48 hours in Estonian capital Tallinn


Travel postcard

You could easily lose yourself while exploring the Estonian capital's well-preserved medieval Old Town or become absorbed in Tallinn's gritty Soviet and spy-laden past.

Whatever your interests, local correspondents show you how to make the most of 48 hours in Tallinn.


5 p.m. - Arrival and check in. There are many good hotels in the Old Town or near by, including the spa Hotel Telegraaf (www.telegraafhotel.com), where European central bankers stay, or boutique hotels The Three Sisters and Schlossle.

If you like a good view, try the Raddisson Blu, Swissotel or the Soviet-built, now modernised, Sokos Viru.

6 p.m. - Plunge straight into the heart of the Old Town by heading for Town Hall Square. Tallinn is a Hanseatic architecture-lover's dream and is protected by UNESCO. The small city of half a million people bills itself as the most intact medieval city in Europe. It still has the original street system (from 13th to 15th century) and most of the 14th and 15th century houses in their original size and form. In addition to the numerous houses, barns and warehouses of the general population and traders, all of the main representative/governmental buildings and churches are still intact.

The town hall is the last surviving Gothic town hall in northern Europe.

Tours are possible in winter if booked in advance. Tallinn has a distinctly Germanic feel. It was established by Danes more than 800 years ago and has been ruled by Germans and Russians. In the Soviet period it was under Moscow's direct control. Estonia was independent between 1918 and the start of Soviet rule in 1940 and became a sovereign nation again in 1991.

7 p.m. - If you are keen to try traditional Estonian food head from Town Hall Square up Dunkri street to Kuldse Notsu korts (the Golden Piglet Inn). Don't forget to try some of Estonia's dark and heavy porter, which seems to suit snowy winters.

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