Feature | Expats' favorite places in Tallinn this summer
Svetlana Štšur polled and interviewed expats in Tallinn about their favorite meeting and free time spots in Tallinn this summer.
Rumor has it that after the pandemic, Tallinn Old Town has lost its attractiveness as a major leisure time destination among the locals. Supposedly, the coolest clubs, cafes and restaurants have moved to the northern part of Tallinn.
I decided to ask expats about their preferences for going out this summer and gave them a list of areas in the city with a concentration of food and entertainment establishments. I conducted an online poll on social media, where 219 expats living in Tallinn took part. The options which were offered in the poll: Old Town, Rotermann Quarter, Telliskivi Creative City, Port Noblessner, Põhjala Factory and Patarei Quarter.
I have also asked some expats why they love the chosen areas and what are their favorite bars, cafes and restaurants there.
In 2022, the most popular choice for going out among the expat community turned out to be Noblessner, with over 35 percent of the poll participants voting in its favor.
Alessio prefers Noblessner because of its fancy and relaxing atmosphere, as well as booming music scene: "As a music enthusiast, it came to my attention that Noblessner hosts lots of big concerts in Tallinn, and music is my favorite way to spend free time."
Yelyzaveta said that she likes to hang out in Noblessner because of the beautiful sunsets there and since she feels that Noblessner's crowd is more like her, after Telliskivi became a meeting spot for "schoolkids." "In Noblessner, I enjoy going for walks and do not have a specific spot that I'm especially fond of. Maybe the Põhjala Tap Room."
Andrea also brought up that people who go to Noblessner seem to be a better match for her in terms of age. Andrea appreciates the food joints and the overall vibe in Noblessner: "There are several places with very good food for affordable prices. For instance, I really like Kampai restaurant and Lore Bistroo. And during summer, there is always something going on in the area."
Valeriia also likes the Kampai restaurant and feels that the Telliskivi crowd has become a little bit too young for her. "I like Noblessner because some cool people usually gather around there. I feel like Telliskivi's crowd became younger and more alternative, it's not really my thing now. In Noblessner, I am attracted to sunsets, tables next to the water, quiet music and the buzz of conversation all around," Valeriia said.
Sahar loves Noblessner because it is the opposite of the Old Town. "Noblessner is very modern and can be very lively, and with a great view of the sea. It's a perfect location to just relax and have a drink with friends."
Ahmed S. thinks that Noblessner is "a vibrant area where many youngsters hang out and come to after the end of the workday to chill a bit near the seaside and relax while having conversations with friends or loved ones. It has several cafe shops and restaurants and a fresh breeze coming from the seaside. Buildings there are colorful and look pleasant." When I asked Ahmed S. about his favorite place to eat or drink, he said: "I am a seafood lover, so I go to Kampai restaurant. Awesome seafood. For bars I go mostly to KaiF bar. I also eat at Lore Bistroo occasionally too."
The good Old Town comes second with a third of the votes.
Ahmed shared his feelings towards Vanalinn: "The Old Town is quite unique for me as an expat. I love its mediaeval vibes and the preserved buildings and locations." Ahmed's favorite places in the Old Town are Mad Murphy's Irish Bar because it's next to the Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats) and it has an impressive beer selection, and the Kalev Marzipan Museum Room because of the decor and atmosphere there.
Yue shared that she enjoys walking among the ancient buildings of the Old Town, as well as "observing tourist groups from different countries."
Bruno believes that the Old Town is still the place where major entertainment places are situated. "The streets (of the Old Town) are full of bars. As there are many of them, the competition makes the prices fair. And it is still a good place to mingle with foreigners and locals." Bruno's favorite drinking place in the oldest part of Tallinn is Koht Bar, "an extremely cozy place with amazing bartenders." Bruno's favorite eating spot is Kompressor because of the amazing food and reasonable prices. Bruno also noted that he likes to support local food which helps keep prices and quality in good correlation. Bars that overcharge their customers are not Bruno's thing.
Raya, who also voted for the Old Town, brought up Kehrwieder Saiakang Chocolaterie as her favorite spot. "I wrote most of my essays there when studying." Raya also emphasized that she likes the Old Town's unique atmosphere, its historical and mediaeval but cozy vibe.
Ali appreciates that there are many bars and restaurants, all within walking distance in the Old Town. "I can feel the spirit of Tallinn there. And there's always a chance to see a familiar face in the streets," he shared.
Selman admitted that he enjoys the Old Town any time of the year. "First of all, it is so authentic and beautiful. Just walking around the Old Town makes me happy. Secondly, most of the tourists hang out there. As I do not have much luck meeting with locals in general, I prefer to meet tourists or any other expats who live here and it is easier to find them in the Old Town than any other places in Tallinn."
Telliskivi holds third place with 26 percent of the respondents choosing it as the best spot to go out this summer in Tallinn.
For Alvaro, Telliskivi is a convenient place with many bars and restaurants. "My favorite place in Telliskivi is Puudel (now Põhja Konn). It has the perfect location, it is sunny and the whole Tallinn idiosyncrasy unfolds in front of your eyes. It's true that it has become a bit too much lately, but it is what it is," Alvaro said.
Johnny sees Telliskivi as a "perfect mix between the bohemian life and creative artistic minds." He likes to spend time there discovering hidden gems of the neighborhood. Johnny's favorite bar in Telliskivi is Põhja Konn because it is a perfect meeting spot. "There are always activities and new places to get to know and enjoy in Telliskivi," he confirmed.
Anais loves Telliskivi for its atmosphere and because it is so easy to hop from one bar to another. "During summer, when the terraces of the bars are so close to each other, you don't even have to move to order a drink from a different bar." Anais also likes that there are many fast-food containers around, which cannot be said about Noblessner: "Yesterday, I went to Noblessner for a concert and was waiting for my friends. At one point I felt hungry and looked for something other than fancy restaurants and didn't find anything quick to grab."
Ruta chose Telliskivi because it is a place with an "artistic vibe and a cute atmosphere" where there's a lot to do. "There is good food, good music and when you are tired, you can just explore wall paintings and local artistic shops, as well as try some good gin and beer. Telliskivi is close to the city center with a convenient transportation scheme and lots of parking spots. The Balti Jaama Turg is within walking distance, and from there you can get basically everything." Ruta's favorite eating places in Telliskivi are the Frenchy Bistro and Restaurant F-hoone.
Fränz on choosing Telliskivi: "I like to go to Telliskivi in summer because there are the most interesting and exotic bars in Tallinn". Fränz also likes the recreational area in Telliskivi: "We often play at the free ping-pong tables with my friends before going for a drink somewhere."
Rotermann Quarter and Põhjala Factory
The Rotermann Quarter and Põhjala Factory share the fourth position in the expat rating.
Nata on loving Rotermann: "I appreciate the architecture, the vibe, and my favorite vegan restaurant Oasis is located there as well."
Amalie likes that the Rotermann Quarter is different from the rest of Tallinn and that she feels "very relaxed and European" there. Amalie has also recommended her latest discovery in the area – restaurant Päris that offers "French food, a nice interior and good service."
Ecem loves Rotermann because it is a vibrant and modern location with a square and garden-like area in middle, full of restaurants. He also appreciates the fact that in Rotermann City you can get away from the city traffic while staying in the heart of the city. "You can eat and sunbathe and there are no cars passing, only people walk there."
Javidan enjoys the small streets and outstanding architecture. He loves that the area is full of versatile eating places. One of Javidan's favorites is ROST Bakery, which is a great café, however, it might be a bit pricey. Sometimes live music events take place in the quarter, and it gives the whole area "a different aura."
Nursultan adores Karjase Sai and Botik (with its community garden), which are both located in Põhjala Factory. The most attractive thing about Põhjala Factory to Nursultan is that it is like "a hidden gem in this industrial area, not yet commercialized," something that Telliskivi used to be a decade ago.
Maria is also a fan of Põhjala Factory: "Põhjala for me is like Telliskivi, just without the tourists and extra pathos, leaving the vibe of youth and freedom. I love Põhjala because it makes me feel like I belong there." Maria's favorite place in Põhjala is Botik. "I enjoy it the most during summer as you can chill in Botik's garden or on their roof. Even though they host cool events all year long."
Patarei was the least popular option in this poll, however, it too has committed visitors among expats.
Eric on Patarei: "Patarei is a unique place, with amazing parties. It's not every day when you can have a drink on the grounds of a former prison!" Eric has been on a tour inside the prison, so now after learning how it was run, he is completely mesmerized by the history of this place, and of course – the sea views.
Jose voted for Patarei because he appreciates the vibe of Mere PARK'la: "You can eat, drink and chill there with your friends while enjoying the live music as well as playing minigames or sport challenges. And its location is right by the beach, so it makes me feel more summerish compared to other places."
Editor: Marcus Turovski