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Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) have a reputation of being European budget destinations – especially in comparison to their ultra-pricy Scandinavian neighbors. On our recent visit to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, we found that our small budget went a long way. Entry fees into most Tallinn sights were quite affordable – and we realized a huge cost-saving on Tallinn sightseeing with the Tallinn Card. However, during our time in the city, we also sought out Tallinn activities that didn’t cost a dime and found these 5 fun and free things to do in Tallinn, Estonia.
Free Things to Do in Tallinn
Toompea Hill Viewing Platforms
There are two parts to Tallinn’s Old Town: Lower Town and Toompea Hill. Long ago, the hill provided strategic lookout points for safeguarding the city below. Today, Toompea Hill is one of the most popular Tallinn attractions, including the two free viewing platforms – Kohtu and Patkuli – where visitors can gaze over the historic Old Town rooftops and rising church steeples. Link to Google Map of viewing platforms.
Linnahall Soviet-era Structure
Along the harbor, outside of the Old Town, is Linnahall – a gigantic slab of Soviet-era concrete (originally named V. I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport). The massive structure, which can reportedly be seen from outer space, was built in 1980 for the summer Olympics sailing events. Until 2010, Linnahall housed an ice skating rink and concert venue, but now the building is covered in graffiti and mostly abandoned (although we heard plans for renovations are underway). Although access to the interior is forbidden, it’s free to tromp around the structure. Standing atop the concrete monolith provides sweeping views of the bay and serves as a stark reminder of Soviet occupation in Estonia. Link to Google Map of Linnahall.
Kalamaja hispster district
Kalamaja is Tallinn’s edgy district, frequented by local hipsters and visitors looking for a change of scenery from the medieval Old Town. Once an industrial area of town, Kalamaja is now flourishing with creativity. Abandoned factories have been repurposed to house inventive museums, cool cafes and craft beer bars. Stroll around Telliskivi Creative Hub and admire the street art murals or walk The Culture Kilometer, which actually stretches 2.2 kilometers from the Linnahall building to the Seaplane Harbour Museum. Along the way is the free Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia.
Lounge24 at Radisson Blu
OK, drinks at Lounge24 are not complimentary (yet not incredibly expensive either) – but stepping onto the 24th floor, open-air deck at Radisson Blu is free! The spacious terrace offers stunning Tallinn city skyline views. Although we are certain they would like you to take a seat for a round of drinks (we stayed for a beer at sunset!), they don’t charge an admission fee, so you are free to take in the view, take a photo and then be on your way.
Free Walking Tour Tallinn
Let a guide lead you through the city for free! The Tallinn Walking Tour offered by Freetour.com covers the top Tallinn tourist attractions led by informative, English-speaking guides. The daily 2-hour tour departs at noon from the Tallinn Tourist Information Center. Note: Although this Tallinn city tour is free, tips are appreciated.
Bonus Tip: Save with the Tallinn Card
As already mentioned, if visiting Tallinn museums and other city sights with entry fees is on your list of things to do in Tallinn, the Tallinn Card might save you money. Read about our day of Tallinn Sightseeing for more information.
Our top tips for your trip to Tallinn
Where To Stay
During our visit to Tallinn, we stayed in this cozy Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. Tallinn holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner.
However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Tallinn hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Schlossle Hotel or Hotel Palace. Or, find a deal on a hotel room by bidding on Priceline.
Budget travelers can search for Tallinn Hostels – like Red Emperor Hostel or The Knight House. For a true bargain – and a unique experience – search for hosts on Couchsurfing, where travelers stay with locals for free.
Before You Go
- Tallinn is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city…and especially Tallinn! Make sure to have a good Tallinn guide book (like this one from Lonely Planet) before arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
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