Free Things to do in Tallinn

Estonia’s capital Tallinn is one of the very few places in the world that effortlessly combines living history with modern living. Its amazingly well preserved Old Town and its wonderfully modern infrastructure are sure to capture your heart. As if that wasn’t enough to make you fall in love, there is also a plethora of free things to do in Tallinn. Read on to discover what they are!

Free Things to do in Tallinn – Churches

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be religious for this one. In fact, less than 20% of the Estonian population identifies as religious. So you may find it surprising that the city has so many churches and cathedrals. These churches and cathedrals cover several religious denominations. Some of them have even switched between denominations at different periods in time.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. St Simeon and St Anna the Prophets Church K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Church of Bishop St Nicholas the Miracle-Maker

Religion aside, these buildings cover many different architectural styles and all have immaculate interiors. Some may look rather small and unassuming from the outside but inside are ridiculously ornate. Some, like St Olaf’s and St Mary’s have an entrance fee, whereas others like St John’s are free to enter. Either way, it’s still free to admire and take photos from the outside. The Visit Tallinn website has more information about entry fees and opening hours for churches in Tallinn.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. St Paul and St Peter's Cathedral K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Free Things to do in Tallinn – Old Town

The Tallinn Old town is one of the world’s most well preserved medieval towns, which makes it an absolute treat for the senses. As soon as you step onto its cobbled streets, you really do feel like you’ve walked into another century.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Old City Stone Wall K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Old Town Street

While wandering around the town, there are many things to discover. Like St Catherine’s Passage, Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) and the Danish King’s Garden, just to name a few. The town also contains Europe’s oldest pharmacy, Raeapteek (Town Hall Pharmacy). It was run by the same family for 330 years!

Vabaduse väljak/Freedom Square

At the south end of the Old Town is a public square with monuments to Estonian independence struggles and victories. The open-air Freedom Square is a local gathering place and has been the site for celebrations and demonstrations.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Independence War Victory Column at Freedom Square K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. St John's Church at Freedom Square

It’s a great place to visit during the day but at night it comes alive. Flashing lights have been installed on poles in the square and the victory monument gets lit up as well.

Free Things to do in Tallinn – Harjumägi/Harju Gate Hill and Toompea Hill

Harjumägi/Harju Gate Hill lies right behind the victory monument of Freedom Square and offers a great view over modern Tallinn.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Harjumägi/Harju Gate Hill at night

If you continue walking away from the square, you’ll hit Toompea Hill. It forms the northern border of the Old Town and is home to the Toompea Castle. The Castle is now used by the Estonian parliament.

City Parks and Gardens

Although Tallinn is a fairly small city, it is packed with green spaces! A lot of them are small sculptured gardens, like Tammsaare Park, where people mainly sit around admiring trees. Others however are important gathering places with monuments and historical remnants. There are also walking trails and lookouts. Probably the most interesting part of some of these parks is how they came to be.

Commandant’s Garden (Komandandi Aed) and Governor’s Garden (Kuberneri Aed)

In between Harjumägi/Harju Gate Hill and Toompea Hill are two small gardens. Commandant’s Garden was named for the house on its corner where the Commander-in-chief used to live.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Komadandi/Commandant's Garden

The Governer’s Garden is beside Toompea Castle and used to be joined with the Castle Gardens until they were destroyed.

Two Parks in One: Linda’s Hill (Lindamäe Park) and Deer’s Park (Hirvepark)

These two parks are historical heavyweights in Tallinn. They are located within the same city block on the embankment of the former Rootsi/Swedish bastion. Linda’s Hill gets its name from A Weizenberg’s sculpture, called Linda, in the north of the park. Memorial ceremonies for Soviet repression victims have historically always taken place near the sculpture. It also has 250 year old trees.

Deer’s Park was the site of the first organised demonstrations against the communist party in 1987. Those demonstrations sparked anti-soviet sentiment and independence protests. A chain of events that eventually led to Estonian independence is 1991.

Police Garden Park (Politseiaia)

The Police Garden Park was previously known as the Military Vegetable Garden. As you can guess, it was used to grow vegetables for the police. It now contains walkways, fountains, a skate park and giant, people-size clay pots.

Photo by Madis Veltman
Children’s Park (Falgi Park)

This park was created in the mid-nineteenth century by filling in a pond with sand and planting some trees. It was bombed then refurbished in the mid-twentieth century as a garden with the ‘Circle For the Flowing Water’ fountain and children’s playgrounds.

Sneli Park/Toompark

The biggest of Tallinn’s inner-city parks, known as Sneli Park or Toompark, creates the northern border of the old town. It was once a fortification for the city and the park’s Sneli Pond is all that remains of the moat that used to protect the city. This park also contains the Kohtuosta, Patkuli and Piiskapi viewing platforms. These platforms offer great views over the city and the Baltic Sea.

Kadrioru Park

The Kadrioru Park was constructed by orders from a Russian Tsar in the 18th century. It’s design elements span three centuries. Aside from cultural monuments, canals, fountains and ponds, it is home to not just one, but three museums. KUMU (the Estonian Art Museum), Mikkeli Museum and the Kadriorg Art Museum. The later is housed within the Kadriorg Palace, a centerpiece of the park.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Tallinn. Kadrioru Park

Kalamaja Park

This park can be found in the historical, yet hip Kalamaja area. It used to be the Kalamaja Cemetery but it got a make-over in the 60s. That’s when it became the park that it is today, a tree-lined, relaxing area with children’s playgrounds and an historic bell tower.

Free things to do in Tallinn – Kalamaja

Kalamaja means ‘Fish House’ in Estonian, so can you guess where this area is, right? On the waterfront of course! The former working-class area is now pretty much hipster-ville. The old factories now house museums, cafes and bakeries. So many bakeries. Kalamaja is known for its pastries.

Aside from food, the Kalamaja district is known for its cute and colourful wooden houses which were originally built to house factory workers in the 19th century. It’s also known for its lively culture and nightlife. The area contains bars, restaurants and even a brewery that attracts locals and visitors from around the city.

The Port of Tallinn or Tallinna Sadam is part of the Kalamaja district. One of Tallinn’s premier fresh produce markets, Sadama Turg, is located there. Kalamaja is also home to the neo-gothic Kalju Baptist Church and its own park, Kalamaja Park (mentioned above).

Tallinn Card

So this one isn’t free, but purchasing it gives you free entry to many attractions, like churches and museums that normally charge entry fees. It also lets you use all public transport in the city for free. If you are staying for more than a few days and really really want to see some museums, it may be worth it. If you’re thinking of getting it for free transport, it may not be worth it. Tallinn is a small and very walkable city. You can explore everything mentioned above easily on foot. Tallinn is a very pleasant city to walk around.

Related Post – Tallinn

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Free Things to do in Vilnius
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Free Things to do in Tallinn
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Free Things to do in Vilnius

When it comes to budget travel, the Baltic states are some of the best for value for money. Lithuania is probably the cheapest of all of them. Additionally, there are also many free things to do in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. What’s better for your budget than things that cost nothing, right? The following list of free things to do in Vilnius could keep you occupied for days! A sample itinerary has been included at the bottom of the article to help you plan.

As an aside, you may be interested to know that the Lithuanian government decided a few years ago to market the capital city as the G-Spot of Europe. With the tagline, ‘Nobody knows where it is, but once you find it – it’s amazing’. They even have a website. You should absolutely take the test on the site for a laugh. Anyway, back to the free stuff!

Search For Street Art

There is art to be found all over Vilnius. There isn’t necessarily one place to see it all though. This means you could easily spend a day wandering around town finding random murals. There is definitely more street art in the old town. Sometimes it’s hiding in back streets, so make sure you explore everywhere! Also be aware that the art isn’t always just confined to walls. There are random sculptures around town too, especially in parks or in front of buildings. There are art installations that light up at night. Sometimes the canvas isn’t a wall, but a car. Just keep an open mind and there is art waiting to be found all around the city.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Lights K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Car Art

Free Things to do in Vilnius – City Parks

From small river-side and street-side parks to massive inner-city parks covering thousands of hectares, Vilnius has a lot of green spaces. We’re going to look at four of the main parks in the city for this article because they are easily accessible and contain a lot of interesting and fun things to do.

Pavilnių/Pavilniai Regional Park

First, let’s talk about the Pavilnių/Pavilniai Regional Park, 5 kilometres east of the Vilnius City Centre. The park covers over 2100 hectares, making it small for a regional park but it’s still one of the biggest city parks in the world. It can be accessed from the Pūčkorių Atodanga bus stop or the Pavilnys Train Station. The park has the highest geological monument in all of Vilnius. The monument, called Pūčkorių Dam, towers 65 metres above the city and offers great views. As you can guess, the city of Vilnius is rather flat.

Aside from apparently having the ‘most impressive’ view over Vilnius from the platform of Pūčkorių Dam, Pavilnių/Pavilniai Regional Park has 15 other hills that offer panoramic views over the city. It also has botanical reserves, waterfalls, an adventure park and a river running through it. In addition to that, there is an old water mill and hiking trails within the park’s borders. You could probably spend a whole day there.

Vingis Park

As the second largest park that the city has to offer, Vingis Park is a popular spot with locals. It has a stadium on its grounds that has hosted many international music acts. You might find people cycling or running on the many trails going through the park. Or maybe you’ll get distracted by the pretty flowers of the small botanical gardens.

Bernardinų/Bernadine Park

This park is located right in the city centre along the banks of the Vilnia River. It can be surprisingly quiet, despite its location. It has served a few different purposes and had a few different names throughout history. Now it contains many paved walking paths, sculptured gardens, children’s playgrounds and a giant chess board. Then it has something unique in Vilnius; singing fountains. But only between 9 and 10pm in summer.

Kalnų/Kalnai Park

Kalnų/Kalnai Park is located right near Bernadine Park on the opposite side of the Vilnia River. Its name means park of hills. There are four main hills in the park that you can climb to get a view of the city. One of them is Crooked Hill, where a famous historical monument stands.

Monuments With City Views

As mentioned before, Vilnius is a rather flat city, which means that firstly, it’s great to walk around. Secondly, you don’t have to work very hard to get a decent view of it. As an added bonus, many of the viewpoints in the city come with a free history lesson.

Gediminas Castle Tower

Gediminas, sometimes referred to as the father of Vilnius, was the Grand Duke of Lithuania in the 14th century. He had a dream that led him to build a city around the hill the castle tower now stands on. It was named after the Vilnia river. The tower is the only remaining remnant of the castle built by Gediminas. The great thing about it being on a hill is that you get an almost panoramic view of the city below. To your left you’ll see the old town with all its old-world architecture. In stark contrast, on your right, you’ll see the new town with all its modern metal constructions. It’s also an amazing place to watch the sunset!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Gediminas Castle Tower

Trys Kryžiai/Three Crosses

The historical Trys KryZial/Three Crosses monument lies atop Crooked Hill in Kalnai Park. The crosses are said to be a monument to Franciscan monks. Legend says they were murdered for trying to convert the city to Christianity. Some versions of the legend say they were crucified and floated down the river. Some versions say they were beheaded on that hill. No matter which legend people believed, the crosses became an integral part of the city’s skyline. They can be seen from almost everywhere in town, which means you can get a great view of the whole town from them.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Three Crosses

Free Things to do in Vilnius – Take a Walk Along a River

While most cities in the world will have just one main river, Vilnius has two! Not only that, both have a fair amount of green spaces touching their banks. Let’s talk about the Vilnia River first. While it may be the smaller of the two rivers, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of things to do and see along its course. The Vilnia River winds through the old town and following it will bring you to some interesting sites.

Vilnia River

You may have noticed that three of the four parks mentioned earlier are connected in some way to the Vilnius River. That means a walk along this river gives you an almost never-ending list of things to see and do! Not only that, but it passes through a bit of the old town as well. That means you can see the best of nature, history and modern day living in Vilnius, all from one river. Here are just a few things you might see on your walk –

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. St Anne's Church near the Vilnia River K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Bridge of Locks on the Vilnia River

Neris River

The Neris River forms the dividing line between the new and the old city. It is a 510km river that starts in Belarus and flows all the way to Vilnius. While the Vilnia River winds through the quieter areas of the old town, the Neris River is flanked on both sides by a main city road. Despite that, it can be surprisingly quiet and soothing to walk along its sunken banks. Along this river you’ll see a beach as well as many green spots. You might also spot some street art on some of the several bridges that cross the river.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Neris River

Free Things to Do in Vilnius – 3 Day Itinerary

As you can see, a lot of the things mentioned above are inter-connected. So without any further ado, I present to you an itinerary to help you get all these things done in 3 days. You can even download the PDF version to take with you, using the link below :o)

K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Free Vilnius Itinerary Page 1 K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Free Vilnius Itinerary Page 2 K in Motion Travel Blog. Free Things to do in Vilnius. Free Vilnius Itinerary Page 3

Free Vilnius Itinerary

Related Post: Experience The Old World Charm of Vilnius

Check out our other Northern European guides –
Free Things to do in Riga
Free Things to do in Tallinn
How to Prepare for Finland in the Winter


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