Tallinn, located in the northern European country of Estonia, is a magical place filled with history and culture and Tallinn winter is even more of a fairy tale experience!
Located on the Gulf of Finland, the coastal climate makes the weather milder than at other locations along the same latitude, so visiting during the Tallinn winter season is a surprisingly good time of year to explore this city filled with historic architecture and vibrant cultural sites.
Another reason to take advantage of a Tallinn winter visit is the fact that the throngs of tourists who visit this vibrant northern European city are almost nonexistent!
Whether you are stopping in Tallinn for a few days or if this city will be your home base for further travels around the region, visiting during the winter months will require some additional advance planning, so be sure to research ahead of time in order to make the most of your adventure!
Tallinn, Estonia is becoming an increasingly popular destination overall because of the remarkably well preserved medieval Old Town located at the center of more modern buildings as well as the remnants of its Soviet history.
Between the robust historical sights and the numerous museums containing artifacts from Tallinn’s centuries old history as well as the vibrant art and music scene, Tallinn has become a destination sought after by over 4 million tourists annually.
Of course, those tourists are very seasonal and if you would prefer to avoid the throngs of eager travelers crowded the old, narrow streets, consider a visit to this Baltic gem in the off season. The Tallinn winter season will welcome you with nearly empty streets, freeing you up to explore all the wonders held in this city without having to navigate heavy crowds!
As with any adventure, plan ahead so you know exactly what to expect to make this a trip of a lifetime!
Information to know before visiting Tallinn:
- The official currency is Estonian Kroon – but some places take Euro
- Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, and some places take American Express.
- Estonian is the official language but it is not uncommon to find residents who speak English and other foreign languages.
- Uber is available in Tallinn
Tallinn Winter: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the City
The Tallinn winter season is characterized by a surprisingly mild climate despite how far north the city is located.
It is best to pack layers and proper footwear, as well as a backup pair, to ensure that you are prepared for the weather conditions that you will find during your travels.
While milder than other cities on the same latitude, it does still get quite cold, especially if you are acclimated to a warmer climate, so hats, gloves, warm winter coats and scarves are encouraged especially when taking a walking tour of the winding streets and historical sites located within the medieval era Old Town, Tallinn’s pride and joy as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Temperatures average around 32 degrees Fahrenheit with highs of 42 degrees and lows as low as 0 degrees. The coldest months are January and February, where you will also see the most snow.
To accommodate for this cold, you might want to consider arranging a mix of both indoor and outdoor activities to warm up in between seeing the sights.
Popular options for indoor activities include a pub crawl to explore Tallinn’s long and surprisingly popular history with the brewing of alcohol, enjoy a craft beer tasting at one of the many charming cafes in Old Town or visit the many museums found in and around the city.
A popular option is the Maritime Museum, filled with three full floors of exhibitions and a number of simulators for young and old alike! Take a day at the museum with a seaplane ride over the city for epic views!
But perhaps the most ideal way to enjoy the city without having to suffer the cold of the Tallinn winter season is to grab lunch or drinks at Tallinn TV Tower.
This building is the tallest in all of Estonia and from the restaurant on the observation deck level, you’ll be wowed by views of the city of Tallinn as well as the Gulf of Finland, all while sipping on delicious wine without having to suffer the winds!
Snow is a common occurrence in the city, making for particularly poetic views of the pastel colored buildings and medieval structures found all over the city.
In addition to being the coldest months, January and February are also the snowiest months, with December also receiving a decent amount of snow at an average of around 2 inches.
While snow is the most common form of precipitation, when temperatures venture above freezing, the weather can be damp and rainy, so again, it pays to plan ahead when packing for your trip.
These rainy and drizzly days can cause for muddy conditions in the open air museums as well as the sweeping expanses of the Viru bog and the trails near Jägala Waterfall, so be prepared to either get dirty or change your itinerary last minute should the weather turn wet rather than snowy.
Another way to avoid the snow or rain, while still being able to see all the sights around the city is to take advantage of the convenient hop on hop off tour buses.
Navigating the public transportation can sometimes be difficult in new countries that you are unfamiliar with, and walking through the cold snow or wet rain would surely put a damper on your enjoyment of the experience, so being able to easily catch a bus ride to the next experience or sight is the perfect way to see everything there is to do without having to suffer much of the inclement weather should it arise.
These tours make regular stops at many of the highlights of the city, including the City Harbor, the Old Town as well as a number of the Soviet Era destinations.
An added benefit to this hop on hop off tour is the audio guide included during the route, so not only will you be able to avoid the cold and snow, but you’ll also be able to learn something along the way!
Another unique aspect of a Tallinn winter is the surprisingly short days. Due to the northern position of the city, winter days can sometimes be as short as six hours, with the sun setting at around 3:30 pm around the solstice.
These short days can affect travel plans as well as the hours of operation for many establishments, especially the open air museums of the city, where you can step back in time to meander through historic Estonian homes from various periods of their lengthy history. Make sure to book early in the day to get this tour.
To maximize your time as well as avoid the cold and snow, consider booking a private tour with transportation included for small groups of no more than six people.
This tour hits every single one of the major spots while a knowledgeable tour guide and driver narrate the sights to add understanding to your adventure, all in about four hours start to finish.
Of course, you can’t discuss a visit to this city during the Tallinn winter season without mentioning the renowned Christmas market. One of Europe’s best Christmas markets, actually.
While the majority of the winter is free from heavy crowds of tourists, the weeks around Christmas see a sudden influx of travelers coming to see the city festively decorated for the season.
The markets in Tallinn are one of the most popular to visit during the winter. From the charming fairytale setting amidst pastel hued medieval structures to the light covering of snow that dusts the streets, these markets are a charming mix of old world charm and quaint European style.
The picture perfect setting as well as the one of a kind offerings make this one of the most popular times to visit during the Tallinn winter season, so you will have to plan ahead to ensure that you’ll not only be able to enjoy the sights but also avoid the inevitable rise in prices that comes along with an uptick in tourist traffic.
With the exception of the holidays, you will find the remainder of the Tallinn winter season characterized by phenomenal deals on hotels and restaurants as well as nearly tourist free streets and attractions.
While hours of operation can and will be affected by the reduced tourist traffic, you can still see much of what makes Tallinn so appealing for so many. An added benefit to this slow season is the opportunity to step into the city and explore like a local.
Quiet cafes, empty hotels or bed and breakfasts and barren streets will make you feel as though you have the place to yourself at times, adding to the poetic fairytale quality of this historic and charming city.
Tallinn Estonia is a surprising but remarkable addition to any traveler’s bucket list and at first glance, many would avoid the area during the cold wintry months.
But for the intrepid traveler at heart, a visit during the Tallinn winter season can hold many benefits that outweigh the obstacles. From the surprisingly mild temperatures for a city this far north to the breathtaking architecture and complex, storied history, visiting during the winter months will provide a fairytale setting with an intimate quietness that will surely make for memories that last a lifetime.
If you plan ahead and take into account the conditions you’ll find, you will be able to craft a perfect itinerary that will make this adventure well worth a spot on your bucket list!
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