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Exploring Tallinn on our own

Baltic Cruise (Tallinn) . 2015 . Aug 10

This post is part of our Baltic Cruise + Southampton 2015 Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here

Tallinn, Estonia is totally explorable on your own, especially when its Old Town and city are only a short walk away from the pier where the Caribbean Princess docked.  Unknown to many, Tallinn is actually the capital of Estonia, and is also the birthplace of Skype.  Hard to believe that such a world-famous application came from a relatively unknown town in the world!

In order to explore the city of Tallinn independently,  we need a reliable map first and foremost, and you can easily download a copy from the official Visit Tallinn website here.

See how near the pier is to the start of the walking tour of the Old Town.

The first landmark we see was the Fat Margaret, which is like a gateway to the Old Town.  In fact, historically, the Fat Margaret was built with defence in mind, and was the city’s largest fortification against invaders arriving by sea.  Measuring 25 metres in diameter and built of walls 5 metres thick, I suppose its large waistline gave it the name of Fat Margaret.  The Fat Margaret now serves as the venue of the Estonian Maritime Museum.

Entering the fortress.  The city beyond beckons…

Our first impression of Tallinn Old Town?  Pretty much like Bruges, Belgium on a smaller scale, and with a less touristy feel to it.

One sight impossible to miss would be the St. Olav Church near the gateway to the Old Town.  Standing at 125 metres tall,  it towers over everything else and was almost impossible to fit into the screen of our camera.

Tallinn’s Old Town has been astonishingly well preserved and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.  As with Bruges, Belgium, it is covered in cobbled streets and filled with medieval houses and alleyways.

The town is still protected by the remnants of a  city wall. Around the city wall is a series of well-maintained green parks which is great for strolling.

This part of Tallinn Old Town certainly reminds me of the Market Square of Bruges!

Loving outdoor cafes like these which allows me to people-watch.

As we explored the Old Town of Tallinn on foot, we met these tour groups from the cruise ships. Makes us wonder why they needed to join a group tour, because Tallinn is so convenient and accessible from the sea port and the town so easy to explore, you hardly need anyone to bring you around!

Perhaps, the most distinguishing feature of Tallinn Old Town is Toompea Hill, a limestone hill in the central of Tallinn city, and about 20-30 metres higher than the surroundings.  To get to the peak of Toompea Hill, we had to climb this narrow cobblestone pathway at a rather steep incline.

The reward of our physical efforts was this breath-taking views of Tallinn and the waters around it. We could even spot the Caribbean Princess and the other 2 cruise ships beside it.  The peak of St. Olav Church stands tall against the backdrop of medieval red-tiled roofs of the UNESCO-designated Old Town.

For me, I loved watching the activities of people at street level.

At the top of Toompea Hill, there are at least 2 viewing platforms like this offering different angles of the Tallinn city.

This must be the best view of Tallinn!

Tallinn is actually a fantastic place for shopping, especially if you are looking to pick up an affordable piece of Baltic amber jewellery.  As compared to the previous ports of calls, the variety and price range here at Tallinn is the best.   There are multiple such amber shops in Tallinn, many of them at Toompea Hill itself, and all you ever need is adequate time to peek in to enough of these shops to find a piece you like.

Quaint little souvenir shops like these are also everywhere at Tallinn, and though unique, I couldn’t help but think that there must be little rainfall at Tallinn for them to be confident enough to built a shop at the basement and not think of the possibility of flooding!

Beyond the Old Town, some other parts of Tallinn are a lot more modern, with the bigger roads converted into fashionable shopping streets that looks so much like the shopping streets in Copenhagen and Stockholm.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a onion-domed 19th-century Russian Orthodox church that has become a tourist symbol of the city.  It is one of the most awesome piece of architecture, and to us, fresh from Russia, it certainly looks like the kind of church that we saw there!

Some interesting sights worth having a look at Tallinn city.

Its the first time we came across any form of busking in this trip, but certainly, we were surprised to see children performing for money!

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Join us next as we do our shopping at Tallinn city.

This post is part of our Baltic Cruise + Southampton 2015 Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

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