Tallinn is a nice destination, because you can spend a holiday there with relatively little money. Of course, a boat trip or a flight costs money, but what about when you get there: what is Tallinn like on a small budget?
Well, it’s a perfect destination for those traveling on a shoestring budget! Food is in many places much cheaper than elsewhere in Europe, admission fees are cheap, and there are plenty of absolutely free attractions there. That’s why I compiled this budget traveler’s Tallinn guide. The success of the trip must not depend on the thickness of the wallet!
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Tallinn on a small budget: entrance fee zero euros
Admission fees for many of Tallinn’s attractions are reasonable, but a few of them can be walked in without paying a single euro!
1. Banking Museum
The Museum of the Bank of Estonia next to the Solaris Center is in such a beautiful house that it is worth walking in for that reason alone! On the map, it’s here, and you can check opening hours on the museum’s website.
2. People’s Front Museum
Despite its boring name, it is an interesting little museum on the edge of Freedom Square. There you will get a glimpse of the turbulent years of Estonia’s new independence in the 1980s and turn of the 1990s. The museum is located in here.
3. Town Hall Square Pharmacy
Raeapteek is the oldest pharmacy operating in the same premises in Europe. There is still a real pharmacy at the front, but a small room at the back displays medicines and pharmacy equipment from the 17th century to the 20th century. You can find this little free gem on the edge of the Town Hall Square here, and you can also find the pharmacy’s website.
4. Children’s Literature Center
The beautifully restored house at the beginning of Pikk Street houses the Estonian Children’s Literature Center. Its staircase, upstairs lobby and hall often have book illustration exhibits worth seeing. There is also a children’s book museum, which presents the literature of Estonian children through the ages. In the museum you will also find a collection of fine benches painted by Estonian artists. And nothing costs anything! The center is on the map here, and behind this link you will find its website.
5. Two free photo galleries
A lover of photography can find free things to see at two different addresses. In front of the Fotografiska, there is an outdoor gallery with photo exhibitions that change at regular intervals. In the Pelgulinna area, on Roo Street, you will find the small-scale Positiiv gallery, which also presents high-quality photographic art without an entrance fee. You can read more about each of these at the end of this post. There are also contact information for both.
6. National Library
The National Library of Estonia also has several galleries with free admission to exhibitions. The library can be found here, and here is their website, to find information on e.g. current exhibitions.
7. Marzipan Room at Maiasmokk Café
Have you been to the lovely Maiasmokk café? You can visit the marzipan room next to the café for free. You get a quick look at the history of marzipan: how it was made in pharmacies in the Middle Ages, and how it later became a popular confection. Nearly 200 marzipan figures in the exhibition have been produced in molds more than a hundred years old. You can find Maiasmokk here, and the Maiasmokk website here.
Tallinn on a budget: food!
Those looking for cheap eats should eat inexpensive daily specials available in many restaurants and cafés on weekdays. Personally, I sometimes even ask right away if there are daily specials available (päevapraad or päevapakkumised in Estonian) – if not, I will go somewhere else.
On this great site you will find the current lunch menus of many restaurants serving lunch.
Here are a few places I know to offer cheap lunches:
- Restaurant Korsten
- Restaurant Radio near Kadriorg area
- Café Faehlmanni near the radio restaurant, which can be found here.
- The Vernalia Café near the Noblessner area is affordable from morning to night. On the map it’s here. It also has its own website.
- Almost all of Telliskivi’s restaurants have one or more inexpensive lunch specials. Check out at least the F-hoone, Rahva Raamat and Vurle.
Näljäne Põder close to Balti Jaam market is an affordable and authentic canteen. The Taco truck between F-Hoone and Lendav Taldrik is also reasonably priced.
- Rahva Raamat bookstore restaurant in Telliskivi has an affordable lunch.
- A long-time favorite for lunch is Café Boheem near Balti Jaama Market. Contact information on their Facebook.
- III Draakon in the basement of the Town Hall serves tasty soup and pies at reasonable prices.
- The Kompressor pancake bar is affordable, although there are no special lunch portions. You’ll find their website here.
- The canteen of the Estonian Broadcasting Corporation Telemaja is a nice, affordable place to eat. Here is a map link.
Now that the stomach is full, let’s continue seeing the sights!
The meal is now eaten so you can continue your journey to the city’s inexpensive or free attractions.
1. Free attractions in the Old Town
- The Old Town itself is one big and free attraction! Walk its streets and alleys admiring the medieval atmosphere.
- Katariina Guild. Craftsmen’s studios and shops along Katariina käik alley. Of course, they love paying customers, but I don’t think they mind even if you just go there to watch. You’ll find their website here.
- Art studio Ichthus – or the secret garden as I call it. A magical place everyone should see! The owner hopes for a few entrance coins if you don’t buy anything, which is of course a nice thing to do. But you don’t have to if you’re on a trip on a really tight budget. You’ll find the studio here.
- The atmosphere of the Masters’ Courtyard can be enjoyed without paying anything. If you want to pop in the chocolate café Pierre, then of course you have to loosen the strings of your purse as well. Likewise if you find something to buy in the lovely little shops. But there is no entrance fee to this courtyard (map)! And in the summer there is classical music playing for free on a couple of nights a week.
- There is an entrance fee to the Church of the Holy Spirit, but only a couple of euros. It is a magnificent historical landmark, which is well worth a visit. The church on the map is here.
- There is a really small entrance fee to at least some of the towers in the Old Town. For example, the Nunne tower costs only two euros (children one). You can find it here.
- Even the Loewenschede tower, which I call the Pottery Tower, can be entered for a fee of a couple of euros. There is also a pottery store worth seeing in the basement of the tower, and pottery workspaces on its second floor. You’ll find this tower in here.
2. Toompea Hill for the budget traveler
When you climb up the hill from the Old Town along Pikk jalg or Lühige jalg streets, you have arrived in Toompea! Here are a few free Toompea attractions:
- Viewing platforms! They offer views of different parts of Tallinn, and all of them are worth seeing. Here are the names (they also act as map links): Kohtuotsa, Patkuli and Piiskopi.
- The Estonian Parliament, or Riigikogu, also stands on Toompea Hill. Once a week on Fridays tourists can get in – and it costs nothing! On the map, it’s here.
- Opposite the Riigikogu is the magnificent Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral. You may walk in without an entrance fee.
- There is a small fee to the cathedral, but without paying it you can see a part of this beautiful church. You can also climb to the tower, but not for free. The cathedral is on the map here.
3. Tallinn on a budget: Kadriorg area
As you can see, there is a lot to see in Tallinn on a small budget! Next, navigate in the direction of Kadriorg, which you can easily reach by tram. Here are a few worth seeing (and free) attractions in this handsome neighborhood:
- The magnificent garden of Kadriorg Palace is open to all for free. It is a magnificent landscaped garden with plenty to see throughout the growing season from spring to late autumn. On the map the garden is here.
- Kadriorg Stadium is a magnificent example of the 1930’s concrete architecture. Map link to the stadium.
- More than 6,000 roses and 32 varieties bloom on Ruusumäki – quite a fragrant summer oasis! You can find Ruusumäki here and more information about it behind this link.
- The playground in front of the children’s museum Miiamilla offers free fun for the little ones in the family. You can find it here.
- On the Pirita side of Kadriorg Park, there is a charming Japanese garden. On the map, this picturesque area is here, and here you will find information about it in English in here.
- The Kumu Art Museum is the number one destination for art lovers. There is a normal entrance fee – except a few days a year it’s just one euro! In 2020, those days are July 22, September 16, and December 30. The One Euro days in the coming years you might want to check out here.
Tallinn on a budget: what else?
Let’s finish up with a few more nice destinations here and there around the city:
- Unfortunately, no one has anything to do inside the Linnahall, but on its stairs and plateaus, the townspeople often spend especially summer evenings. You can do the same – for free! Linnahall is on the map here.
- If you want to see great trotting horses training or grazing, head to the Hippodrome racetrack – especially as it’s about to move out of town in the next few years. The Merimetsa outdoor area is also nearby, and Stroomi Beach is not too far away either.
That’s it: Tallinn on a budget! You really don’t always have to spend big money on a trip. Even with a shoestring budget, you can do and see a huge amount of things. In addition to inexpensive restaurants, you should eat in the street kitchens or pick up food from the supermarket – this way you can keep your travel budget even lower.
One more small thing: it is worth observing the entrance fees for different museums two days a year, namely on Tallinn Day on 15 May and on International Museum Day on the 18th of the same month. Then at least there is free admission to the City Museum, and might well be elsewhere too.
Do you still think of other good tips for the budget traveler in Tallinn? Feel free to share them in the comment field below!