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There’s a lot to like about Tallinn, the entertaining capital city of Estonia. Combining a captivating medieval historical centre and a creative, innovative modern side, it’s developing a great reputation as a city break destination. It’s so great to see growing interest in the Baltic States, having personally spent a lot of time there. To help make this city even more accessible to first timers, I thought I’d prepare a guide for where to stay in Tallinn.
Since my recent trip wasn’t my first time visiting Tallinn, I was keen to mix things up a little. Part of that was seeing what it was like to stay in different parts of the city and maybe find the best hotel in Tallinn along the way. While I’m not sure I succeeded with the second part, I definitely feel like I know the most important areas in Tallinn for tourists to base themselves. Now, there’s definitely no shortage of places to stay in Tallinn when you travel there, but hopefully this guide will make choosing accommodation a bit easier.
The Old Town of Tallinn is the most popular part of the city with tourists, so it’s an obvious choice of where to stay. Surrounded by charming old walls and enchanting character, it’s a real treat to explore the Old Town and its many attractions. From the Main Square to the viewpoints of Toompea Hill, this part of the city will keep you busy. As such it makes a lot of sense to stay close by and quickly get to sightseeing.
Now, if you only have one day in Tallinn, I definitely think the Old Town is the best choice for accommodation. That way, you maximise your time for sightseeing. However, if you’re looking for a base to explore Estonia, it may be a little less practical. That’s partly because there’s limited access in certain areas for those with cars.
The good news here is that there are plenty of places to stay in the Old Town. Options here range from luxury boutique hotels to most of the cheap hostels in Tallinn, so it’s a place where all tourists are welcome.
My Stay – In my experience, Villa Hortensia is a reasonably priced option in the Old Town. There you get to stay with a traditional house within the Masters’ Courtyard, which has an authentic old-fashioned atmosphere to it.
Summary – The most obvious choice for visitors to Tallinn, the Old Town is home to many of the city’s attractions. Within the town walls you’ll mostly find boutique hotels, but also quite a few hostels.
After the Old Town, one of the next most popular options is the historic neighbourhood of Kalamaja. This large district is to the northwest of the Old Town was once a working class area during the 19th century. In fact, it still has many tall wooden houses and tenements that date from that period. All of this gives Kalamaja a relaxed, residential feel that can be quite inviting.
There are some real benefits to picking Kalamaja for your trip. It’s located close to the train station, not to mention the lively Balti Jaama market. Kalamaja is also one of the more bohemian areas of Tallinn, meaning there are some quality local cafes, bars and restaurants nearby. Add to that good bus/tram connections and an easy walk into the Old Town, and you can see why independent travellers like it here.
In terms of accommodation options in Kalamaja, most are apartments and nice ones at that. This means Kalamaja is a great choice if you want to rent an apartment in Tallinn for a longer stay. But there are a few hotels and a hostel near the train station, so there is a little variety at least.
My Stay – My time in Kalamaja was spent at the Economy Hotel Tallinn, a historic budget hotel opposite the station. It was a little bare bones sure, but its affordable and the staff are really friendly.
Summary – Kalamaja is a quieter option with a nice local atmosphere. The district is good for those looking for apartments and to experience a different side of the city.
Those looking for somewhere that’s lively and modern in the city should turn their attention to the Rotermann Quarter. Sitting just across the road to the east of the Old Town, it’s a super central and convenient part of the city. Having tried a few areas, I’d actually say that Rotermann is my pick for where to stay in Tallinn for your first visit.
What makes this place so interesting is that it was once an industrial area that’s now full of repurposed buildings. The city converted the area’s old warehouses and factories, creating some striking modern architecture along the way. Whether you stay here or not, make sure to at least see the Rotermann Quarter on your trip.
Beyond what it looks like, Rotermann is loaded with everything tourists could want. Throughout the precinct, you’ll discover lots of hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and shops, not to mention great spots for photography. The area is particularly good for digital nomads, thanks to the many quality cafes here. But Rotermann is also home to a great mix of trendy apartments and hotels for those who don’t mind spending a little more.
My Stay – My personal recommendation for here is the Metropol Spa Hotel, thanks to its stylish rooms, great views and complimentary spa facilities.
Summary – If you want somewhere central that is full of activity and places to indulge then choose the Rotermann Quarter. Those who stay here get easy access to the city’s sights, loads of restaurants and public transport.
Port of Tallinn
One final option that people may consider is to stay right near the Port of Tallinn. Located to the northeast of the Old Town, the Port of Tallinn is not all that far from Rotermann and the Old Town. But honestly, there’s really only one reason I can see to stay here. That is if you’re taking the ferry to Helsinki, Stockholm or St Petersburg and want to be as close as possible to the terminal.
While staying close to the ferry may seem a smart choice, it’s a little unnecessary with Tallinn. Whether you just walk or take public transport, getting to the port really is quite easy. But of course, that logic applies both ways and you could argue that you can stay near the Port of Tallinn and explore the city just as easily. I guess my point isn’t to get too fixated on staying close to your ferry.
In terms of facilities around the port, the most useful one is the Nautica Shopping Mall. Besides clothing stores and the like, it also has a supermarket, several cafes and a nice selection of restaurants. As for accommodation around the port area, it’s mostly three star and four star hotels. Although I didn’t stay in this part of Tallinn, I seriously considered the Hestia Hotel Europe during my recent visit.
Summary – Those coming into or leaving Tallinn by ferry will find the port area a convenient option. From it, you can easily get to the Rotermann Quarter or the Old Town for sightseeing and atmosphere.
If you have been before, where do you think is the best places to stay in Tallinn? If not, where do you think would be your pick for your first time in Tallinn? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.