Travel safety question for Estonia/Tallinn
August 6, 2016 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: Single US woman, mid-20s, wants to spend a week or so in Tallinn this autumn. She's heard some pretty sketchy stories about the hostel situation in the city, and is wondering how safe it would be for her to travel and stay there. Other than the usual travel precautions, is there anything in particular for her to be aware of in Tallinn?
posted by curious nu to Travel & Transportation around Tallinn, Estonia (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Estonians are very civilized people. I don't think she needs to be concerned in any way.

Hostel situation: It is my impression that Tallinn is not a major tourist destination and there are not many hostels. is your friend.

Tallinn's old city is super pretty but besides some tourists, the town itself does not seem super busy. Not sure I would want to spend a week there. And to be honest I found Vilnius (Lithuanian capital) much more interesting and lively. Vilnius is a 10h bus rude from Tallinn.

Source: Me. Was just in Tallinn and I am now in Vilnius.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:06 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I stayed there solo (in a guesthouse-type hotel, not a hostel) for a few days and it was fine, safety-wise. There's probably not enough to do for a whole week. Helsinki maybe?
posted by matildaben at 3:51 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was just in Tallinn on my own a couple of weeks ago and it was fine, safety wise, though admittedly I wasn't hostelling. FWIW, when I first stayed there 20 years ago, the only hostel was in a place where you went to reception and turned left for the hostel rooms, or right to go into a strip joint run as part of the same establishment. And yet I always felt completely safe (different times, though, so that's more of an amusing anecdote than sound travel advice).

Re. filling a week - buses to Riga and Vilnius are an option, but there are also some other nice spots within Estonia she could explore - Pärnu (beach town), and islands like Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Kihnu. The pretty university town of Tartu is 2.5 hours from Tallinn by bus.
posted by penguin pie at 5:36 PM on August 6, 2016

I may have stayed in the same place as penguin pie when I went to Tallinn with a friend (both of us female, in our very early 20s) in 1998. I recall we were above a sex shop or something like that. We had no issues whatsoever traveling through the Baltics together, though again, that was a while ago.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 6:15 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I (single male) stayed in a hostel in Tallinn (the "United Backpackers" one, I think it was behind the Radisson Blu) a year ago. I never felt unsafe there at all. The largest contingent in the hostel were a big group of German teens, who were boisterous but fine. I stayed in... oh, a dozen? Ish? hostels last summer in the Baltics and Poland etc and the Tallinn one definitely did not stand out as being unsafe at all.

I had just come from Stockholm, and it didn't feel noticeably sketchier and the lack of bustle was fairly relaxing. The old town is beautiful and I felt totally safe walking around there at night when it was much less busy.

Places to see in Tallinn:

Tallinn Seaplane Harbour maritime museum- all in English, brand new, and has a circa 1918 submarine you can go inside- and some actual boats afloat you can explore. Really really fun if you like boats at all. It's a little ways out of the old town but it's an interesting walk too.

Museum of Occupations is free and quite intense. It's pretty much a history of Estonia with an emphasis on how it's been occupied by... pretty much all of their neighbors. And in the basement are giant Soviet heads!

KGB Museum - an actual (I think?) KGB office left intact after the Iron Curtain fell. I didn't get to see it in the end, but all the reviews are good. I think you need a reservation.

You can also go on a tour of the old defensive tunnels. I didn't find it that interesting- there's nothing actually there now other than Soviet-era concrete. Underwhelming!
posted by BungaDunga at 10:07 PM on August 6, 2016

I stayed in Tallinn for about a week in 2012, as a single mid 20s woman. I had zero safety issues or concerns and was quite comfortable walking around at night.

I didn't hostel it - I stayed in an apartment at Villa Hortensia in the middle of a little courtyard, close to supermarkets and the centre of old town. I loved Tallinn and hope your friend has a great time.
posted by showeringsuns at 2:50 AM on August 7, 2016

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