Which word pairs do you associate with your perfect summer city break? If they are ‘summer and beaches’, ‘summer and islands’, or ‘summer and events', then you make your way to Tallinn, where you can spend a memorable summer holiday.
Tallinn, the city on the sea, has a 46-kilometre-long coastline, its own river and lake, five public beaches, three summer islands and many seaside restaurants, beach bars and cafés. Visitors with families can explore wonderful sea-themed museums and find many other opportunities to enjoy the summer.
Good to know: During the spring and summer season, you can fill your reusable bottles with safe-to-drink tap water at free public drinking fountains. Find your closest water fountain on a map: gis.tallinn.ee.
Tallinn’s seaside districts and promenades
Tallinn has a few districts near the city centre where the sea is within arm’s reach: Kadriorg, Pirita, the Seaplane Harbour (on the border of Kalamaja), the Noblessner seafront quarter, and Rocca al Mare.
Kadriorg and Pirita
When it comes to strolling around, the Kadriorg Palace and Park ensemble brings to mind a vivid image of the place where the Russian Tsarist court began promenading a few hundred years ago. Kadriorg became the hub of Estonian spa culture in 1813, when the trends of breathing healthy air and taking sea baths were strictly followed. Nowadays, Kadriorg Park with its numerous museums and varied landscaping offers opportunities for culture and fitness enthusiasts of all ages to spend their free time.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Pirita, adjacent to Kadriorg, became a paradise where people from the city would come on Sundays to sunbathe – a tradition which continues today. With its two-kilometre sandy beach, an adventure park hidden under the pine trees and a marina, Pirita is the perfect place to enjoy summer. The promenade, which opens up to the Baltic Sea, begins from the city centre. From there, the new, pedestrian-friendly Reidi Road passes through Kadriorg and the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, making its way to Pirita Marina and Beach.
Patarei Sea Fortress, Seaplane Harbour and Noblessner seafront quarter
The Tsarist-era Patarei Sea Fortress, which, at the beginning of the 21st century, still fulfilled the function of a prison, is welcoming major changes. By 2026, it will be home to a new urban hub. There are several reasons to check out the seafront area of the sea fortress and the Gorz courtyard as it is one the region’s main venues for corporate summer retreats, conference after-parties as well as various other events. The sea fortress area will be closed for construction at the end of summer. Patarei Sea Fortress will reopen in 2026.
Right next to Patarei Sea Fortress is the former industrial Noblessner seafront quarter and one of the most visited museums in Tallinn, the Seaplane Harbour. Also in Noblessner, you will find PROTO Invention Factory, housed in a hundred-year-old submarine factory, the contemporary art centre Kai, an interesting Igloo Park with saunas, and numerous places to buy food, drinks and art. Noblessner seafront quarter is also car-free. In the summer, it becomes a huge seaside terrace where cafés, restaurants and events all move outside.
Rocca al Mare
For anyone who speaks Italian, you’ll know that the name of this district immediately alludes to the sea, translating to ‘stone by the sea’. The proximity of the sea is especially noticeable here, in the vast territory of the Estonian Open Air Museum, which introduces Estonian village life and cultural traditions from the 19th and 20th centuries. Another important sight to see at Rocca al Mare is the Tallinn Zoo, with its rich fauna. The Rocca al Mare promenade offers you the opportunity to enjoy beautiful nature and walk around in this peaceful and green region connecting Tallinn’s Stroomi and Kakumäe beaches.
Tallinn has two museums dedicated to the sea – the Seaplane Harbour in Kalamaja and the Fat Margaret Museum and Visitor Centre in one of the most impressive medieval defensive towers in the Tallinn Old Town. The Seaplane Harbour is built into historical seaplane hangars. Here, you can find the authentic 1930s submarine Lembit, boats, sailing ships, the steam-powered icebreaker Suur Tõll, a copy of the sea plane Short 184, mines, cannons and other life-size exhibits. At the Fat Margaret Visitor Centre, you can get an overview of Estonian maritime history. You can also see the oldest cargo ship discovered in Estonia, which dates to 700 years ago, and its entire wreck and the items found near the wreck.
You can experience the life of coastal people in the past at two museums – the Museum of Coastal Folk and the Viimsi Open Air Museum – both of which are in Viimsi, a suburb just outside Tallinn. The Museum of Coastal Folk’s exhibit focuses on the history and culture of Estonian coastal people as well as on introducing contemporary sea and coastal culture.
Tallinn has five public beaches which are suitable for relaxing and being active. Pirita, Stroomi and Pikakari seaside beaches and Harku Lake Beach are all around half an hour’s drive or bus ride away from the city centre; only Kakumäe Beach is a bit further. Besides swimming, you can also do many other wholesome and relaxing activities, whether you want to get a workout session in or simply walk along the shore. Since winter swimming has become the new national sport of Estonia, we can also say that Tallinn’s seaside beaches are holiday paradises year-round.
Tallinn’s three nearby islands invite you to explore
There are three larger islands in the sea near Tallinn – Aegna, Naissaar and Prangli. You can get to these islands easily: In summer, you can take a ferry directly from Tallinn to Aegna and Naissaar. The ferry between Leppneeme Harbour in Viimsi and Prangli operates all year around.
The islands, which are just an hour’s ferry ride from Tallinn, are great places for a day trip. While there, you can enjoy the islands’ nature and learn about their history. You can hike around by yourself or with a guide, by foot, bike and even by truck or train. Accommodation and dining options are available on all the islands.
If you start your tour of Tallinn’s seaside restaurants from Viimsi, the suburb east of Tallinn, you will immediately find the modern restaurant Noa, which is built in the perfect spot to admire the silhouette of Tallinn and the sunset. In 2022, Noa Chef's Hall was awarded a Michelin star for its outstanding cuisine. For ship-spotting in a relaxed atmosphere, head to Kalev Yacht Club Restaurant, a traditional meeting spot for sailors and sea-lovers.
Maarjamäe hosts newcomer Riviera Palais Braisserie with French cuisine, and the nostalgic, chic Tuljak from the 1960s near the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds will not leave food enthusiasts unmoved.
The sea is not visible from villa restaurant Mon Repos, sunk in the greenery of Kadriorg Park, but it is hard not to notice the restaurant’s resort style. In North Tallinn, you can find spots with breath-taking sea views from the roof of Fat Margaret and in the Noblessner seafront quarter, which offers eateries on a scale from bistros to the best fine dining restaurants. Noblessner is also where you will find the second Tallinn restaurant with a Michelin star - 180° by Matthias Diether.
The highlights of a family holiday in the summer are definitely spending time with your loved ones, swimming and eating unlimited ice cream, all of which you can do in Tallinn! Tallinn offers five urban beaches for swimming, but there are other awesome activities you can do near the sea! The trails of Pirita Adventure Park venture under the pine forest that runs parallel to Pirita Beach. You can also ride your bike from Stroomi Beach along the Rocca al Mare promenade and stop at a number of places along the way, like one of the newest marine and recreational centres in suburb Kakumäe.
Other great family ideas include booking a boat trip from Tallinn for a day trip to one of the islands or renting a rowboat near Pirita River.