During the darkest time of the year, Tallinn becomes a true Christmas wonderland: gorgeous Christmas trees are placed on the squares; streets and parks are decorated with Christmas lights and there's a joyful feeling of anticipation in the air – be it because of Christmas shopping, cultural events or quality time spent with loved ones in a cosy café in the Old Town. What should you absolutely do in Tallinn to experience the city’s magical Christmas feeling?
1. Take a walk in Tallinn Old Town – a truly authentic Christmas wonderland
Tallinn Old Town is unique, and not only in Estonian terms: the narrow streets are lined with 13th to 16th century architectural gems, the beautiful heart of the city is surrounded by a medieval defensive wall and there are lovely cafés and tiny craft shops hidden in mysterious courtyards. In the winter months, the Old Town becomes magical: the city's most glorious Christmas tree shines on Town Hall Square, cosy shops and galleries sell handmade authentic goods, and art displays or even performances are shown in shop windows. People are skating on Harju Hill and the smell of warm glögg and gingerbread is in the air. Come and discover the genuine Christmas wonderland of Tallinn!
2. Find the most beautiful Christmas tree in Tallinn
It's abundantly clear that the most beautiful Christmas tree in Estonia is located in Town Hall Square. The world's first public Christmas tree placed in this exact spot in the 15th century. It's definitely not, however, the only decorated spruce tree in Tallinn: Christmas trees tower over nearly every square, large museum and shopping centre in the city, each more splendid than the next. This year, you will be able to admire Estonia's largest Christmas tree made only out of reed, a number of generously decorated evergreen beauties, interesting innovative solutions and, of course, classic Christmas trees. See if you can find them all!
3. Be part of at least one of Tallinn's cultural experiences
During the busy holiday period, people seem to forget that Christmas is first and foremost a time for your loved ones. What could be better than stepping out of your daily routines together, visiting one of several dozen museums in the city, listening to a concert or discover new exhibitions? The cultural life of Tallinn is diverse and many museums and attractions are offering special programmes during the holiday period. Find the perfect experience for you on our Christmas event calendar.
A special tip from the city's Christmas elf! If you want to give your loved ones experiences as gifts, get them the Tallinn Card. The card offers free access to more than 40 of Tallinn's best museums and attractions, public transport and a number of other benefits. You can buy the card for 24, 48 or 72 hours. The plastic card is valid for 12 months and one adult card includes two children up to seven years of age free of charge.
Think you know Tallinn through and through? Or quite the opposite – you don't know much of anything about different parts of town? On city tours, you will discover places you had no idea existed, see familiar places from a fresh perspective and learn many new and exciting things. During the holiday period, there is much on offer: a selection of fun time-travelling trips to the Middle Ages, lantern tours, stories of animals in the city, dinner walks and much more.
5. Buy Estonian crafts and design from Tallinn – an excellent Christmas gift idea!
What should you give people for Christmas? There are dozens of small craft and design shops hidden in Tallinn Old Town that offer authentic Estonian creations. So authentic, in fact, that in several workshops you can see the masterpieces being hand-crafted on the spot. Take a peek inside St. Catherine's Guild, the Master's courtyard, the Estonian Shop, the Estonian Handicraft House or Kaarmann's Shop – many exciting things happen here on the weekends! If you want something truly unique for yourself or your loved ones – make the gift yourself! Many places offer workshops ranging from making Christmas cards to decorating gingerbread biscuits.
There is a variety of fairs in the city as well: the Christmas Market in Town Hall Square, the Christmas sales of artists, artisans and designers, and heartfelt charity events.
6. Try Christmas flavours in the restaurants of Tallinn
From street food to fine dining, from national cuisine to fusion and from fancy restaurants to cosy cafés and trendy bars –everything is available in Tallinn. In winter, many places offer heavier and hearty dishes, including Estonian Christmas staples such as roast pork, sauerkraut and blood sausage. Cafés and outdoor stalls offer mulled wine a.k.a. Glögg, hot chocolate, and tasty gingerbread treats, which are great to grab on the go while wandering along the medieval streets decked with Christmas lights.
7. Relax in a spa or shock your body with winter swimming!
What could be better than to take some time off from all the festive hustle and bustle. Relax in a day spa or stay in a hotel equipped with water park and saunas like Kalev Spa, Tallink Spa Hotel, Nordic Hotel Forum, Swissotel, Hilton, Lembitu. Alternatively, you can visit a public sauna. Kalamaja sauna is quite famous for its authentic interior. Public saunas can be a fun way to learn about the local culture and have interesting conversations. And if you are brave enough try the most popular winter sport – winter swimming Best place to try it out is the Iglu park in Noblessner or Pirita harbour. These are official winter swimming spots with sauna on spot to warm up after the dip.