Food, Wine and Fairytales in Tallin
Estonia’s capital is a fairytale town, small enough to not feel overwhelming on a two or three-day break. Tallinn never fails to amaze visitors with its historical charm. At its heart is the Medieval Old Town, an area of cobblestone streets, gabled houses, churches and squares that developed here from the 13th to the 16th centuries when Tallinn boomed as a key Hanseatic commercial hub. Old Town has long been the main draw for newcomers – in fact it’s so unique that UNESCO added it to its World Heritage List in 1997. Other regions of the city reflect different ages, from the romantic, Tsarist-era Kadriorg Park to the unforgettable, early 20th-century wooden house district of Kalamaja. A modern shopping and business district in the city centre completes the tableau, making Tallinn an amazing blend of old and new.
Historical meeting point
Ever since the days of Viking traders Tallinn has been a meeting point for various cultures and nations, so visitors coming from any direction are bound to find something familiar, and something exotic, when they explore the city. Estonia’s various rulers – Danish, Livonian, German, Swedish and Russian – have each left their mark on Tallinn’s landscape, and their influence can be found reflected in the city’s architecture, art and even its restaurant cuisine. The food is fantastic – reindeer or fish with fruit and sweet, sharp sauces. Breakfasts are cured meat and fish with dark tasty bread. Coffee shops with huge comfy sofas welcome you in for a warming hot chocolate and brandy after a gentle morning walking through the beautiful old town. It’s an extraordinary city.
City of culture
Estonia loves to showcase its rich culture, especially the traditional mass singing events that define the soul of the nation. Chief among these is the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration, held every five years, which involves as many as 37,000 performers and attracts over 200,000 spectators. There are also a number of major annual events to see including Tallinn Music Week, the Jazzkaar International Jazz Festival, Old Town Days, Medieval Days, Tallinn Maritime Days, Birgitta Festival, Tallinn Marathon, Black Nights Film Festival and the Simple Session skateboard and BMX competition.
Tallinn is widely recognised as one of the world’s most technology-oriented cities, offering a range of cutting-edge solutions from e-residency to mobile parking. Free Wi-Fi is available just about everywhere, including hotel rooms, conference centres, restaurants, cafés and even public squares and parks. The city also hosts a dynamic business community, of which tech plays a major part. Tallinn, for example, is home to the world development headquarters of Skype.
If you decide a longer stay is in order in this beautiful country a visit to Tartu should be on your list. This leafy town of students, intellectuals and creatives brings back sweet, youthful memories to many who have once toured the city on a bicycle during their student days.
A home to one of Northern Europe’s oldest universities, Tartu has a wealth of museums and an upbeat nightlife. Upon your arrival in Tartu, you are soon welcomed by a statue of kissing students standing in a large Classicist town square nearby museums, cafes and a large park formed around a hill.
Tartu is very compact, with most sights, restaurants and nightlife nestled across a couple of parallel streets. Being the second largest town in Estonia and a hot bed for creative and scientific culture, there is always something on from theatre performances to concerts and festivals.
A top tip from our team here at The Limerick Magazine (as we are frequent visitors to Tartu) is to pop to our favourite bar, Kivi Bar and say hello to owner Simon, you might also meet the famous Kasper Sor, who will certainly be great for tips from a local on what to do in Tartu.
For fun and family activities, Otepää is the place for you, especially for families Skiing and snowboarding, it is ideal for beginners. You can rent a log cabin, with a sauna as a tradition in Estonia, a dive into the snow after sauna… Naked!
Article by: Michelle Costello
Photography by: Toomas Volmer, Allan Alajaan
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