Rick Steves’ Europe: Tallinn, Estonia

Dominated by the Soviets for 50 years, the Estonian capital boasts medieval architecture and signature chic, attracting admirers of Old World character

estonia-steves.jpg
Tiit Veermae / Alamy

Reviving the Tradition in Tallinn

Tallinn Estonia traditional song festival
(Tiit Veermae / Alamy)

In Tallinn, the end of Soviet rule paved the way for a revival of traditions.

Old Town, Tallinn

Old town Tallinn Estonia
(Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy)

Among medieval Nordic cities, none is as well preserved as Tallinn, surrounded by a largely intact wall that includes 26 watchtowers. Within colorfully painted medieval houses share cobbled lanes with blocky, Communist-style buildings

Medieval Market

Medieval market Tallinn Estonia
(Kristjan Porm / Alamy))

Tallinn's well-preserved core, with its medieval houses and outdoor markets, is filled with thriving new shops and restaurants.

Medieval Walls

Walls Tallinn Estonia
(MARKA / Alamy)

Estonian independence has also ushered in a new emphasis on the country's rich heritage, reflected in the city's medieval walls. Today, vestiges of the Communist era evoke what is viewed as a rapidly receding past.

Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia map
(Guilbert Gates)

Estonia's thriving capital, Tallinn, is just a two-hour ferry ride from Helsinki or an overnight cruise from Stockholm, Sweden.