Tallinn in Winter – Christmas Strolls
If you want to experience a fairy tale in winter, then discover Tallinn in winter and spend Christmas in Estonia’s main city. Here on New Year’s Eve, the mood is magical, fragrant and soulful.
In addition, it is better to celebrate Christmas according to the Catholic calendar in one of the European cities, and the Estonian capital would be a great choice for a winter walk.
Photo by Sergei Hunter
First of all, tourists are attracted by Tallinn’s medieval buildings. Many recommend beginning your acquaintance with the city from the “gate of time. It sounds fantastic, what gates of time appeared in the Estonian capital.
In fact, the gate of time is often called the Viru Gate. Viru Gate, or rather what is left of them over the centuries of history, was erected in the fourteenth century and was part of the defensive wall complex.
Viru Gate served as the main entrance to the city from the east. Now Viru Gate is three towers, two of which had a connecting arch, which, unfortunately, has not survived to this day. The third tower was added in the XIX-XX centuries.
From the history of Viru Gate it is clear why they received their second name – the gate of time, because crossing the line of the gate you get from modern Tallinn to the medieval city, where everything breathes with antiquity.
Dwarves in red hats tower over Tallinn Dwarves have been guarding the city for centuries. In fact, everything is more prosaic, the gnomes are the huge towers of the Viru fortress gate. Photo oleg-n
In front of the Viru Gate on the hill is a park, where couples in love like to spend time. Apparently for this reason, the hill was called Kissing Hill, which sounds Musimägi in Estonian.
Two sculptures by Tauno Kangro, “The Moment Before the Kiss” and “The Moment After the Kiss,” have been installed on the hill for lovers to remember their happy moments for a long time. Surely, couples who have decided to tie their lives are bound to go to this place to seal their union with a kiss in such a historic place.
Park in front of Viru Gate in winter clothes. Photo by Sergei Hunter
If you get hungry during the medieval sightseeing, you can eat at an inexpensive fast-food restaurant “Lido” located near Viru Gate.
Viru Gate takes us to Viru pedestrian street. The street stretches for almost one and a half kilometers. On this ancient street, paved with gray stone, you can get to the main square of Tallinn – Town Hall Square.
Dreamy Tallinn in winter Photo by Svetlana SH
Walking the streets of Tallinn is a pleasure, especially during the Christmas season. The old streets can charm even the die-hard skeptics.
In old Tallinn, you want to look into every corner, and capture the memory of every house.
For the walks through the old streets of Tallinn, where you can plunge into the atmosphere of Christmas, and you need to go to this city.
And when you go to Town Hall Square, you feel that the spirit of Christmas is everywhere. There are fairs on the square during Christmas week, and artists and amateur groups perform on a small stage.
Christmas in Tallinn. City Hall and the Christmas tree. Photo by Alexander Nikitin
In the town hall square, you can enjoy roasted almonds, marzipan, delicious pastries, drink hot mulled wine, chocolate, and buy lots of gifts. Estonians sell great knitwear – hats, gloves, sweaters.
Town Hall building is one of the main attractions of the old part of Tallinn. Built in Gothic style 600 years ago. Nowadays in the town hall held exhibitions and concerts.
Night before Christmas in Tallinn at Town Hall Square.
In late November, Town Hall Square is transformed, decorated with a Christmas tree and Christmas illumination. There are major Christmas events, fairs, pre-Christmas sales, and folk festivities.
A Christmas train on Town Hall Square. Photo by Andrei Green
Of course, tourists are told about the wonderful opportunity to experience the magical power of Town Hall Square. In the center of the square is a slab depicting a wind rose.
If you stand on the plate, make a wish and look around and see the five highest spires of Tallinn, your dream will certainly come true. It is claimed that this is all true, and even more so on the magical days of Christmas.
From the center of the square you can see the main spire at City Hall (understandably, because City Hall is the closest), the spire of the Church of Our Lady of Dome Cathedral, the spire of Oleviste Church (not surprising, because it is the highest spire in the city), the bell tower of the Holy Spirit Church, and you can also see the spire of Niguliste Church.
Evening Tallinn in winter Photo ASTRALik
The ancient Oleviste Church (St. Olaf Church) is located on Lai Street, which means Wide in Estonian. The church is impressive in its grandeur and high spire, rising one hundred and twenty-four meters above the ground.
It is said that the city authorities have forbidden the construction of houses in the center of Tallinn exceeding the height of the spire of the church in order not to disturb its grandeur and to pay tribute to the grandiose structure.
The church was consecrated in honor of the canonized King Olaf II of Norway. The people named the temple after Master Oleva, who, according to local legend, built the church at the request of the townspeople.
Mostly, people visit the church for the beautiful views of the city, which open before the eyes of amazed travelers from the observation deck. The observation platform of the church is accessible by climbing a spiral staircase.
The colorful rooftops of Tallinn
The houses on Lai Street, as if they came to earth from an old postcard. These houses retain their medieval look and many of them are more than 600 years old.
The photo below is from an observation deck in Vyshgorod. In the photo, you can see the towers of the Viru Fortress in the front. In the background is the spire of the Oleviste church. The spire of this church is the highest in Tallinn.
Oleviste Church was erected in the lower part of old Tallinn. Lower Tallinn is connected to Vyshgorod by the Long Leg And this is no joke at all, “Long Leg” is the name of the street, in Estonian “Pikk jalg”.
Apparently, so that the Long Leg was not lonely in the city, another of Tallinn’s streets was given an equally original name – Luhike jalg, i.e. Short Leg.
Where else can you go to enjoy medieval Tallinn? There are many wonderful places here, and we can’t do them all in a short time, but since we’re taking a Christmas walk, we’d better take a last look at the famous St. Nicholas Church or Niguliste kirik (Niguliste Church).
This is a former Lutheran church, built in the XIII century at the expense of German merchants. The church was named in honor of the patron saint of all sailors – St. Nicholas. Now in the building of the church is a museum and a concert hall.
Church Niguliste. Nearby is an open-air skating rink. One can admire the church and take a ride on skates. Photo by dinnow
It should be noted that the holiday preparations, pre-Christmas bustle takes place in Tallinn from late November to December 25. Christmas itself is celebrated with the family.
It is best to come to Tallinn just before Christmas, to get into the spirit of the upcoming holiday. It’s best to book a hotel in advance, so you don’t have to freeze to death on the street.
You can celebrate Christmas the Catholic way in one of the local restaurants. The main thing is to have time to book a table in advance.
Even better to buy a Christmas tour to one of the cities in the Baltic States, and about your comfortable holiday will take care of the tour operator.
Tallinn on Christmas Eve
I spent a weekend in Tallinn and once again became convinced that the medieval cities especially suits Christmas.
1. I’ve been in the city before – I came for a weekend last February. Then I stayed at the Telegraaf Hotel, one of the most famous hotels in Tallinn. This time the Savoy Hotel, conveniently located in the old town, was my home. The fluffy and elegantly decorated Christmas tree in its lobby won me over. I can recommend the hotel – rooms are small but cozy, breakfast is plentiful, location is great.
2. The city itself has already decorated for Christmas!
3 Tallinn had wonderful weather – mild frost, clear sky, dry sidewalk. After Moscow cloudy days and constant mud – just what we needed.
4. Can you imagine, last time I was in town I failed to get to the viewpoints, which offer a wonderful view over the center. I think I went all the way around Tallinn at the time, but I missed almost the most beautiful part of the city. From up here you can see the ferries coming in and out of the harbor – look closely! They go to Helsinki as well – from the Estonian capital to the Finnish capital it’s only 80 km by sea. Read here how to combine two cities in one gastronomic weekend.
5. Tallinn is an upward looking city reaching for the sky with its spires, which is why this time I have an unusual number of vertical shots.
6. Tower to tower, chimney to chimney – the city looks like a toy. And Tallinn’s winter in the photo looks like spring, and the city from that angle looks like London.
7. The most beautiful doors of the old city.
8. Can you believe it’s December?
10. My husband and I chose Tallinn for our pre-Christmas trip for a reason – first of all, it’s very close and very inexpensive to fly here – an hour and a half from Moscow. Secondly, the time difference with Moscow is only one hour, which is also very convenient. Thirdly, there are a lot of great restaurants in the city, about which the story is ahead. Fourth, after my first trip to Tallinn, I really wanted to go back and enjoy it, especially since it is in full bloom around Christmas time.
17. In all Scandinavian and Baltic countries before Christmas, they put Christmas slides like this on the windows. It’s hard to find a window that doesn’t have seven or nine candles glowing in December. When you walk through the city in the dark (it gets dark in December around four in the afternoon), these candles make it look even more cozy.
18. In general, the city is beautifully and neatly lit, not like merchant Moscow, where every tree shines, but in a Baltic (or Scandinavian) way, restrained and intelligent.
20. One of the city’s oldest restaurants, the Pepper Sack, with its invariable sack on the facade. In Tallinn, as in Amsterdam, they use hooks attached to the outer walls of houses to lift bulky loads.
21. Approaching Town Hall Square, where the Christmas market is open and the Christmas tree is lit with lights.
24. Here it is, the beauty! On the right you could see the stage – for most of the weekend different groups danced and sang on it. Stomping along to Estonian folk songs while holding a glass of glögg in your hand turned out to be really cool. Neither hands nor feet get cold!
28. A big plus in Tallinn is that almost everyone here speaks Russian. And no one looks at you cross-eyed if you address them in Russian. To be honest, every time I’m surprised at questions like, “What’s the attitude to Russians over there?” Good people are treated well everywhere!
29. At the fair stands there are a lot of products for which Estonia is famous. There are all kinds of knitwear, from mittens to sweaters, lots of beautiful linen napkins and tablecloths (I bought two, I couldn’t resist!), a lot of wood.
30. Plus the ever-present Christmas figurines.
31. Painted balloons with views of the city.
32. Wreaths of twigs and cones.
33. The fair in Tallinn is small, but very cozy – like the city itself.
34. To glögg (you’ve read about how to make it right here, right?) you must get gingerbread cookies. The most delicious glögg is with a portion of Vana Tallinn liqueur. It costs 4 euros, the regular one, without the liqueur, is cheaper. The important thing is that they sell it not only at the fairgrounds but all around the city, so you can bask in it non-stop.
35. Don’t be afraid to go to Tallinn in winter – the city has so many charming cafes and is so compact that you just don’t have time to freeze. And if you do, you can always find a warm cup of coffee or Vana Tallinn to warm you up.
36. Beautiful Estonian women are getting ready to sing and dance on Town Hall Square.
38. That’s how fabulous I saw Tallinn. The city itself is not so big, so a couple of days is enough for both the first acquaintance and refreshing impressions.
44. Come to Estonia! This is the third time I’ve wished I could go back in the summer.
I know I’m read by a lot of people from Tallinn! Tell me where you go before Christmas, what you cook for Christmas, and what traditions you especially cherish. And what advice you have for a tourist coming to your place in winter.