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When you plan a winter holiday, I bet Estonia is one of the last places you would think to visit. Although, however cold it may be, the capital city, Tallinn, should be near the top of your list. This old, historical and medieval town is surely an attraction anytime of the year, but especially during the holiday season. The streets light up while the surrounding colorful buildings and watch towers only add to the charming atmosphere of Christmas.
The tree in the center of the Town Hall Square is one of the prettiest throughout Europe, as well as the oldest. The food is exuberant and rich in Estonian culture while the beer will surprise any foodie with nothing but positive reviews/experiences.
Although it may seem too far East or North for most to travel to, the location is an easy flight from just about anywhere in Central Europe. The country rests in a post Soviet society, however its inhabitants are proud of their culture with a positive outlook of life and into the future. The close proximity to Finland adds a Scandinavian vibe to the tiny, cold, Baltic country.
If you haven’t thought about exploring Estonia before, maybe it’s time to think again and visit for it’s Christmas Market as it plays host to one of the best overall displays and atmosphere across Europe.
November 15th, 2020 – January 5th, 2021
Everyday from 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Hot drinks are served until 10:00pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 11:00 pm on Friday/Saturday
There isn’t a wide range of options in terms of food among the Christmas Market in Tallinn, but each offer is bursting with flavor. There is only one small section of the market dedicated to food, while the rest of the area is loaded with hot wine and souvenirs. The food corner is home to potatoes, meats, sauerkraut and some of the best smoked salmon you will ever have.
The meats are local and you can find some unique varieties such as bear or reindeer from certain stalls. The salmon is fresh and full of a smoky flavor that goes perfect with a plate of hot and delicious sauerkraut. The potatoes and kraut are cooked to perfection as they are placed onto a huge ceramic plate and cauldron while being sautéed next to one another. Whatever you may order, it will be heavy in flavor and help warm you up on a chilly, Estonian day.
If the food isn’t enough to warm you up, grab some glögg, (hot wine). A glögg stall isn’t hard to find as the center of the market is dedicated to them. You can find a glögg stand open as early as 9am as the drinking starts at first light. I can’t blame them, it’s one of the best ways to stay warm. While many other markets only offer one type of glögg, Tallinn offers a few different flavors ranging from fruits to spices as well as a specialty glögg that contains the famous Estonian liqueur, Vana Tallinn. This quickly ups the alcohol content which is nothing more than additional help for your warmth…
If the cold is too much and hot wine really isn’t your thing, head into III Draakon, located next to the Town Hall Square. This medieval tavern is one of the coolest places you will ever have a beer. The atmosphere is alive here as the bartenders dress up as if it was medieval time tavern and speak with specific accents. Try not to use your phone or any other technology, they are not used to modern day gadgets and will shout at you. The beer itself is fantastic. You can choose from two options, dark or blonde. When you only have two choices to decide on, and they come directly from of a barrel built into a stone wall surrounded by ambient candle lighting, you can expect it to be delicious. The beer goes down like water and the atmosphere only helps.
The Christmas Tree serves as the oldest traditional display through out Europe, dating back to 1441. It is located directly in the center of the Town Hall Square, surrounded by picturesque buildings, beautiful from every angle. The huge tree commands the scene during the day and sparkles at night, but wake up a little bit earlier to visit at sunrise when no one else is around
For a smaller market, the stalls are jam packed with ornaments. So many, that it makes it difficult to choose which one you want the most for your tree. Most items are handmade and the wooden carvings are one of a kind. If you’re looking for something more traditional to Estonia, a Viking is a good option. Although, it’s extremely hard to pass up on one of the handmade Santas.
Castles, Vikings, watch towers, food, beer, hot wine, cold weather, Santas and an extremely old Christmas Tree tradition. It’s kind of difficult to find anything that takes away from Tallinn being one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. Everywhere you walk, you will find Christmas spirit as well as a view into something you had not yet seen. This town is a good place to visit anytime of the year, but when Christmas rolls around, they just do it right.
Check out our Christmas Market page for more European destinations! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @travelingle and @egtrotters for more daily travel inspiration!