Tallinn, Estonia: Old Fashioned Charm in the Most Digital Nation on Earth

Wired magazine has called Estonia “the most advanced digital society in the world” and the President of Estonia (a woman — yay!)  just published an article about how Estonia is running its country like a tech company.

“Governments must learn to provide public services as efficiently as Amazon sells books: no physical presence, no cost of application, no opening hours,” says Kersti Kaljulaid, the fifth and current president of Estonia.

Sounds pretty great to me. And to Julia Barrett, an American who was so excited by what’s going on in Estonia that she moved there to help develop e-Residency 2.0. E-Residency is a government program that bestows e-Residency to non-Estonians around the world. Julia also represents e-Residency in its partnership with the United Nations.


In the Estonia episode of the Postcard Academy podcast, Julia talks about what it’s like to live in the world’s most digital society. And how despite all the tech, Estonians still cherish nature and traditions like jam making and baking black bread.


Listen to the episode to hear Julia’s recommendations on the best things to see, do, and eat in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital  (subscribe here for free). We also talk about culture differences between Americans and Estonians, including comfort levels with getting naked with colleagues. Below are links to places and resources discussed in the show.


 
Tallinn, Estonia has the best preserved medieval old town in Europe. Photo by Rasmus Jurkatam.

Tallinn, Estonia has the best preserved medieval old town in Europe. Photo by Rasmus Jurkatam.

Tallinn cool neighborhoods

Old Town. Despite being occupied by the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, Estonia looks more fairy tale than former communist state, and Tallinn has the best preserved medieval old town in Europe. Wander the cobblestone streets and check out the churches.

Visit Kalev Marzipan. Legend has it that an Estonian pharmacy invented marzipan centuries ago and sold it for its healing properties. Today, painted marzipan is a dying art and most of its artists work in Tallinn for Kalev Marzipan, purveyor of Estonia’s national chocolate, Kalev, and a museum dedicated to the almond confectionery.

Kadriorg. Here you’ll find the palace, located in a park with the same name and lots of cafes and beautiful old, wooden houses nearby.

Eat at Nop Café. This bakery/cafe has lots of vegetarian options. Bring your laptop if you need to get work done. Next door, you can visit their organic market.  

Visit KUMU Modern Art Museum, Events & Café

Kalamaja. The arty neighborhood where you’ll find pop-up restaurants, street food, and old-time fishermen houses.

Visit Telliskivi, a complex filled with indie shops and restaurants.


Estonians getting their sauna on. Photo by Tõnu Runnel.

Estonians getting their sauna on. Photo by Tõnu Runnel.

Tallinn must sees and dos

Baltic Station Market. A 10-minute walk from the Old Town, here you’ll find 300 traders offering everything from food to local design.
Tallinn Walking Tours
TV Tower. Take a taxi to the tower than go up for drinks and an amazing view of the city.
Saunas
Ice Roads


Berry picking is a religion in Estonia. Red berries in Estonia. Photo by Aron Urb.

Berry picking is a religion in Estonia. Red berries in Estonia. Photo by Aron Urb.

Daytrips from Estonia

Tartu. Take the train to this university town and visit the National Museum and the Upside Down House.

Onion Trail. Stop at a festival or two and visit the Old Believers in Setomaa.


Julia Barrett  is an American who moved to Estonia to help develop e-Residency 2.0. E-Residency is a government program that bestows e-Residency to non-Estonians around the world. Julia also represents e-Residency in its partnership with the United Nations. Photo courtesy of Julia.

Julia Barrett is an American who moved to Estonia to help develop e-Residency 2.0. E-Residency is a government program that bestows e-Residency to non-Estonians around the world. Julia also represents e-Residency in its partnership with the United Nations. Photo courtesy of Julia.


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If you found this article useful, please share it, and subscribe to the Postcard Academy podcast. Each week, expats and adventurers share their insider travel tips on the best food, nightlife, and cultural experiences in the most interesting places around the globe. I’m your host, Sarah Mikutel, an American who's spent the last 8 years living in, and traveling around, Europe.