Estonia is the northernmost Baltic State. Tallinn, the capital is a wonderful place to spend a weekend, and one of Europes best kept secrets.
In the summer the medieval city, with its array of historic buildings, and very long daylight hours has a multitude of pavement cafes for meeting with friends or watching the world go by. In the winter the bars, many in cellars, are a haven from the cold and have huge log fires burning. There are great restaurants to suit every palette, and a good choice of nightlife.
Throughout the summer it is possible to combine a city trip to Tallinn with a few days at the Baltic resort of Parnu, once a summer playground for the soviet elite! Flights from the UK leave at 18.00, and arrive back at 17.15, making them ideal for a weekend,which hardly impinges on the working week.
The Baltic States were the first to gain independence from Soviet Union. Of the three states Estonia has developed the furthest economically and politically. Tallinn, the capital, is a medieval walled city with history going back to 1154 when an Arab geographer included the town of Kolyvan (the original name) on his map of northern Europe.
The medieval city centre is split into upper and lower Tallinn. Upper Tallinn is the old walled town full of narrow cobbled streets and squares with old churches and houses. Lower Tallinn has more cobbled streets lined with cafes, bars and shops; the remains of the original city walls surround this.Tallinn is a surprisingly sophisticated city with a variety of museums and art galleries. Its fine medieval centre is full of restaurants and bars with a wide choice of cuisine. The airport is only fifteen minutes from the centre.
The old city centre is where most people tend to migrate at lunch time and during the evening.We found that a number of the restaurant and bar owners were foreigners that had visited Tallinn once and never left.The feeling as you walk through the streets is that of contentment and excitement.
The people were freed from the clutches of the Soviet Union in 1991, since then, they have made the most of their time. Business is booming, the shops sell international branded products and the bars and restaurants are bustling with life. Young Estonians tend to be the most natural entrepreneurs, presumably because they were least effected by the communist mentality; they chat on portable telephones at every street corner discussing the next big deal.
In the summer the cobbled streets and squares are full of chairs and tables where people sit and chat in the sun, drinking coffee or very good local beer. Most of the restaurants have seating outside so that you can watch the world go by. The food varies from Estonian to German, and Belgian to American, the choice is yours. Most meals will cost between £5 and £10 including drinks, so eating out is fun and good value.
During the winter there is normally snow on the ground and the people crowd in to coffee shops, bars and restaurants with roaring open fires. Being the Baltic, all the hotels and other buildings are geared for cold weather so life goes on as normal.
The nightlife in Tallinn is some of the best in Scandinavia. In fact many Scandinavians visit Tallinn at weekends for good value food, drink and shopping.The bars, restaurants and nightclubs are up to a good European standard and open very late. There are a number of casinos for those that wish to have a flutter. Dikoltee is supposed to be the largest and most modern nightclub in Scandinavia, with top European DJ's visiting each weekend to play the latest music. The club also has a good restaurant and a number of fun bars.
During the summer months Parnu, a seaside resort, becomes a popular destination for many Scandinavians. Parnu has some of the best beaches in the Baltic together with swimming pools, tennis courts and many other sports facilities. "During the Soviet days Parnu was one of the Estonia Russian Cathedral in Old Tallinn summer resorts for the elite and party officials". Combined with Tallinn this would make an interesting and fun summer trip. As with Tallinn, Parnu has a good choice of bars and restaurants offering a variety of different atmospheres to suit most tastes.