the 1940s to 1960s - our friendly guide Karev describes them as “like an old lady on wheels”. With their quaint wooden benches and charming old-fashioned aesthetic, enjoy a lazy ride on one of the retro-trams and imagine they’re still being pulled by horses the way they were 130 years ago, instead of powered by boring old electricity. Here’s a lol-worthy snapshot of what you can expect.

I do like to be beside the seaside

It’s not cold - it’s Baltic! Joking aside, Estonia boasts glorious weather in June and has some of the loveliest beaches in this part of Europe. There are many beaches just outside Tallinn that can be easily reached by taxi - the ones at Pirita and Kakumäe are particularly delightful. If you fancy venturing further afield, Estonia’s summer capital Pärnu is around 130km away - an easy day trip from Tallinn in a rental car, or you could always stay overnight - and there’s plenty of other fun outdoorsy stuff to do there as well if you reckon 14 degrees sounds a bit chilly for a swim.

Seize the night

Activities

Nightlife is a big deal in Tallinn, and with prices astoundingly low compared to other major European cities, you can hit the town every night without making too much of a dent in your bankroll. From pubs popular with Brits on stag dos to rock clubs where you can see up-and-coming Finnish metal acts go nuts, cosy neighbourhood bars to upmarket bottle-service clubs - the city comes alive at night, and there really is something for everyone. Whatever kind of music or vibe you’re after, you can find it after dark in Tallinn - you’re limited only by how much liquor your liver can take and how little sleep you can get away with. You can check out some of the more interesting options here.

This is of course but a small selection of what’s on offer in and around Tallinn. There’s plenty more info to be found at www.visittallinn.ee - but of course, the best way to get to know the city is just to dive right in. See you there in June!