Just out of the Old Town, the Kadriorg area with its greenery and secludedness is a favorite among locals and travelers alike for spending a day at a park or exploring art museums. The park area was purposely built and developed in the 1700s and quickly became a favorite among the elite. With industrialization and building railroads all around the Tsarist Russian empire in the end of the 19th century the ruling class started going to the Black Sea and the locals started coming here.
Nowadays it is one of the most prestigious areas of the city with many museums as well as the President’s Palace and the Song Festival Grounds.
Kadriorg park is either a 30-minute walk from the Old Town or ten minutes by tram no 1 or 3 – head towards Kadriorg and get off at the last stop.
Things to see and do in Kadriorg
The Swan Lake at the start of Kadriorg Park is a lovely place for a picnic. On some summer nights, there are outdoor concerts here, too. Swans are not necessarily included with the Swan Lake.
The Kadriorg Palace is a great example of baroque architecture and also serves as a Museum of Foreign Art. Take a walk in the beautiful French-style garden of the palace where local couples often shoot wedding photos. If you go during summer, chances are you will see someone in a wedding dress. The palace is a popular sight with bigger tour groups as well, but you can easily escape them by stepping inside the palace. Buy a ticket to see the collection and the beautiful palace on the inside.
The Presidential Palace is just uphill from the Kadriorg Palace and seems quite low-key when it comes to security, with just two guards at the door. Check it out; you might see the president! Hint: Just don’t step on the stairs; I’m serious; the guards will definitely not like that. Also, notice the beehives across the square in front of the building. These are the president’s personal bees, and our president gifts the honey from them to important visitors – cutest thing ever!
KUMU – the Estonian Art Museum has five floors dedicated to different eras of Estonian and foreign art, with temporary exhibitions from all over the world. KUMU’s building is half blasted into a limestone cliff and seamlessly blends into the park area – a great example of modern architecture in Estonia.
If you are traveling with children in Tallinn, then you should absolutely visit the Children’s Museum Miamilla in Kadriorg Park. This wondrous building was built for children in the park back in 1938 and was fully renovated in 2023. Almost everything in the museum is for playing and touching. They also have a no-shoes policy for everyone, adult and child alike, so make sure you have nice socks on. Next to the museum is also an awesome playground.
The Song Festival Grounds are the heart of Estonian culture. If you have the opportunity, you should come to Tallinn during a national Song Festival – there are around 30,000 people singing traditional Estonian songs as one choir. The event only happens once every five years. The Song Festival Grounds were also a focal point of the Estonian Singing Revolution that happened in the end of the 80s and led to Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Where to eat in Kadriorg
Katharinenthal, on the corner of the Swan Lake in Kadriorg Park, is an excellent place for brunch or a sweet snack while promenading around the park itself. This little place has lovely pastries and makes for a great location to people-watch in summertime.
NOP is an eco-friendly shop and cafe with food from both local eco-farms and international options. This neighborhood favorite tries to keep everything organic, local, and fresh. They offer great vegan options and open early enough that you can enjoy your breakfast here.
Mantel ja Korsten in Kadriorg is an absolute treasure. Channeling Mediterranean vibes in a sleepy-looking little green house in Baltic seaside Tallinn – Mantel ja Korsten is where locals love to escape to. Listed as one of Michelin’s Bib Gourmand restaurants, they offer an amazing service and value-for-money food experience.
Are you a coffee snob? Because if you are, then this is the place for you! Gourmet Coffee in Kadriorg will hit you with the smell of freshly ground coffee beans even before you see the sign. Aside from knowing more about coffee and how to make it than seems possible, this place also has a great and reasonably priced menu.
If you are looking for a culinary adventure, then try Salt Restaurant. They say this place is intimate; I say it is small (so book a table). But one thing is clear – the food is great! This place is a mix of exotic and local, and the menu changes all the time to the whims of the chef. This might also be one of the most awarded restaurants in Estonia, luckily it doesn’t mean they are out of a reasonable price range.
Kadriorg’s bakery – Vesivärava Kohvik, on the far side of the neighborhood, is worth the walk. People from all over Tallinn order their cakes and kringles for birthdays from here, or drive over to buy their burger from a little kiosk, and as there is practically nowhere to sit, they eat it in the parking lot in their car. This is a no-frills local spot and will hopefully remain so for a long time.
* Cover photo: Kaupo Kalda / visittallinn.ee