Covering close to 160 square kilometres, Tallinn is spread out along the Gulf of Finland and divided into several historical areas.
It’s the capital of Estonia and the most visited destination in the country. With a history as a pawn in great European power struggles between countries that include Sweden, Russia, Poland and Germany, Tallinn has a history of diverse culture and influence. The variety of neighbourhoods and districts makes it a challenge to decide where to stay in Tallinn.
The Old Town area is surrounded by the remains of the old fortifications and includes numerous historic sites that you can reach while walking along stone roads. Visit ancient churches and large public squares. They’re picturesque and well-preserved examples of medieval European charm.
Tallinn also offers plenty of modern development, including numerous buildings constructed for the 1980 Summer Olympics.
While you can get a Tallinn Card and use public transport for free, staying near the sites you want to visit will save you time.
Not sure where to begin? Start your hotel search with this guide to the best places to stay in Tallinn…
Where to stay in Tallinn: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods & areas for travellers
Tallinn is separated into eight administrative districts and numerous neighbourhoods. While most first-time visitors go to Old Town, Tallinn has a lot to offer outside of the oldest district.
The surrounding districts include a mixture of fine dining, trendy bars, and beaches.
So, where should you stay? This may depend on how you plan on spending your trip.
If you enjoy swimming, you may want to venture out to Pirita Beach. This area includes many hotels with pools and convenient access to the sea.
Kalamaja is one of the districts to the west of Old Town. It’s a popular area of Tallinn for college & university students and where you’ll find the best bars and pubs.
After Old Town, the city centre of Tallinn is the most-visited spot in the country. While it’s still got a few historic sites, it’s mostly known for dining and entertainment.
Some of the best areas to stay in Tallinn include:
- Old Town: The top choice for where to stay in Tallinn for first-time travellers and anyone wanting to be close to the top tourist attractions.
- City Centre: Another top-rated area offering some of the most-recommended hotels in Tallinn. This interesting district is an excellent choice for anyone looking to dig into Tallinn’s trendy dining and shopping scenes.
- Kalamaja: One of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Tallinn, this district is popular with students and young entrepreneurs and offers a ton of hip restaurants, indie shop, and bars.
- Pirita: Perched on the Gulf of Finland, this district is one of the most popular places to visit in Tallinn in summer thanks to its gorgeous stretch of white-sand beach. Outside of summer it’s one of the best places to stay in Tallinn if you’re looking for a quieter more local vibe.
✔ Best area to stay for sightseeing and culture
Staying in Old Town provides quick access to some of the top attractions in Tallinn. This area includes numerous historic buildings and medieval sites. You’ll also find the bustling Tallinn city square where locals tend to congregate.
Many people think of this as the most beautiful Old Town in Europe. It’s never been raided or pillaged by invading armies, even though Estonia has been conquered multiple times. This has allowed many of the historic sites to remain preserved over the centuries.
The area includes many of the features you expect from a typical European Old Town. It has narrow stone streets separating the historic sites. While sightseeing is the main reason to visit this area, it’s also got modern attractions, including popular restaurants, shopping markets, and theatres.
Compared to other Old Towns in Europe, it’s also one of the largest. This district spreads out for several kilometres. If you want to visit all the top attractions, especially if you only have one day in Tallinn, this is your best option.
Attractions in and around Old Town: Town Hall Pharmacy, Church of the Holy Ghost, Canute’s Guild Hall, Town Hall Square, Tallinn City Museum, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Recommended hotels in Old Town
Some of the best hotels in Old Town have stunning views of the old district and the medieval landscape. Besides offering views of many picturesque sites in the city, Old Town also includes the best hotels in Tallinn. These options vary from small boutique hotels to large buildings with spacious rooms.
- Hotel Telegraff, Autograph Collection: This is one of the top-rated hotels in Tallinn. You get to enjoy an a la carte breakfast at the onsite restaurant with Russian and French cuisine. It’s also just a short walk from Toompea Castle and some of the best restaurants in Tallinn.
- Savoy Boutique Hotel by TallinnHotels: Foodies will enjoy this Tallinn hotel. Its esteemed onsite restaurant serves Estonian and international dishes. Unlike some of the other hotels in the area, this location doesn’t have classic furnishings. You get fun art décor interiors and carpeted floors.
- The Three Sisters Boutique Hotel: This boutique-style hotel combines modern décor with a historical backdrop. The rooms are elegantly furnished and feature wood flooring, giving each room a unique atmosphere. It’s also one of the closest spots to Tallinn Town Hall.
- My City Hotel: Located inside a historic building, this four-star hotel has many great features, including an onsite restaurant with international and Estonian dishes. After a long day of sightseeing, you can relax in a private sauna with a jacuzzi.
✔ Best district to stay for dining and shopping
Old Town is not the urban centre in Tallinn. The city centre is a separate neighbourhood to the east of the old district. It’s where you’ll find most of Tallinn’s fanciest restaurants, coolest shops, and trendiest bars.
The city centre of Tallinn is relatively compact compared to the Old Town. Luckily, the small area makes it easier to explore.
While staying here, you’ll likely pass Freedom Square several times. It’s one of the most popular meeting spots in the city and the perfect spot to start your tour of Tallinn. It’s also near St. John’s Church and several other historic sites.
Along with historic sites, the city centre includes fun attractions, such as the City Jungle. The jungle is an adventure golf centre with 15 entertaining mini-golf courses.
Attractions in and around the City Centre: St. Charles’ Church, Freedom Square, Tallinn Town Hall, Town Hall Square, City Jungle
Recommended hotels in the City Centre
While most first-time visitors choose Old Town, the City Centre also has some of the top hotels in Tallinn in the area. As the economic hub of Tallinn, some of the hotels in the neighbourhood cater to business travellers. Along with the options listed below, this area has dozens of other hotels.
- Swissotel Tallinn: Located inside the tallest building in the city, this property is one of the top luxury hotels in Tallinn and offers sweeping views of the city centre and parts of Old Town. It’s just 2800 feet from the popular Viru Square, giving you access to dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars within walking distance.
- MyApartments: Inside a quaint little building, you’ll find this charming little boutique-style hotel. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel’s cafeteria before exploring the rest of the centre. If you like music, you’re just 1000 feet from both the Nordea Concert Hall and the Estonian National Opera.
- Revelton Suites Tallinn: This is one of the top Tallinn hotels for families. You get access to a children’s room and an outdoor playground. The rooms are also equipped with their own dining areas and washing machine.
- Centennial Hotel Tallinn: Just a short walk from Toompea Castle, this hotel also has a great location. It’s in the heart of Tallinn and offers guests free breakfast each morning. The rooms are spacious and include their own seating areas.
✔ Top area to stay for nightlife and cafes
Locals in Tallinn refer to Kalamaja as the coolest neighbourhood. This is where students tend to live. As you may expect from a neighbourhood with a large student population, Kalamaja has lots of bars and cafes.
Tallinn is the centre of business in Estonia and Kalamaja is also where most of the entrepreneurs live. Overall, this is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods and the best option for where to stay in Tallinn for travellers who love to stay up late enjoying cocktails.
This area also has many small independent shops, cosy little pubs, and hip restaurants. Other highlights include several large flea markets, a few novelty shops, and a developing area full of bars, cafes, and galleries.
Kalamaja has an interesting vibe. While it’s a student district with modern establishments, it’s also got history. This neighbourhood includes historical wood houses.
Staying in this district also keeps you near Old Town. It’s just a few minutes walk from the historic sites.
Attractions in and around Kalamaja: Energy Discovery Centre, Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia, Great Coastal Gate, Estonian Maritime Museum, St. Olav’s Church
Recommended hotels in Kalamaja
Located along the bay to the northwest of Old Town, Kalamaja includes several hotels that keep you within walking distance of the main attractions. While you do not have a lot of choices in this neighbourhood, the available hotels are among some of the best places to stay in Tallinn.
- Hestia Hotel Ilmarine: Just a short distance from Old Town, this hotel places you near the historic sites and the centre of Kalamaja. Besides offering a great location, the hotel boasts its own fitness room and an onsite restaurant. Each room also has its own safe, included free of charge.
- Economy Hotel: Located down the street from the Balti Jaam Railway Station, this budget hotel offers a convenient spot for exploring Kalamaja and the rest of Tallinn. The hotel also features an eco-friendly design, with solar power and water heat pumps. It’s also near Old Town. Some of the rooms even overlook the old district.
- Baltic Boutique Apartments: While this spot has apartments, it also offers hotel rooms. It’s built in a historic building, a short walk from Old Town and the port area. The rooms feature distinct stone walls, but feature modern amenities, including a kitchenette with a microwave.
✔ Best district to stay for relaxation and swimming
If you want to relax during your Estonia itinerary, Pirita is the place to go. This neighbourhood sits on the beach with many of the hotels overlooking the sea. For travellers attracted to seaside pleasures, there’s no better choice for where to stay in Tallinn than Pirita!
Pirita is especially popular during the summer. The warmer weather allows you to enjoy a swim in the Baltic sea and long walks along the beach.
This area also includes the tallest structure in the city. The Tallinn TV Tower gives you panoramic views of the surrounding districts.
As this area is a little further away from Old Town and the city centre, it tends to get fewer tourists. It offers a little break from the crowded streets and more opportunities to relax during your trip.
Pirita has a few historic attractions as well. You can visit the Pirita Monastery or the Convent Ruins if you’ld like a bit of history. If you’re travelling with family, consider spending a day at Pirita Adventure Park, home to many fun water rides and outdoor pools.
Attractions in and around Pirita: Pirita Adventure Park, Pirita Beach, Pirita Monastery, Pirita Convent Ruins, Estonian History Museum, Tallinn TV Tower
Recommended hotels in Pirita
Pirita is the beach neighbourhood to the east of Old Town. You’ll likely need to drive or take a bus to reach the centre of the city, but the local hotels have plenty of features to keep you from travelling far. You can enjoy swimming pools, onsite restaurants, and access to the beach.
- Pirita Beach Apartments & SPA: Located on the coast of the beach, this hotel is inside a building originally constructed for the 1980 Summer Olympics. Some of the rooms offer views of the sea or the nearby park. The hotel also has lots of pools, including three outdoor pools, a children’s pool, a hot tub, and an indoor sauna.
- Pirita Marina Hotel & Spa: This spot was also built for the Olympics and recently renovated. The rooms include views of the Gulf of Finland at its onsite restaurant and lounge. While it’s a little further from Old Town, a bus stop connects the hotel to the rest of Tallinn. Old Town is further, but the beach is just a few steps away.
- Ecoland Spa Hotel: Just a short drive from the sea and the city centre, this hotel keeps you near the action. It’s also surrounded by lush greenery and a residential area with friendly locals. At the onsite restaurant, you can enjoy traditional Russian cuisine.