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Next to the Baltic Sea lies the 13th-century medieval city of Tallinn, filled with Gothic church spires, cobbled streets and orange-tiled roofs. Estonia’s capital has developed into a sophisticated creative hub, with converted warehouses now hosting film studios, art galleries and micro-breweries. Admire old city walls or climb Toompea Hill for splendid views. With shops, museums and a lively atmosphere, Kalamaja or Telliskivi Creative City represent the modern side of Tallinn.
True to the city's bohemian and artistic lifestyle, you'll find Tallinn hostels with graffiti by iconic Baltic artist SAKI, and one inspired by the films of French director Jean-Luc Godard. Lots of hostels in Tallinn have communal lounges, including one with a piano and cosy chimney in the corner, and shared kitchens. Travelling alone? Choose a Tallinn hostel that organises pub crawls, or one with its own bar – you'll even find a hostel that treats you to a free welcome drink of local liquor.
There are plenty of hostels near the Town Hall Square, Raekoja plats, close to heritage pubs, medieval churches and the historic city walls. The commercial centre of Tallinn is south-east of the old town and filled with modern shopping malls, supermarkets and clothes stores. It also has the city’s best clubs and lots of upmarket bars. Kalamaja is where the local students and creative types live in painted wooden houses surrounded by laid-back cafés and restaurants – all within walking distance of the old town.
After losing yourself among the winding alleyways of the old town, you can climb Toompea Hill to see the staggering Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a 19th-century Russian Orthodox church. Just around the corner are the Kohtuotsa and Patkuli viewing platforms for the best views of the skyline. Wander outside the walls to Telliskivi Creative City for a taste of the real Tallinn. Balti Jaam Market has local delicacies like smoked chicken and fermented rye bread.
Central Tallinn is easy to get around on foot, and is well connected by bus, trolley or tram if you're going outside the city. There are also bicycle routes throughout the city and the suburbs. If you're arriving into Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport, there are buses and trams connecting to the city centre in about 15 minutes. Ships coming from Helsinki, Stockholm and St Petersburg arrive at the Port of Tallinn, a short walk from the old town.