Looking for an authentic Christmas experience? Then spend your Christmas holiday in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. Some say it looks like a snow globe come to life. Others say it looks like something out of the pages of a fairytale. Either way, Christmas in Tallinn is magic!
Tallinn’s top holiday attraction
The Tallinn Christmas market is an absolute must-see during the holiday season. Named the best Christmas market in Europe in 2019, it continues to make the list of top European Christmas markets every year. Peruse the handicrafts on offer at the wooden market stalls radiating out from the towering tree at the center of the square. Wool sweaters, wooden ornaments, and ceramic mugs make lovely gifts for everyone on your list. Children can drop off their Christmas letters to Santa and take a ride on the carousel. The market is open from November 25th to January 8th, ending the day after the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas.
Enjoy traditional Christmas fare
If you’re feeling peckish while out and about, stop by one of the markets stands serving traditional Estonian Christmas food: verivorst (blood sausage), hapukapsas (sauerkraut), oven-roasted potatoes and pork. Top off your plate with colorful lingonberry sauce and pickled pumpkin. These food traditions go back centuries, but nowadays you can try more modern Estonian Christmas fare, as some of the city’s top restaurants offer special Christmas menus during the season. In the nearby neighborhood of Kalamaja, you can check out the special menus at Lore Bistro, a 2022 MICHELIN Bib Gourmand restaurant, and Ülo, a stylish, vegetarian-friendly restaurant near Balti Jaam market.
Christmas in Estonia wouldn’t be complete without piparkook (gingerbread). This treat is available everywhere during the Christmas season; stop by any local grocery store, Christmas market, bakeries, or cafes for a gingerbread fix. There’s even an exhibition devoted entirely to gingerbread sculptures called Gingerbread Mania! Gingerbread cookies go great with glögi (mulled wine). Alcohol-free glögi or you can add a shot of Vana Tallinn, Estonia’s traditional liqueur.
Go beyond the market
During the dark days of winter, Tallinn is aglow with twinkling lights. The jolly Christmas vibe spreads beyond the confines of the market. Go ice skating on the rink on Harju Street, or try sledding at the Song Festival grounds. Warm up indoors at one of the city’s top museums, such as the Kumu Art Museum and Kadriorg Palace over in Kadriorg or the Seaplane Harbour Museum in trendy Noblessner.
Christmas in the countryside
The full fairytale experience would not be complete without a visit to an Estonian manor. Many of these stately homes have been restored and are now luxurious spa hotels in the countryside. Some will be offering special seasonal packages, including a Christmas meal and accommodation. Rekindle your Christmas spirit at Vihula Manor, Mäetaguse Manor Hotel, or Palmse Manor & Guesthouse.