Looking to book a Tallinn city break? The capital of Estonia made for quite a pleasant surprise.
How to get to Tallinn, Estonia
In all honesty, we were looking for a 160 BA Tier Point run (which makes perfect sense if you are also a BA Executive Club Gold member). Ironically, I was 100% sure that the (then) direct flight from London Heathrow to Tallinn, Estonia earned us a nice 80 tier points each way… but it actually did not. But worry not, the flight direct flight does not exist anymore, but do not let it put you off visiting Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, for a minute.
It is easy to get there via Helsinki (how we returned, as planned), and for the inconvenience, you actually get 200 tier points return. But ignore that for now.
We landed at Tallinn airport just before 8.30pm and we arrived to our hotel just in time for last orders for dinner. We used Uber as there was no Blacklane.
And where is Estonia? The map shows Estonia, a country in Eastern Europe bounded by the Gulf of Finland in the north and the Baltic Sea in the west. It borders Latvia in the south and Russia in the east, and it shares maritime borders with Finland.
The country is one of the three Baltic states, which are Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (countries I have not visited yet).
Where to stay in Tallinn, Estonia
In the old town part of the city, we were highly recommended to stay at the Hotel Telegraaf, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and it made for the perfect base to explore the city during our weekend in Tallinn.
Room rates started at 179 Euros, and because we are Platinum Elite with Marriott Bonvoy (while still insisting we are Starwood people!), we were upgraded to a lovely suite.
What to do in Tallinn on a late Friday night
First things first, there are 2 hours difference between London (GMT) and Tallinn (one hour between most of Europe and Tallinn) and that impacted our evening, but we made it work, of course!
We made ‘last call’ to dinner at Tchaikovski, which was our hotel’s fine dining restaurant and again recommended by everyone we spoke to as a ‘must go’. It is a Russian restaurant, and I have only had Russian food on my visit to Moscow many moons ago, and it made for an interesting experience. We asked for advice as had no idea what to order and the staff could have not been more helpful.
Looking at our bill (142.50 Euros for 2, including 1 glass of wine for me and 2 for my husband), it seems that we ate “Pelmeni”, or Russian dumplings, and then venison and cod, ending with a delicious pavlova.
We ended our dinner at 11pm but we couldn’t really go to bed – as it really was 9pm in London and interestingly, the hotel bar lacked in ambiance.
I wasn’t expecting to find a “cocktail scene” in Tallinn and I have to say, I am delighted that my friend told us about it and made us pre-book a table at Wisper Sister. (I am linking to their Facebook page, where you send them a message or you just call +372 5874 7837 and they tell you where to go). We were within walking distance of our hotel (15 minutes or so) and it was a lovely way to digest our meal. The people watching was excellent and it was a very nice bar.
The first 2 photos above are of Botaanik, which we visited on the following day before dinner, and was also really worth a visit. Both bars are worth a visit if you are spending a weekend in Tallinn.
What to do on a Saturday in Tallinn
We started our day with breakfast at the hotel, which really was not great (and I don’t need much for breakfast). It was impossible to get any herbal tea or decaf coffee (I couldn’t have caffeine as I was preparing for a sadly failed 4th IVF cycle) which seemed random and the spread was not great. The service was completely different from the dinner the night before and it just didn’t seem the same place.
But back to sightseeing… so what should one do on a Saturday in Tallinn? The honest answer was… no idea. We asked the hotel concierge and she recommended a private guide for a couple of hours. In all honesty, it seemed perfect. We knew nothing about Estonia, its culture or history and it was a great way to explore the city.
We had Maria with us for 2 hours (cost around 100 Euros) and I would recommend the experience. Probably worth pre-booking with the hotel concierge prior to your Tallinn city break as we were lucky she was available.
The old town of Tallinn is UNESCO-listed, and the recipient of a few cruise ships (as you can see above), but it actually was very pretty. We saw castles, churches, the parliament, walked up and down hills, explored some little courtyards and it was lovely to be guided for once – and not knowing where I was going.
Before we went for lunch, we made a quick stop at Cafe Maiasmokk, which is the oldest cafe in Estonia and apparently the home of marzipan.
For lunch, we had pre-booked lunch at Leib, which was located inside a garden not far from our hotel – and embraced the whole farm to table movement, which really has a lot of momentum in Estonia.
We ate very well (lunch was 40 Euros for both and I think it included a glass of wine for my husband, but I honestly cannot tell from the bill which really was in Estonian, obviously).
We managed to have a delicious ice cream at Gelato Ladies (almost across the road from the hotel).
For the rest of the afternoon, we fancied a rest and some time by our hotel pool and spa, which seemed to be lovely.
I wished I could tell you I had a great afternoon – but I would be lying. I went to check in to our flights the following day (we were due to fly at 2.50pm with a connection in Helsinki), and I was surprised to see that our flights had been changed… to 2 hours earlier.
Our flights were booked with a connection time of 50 minutes – which is perfectly normal in Helsinki, which probably offers the most efficient airport connections in Europe and guarantees connections at 40 minutes. Our flight had been booked a couple of weeks before… and BA’s system cancelled it the day before we flew back because it was under 60 minutes. No one knew why, and they were still selling the same flight combinations all the following days… and I spent my afternoon arguing with BA, which I will never get back and was a real shame.
We did get a refund of half of our flights (when we got home, after some serious complaining), but it completely ruined our Sunday as we had to be at the airport just past 10am, not to mention what it did to our Saturday afternoon.
Anyway, we went to for a drink and then arrived in good time for our Saturday night dinner, which was really good. We were (again) told to go to Noa, which is located 15 minutes or so from the city centre. It is considered one of the best (if not the best) restaurant in Tallinn and we were able to get on one of the side chef tables, with great views of the prep area and also the dining room. Note: there are no Michelin-starred restaurants in the Baltics, but it could be changing soon. Noa would earn the equivalent of 2 stars, just for reference, according to The White Guide Nordic.
The tasting menu (11 courses) cost 89 Euros, but because we felt it was too much food, we chose the ‘reduced version’ of ‘only’ 9 courses for 79 Euros and the matching wines for 79 Euros for my husband (Total: 277 Euros for 2). We had a really special meal and recommend a visit when you next visit Tallinn.
What to do on a Sunday morning in Tallinn
I would love to tell you, but with our flight change, we really had an hour between breakfast and our new airport pick up time. It did make a difference to our Tallinn city break, it really did.
We made it back to the main square which was quite empty – and I was sad to miss our very early lunch at Rataskaevu.
Getting back home
Our flight home went without a glitch – it was a very easy connection between our 30 minute flight from Tallinn to Helsinki and then our slightly longer hop to London. You get the 2 hours back, which is quite handy.
Helsinki to London is a 160 BA Tier Point destination, and the quick connection was worth another 40 tier points, so it made for a nice qualifying flight.
We really enjoyed our Tallinn city break and were really pleased we chose to visit it. We ate much better than we thought it would – and I have no issue recommending this city as a great contender for a different city break.
I saw basically nothing – just the Old Town and I am sure there is a lot more interesting places to visit in the city.
Until the next time.
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Tallinn City Break Fact box:
- We stayed at the Hotel Telegraaf, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and our room was around 180 Euros per night. We receive free breakfast as elite members.
- Our flights with BA and Finnair were around £500 each in business class.