Tallinn is pretty small, but you probably still won’t have enough time or energy to see every single part of it. And in fact, that’s not necessary since not all of it is worth seeing. We’ve picked out some cool neighbourhoods, besides the most obvious ones – the central area and the Old Town, that are well worth discovering. Be sure to wear your walking shoes as most of them are within walking distance from the city centre.
Also known as the Hipsterville of Tallinn, Kalamaja is one of the fastest growing urban areas, with new cafés, shops and galleries popping up weekly. This historical district full of charming wooden houses used to be a closed-off Soviet border zone, and there are still lots of reminders left in the neighbourhood today. This mix of old and new, trendy and old-fashioned, is what makes Kalamaja so interesting to discover.
There’s an old prison that was in operation right up until 2005, and nowadays it’s open as a museum during the summer season. Only a few hundred metres away there’s the Seaplane Harbour – a maritime museum set up inside seaplane hangars.
The core of Kalamaja is a complex of old warehouses and industrial buildings called Telliskivi Creative City. It’s home to countless cool cafés, bars and restaurants (F-Hoone, Frenchy, Pudel, Kukeke, Reval Cafe), small local design and eco stores, and a weekly flea market.
Photo credit: Tony Bowden
Romantic, decorated wooden villas from the 19th and 20th centuries make Kadriorg one of the most valued neighbourhoods to live in. So it only makes sense that, among others, the president of Estonia resides there.
The actual centre of this district is the beautiful Kadriorg Park located right next to the Presidential Palace. When the weather allows it, take some time to walk and chill in the park. Kadriorg is also the art hub of Tallinn, home to the Kadriorg Art Museum – the only museum featuring foreign art in Estonia, and KUMU – THE art museum of Estonia.
Photo credit: Jonathan
Uus Maailm, or the “New World”, is sometimes referred to as the “hippie district”, but it’s really just a community of active people who truly care about their living environment and want to promote community participation. It doesn’t really have official borders – it’s the people who make the district.
A lot of the houses in the area have been renovated, but you can still find some cool examples of art deco-style architecture. The most popular local eating spot is Kohalik (meaning “local”), set in a century-old wooden house that looks a bit like your grandma’s place.
If you happen to be around in September, don’t miss the Uue Maailma street festival – the streets will be closed to cars and filled with music, art, market stalls, pop-up cafés, workshops, games and merry locals.
Photo credit: Hans Põldoja
Nõmme is a lovely and quiet area with private houses and big gardens. If you enjoy people watching and envying other people’s gardens, then this is the place to go. You’ll also find some retro second-hand stores and cosy cafés in this area.
For second-hand shopping, we recommend Leiumeka (Raudtee 52a) and Second Hand Market (Vabaduse pst 128). Sõõrikukohvik (Jaama 12, there’s another one downtown) is a café that’ll take you 25 years back in time, plus the prices are ridiculously cheap! Cafe Kardemon offers homemade pastries and tasty daily specials. There’s also a daily farmers market, Nõmme Turg, where you can pick up fresh local produce.
Nõmme is the one district on this list that’s fairly far away from the centre, and you’ll need to take public transport to get there. Buses 5, 18, 36 will take you there from the central bus station, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take the train (check schedule here!)
Photo credit: Olga
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Cover photo credit: Kadi-Liis Koppel/Visit Tallinn