• The capital of Estonia, Tallinn is staging its first major UEFA club final
  • Lilleküla Stadium staged six 2012 U19 EURO matches
  • The stadium is 2km from Tallinn's picturesque Old Town
  • Flora Tallinn and Levadia Tallinn have 20 league titles between them
  • Nature lovers can take a boat trip to see seals on the nearby islands

Tallinn city guide

TALLINN IS ...

• The capital of Estonia.
• Founded around a limestone hill, Toompea, which according to legend is national hero Kalev's burial mound.
• A city of around 450,000, mostly Estonians, but with a sizeable Russian-speaking community.
• A major government and tourist hub with a significant information technology industry.
• Twinned with Beijing, Florence, Helsinki, Kiel, Kyiv, Moscow, Stockholm and Vienna, among others.

WHERE IT IS

Located on the opposite side of the Gulf of Finland from the Finnish capital Helsinki, Tallinn stands on the northern coast of Estonia, roughly halfway between St Petersburg and Stockholm. It is around 3,000km from Madrid, over 6,500km from New York, and just shy of 8,000km from Tokyo.

STADIUM

Lilleküla Stadium will stage the UEFA Super Cup
Lilleküla Stadium will stage the UEFA Super Cup©Getty Images

• Opened in 2001, Lilleküla Stadium is staging its first major UEFA club final.
• The arena staged six matches in the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, including Spain's win in the final.
• Owned by the Estonian Football Association, the venue is home to the Estonian national team, and 11-time national champions Flora Tallinn.
• The stadium is around 2km south of Tallinn's old town – a comfortable 30-minute walk – and even closer to the city's main train station.
• The largest stadium in Estonia, its capacity has been increased in preparation for staging the UEFA Super Cup.

GETTING THERE

By air: Over 2.5 million travellers a year pass through Tallinn Airport, which is around 4km from the heart of the city.

By road: Tallin stands at the northern end of European route E67, which starts in Prague and passes through Warsaw, Kaunas and Riga on its way north.

By rail: Tallinn is not yet linked up to the main European rail networks, but has regular links to Russia.

MOVING AROUND

Tallinn city centre
Tallinn city centre©Getty Images

Walk: The centre of the capital is small, picturesque and perfect to explore on foot.

Public transport: A cheep and efficient bus and tram system links central Tallinn to Lilleküla Stadium.

Taxi: You can hire a cab by phone or on an app, or pick one up at a taxi stand; rates are pictured on a yellow sticker in the cab's window.

Bike: Bicycles can be hired easily from a number of locations in the city centre.

WHERE TO STAY

Tallinn has plenty of places to stay – budget hostels as well as hotels. See useful links below.

WHAT TO SEE

For culture: The splendid Kadriorg Palace houses the Kadriorg Art Museum, with the spectacular Kumu gallery located nearby.

Tallinn old town
Tallinn old town©Getty Images

For atmosphere: Centred on the Town Hall Square, Tallinn's Old Town has more than 20 churches, with the viewing platform at Toompea Castle a great place to size up the city.

For fresh air: Kadriorg Park is a lovely place for a walk, but for something more bracing visit the Lennusadam (Seaplane Harbour) museum on the shores of the Baltic.

EATING AND DRINKING

There is no shortage of places to eat and drink in central Tallinn, with most tastes catered for, but when in Estonia, you might as well take the opportunity to eat like a local.

Estonian food has obvious links to the food in nearby countries – Russia, Germany and the Nordic nations – with plenty of rye bread, pork and potatoes involved. Herring with potatoes and mulgikapsad (sauerkraut with pork and barley) are notable local favourites. The proximity of the Baltic means lots of great smoked fish dishes, with räim (Baltic dwarf herring) worth looking out for.

Local beer is good, and vodka and Vana Tallinn are among the favourite native spirits, while kali (derived from rye bread, and not unlike Russian kvass) is a popular soft(ish) drink.

FOOTBALL IN TALLINN

Every Estonian league title since independence has been won by a Tallinn club, and though former champions Norma Tallinn, Lantana Tallinn and TVMK Tallinn have ceased to exist, Flora Tallinn and Levadia Tallinn regularly do battle for the crown.

Reigning champions Flora have won 11 Meistriliiga titles, while Levadia – based at the multi-sport Kadriorg Stadium – have taken top spot nine times since their foundation in 1998. Newcastle United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasaray and Basel have all visited Tallinn for UEFA club competition games, though Estonia is yet to have a team in one of the major competition group stages.

GET OUT OF THE CITY

Tallinn botanical gardens
Tallinn botanical gardens©Getty Images

The Pirita district is the site of Tallinn's Botanical Gardens, as well as beaches and the Olympic yachting centre (used at the 1980 summer games). Nature lovers can take a boat trip from Tallinn for the chance to see seals on the nearby islands.

Those who are planning a longer stay might consider a 70km trip along the coast to Lahemaa (Land of Bays) National Park. Its bogs and forests are home to wild boar, red deer, wolves, lynx and bears, with a number of nature trails providing great routes for walkers and cyclists.

YOUR ESTONIAN PHRASEBOOK

English is reasonably widely spoken, but a few polite words in Estonian may be appreciated ...

Hello – Tere (teh-reh)
How are you? – Kuidas läheb? (kwee-dass la-heb)
Please – Palun (pah-loon)
Thank you – Tänan - tah-nan
Goodbye – Head aega (he-ad ay-eh-ga)

USEFUL LINKS

Visit Tallinn: www.visittallinn.ee
Lonely Planet: www.lonelyplanet.com/estonia/tallinn
Tallinn portal: www.tallinn.ee
Tallinn Airport: www.tallinn-airport.ee
Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallinn
Estonian Football Association (EJL): jalgpall.ee

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