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By Tanveer Mann, Senior reporter for Metro.co.uk

Tuesday 11 Dec 2018 3:01 pm

Christmas in Tallinn is picture-perfect.

From the beautiful old town decked out in Christmas lights to the aromas of authentic Tallinn liquor and mulled wine spreading through the cobbled streets, this little Estonian capital is breathtakingly magical.

Its charm is everywhere, right from the moment we land at the airport.

Voted the Best European Airport 2018, Tallinna Lennujaam should probably win the award for being the cosiest too.

Its carpeted like youre in your living room, its got actual wooden doors as you pass through customs and is beautifully lit up in fairy lights.

Oh, and it smells too – a wonderfully delicious chocolatey smell.

Christmas in Tallinn is so magical (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

Its also freezing cold so glad I decided to bring my Russian hat!

Just 20 minutes later we pull up to the famous Telegraaf Hotel, which is centrally located in the Latin Quarter of Tallinn.

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From 1918, Telegraaf House operated as the main hub of communications, acting as a post office right up until 1991, when it was turned into a hotel.

I quickly see how it has kept its historical heritage by fusing the old and new. Stamps are imprinted on to the carpet, suites are named after scientists Alexander Graham Bell and Samuel Morse and old school telephones are housed in each room.

I obviously cant wait to start exploring so Im thrilled to hear Tallinns famous Christmas market is just around the corner in the town hall square.

Mmmm these smells carry through the entire square (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

The Christmas market is just around the corner from the Hotel Telegraph (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

The market has got an impressive Christmas tree in the centre measuring over 20ft, a grand stage, Santas grotto and rows upon rows of wooden chalets selling everything from candy and waffles to Estonian souvenirs.

According to locals, the square was the first in Europe to publicly display a Christmas tree in 1441. Pretty cool stuff.

Despite this, the square feels completely untouched. Theres no rowdy tourists or stag dos as youd find in Prague or Berlin. Instead, this sleepy yet charming market has a cosy feel to it, almost as if youve stepped back in time and its a place only the locals know about.

As one of the oldest capitals in northern Europe, its surprising how well the town square and the rest of the old town has been so well-preserved too.

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The square has the oldest operating pharmacy in the country, called Raeapteek, which is worth a visit as theres a hidden back room where you can find an exhibition on medicines from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Walk through the cobbled streets of the old town and youll find a lot of beauty (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

Just a short walk away youll be able to see the original city wall and towers that still stand among some of the newer buildings.

The best place to see the wall from the outside are from the Patkuli viewing platform on Toompea and Tornide väljak (Towers Square), a park area near the train station. Or you can go up Tallinn Teletorn and get a panoramic view of the entire city.

After exploring the old town, we spend our first night dining at a stylish restaurant called Restoran ORE, which offers up cuisine based on a mixture of Scandinavian and Russian influences.

Id highly recommend the onion and garlic smoked eel with oanito flakes as a main – so delicious. I also try some non-alcoholic Estonian Mull cider which is the perfect accompaniment to my seafood dish.

The next day, we wake up bright and early ready for our first activity of the day – marzipan painting.

Not many people know this but marzipan was created in Estonia and Kalev, the oldest marzipan café in the country, is actually in Tallin.

Not many people know this but marzipan was created in Estonia and Kalev, the oldest marzipan café in the country, is actually in Tallin (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

Staff still use the original moulds dating back to 1860s to create some of the marzipan on sale (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

Staff still use the original moulds dating back to 1860s to create some of the marzipan on offer. We have a little go ourselves but its nothing compared to the level of detail and intricacy that the marzipan specialists go into.

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After our fun marzipan class, we take a Tallink taxi from the hotel to check out Telliskivi Creative City, which is in Tallinns boho Kalamaja district.

Id probably describe it as being their equivalent to Londons Shoreditch – with its numerous textile design studios and vintage stores. Apparently its the place to be at night.

Every Saturday theres a Russian flea market that takes place in a rundown building on the second floor where you can shop soviet toys and fur hats to your hearts content.

Id also suggest stopping by La Muu ice cream shop and trying the weird and wonderful combos they have – like bacon and honey ice cream!

Trying Restaurant Ulos fresh juices are a must (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

Lunch is at a new vegetarian-based restaurant (because its all about vegan eating there, too) called Restoran Ulo.

The manager brings out a selection of incredible dishes to try – the most popular being the sweet potato fries with kimchi and mayonnaise.

We also try the pesto and tofu pasta, duck wraps and raspberry crumble, which are all beautifully presented but reasonably priced.

The afternoon is spent exploring the city on a private walking tour with a lovely Visit Estonia guide, who impresses me with her detailed knowledge of every event in Tallinns history.

I quickly spot the many different influences running through the old town.

Sitting high and mighty, the Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Toompea is a clear influence of Estonias dominant neighbour. Then theres the gothic architecture taking influence from the Germans and architecture dating back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

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Amidst all that history, youll stumble across modern aspects, such as the many Instagrammable quotes dotted around the city.

Taking a photo next to the Times We Had and Breathe Baby quotes are obviously a must.

We then make our way to the brand new Balti Jaam (Baltic Railway Station) Market – which is the most modern market of its kind in Estonia.

Lit up in Christmas lights, the market is housed in several giant warehouses that are connected by one big canopy.

There are many instagrammable spots in Tallinn – this was my favourite (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

The brand new Balti Jaam (Baltic Railway Station) Market is the most modern market of its kind in Estonia (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

Inside, youll find an extraordinary range of items under one roof, with everything from farm-fresh produce to tasty street food.

Because of this youll find a mixture of locals doing their everyday shopping and tourists exploring the unique selection of antiques and brewery.

The evening is spent checking out the historical Port Noblessner, in Kalamaja, which is the towns fishing harbour.

Literally meaning fish house, Kalamaja was dominated by fisherman from the 14th century right up until 1870 when Tallinn became connected to St Petersburg by railroad.

The area is also famous for its architecturally unique Seaplane Hangars which were built in 1916 as a part of the Peter the Great sea fortress.

Two interesting facts I learn – the hangers are the worlds first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a size and Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in the 1930s.

Next to the hangars is a new restaurant called 180 degrees which offers up incredible sea views during the day.

Its a gourmet dining experience like no other, with an open kitchen and exclusive tasting menu that is the creation of Michelin-starred chef Matthias Diether, who cooks all the food in front of you.

It is pricey though – the four-course tasting menu is 74€pp (£65) while six courses is 92€pp (£82). We decide to share one and its more than enough for the both of us.

Despite being in a food coma, we decide to check out Tallins night scene – our hotel suggests Manna la Roosa and it does not disappoint.

Designed by Soho Fond, its a super quirky restaurant/cocktail bar that was once an old wooden pharmacy and is full of quirky paintings and old furniture giving it that cosy living room vibe.

Id advise booking a table beforehand though because it gets busy. Cocktails start from around 8€ (£7).

Designed by Soho Fond, Manna La Roosa is a super quirky restaurant/cocktail bar that was once an old wooden pharmacy (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

The next morning we spend relaxing in Hotel Telegraafs chic Elemis Spa – because you cant have a true Christmas break without some much-needed relaxation.

I have the incredible Elemis Aroma Stone Therapy massage which uses basalt stones with heat.

The massage costs 105€ (£93.50) for a 70-minute treatment and it can be booked directly on the hotels spa website.

After enjoying the hotels luxurious pool and full-size Jacuzzi we head for lunch at Resto Sfaar in the trendy Rotermann Quarter.

Interestingly, they offer up a cheese platter as a starter rather than a dessert, which I obviously enjoy before indulging in an extremely tasty dish of sea bass with potatoes.

The Elemis Aroma Stone Therapy massage at the Hotel Telegraph spa is incredible (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

Afterwards, we head to the Kadriorg area, a mostly residential area, which still has Italian influences from when Peter the Great set up a summer estate after conquering Estonia.

Sitting next to the baroque palace is the stylish Kumu Art Museum, which is currently holding an art exhibition on Estonian artist Conrad Magi.

Here we learn about the fascinating rise of Mr Magi, originally a factory worker who started to paint at the late age of 27 and quickly became known for his use of colour in his works.

Tickets cost 8€ (£7) and you can buy them at the Museum.

Pegasus is a three-storey restaurant in a building which used to house writers during the Soviet era (Picture: Tanveer Mann)

We then spend our final night at Pegasus restaurant, a three storey restaurant in a building which used to house writers during the Soviet era.

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Amazing freshly baked seeded break is on offer while the roast chicken with cous cous and pumpkin mousse is highly recommended.

If you do anything while youre in Tallinn for Christmas, come with a very big appetite because the food almost everywhere is incredible.

Where to stay: Hotel Telegraaf

Rooms at the Hotel Telegraaf start from £106/night (Picture: Hotel Telegraaf)

I stayed in the luxurious Alexander Bell Suite at Hotel Telegraaf in Tallinn but standard rooms start from £106 per night, based on two sharing on a room on a bed and breakfast basis.

Theres still a few rooms left before Christmas so if youd like to book, click here.

How to get to Tallinn

I flew from London Heathrow to Tallinn on British Airways, by booking through Kiwi.com. ­

Flights are currently quite steep because of Christmas but you can usually find cheap flights with EasyJet from £61.

When you arrive at the airport, its only a 20minute journey into the city and taxis are very readily available.

Alternatively, there is a direct tram from the airport to the city centre which costs 2€ (£1.70) and takes approximately 15-17 minutes.

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