I was recently on a short trip to the Estonian capital Tallinn and was absolutely fascinated by the city. The old town is obviously the big attraction there but the problem with being too picture perfect and flooded by tourist is that it loses the fascinating aspect. For me the most interesting experience was seeing the surrounding areas to discover a city that has more to offer than the old town.
Here are 9 things you should definitely do if you visit the city anytime soon.
1. Telliskivi Creative Campus
This is Hipster paradise, frequented by a creative crowd including young mums, kids playing in alternative playgrounds, bearded men sipping local craft beers. The area is quite vast and some of its derelict industrial buildings have been taken over for an array of activites, but mainly bars, restaurants and shops. I checked it on a sunny Saturday and felt a certain buzz.
2. Balti Jaama Turg (Baltic Station Market)
The reconstructed market was opened to the public in May 2017, so I was very lucky to see it soon after it opened. It used to be an old Soviet market and the new building is really stunning, not to mention the market with fresh fruit and vegetables, but also young Estonian designers and crafty stuff. You can check some more photos from Koko Architects here, the studio behind a new wave of Northern European Architecture.
3. Rotermann City
This was a true discovery by chance. Literally as we were wandering around the new city looking for places to eat we finally found an interesting looking former industrial area completely redeveloped with shops, restaurants, offices and art stores. Taste of Asia, recently opened, offers great interior design both inside and outside, as well as honest food. Finding it felt like ending in an oasis. Koko Architects is also behind most of the adaptive reuses of this area and there are some impressive buildings, like Rotermann Carpenter’s Workshops. As it that would not be enough to visit the area, the best local brand of chocolate, Kavel, has its flagship store in this square.
4. Vegan Restaurant V
Eat at this incredible little restaurant with beautiful decor. Vegan food has never tasted so good. Service is amazing, Hille was so friendly and enthusiastic in explaining every dish that we went back a second night for more, although the official excuse was we needed to try the dessert, also delicious. Taste a local beer, such as Puhas Love, where Puhas means fresh in Estonian. Reserve as the place is small and it fills up quickly on weekends.
Rataskaevu 12, Tallinn
Kalamaja is in area not far from Telliskivi Creative Campus that is witnessing rapid development, it is almost a construction site, with many new houses being built next to derelict buildings. However the best part are the wooden houses, some of them are getting restored and they look so much better than the new concrete buildings. In Soo 15, at the corner with Vana-Kalamaja, an old building houses the bar Tops. Yes it has the same name of the bar in The Simpsons and it is a really chilled place. They sell gin tonics here for € 5. Check out their Facebook page for the latest updates.
6. Seaplane Harbour
This building is one of Europe’s most remarkable aviation monuments. It used to be a Soviet era hangar for planes and was derelict for years, until Koko Architects restored it to house a maritime museum.
The concrete domes are really impressive and it won a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2013 as well as a plethora of other prizes.
7. Patarei Fortress
Next to the Seaplane Harbour this fortress turned prison under Soviet times is on the 7 Most Endangered list of Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute. They wrote a report for its revitalisation and the local activists hope local authorities will listen up. It was possible to book tours via patarei.org, but in May a storm caused severe damage and part of its roots collapsed.
8. Do a free walking tour
Every day at 12pm there is a free walking tour of Tallinn. Meet at the info point near the main square. A friendly History student from Tallinn’s university took us on a remarkable tour of the city. He mentioned basics facts, gave tips, booed the Independence monument and praised the Estonian digital ID Card system.
9. Sip a cocktail at Must Puudel
Tallinn seems to have an interesting movida judging by the number of women defying cobblestones streets in high heels ready for a catwalk. Muust Puudel is a good starting point for food and especially cocktails, with djs spinning tunes at the back. Other places are August, Sinilind and the retro chick Fred.
I can highly recommended all these places, check out the map below to find them easily.