Tallinn offers the best of both worlds. Even though it’s a city, a fresh sea breeze is never far off. The old part of the city is a pleasure for the eye, but there are some great modern options too. And although small, the new spots keep on appearing.
Our Spotters take you out on a perfect summer day in Tallinn. From breakfast till dinner, we’ve got you covered!
Traditional Estonian breakfast at Sõõrikukohvik
There are not too many venues in Tallinn that open early in the morning, so finding a good spot to have breakfast can become a challenging quest. Look no further – Sõõrikukohvik is definitely one of the best places around.
This cozy little café with traditional Estonian atmosphere specializes in doughnuts. Even if you consider yourself apologist of healthy food, don’t miss a chance to taste original Estonian doughnuts to accompany your morning coffee – right from the pan. Unlike many other places, where pies and cakes are delivered from bakeries in advance (or even come frozen! – you can never be sure of its origin), Doughnuts café always has hot and fresh donuts on offer and pancakes made in front of you just a second ago. By the way, if you are short on cash there is another reason to come – it’s one of the cheapest cafés in Tallinn.
Of course, doughnuts are not the only food they offer – still, it’s the main reason I keep coming here. — Dmitri Korobtsov
Enjoy the views at Linnahall
In Estonian Linnahall means City Hall, however, it’s quite a misleading name for this place at the moment. This giant concrete and limestone construction, which was finished as the biggest concert hall in Tallinn for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in 1980, now looks more like a godforsaken Mayan temple. There is no life inside and it is slowly declining, and that’s exactly what makes this place so special to me.
Tallinn is built on the sea, but unfortunately, due to military urban planning in the 1950s, most of the city was cut from the sea. There are not so many places where you can privately enjoy the quality view of Tallinn’s bay and city, the port and Old Town, but this is one of the few. During summertime or even winter, together with my friends, we often grab some drinks and snacks, walk 10 minutes from Viru Gates along Merepuiestee Str., climb the stairs of Linnahall and have a picnic on the top.
Recommended for street art lovers and open urban space hunters, it’s still one of the rawest and uncivilized areas of the Tallinn city center. The walls of Linnahall are full of graffiti and some of them are even not that bad, it also gives you an impression of Soviet monumental architecture. At the beginning of the ’80s, the project of Linnahall won several international architectural awards. — Nikolai Ostashov
A post-apocalyptic walk along the Culture Kilometer
A relatively short, but pretty interesting 2.5 km walkway through the historical part of Tallinn’s seaside. It connects the Linnahall area, where the starting point is located, with the Seaplane Harbor Museum and continues a bit further on to the new Arsenal shopping center – which is pretty cool as well, as it was built in old military equipment factory premises.
Some time ago “Culture” in the name of the route sounded like a joke – thanks to graffiti-covered ruins of old industrial buildings, ugly garages, railroad track remnants and all other kinds of odd post-apocalyptic structures on the route, but recently the biggest part of the route was seriously gentrified and turned to an ordinary town street. Generally, I would suggest walking only the starting part of the route – just check Betapromenaad article for the directions.
By the way, part of the route along Kultuurikatel has quite a rich history. For example, the meter-sized letters “UN” (you won’t miss it for sure) inscribed on an old electric plant’s chimney’s basement not far away from Linnahall represent a UN forces checkpoint as it can be seen in the famous science fiction movie ‘Stalker’ directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1979 (it was shot mostly in Tallinn and adjacent areas). — Dmitri Korobtsov
Discover a secret beach at Pikakari
Pikakari is a small sandy beach on the very end of Paljassaare peninsula. It’s pretty popular among the locals but at the same time unknown to the general public. The thing is that one part of the Paljassaare peninsula itself is an industrial zone with water treatment facilities, processing plants etc., while another is a nature conservation area, a closed habitat for wild birds. It’s a really strange place to look for any points of interest here, but that is the point!
Why does it make sense to visit? Here you can find an old pier (Katariina kai) with a sunken ship, a nice view of the city center, the beach itself, and last but not least, a circular hiking route around Paljassare nature conservation area. If you are lucky enough, not only can you watch the birds, but even find some wild animals like boars or foxes. The area itself is uninhabited but it’s easy to find some ruined military facilities (parts of old Russian fortification line – Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress).
The route starts near the bus stop and is really easy to find. Some time ago the only options to get there were to walk by foot or take a car; now there’s a convenient connection with Balti jaam (central railroad station), just take bus nr. 59 and proceed to the last stop. — Dmitri Korobtsov
Dinner with a view on the Baltic Sea at Noa
Noa is one of the best restaurants situated just a bit outside of Tallinn, in Viimsi. Do not let the distance scare you! This is worth the ride. Take a bus or a taxi but I highly recommend this to everyone who visits Tallinn or just lives here.
It is situated near our Baltic sea. When the weather is great and sunny, this is the place to be. If it is raining, you are welcome to sit inside and the experience will be almost the same. But the beautiful architecture, design and a lovely view, means nothing without a great menu. And their cuisine is just spectacular. The food is very creative, bright and exquisite.
The menu is divided into sections, so it is very easy to orient yourself and helpful staff running around in converse shoes will give you a hand if you have trouble deciding. Do not go away without trying their ice cream with a touch of basil. — Diana Pashkovich