Time to plan for Winter 2019, and with 2018’s winter trip to Finland’s capital Helsinki and Rovaniemi proving very successful, I’m just wondering where I should go to this year.
My winter trips are usually festive so, me what with a Christmas spirit. Furthermore my desired trip should preferably be with snow but its not necessary and hopefully with something new and different.
Type : City Break Best Date: ? Expense: Medium Things to do: Shopping, City tours Points of Interest: Estonian History Museum, Oleviste Church, Tallinn TV Tower, Kadriorg Palace and the Town Wall ect The Good: Cheap, Beautiful place, Walkable city The Bad: Small
Estonia is a small country in Europe just celebrating 100 years of its initial independence from the breakdown of the soviet union in 1918. Its capital is Tallinn where first settlers dates back 5000 years which makes this city one of northern Europe’s oldest capitals. Today the city has a population of around 444,085 about a third of Estonia’s total population of 13.3million.
Estonia’s capital Tallinn was the last place I visited from my Finland/Estonia trip. My first impressions of the city was that it was too quiet and there was not too much going on. I also had the impression that Tallinn was not huge on tourism as I only saw locals and workers on my journey from the airport to the city centre, not a single tourist which was a very new experience from any trips ive done. Furthermore the journey to my hotels was not very easy for a newbie tourist like me, I had to use google map and even ask a friendly local for help, even with these I still managed to get lost. In addition paying and using the trams were also confusing, although very cheap at 1 euro there was no way to pay using cash and I believe everybody has a special travel card (like the oyster card in London), I could also hardly find any ticket machines even at larger bus stations.
Tallinn is very small and the main area to visit is the Vanalinn district or the Old Town which has one of the best preserved medieval structures in Europe. Along with all the winding cobblestone streets, gothic spires and fairy tale like architecture, stories within the city will both amaze and enchant you. Within the old town there is a huge collection of different points of interests for tourists, you will probably pass along many of their significant buildings but not notice them. Best way to see the town is by joining the free walking tour which can be arranged in the tourist information centre situated in the middle of the old town.
From my perspective the best places to see in the old town are the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, Vanalinn district, Toompea castle and a few others. Firstly you must visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral which graces Toompea Hill, this orthodox church built by the Russians during their occupation of the capital in around late 1890 to early 1900. The cathedral was frowned upon by many Estonians around 1924 due to the symbol of Russian oppression and was due for demolition however with lack of funds this was never implemented and its beautiful architecture still stands today. Neighbouring the cathedral is Toompea Castle which was an ancient stronghold but now houses the country’s parliament. The castle has both a unique blend of modern and old whereas the walls and towers are of the ancient stronghold whilst the entrance is of modern designs. Behind the building stands the Tall Hermann an important tower which stands high above Tallinn which currently holds the Estonian flag and has held flags of different occupants of the capital.
A three minute walk from Toompea in a more secretive area lies the Danish King’s Garden which is a brilliant place to find. There are many different legendry stories that has happened here but most notable of a falling flag which changed the favour of the battle to King Valdemar II. The small garden is a brilliant place to stop by and relax, there are also a few vendors here for quick snacks. Also situated within the garden are three statues of headless Monks one of which is praying, another that is begging and the last which keeps watch. There is a few different meanings to these three statues but its erection is unlike no other in the world.
There are two amazing views high above Tallinn the Kohtuotsa viewing platform and the Patkuli viewing platform. The two different platform are difficult to find with the maze like footprint of the town, but once found these picturesque sights are a pleasure to see.
Yearly around mid November Tallinn is especially a nice place visit due to their charming Christmas Market which is famous around the world. Situated in the town hall square the market hosts a number of stalls ranging from food, clothing, souvenirs and traditional products around a central Christmas tree and a stage for festive performances.
Probably one of the cover landmark of Tallinn is the Viru Gates which was part of the city’s defence on the 14th century. These two towers are now a popular place for photographs and are said to be the main entrance to the old town.
You will see plenty of different significant churches spread out in different locations around the old town. St Nicholas Church, Swedish St Michaels church, Holy Spirit Church and many more are worth the visit. All have different stories which may be of interest to you. There many also many other attractions outside of the old town which are worth a visit like the Kadriog Art Museum, Maritime Museums, Open Air Museum and others a like, but I didn’t have the chance to see these as I took my trip to Tallinn pretty easy and relaxed and ran out of time.
Lastly another important monument to visit which unfortunately was under refurbishment when I visited is the War of Independence Victory Column, which is situated in Freedom Square.
Overall Tallinn is a beautiful little city brilliant for an excursion whilst visiting other Baltic or Nordic regions. The city has both new and old attractions and particularly appeals in the winter festive season as its Christmas markets has always been highly received. I do feel their public transport trams and buses to be highly impractical for tourists. However Tallinn is small enough to be able to walk around without the need of transport. The city is affordable and couple of days is enough anything more may result in boredom, saying this if you stay longer it is a brilliant city to take it easy and relax as I did. All in all a thumbs up for me, the city’s charm is unlike no other.
My last trip of 2018 and I have decided to fulfil a winter trip north of Europe into Finland and Estonia. Whilst in these two countries I have decided to visit three capitals, Helsinki the capital of Finland, Rovaniemi capital of Lapland in Finland and finishing the trip with Tallinn the capital of Estonia.
I had an open plan and didn’t cement the duration of each stay so my trip depended factors such as activities and whether or not there was much to visit. (click on the headers below to read more)
I used Helsinki as my base so really as there was no flights direct from Rovaniemi to Tallinn. But instead of directly transiting through I thought to stopover for a night to visit other areas I didn’t manage to visit.
A worthy relaxing end to the trip. Three days in the Estonian Capital, probably one of the most difficult public transport for tourists but once within the inner city a pleasure to get around by walking.
So its another year with plenty of trips being fulfilled. Last year (2017) I missed out a trip to Helsinki and Tallinn with the winter proving too expensive for me to finish the year off, however 2018 fulfilled this plan.
Below are just some of the places ive managed to visit, click on them to read some of my write-ups. Next year I already have plans to go to Cambodia, Turkey and Chamonix in France. Other places that are a possibility are Morocco, USA and a return to South America.
South American Trip
Sao Paulo, Mar 18 – First trip of the year and entering South America for the first time on a Brazil and Peru trip. The city was safer than I thought I used public transport and walked everywhere. Lima, Mar 18– The Peruvian capital was a pleasure to visit, its museums were different to any other in the world. Cusco, Mar 18– The city is beautiful, old churches and Incan ruins was out of this world. Be very careful when visiting this place as the high altitudes do affect people in different ways. Ollantaytambo, Mar 18– One of the smallest but most beautiful places I have stayed. Me and my brother stayed next to a river with some of the best views of the surrounding river. Aguas Calientes, Mar 18– The main stage for the world famed Machu Picchu, one of the best places I have been, truly majestic. Rio De Janiero, Mar 18 – As long as you’re extra careful Rio is a safe place to be, maybe a few money hustle form a few taxi drivers or vendors but other than those it is safe. Its scenery and beaches are some of the best in the world.
Cardiff, Apr 18– A short weekend in the welsh capital, a place full of investment in order to establish it as a shopping haven.
Philippines & Japan Trip
Manila, Jun 18– Its that time again where once a year I visit Philippines. A base to srelax before we head off to Japan. Osaka, Jun 18 – Our entry point in Japan, smaller than Tokyo but a metropolis nonetheless. Kyoto, Jun 18 – Beautifully preserved temples and religious places. Home of the world famed Geisha entertainers and the most cultural traditions preserved. Tokyo, Jun 18 – Last city visited in Japan, a beautiful busy metropolis. Very crowded and bustling 24 hours a day. Bright lights, most modern technology and cuisine were a huge plus for this city.
Devon, Sep 18 –A short weekend trip to the English country side, new attractions has been built in Ilfracombe attracted more tourists.
Finland & Estonia Trip
Helsinki, Dec 18 – The Finnish capital had little to offer in attractions however the beauty of the capital is its people, arts and history. Rovaniemi, Dec 18– A true winter wonderland, the coldest place ive visited and the most magical place for families. Tallinn, Dec 18 (post coming soon)– Outstanding pagan churches, Medieval Castles and modern festive market. Spookiest place ive ever been to with many stories of haunted past on many building in the old town.
5 months since going to Japan my last holiday and now its time for another trip. As its December I have decided to book myself a winter (Christmas Market) trip. Ive been to many places well known for its Christmas Markets such as Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt, Edinburgh but now its time to go to the place where its known to be the Christmas city of the world, Helsinki.
I don’t have firm plans yet but will go to Lapland and Tallinn Estonia as short excursions. It will be my first trip north to a Scandinavian nation and will have around 7-10 days to do as much and go to as many places as possible.
I don’t know too much about Finland or Estonia and I don’t know what to expect once in Lapland, I don’t know how food and transport will be or the character of their people.
Any suggestion on what I should go and see, and where I can excurse once in Lapland. Anything I should look out for? Please do let me know