Peaceful streets, stunning architecture, an exciting restaurant scene and plenty of snow – you'll find all of these things in the beautiful city of Tallinn in Estonia on a winter minibreak. Just a three hour flight away from London's Heathrow, it's the perfect destination for a spot of exploring and relaxation. Yes, the weather can be very cold (temperatures can reach -20!) but if you layer up, it won't hold you back. If you love sightseeing combined with some winter pursuits then this is the break for you.
Morning: Jägala Frozen Waterfall tour with picnic
Before setting off for your first day's exploring, fill your belly with a hearty Estonia breakfast. The Savoy Boutique hotel is centrally located in the city's beautiful Old Town near all the restaurants and bars. They serve up everything from smoked salmon and sparkling wine to pancakes and local honey, so tuck in before the day's activities.
The Jägala Frozen Waterfall is a must-visit for any tourist, a short drive out of the city with a knowledgeable guide. The sight of the frozen falling water is truly magical and an essential selfie spot. The location is a favourite haunt of fossil hunters who scour the limestone cliff beside the falls.
As part of your tour you can enjoy a romantic picnic at the waterfall – try local traditional foods such as homemade mushroom pies, rhubarb cake, tea and schnapps. Prices for the waterfall and picnic tour start from £32 per person, See tallinndaytrip.com
Afternoon: Explore Tallinn's Old Town
After a busy morning in the snow, you'll be hungry, so check out one of the restaurants in Tallinn's picturesque Old Town. Pegasus is a lovely restaurant over two floors, right across from the town's ice rink and offers gorgeous views. The Roe Deer Striploin with celeriac mousse is divine. See restoranpegasus.ee
The Old Town is fascinating and you can easily spend hours wandering around the quaint streets gazing at the incredible architecture. A walking tour with a local guide is thoroughly recommended to learn all about this medieval city, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. Climb up to the Toompea part of the old town for a look at the Parliament Building and viewing platforms where you can see across the whole city. Back down at the bottom, visit the historic sixth century Town Hall and take in the bustling atmosphere of the town square. If you love old churches and merchant houses, this is your spot.
By now you may be feeling a little chilly, so make a pit stop at one of the old town's charming cafes. Maiasmokk is a popular place for a warming hot chocolate and slice of cake.
An individual tour of the Old Town costs from £69 per person. Group tours from £34 per person. Visit traveller.ee/tallinn-walking-tours
Evening: Visit a funky cocktail bar
Parrot Mini-Bar is one of the Old Town's hottest bars, combining fine dining and creative cocktails against a tropical backdrop. Step inside and you feel as if you're in the Amazon rainforest – just with amazing food and no bugs! Try a Gin Passion Sour cocktail to kick off the evening or a delicious Bellini. The food comes in three 'flights' like a bird; the seared scallops in langustini sauce are out of this world, as is the passionfruit and ganache 'Passion' dessert. See facebook.com/parrotminibar/
Morning: Shopping at Telliskivi
No visit to Tallinn is complete without a trip to Telliskivi Creative City – a former industrial complex which now homes a plethora of arty shops, cool bars and antique stores. On Saturdays there is a flea renowned market, but the Balti Market is open every day selling everything from vintage clothing to Estonian trinkets.
Make a stop for brunch at restaurant F-Hoone, a popular spot with locals. The Vegan Furger is amazing – a dark bread burger with tofu, beetroot, hummus and chilli pepper aioli plus sweet potato fries.
Afternoon: Husky Dog Sledding
If you're a dog lover, then this is for you. Book yourself on a husky sledding excursion, where you'll travel an hour out of Tallinn into the countryside to a beautiful husky dog farm. Ask your guide if you can stop at one of the incredible frozen bogs for a walk in the deep snow. The bogs are legendary in the area, hiding perfectly preserved flora and fauna beneath them. In summer, Estonians love to swim in the clear water of the bogs.
Once at the husky park, you'll have an unforgettable visit. Meet 40 beautiful dogs – Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Greenland Huskies – who are waiting for you to cuddle and stroke them. The dogs really enjoy pulling the sled and howl with excitement when put in their harnesses. It's an exhilarating experience travelling by husky pack through the snow. Afterwards, warm up in the wooden lodge with traditional tea and cake.
A husky park tour and dog sled ride with lunch starts from £32 per person. See tallinndaytrip.com/tours
Evening: Try a tasting menu
Tallinn is all about dining out, and with weather so cold, you'll want to fill your belly. Ore is a fabulous restaurant in the city's Old Town, known for its special fusion of experimental modern cuisine with traditional Estonian elements. The tasting menu is highly recommended, as is the mind-blowing Cranberry dessert, designed to look like an Estonian bog – so artistic you don't want to eat it, but when you do it's divine. See orerestoran.ee/en
Morning: Relax at a spa
Time for some pampering after all that sightseeing and eating! Pop along to the Beauty Skin Spa at the Radisson Blue Hotel where you can choose from a range of beauty treatments and relax in the sauna and steam room. The Anne Semonin Age Defend Facial is a wonderful 60 minute treatment using essential oils and minerals to improve skin tone and elasticity. The spa is on the 24th floor so enjoy the panoramic views of the city while you chill. Estonians adore their saunas (pronounced sowna not sawna) and at these temperatures, we can see why.
Afternoon: Lunch and ice skating
It must be time to eat again, surely? Head to laid-back eatery Sfaar, serving hearty bowls of traditional food. The Burrata salad is delicious, as is the Veggie Curry main with lentils and bok choy. See sfaar.ee/.
Writer Sophie and her husband Andrew at Tallinn's ice rink
Time to work off lunch at the Harju Street Ice Rink. Skating in the open air is such fun and super romantic in the centre of the stunning Old Town. Prices start from £9 per adult per hour for access and ice skate hire. Visit uisuplats.ee/en/ for more details.
Evening: Visit your hotel bar before dinner
The Savoy Boutique's hotel bar is a fabulous spot for a romantic pre-dinner drink and it's only downstairs from your room. Enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail from their extensive drinks menu. Then head to nearby restaurant Cru for a bite to eat. We recommend the Marbled Beef Salad to start, the North Sea Lemon Sole for main and Flamed Alaska for desert. Delicious! See crurestoran.eu/eng.
Where to stay
Stay at the Savoy Boutique Hotel in Tallinn's fascinating Old Town. The five star hotel is housed in a 19th century art deco building, just a four minute walk from the Gothic Town Hall and square. Book a room on the top floor, which come with an art easel and pencils so you can sketch your own masterpiece of the snow-topped city. Room rates start from £126 per night for two people sharing. See tallinnhotels.ee/savoy-boutique-hotel
How to get there
British Airways fly direct from London Heathrow to Tallinn. Once at Tallinn airport, getting to the Old Town is simple – either take a taxi from the airport taxi rank or hop on a tram, which will take you there in 10 minutes.
See visitestonia.com/en for more details on what to do in Tallinn.