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Just across the Baltic Sea, a mere 60kms (37 miles) from Helsinki, Finland, lies the town of Tallinn. Touted as the 'New Prague' of Europe, the capital of Estonia has been an important maritime trading hub since it was established in the 12th century.


Its medieval old town core is one of the best preserved in northern Europe, earning it UNESCO World Heritage site status.

For most of its modern existence, Tallinn has been volleyed back and forth between the Russians and the Germans. Its independence came only in 1991, but it is quickly gaining the interest of global travellers looking for a different face of Europe.

The various cultures that have ruled Estonia all left their mark on the capital Tallinn. The old town is enclosed within stone walls that remain intact after more than 500 years, a lucky survivor of the German occupation during WWII.

Inside lie hundreds of lovely red-tile roofed homes, ancient churches and narrow winding cobblestone streets. It's a magical city to explore, especially on foot.

Despite being the capital of Estonia, Tallinn is a small, modest city. Even so, its streets contain a surprising number of quality art galleries, cafes, bars, boutique shops and impressive architectural attractions. The Black Sea is right on the doorstep of Tallinn, offering decent beaches, water sports and natural hideaways.

Tallinn is still rebranding itself after a long, static period of Soviet rule. Many of the hotels in the city embody the dull monotonous character of Soviet-era design, but fortunately the old town is full of charming accommodation that offer excellent value for money.

The newer hotels are also bucking the Soviet trend and going for a more classic European style. Visitors will find that the lodging in Tallinn compares well with western European equivalents.

If you plan to visit during the busy summer season (June to August), make sure you book a room online in advance.

Most visitors fly to Tallinn, but overland travellers have several options to get to this city.

Hydrofoils frequently ply the Baltic Sea from Helsinki and Stockholm, while trains and coaches arrive from regional destinations around northern Europe. You can also drive yourself to Tallinn if you rent a car and have a sense of adventure.