The Tallinn Christmas Market is one of the biggest tourist draws for those visiting during the Tallinn winter season. This charming Estonian city has one of the most picturesque traditional markets in Northern Europe, complete with all the delicious foods and drinks you’ll find in any classic Christmas market.
Set in the historic Old City square, the pastel hues of the buildings become a storybook image of Christmas charm and nostalgic atmosphere that will soon have you singing along to the Christmas carols playing throughout the area.
Whether you are visiting to finish up your Christmas shopping or if you are simply there to surround yourself with the holiday spirit, the experience to be had in Tallinn is one you won’t soon forget! Once you see the beauty of the Tallinn Christmas market for yourself, you will understand exactly why so many visit every year!
Tallinn Christmas Market: The Ultimate Guide
Tips for visiting:
- The Tallinn Christmas Market runs from mid November through the beginning of January with hours from 10:00am until about 8:00pm each day. Although food and beverage vendors stayed open later.
- There is no cost to visit the Christmas Market, it is free to attend.
- Santa starts visiting the Market on December 1st and he will see children in his house from 12:00-6:00pm each day. Santa’s house is up to the right of the stage.
- Stay in a hotel close to the Christmas Market. I stayed at Hotel Telegraaf, which is a 5 star luxury property for really cheap. The market was less than a minute away and east to access.
- Most of the area is cobblestone and can be slick with the snow and rain, so is the sidewalk. Take precautions and pay attention to where you are walking to avoid a slip.
- If you want to fly a drone you will need to get a permit in advance of your arrival.
- Plan to pick up Skyroam before you arrive so that you can have WiFi everywhere you are, including getting lost in the beautiful streets. Skyroam allows you to have up to 5 devices hooked up to your pocket size WiFi and has a 4G connection. Huge lifesaver when traveling.
Tallinn is an ancient city located on the Baltic Sea in the Gulf of Finland, an important trading center with signs of settlement dating back nearly 5,000 years! It first became a fortified city around 1050 AD and began to grow throughout the early and middle Medieval eras to become a large and important site for trade.
Throughout the lengthy history of this Nordic country, many different nations have laid claim to the area, including the Danish, Swedish, German, Russian and Soviet countries. Estonia did not become an independent nation until the early 1990s, but one thing that has kept the country unified throughout this lengthy period are the customs and traditions adopted by the people who have resided here for so long, including their remarkable Christmas celebrations!
Tallinn is home to one of the oldest of the Christmas markets in Europe and also has another title to boast of when advertising their holiday festivities. In 1441, Tallinn put up the first large public Christmas tree in the Town Hall Square of the medieval city and the tradition has continued ever since!
As the origin of the first Christmas tree displayed in Europe, Tallinn continues to erect a huge evergreen in the center of the market every year, becoming the anchor of the Christmas market stalls.
The glittering evergreen stands tall over the cobbled square and seems to make the stalls seem even smaller and more quaint. The twinkling Christmas lights of the tree are carried throughout the rest of the space, from the buildings to the vendor booths and nearly everything in between!
The medieval city center of Tallinn is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has the largest and most remarkably well preserved medieval buildings found in the region. The pastel hues of these historic buildings form the backdrop for this delightful and quaint Christmas market, ringing the square and overlooking the cobbles and market stalls all dressed in lights and holiday decorations.
Surrounding the Old City center is a number of Soviet era structures, making a walk through this city an experience of walking through the history of this country itself.
The streets leading to and from this Old City center are also dressed in their holiday best and you will find a number of different shops, restaurants and cafes all selling regional, international and fusion dishes with an innovative flair that is unique to the city.
In addition to the delicious food and drink offered in the nearby restaurants and cafes, you will find the Tallinn Christmas market flooded with a wealth of different options, from classic Christmas fare to regional comfort food and everything in between.
Seasonal favorites like mulled wine and roasted chestnuts will be in high demand but the wealth of treats typical to the area are what really draw the tourists to the markets every season.
Heaping servings of black pudding, a traditional Estonia favorite similar to blood sausage, are sold beside plates piled high with fried potato chunks filled with seasonings and onions. Sausage and sauerkraut is another favorite, a throw-back to the days when Germany invaded the country long ago.
You’ll also find gingerbread cookies and marzipan treats in addition to indulgent waffles, pancakes, candies, pastries and confections of all sizes and shapes to warm you on the frosty cold nights that make the Tallinn Christmas market such a postcard-perfect holiday event.
Many of the cookies and confections are so delicate and ornately decorated, they are almost too pretty to eat and make for wonderful holiday gifts to bring home to friends and loved ones. As the snowflakes fall, you’ll also find yourself craving something seasonal and warm to keep the chill at bay and the Tallinn Christmas market will not disappoint.
In addition to hot chocolate and mulled wine, you will find plenty of regional favorites available.
Tallinn has a long and complex history with the brewing of lager and beer, from the early Medieval period to secret breweries in the early 1900s. You’ll find plenty of options in the pubs surrounding the square and even a large variety throughout the Tallinn Christmas market itself.
In addition, you will be sure to find a handful of stalls selling the popular regional rum-based liqueur served warm to help keep you toasty as you peruse the wares available. Grogg, wassail and hot cider will scent the air with delicious aromas of cinnamon and cloves to add another element of typical holiday warmth and cheer.
And you will find plenty of wares! The Tallinn Christmas market is overflowing with many unique and one of a kind items that will be sure to provide ample ways to finish up your holiday gift shopping.
The market stalls around the square sell artisan crafts and handmade goods that reflect the lengthy history and rich culture of the country, with influences from the storied past of conquest and occupation by larger nations from Sweden to Germany and Russia.
Hand-carved wooden items are in high demand, as well as various culturally inspired clothing items reminiscent of the garments worn throughout history. Scarves, hats, mittens and felt slippers made from all varieties of material are covered in ornate embroidery and decor with distinct cultural inspiration from all around the Baltic region of Europe.
If by chance you cannot find a gift among the souvenirs, ornaments and handmade goods of the Tallinn Christmas market itself, mere minutes from the hustle and bustle will bring you to a wealth of boutiques, markets and shops selling all manner of unique items not often found throughout the region.
Boutiques selling sophisticated garments and housewares with a distinctly Nordic flair are tucked between flea markets and vintage shops that become a visual picture of the lengthy history of Estonia.
You’ll even be able to find a few throwbacks to the era of Soviet control in shops selling everything from propaganda pieces to Lenin-esque fur hats.
Regardless of what you decide to buy, one thing your Christmas shopping budget will appreciate is the surprisingly low prices you will find through the market as well as the city itself. By low prices, meaning cheaper than eastern Europe.
Tallinn has only just started garnering attention from the jet-set crowd and its small size and weaker economy has resulted in a gem of a European budget destination. Add to that the fact that winter is the tourist slow season, you will be able to secure amazing deals on not only accommodations and dinner but also all the magical Christmas moments and gifts you’ll find throughout the Tallinn Christmas market.
While the holiday season might see a surprising uptick in tourist traffic, it still does not come close to some of the larger or more well-known Christmas markets in Europe. The reduced size of the crowds and traffic will be sure to amplify the quaint and charming holiday vibe throughout the city and reduce the crazy hustle and bustle typical of holiday shopping worldwide!
If you are looking for the perfect holiday escape, a visit to the Tallinn Christmas market will be sure to tick this box off your holiday travel bucket list.
While not as flashy, large or impressive as some of the more well known European Christmas markets, the Christmas market in this Baltic city is one of the oldest and most quintessential examples of a classic holiday market experience. It is also rated one of the best holiday markets in ALL of Europe.
The Old City square is a postcard-worthy collection of historic Medieval buildings and ancient architecture. The addition of bright and bountiful decorations seems to amplify the charm of this city, making it the perfect escape to get into the holiday spirit.
Affordable, accessible and dripping with charm, Tallinn Estonia is an unlikely but surprising destination that will be sure to renew the Christmas spirit and give you plenty of holiday memories to treasure for years to come.
Not only will you beat the crowds found at larger holiday markets, but you will be treated to a unique and cultural experience that brings together the best of the best holiday traditions from countries all over the European continent. No matter why you visit, you will soon understand why so many travelers have given Tallinn a permanent spot on their holiday travel wish list!
Tallinn’s City Center is about a 15 minute drive from the airport.
Taxi and Uber is readily available throughout the city.
Currency used in Tallinn is the Euro and you can get this in the airport or at an ATM.
Daylight hours are limited during the Christmas season with the sun rising after 8:30am and setting around 3:30 pm.
While the market seemed more magical during the dark hours, I would suggest visiting during both times.
Some vendors at the Christmas Market took credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) but a lot of them were cash only. Try and get enough cash out for your entire trip.
Most restaurants take credit cards. Every single place I went to had the option for cash or credit.
Tallinn Airport is quite small. I went two hours ahead of time and waited for about 1:50 minutes for my next flight after dropping luggage, clearing security and walking to my gate.
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