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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know by now that I’ve been gushing over Tallinn, Estonia, after spending a few days there. Most people do it as a quick day trip from Helsinki, a tragedy. This hipster mecca full of fun alternative things to do deserves much more of your time. While you can easily see the old town on a day trip, getting off the beaten path and finding Tallinn’s hipster and the alternative scene is the best way to explore the local and authentic side. This hipster & geek city guide to Tallinn’s alternative side with additional sustainable tips will encourage you to slow down. After a few days, you’ll leave Tallinn loving it just as much as I do. Tallinn is this great mix of charming UNESCO old town and a progressive city that supports their local artisans, gender equality, human rights, startup culture, sustainable living, and craftsmanship, making it easily one of my top hipster destinations in Europe.
All the hipster and alternative suggestions of things to do in Tallinn support local small businesses, promote minimal waste and sustainable travel in Tallinn, so you can geek out in Tallinn and feel good doing them. Keep an eye out for my sustainable tips and reminders in orange. If you can, slow travel to Tallinn, visiting for more than a day is the best way to support locals, not contribute to flash mass tourism, and enjoy the local flavors of this fantastic city.
You’re not a proper hipster if you stop at the first cafe in the main tourist square. This hipster guide will have your mouth watering at some of Tallinn’s best local restaurants and get you away from the tourist traps. Tallinn has a fantastic food scene, and you will not be disappointed.
Sustainable Tip: Be mindful of where your food is coming from. Try and eat at places that support local farms and serve fresh, seasonal farm to table items. Ask your server for the catch of the day, seasonal veggies, or a local meat you can try.
Brunch & Breakfast in Tallinn
This cozy little spot is located in the ultra-hip Creative city, so you know it will be a great spot. They open early (which is hard to find in Tallinn) at 9 am and serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks. Since they open early in the morning, I include them in the brunch category. For brunch, you can get a simple, fresh fruit smoothie, a vegan tofu and buckwheat dish, hot smoked salmon with fresh cream cheese, or your classic omelet. Their lunch and dinner menu is equally as pleasing. They cater to vegan, meat, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets.
I use the world brunch lightly here. Brunch doesn’t seem to be super common in Tallinn, but this place has a decent breakfast and has all the basics covered. Another place open early enough for brunch, Boheem serves ham and cheese toasties, gourmet oatmeal bowls, and eggs with black bread. The environment is down to earth and relaxed with decor straight out of the 70s.
T-35 Breakfast Club
Located on a quiet and isolated street, this little breakfast nook is definitely off the beaten path. They serve coffee, a small selection of baked goods, and an excellent brunch menu. They have an American breakfast, an Israeli breakfast, or a Dutch breakfast. If you have time to wait 30 minutes for your meal, I encourage you to order the Dutch pancake. I had them in Denmark, and they are tasty!
Lunch & Dinner in Tallinn
Eating here was the best dining experience we’ve had in a long time. The food, all locally sourced, was mouthwatering. They had local fish, vegan, and meat options with a unique combination of flavors taking modern Estonian cuisine to another level. On top of that, the waiter was wonderful and enjoyed chatting with us about growing up in a small town in Estonia. Don’t pass up getting a Seabuckthorn digestive after dinner. This place is insanely busy and was booked up for two nights during the week. We lucked out as we stayed right across the street and squeezed in after regular dinner hours. So, call and book in advance for an enjoyable dining experience.
Sfäär specializes in fish. You can get fresh local fish served on a bed of veggies, in a soup, or cut up into tartar. The Scandinavian decor is modern and cozy. They have their own coffee roaster in the back, which I will mention later. Come here for a nice hearty lunch or dinner, and if you’re up on Saturday, they do have a brunch menu available that day.
This restaurant was a recommendation by Allison from Eternal Arrival, and it did not disappoint. What attracted me was her description of food with beer pairing. We haven’t even touched on Tallinn’s craft beer scene yet, but this is the ideal spot to sample some tasty brews paired with good eats. This place gets my sustainable stamp of approval for serving only local and seasonal food. So, the menu is always changing, but you can expect to find smoked quail, veggie stews, and fish.
I debated putting this on my coffee or food list, as they do have good coffee, but their food options were probably better. It still feels like a coffee shop atmosphere where people come to work on their laptops and hang out for the afternoon. The menu had everything from ramen, pub food, and more. They have a cozy loft where you can get a bottle of wine and relax with friends or get some work done.
The ultimate farm to table restaurant in Tallinn, Farm serves fresh and seasonal food straight from Estonia’s farms. This place is modern Estonian dining in the old town, but it’s not super touristy. It is a little intense (they have some tasteful taxidermy) and meat-heavy, but if you’re going to eat meat, it is best to eat local and support small farms. They do have one veggie option. On the menu, you’ll find local fish, game meat, and lamb.
Vegan Restaurants in Tallinn
Eating here was the second-best foodie experience we had in Tallinn. The all-vegan menu is one of the more creative I have seen, and it was honestly hard to choose the best option. I had the meal of the day, which was a tomato risotto with a cucumber garnish, and my partner ordered veggies stuffed with couscous. They have an extensive local drink menu and lots of vegan dessert options, so make sure you save room!
This eclectic boho space serves your basic vegan options from vegan soup, burgers, and falafel wraps. It is a great grab and go spot for vegan fuel while exploring the outskirts of Tallinn’s old town. If you only have time for one veggie meal, though, I do recommend Vegan Restoran.
Located in Tallinn’s hipster indoor market, this is your vegan street food savior! They have falafel, burgers, fries, and wraps, plus a ton of bio drinks. If you’re craving some vegan comfort food and want it fast, this is going to be your go-to spot.
Tallinn’s Street Food
The street food scene is a bit different in Tallinn. Rather than finding too many food trucks around the city, you’ll find a lot of vendors in an indoor market called Balti Jaama Turg, but more on that later. In this market, you’ll find Italian street food, Estonian street food, Vietnamese street food, and that is just scratching the surface. The great thing about Tallinn is there are so many great hipster things to do and see, but Tallinn compacts them all into these wonderful areas. If you’re hungry but don’t want a formal meal, then head to this market, everyone can find food they like.
Shop & Support Local in Tallinn
Tallinn is a model example of how cities and countries should support their local businesses and artisans. Even the touristy old town was showing support for local wares. But I did still see some generic “tourist souvenirs” in the old town, so as soon as you leave the old town, you’ll have your choice of local Estonian design, fashion, homewares, souvenirs, and artisanal crafts.
Typically cities have rotating farmers’ markets that appear on certain days of the week. As a traveler, it can be tough to plan around these pop-up markets. Tallinn solves that by again putting everything under one magical roof. An entire section of the Balti Jaama Turg market is a daily farmers market, where you can find local honey, veggies, cheese, and more.
If you want a more local and authentic and are traveling in Tallinn on Monday or Thursday, don’t miss the tiny Tagurpidi Lavka MTÜ. This market is your more traditional pop-up market with a few stands selling local products.
If seafood is your thing, then head down to the harbor and visit Tallinna Kalaturg Fish Market for the catch of the day straight off the boat. If you’re staying in an apartment with a kitchen, this is a great place to buy some dinner.
Thrifting, Boutique Stores, & Local Design
Local Design Stores
Estonian design has the flavor of Scandinavian design, but its own unique edge gives it a whole new feel. I loved weaving in and out of Tallinn’s design shops, but some of my favorites were the Tallinn Design House and the Estonian Design Store. The TDH was located in this tucked away up and coming section of Tallinn, just outside the old town. This store had everything from edgy Estonian fashion, funky design home pieces, and odds and ends. If you have refined taste and you’re not much of a thrifter, this is a great place to get a one of a kind souvenir supporting Estonia’s best creatives. The EDS focused more on furniture, and if you’re the type of person that likes to pick up something for the house as you travel, this is the place to do it.
I got the impression that Tallinn focused more on local first-hand fashion, but there are a few places to get your second-hand thrifting done. The best is probably Fankadelik Vintage, which has 2 locations: Balti Jaama Turg and the other an independent storefront. The independent store is larger and has a magical feel of a real vintage store and not just a thrift store. If you have more refined tastes and enjoy vintage couture, then Kopli Couture is a must. They feature local fashion designers at a price you can afford. If you have an edgy street style, don’t miss Sveta Vintage to up your local street cred. Lastly, if vintage and couture are too hipster for you and you want a good old fashion second-hand thrift store, Sõbralt Sõbrale Balti Jaama Turg or Frik Frak.
If you enjoy locally made clothing without previous owners, then Tallinn has tons of great fashion boutiques. Check out Marat OÜ, which is local Estonian streetwear. Also, your best bet is to walk around the Telliskivi Creative City. There were dozens of boutiques and clothing stores created by local fashion designers. I don’t have the names, but we walked in and out of many options in the Creative City.
Relax at the Best Coffee Shops in Tallinn
I’m married to an Australian coffee hipster snob, and all of the coffee shops in Tallinn that we went to met his approval. Since we were slow traveling through Tallinn, we had lots of time to sit at cafes for hours reading or getting work done, and we enjoyed the coffee scene in Tallinn.
Sustainable Tip: Cutting dairy is a great way to reduce your footprint, but remember, not all dairy alternatives are created equal. I repeat vegan does not equal ethical. Ask the barista where the milk comes from and if they don’t know ask for oat milk. Oat milk is a sustainable and healthy alternative to dairy and it tastes great.
The Living Room Cafe
The name says it all. Stepping into The Living Room Cafe feels like you’re stepping into your grandma’s living room. There are several couches and lots of power plugs, so everyone has a comfy spot to sit to stay connected. The living room cafe wins the award of the best hipster coffee shop in Tallinn as they have a selection of exotic beans that can be poured through a V60, Aeropress, or Chemex. If you’re not a black coffee fan, they have your standard flat whites and lattes as well.
Walking into Raven Coffee, you feel the coziness of Hygge in the small details and warm wooden decor. Order up a regular latte, or get fancy with a turmeric golden, a matcha green, or a beetroot red latte.
RØST Bakery coffee shop and bakery win the award for the best milk-based coffee. Their flat whites are made to the standard of my Australian husband. They serve fresh baked goods, with their specialty being a cinnamon twist. It is a tiny coffee shop, so you might want to make sure you pack your to-go cup if there is no room. The staff are friendly though and helped manage the crowds to make sure we had a seat.
Kokomo Coffee Rosters
A local roaster in Tallinn, Kokomo, has only been around since 2015, and they are striving to change the coffee culture in Tallinn and Estonia by showing both locals and tourists how good coffee can be. If you’re dining at Sfäär Restoran, make sure to head to the back to smell and taste some fresh local coffee. Keep an out for their coffee at local markets, stores, and other coffee shops as well.
Lisanna Vegan Coffee Shop
This all-vegan cafe has popular Estonian design furniture inside, along with an exposed brick wall. They seem to have just opened as they aren’t even on Google Maps yet, from what I can find (I recently added them). You can search for them on Facebook or find them at Suurtüki 2. They have several milk types, and their coffee is just as good, if not better, than those with dairy.
Appreciate the Street Art in Tallinn
Tallinn’s street art is spread outside the old town, so get your walking shoes on and get ready to explore the creative artists in Tallinn!
Sustainable Tip: Tallinn is such a walkable city make sure you use your own two feet to find the best street art, so you’re reducing your impact as much as possible.
The Creative City
Adoring the many walls surrounding Telliskivi Creative City, there is plenty of street art, including huge murals taking up the entire side of various buildings and smaller pieces you have to look to find. The complex is quite large, so you can easily spend more than an hour wandering around just looking at art.
PADA and the Cultural Walk
Tallinn has a cultural kilometer (really, it is a bit longer than that) that runs from the PADA to the ferry terminal. So, give yourself an extra hour to walk to or from the ferry and walk along the cultural kilometer. At the end, near the PADA, there is a little art shop inside of a container.
Explore Hipster Neighborhoods in Tallinn
Sometimes the best way to see the alternative sights of a city and explore the hip and local side is to get lost and wander. That is how I found most of the content for this post; I just planted myself in the middle of Tallinn’s hipster neighborhoods and got lost.
Teleskivi Creative City
Tallinn is a place where wifi is considered a fundamental human right, and startup culture is supported on a government level. Startups can apply for E-Visa citizenship to Estonia. The Creative City is known as the less douchey silicone valley.
I explore these types of creative areas in many cities, so I was expecting a smaller area filled with some street art, maybe a food truck or two, and that was it. However, the Teleskivi Creative City in Tallinn is basically small. There is so much to do, eat, explore, and learn the best way to uncover the secrets is to wander. This city is set up into a few sections. First, there are three attached multi-story buildings. On the bottom floor, you’ll find design shops, boutiques, art stores, and cafes. The rest of the building is full of mini-offices that provide low-cost working space for startup companies. Estonia’s up and coming film festival, local purse makers, and lighting specialists all have offices in the building. We lucked out as we were there on the 10th anniversary of the creative city and were invited into some of the creatives’ workshops and got to see them work. The program they run for creatives is pretty cool.
Aside from that, you’ll find outdoor ping-pong tables, container parks with street food, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and more!
The Sadama neighborhood is near a university, so there are lots of cool uni hangouts and cheap eats. It is well worth exploring. If you need a starting point, check out the narrow cobblestone alleyways in the triangle between Hobujaama, Mere Puiestee, and Ahtri. There are tons of bottle shops/pubs, restaurants, design stores, all snuggled in charming little side streets.
This place is mostly residential, so it can seem quiet, but sprinkled in the residential quietness are some thrift stores, cute cafes, and breweries. Start in the Creative city and walk back toward the Põhjala Brewery to end your exploration with a beer in a new up-and-coming brickwork style complex that used to be a shipyard. The area around the brewery reminds me a bit of something you would find in London.
Enjoy the Nightlife in Tallinn
Tallinn has some surprisingly amazing cocktail bars, including one of the best-hidden bars I have ever been to, and I once drank my way through all of Melbourne’s hidden bars. We were not expecting to enjoy cocktails in Tallinn, but we were pleasantly surprised.
Sustainable Tip: Remember to ALWAYS order your drink without a straw and make sure you carry your own if you need it. Even more so, if you’re at an outdoor event using plastic, bring your own cup!
Hands down, the best bar in all of Tallinn is Whipster Sister. a hidden bar. I won’t give away the location but look closely at the doors surround the area on Google Maps where it is listed. You will need a phone number to call them to gain entrance. The best thing about Whisper Sister is that it isn’t pretentious, like many hidden bars in London or Melbourne. The staff welcomed us into their bar, gave us a tour of all the nooks and crannies, and mixed some made to order drinks based on our favorite liquor. They are talented and friendly, and it is a lovely bar. Good luck finding it!
Sigmund Freud Bar
Sigmund Freud is a fun bar with a creative mixology team behind their creations. Expect significant and exciting garnishes and presentations, including everything from a cocktail in a flower pot to large floral arrangements. The cocktails are as fun to look at as they are to drink. They get bonus points for using paper straws, yay!
Can you go wrong with a bar named Sazarac? The answer is no. Sazarac is your classic Ameican style cocktail bar serving up a great selection of classics and some house creations. They do serve some drinks with plastic straws, so ask for no straw!
Wildflower bar is a classy and refined place perfect for a group outing or a date night. They play with fruity and floral flavors, making it the ideal watering hole for a hot summer night. Again, they use plastic, so say ask for no straw.
If you like to munch while you drink, this is the spot for you. With lots of tasty tidbits from cheese plates to meaty snacks, you’ll enjoy excellent cocktails in an eclectic haunt. Stepping into this will feel like you stepped back in time. Depending on the night you visit, they might even have some live music.
Dissident Cocktails and Curiosity
A bit outside the city and totally off the beaten path, in a good way. There might not be a lot of room for you, but if you can find a seat around the unique shared ba/table thing, then you’re in luck. Strive up a conversation with strangers and your bartender and prepared to be amazed by some excellent cocktails.
Sip Craftbeer in Tallinn
I’m pretty sure this place opened recently, but it is incredible! This large brewery is located in an old restored brick building down by the water. On the bottom floor, you can buy beers to take back to your hotel, a gift shop, and you can sneak a peek at their shiny new brewing equipment. There is a taproom, a sauna ???? (yeah, I was too scared to go check that out), a restaurant, and a balcony on the top floor. You can order their sampler paddle to try five different beers, including local and house beers. The south inspires the food in the U.S., so you’ll be able to indulge in BBQ all the way in Estonia. If you come to one brewery, make it this one!
This place is WAY outside the city center, making it a good option for beer lovers who have some time to kill in Tallinn. Sori is primarily a brewery, but they do have an in the house taproom, where you can sample their beers before catching public transportation back to town.
Easily our second favorite brewery. This place was super chill, but then again, we were drinking on a Thursday afternoon. The interior is gorgeous with funky art, custom wood finishing, and great light fixtures. They serve several of their own St. Vitus brews and some other local beers, and even some German brews. They have a full pub menu and cozy seating to sit back and relax. Located right next to the creative city, it makes for a good beer pause while exploring street art.
Uba ja Humal
If you like beer and you’ve been in Tallinn for any time, you’ll quickly learn that they love to sample beers in their bottle shops. So, it is not uncommon to go to a bottle shop to taste several types of beer. You can then purchase your favorites or head on your way. One such bottle shop is Uba ja Humal. They have walls full of local beer to try!
Humalakoda Pub Restaurant Brewery
We return once again to my favorite market, Balti Jaama Turg, for the Humalakoda Pub and Brewery. If you want a casual beer on the go, stop by their food stall on the middle floor and get a frosty glass of your favorite Humalakoda brew. Or you can head upstairs (just follow the giant hop) so you can sit down, drink as much beer as possible and order some tasty pub food. They have an on-tap red beer, which, of course, is always my favorite.
Another bottle shop/taproom where they not only serve beer, but they also serve hot dogs! Tap Tap is down the up and coming alleyways I mentioned in the Sadama neighborhood, thus making it a great stop for a quick bite to eat while exploring Tallinn’s hipster neighborhoods. If you don’t want a meaty hot dog, then you can always sing over to the flammkuchen shop next door!
It is a bar, restaurant, and a great place to get a beer, so there is something for everyone. It is a pretty casual hipster hot spot with lots of nooks and crannies, so you can order your beer and cozy up with a good conversation. I love all the wood accents and the walls and lighting that appear to have chalk-drawn over them.
Discover Geeky Things to do in Tallinn
The geeky scene in Tallinn wasn’t as large as I hoped. I think it is maybe so underground it was nearly impossible as a tourist to find comic book stores and such. I had high hope for the city with such a large startup scene. If any locals are reading this and want to add some geeky things to do in Tallinn, please let me know! I was able to uncover some geeky things to do in Tallinn. I just had to dig until I hit the KWEH??!?!!!! marker.
The largest and most well-stocked gamer and geek store I could find in Tallinn. There are nerdy T-shirts, board games, Warhammer games, video games, and more! The owner is pretty friendly, and from one geek to another, you’ll feel right at home.
Labor Bar is a fun, science-themed bar where the bartenders wear lab coats and cocktails, and strange-looking shots are served in various chemistry beakers. It is a casual place with a funky menu!
Tallinn has a surprising number of escape rooms for the size of the city. With plenty of options, I’ll suggest the two highest-rated ones (though they all had a ridiculously high rating for an escape room), GetAway Zone and ILocked.
Tallinn also has a lot of museums. The most popular is probably the KGB Museum and or the two different maritime museums. Those are all great museums to get your geek feet wet and all, but if you want to geek out, did you know that there is a museum of Orders and Knighthood or a science museum called the Energy Discovery Center? Both are great off the beaten path options that are geektastic.
Baasjaam – Virtuaalreaalsuse Keskus (VR Room)
Baasjaam is a VR gaming center, where all you need to do is show up, put your VR headset on (provided), and get lost in the matrix. The indoor activity is perfect for a rainy day or as an addition for more extended stays in Tallinn.
Geek Nation Tours Frostgrave
If you already know what I am talking about based on the name Frostgrave, then you, my friend, are a true Geek, and I salute you. And if you KNOW how to play Frostgrave, I bow to you. Anyway, if you don’t know what I am talking about, skip to the next section, but if you do and I have your interest, then this trip is for you. I found someone that leads Frostgrave inspired tours in Tallinn, Estonia, the city that inspired Frostgrave. So, if you’re geekier than me, check out Geek Nation Tours for the literal trip of a lifetime to Frostgrave, I mean Tallinn. I feel like my geek cred just went up 10 points for talking about Frostgrave on my travel blog.
Sleep at a Boutique Hotel in Tallinn
Tallinn has an excellent selection of boutique hotels, but most of them are in the city center. So, they’re not quite as off-the-beaten-path as you might think, but there are plenty of options for an intimate and unique experience in Tallinn. Even the old city of Tallinn has its charm, and it is a lovely area to rest.
Sustainable Tip: Greenkey hotels in Tallinn are hotels that have been certified as eco hotels. Not a lot of the boutique hotels made the list, but if you are a Radison member, then you’re in luck then all the Radison hotels in Tallinn are Green Key members. However, as Tallinn is such a green city most hotels do have green inicivatives and remember to bring your own shampoos to avoid the minis and reuse your towels!
Hotel St. Petersbourg
Hotel St. Petersbourg is where we stayed during our time in Tallinn. It was part of a small luxury boutique club supporting local economies. We were so happy with the staff, the rooms, the location, and the amenities. Breakfast was free and included lots of tasty options. The style is refined but still hip and edgy. We decided that our boutique hotel style in the future might be that of the micro luxury local hotel. I highly recommend staying here!
Hotel Telegraaf is a sizeable grand luxury and boutique hotel. This magnificent hotel is in the old bones of a post office, making it a grand sight to see inside and out. If you have fancy royal tastes, then this over the top and hip hotel is just for you.
von Stackelberg Hotel
The von Stackelberg Hotel is a hidden boutique find with old exposed wooden beams and rustic charm. The rooms are simple, but the outdoor space is lovely, and it has high reviews. Plus, it is a Greek Key member adhering to green standards.
Three Sisters Boutique Hotel
If you love staying in a historic hotel and you don’t mind the historic charm, then the Three Sisters Boutique in Tallinn might be for you. We walked past this hotel, and it looked like one of the oldest buildings in Tallinn. There are only 23 boutique rooms, but each one is unique.
Find More Things to do in Tallinn
Looking for some guided walking tours with locals, day trips to national parks, or food tours, then check out more awesome things to do in Tallinn.
Share the Hipstery Goodness
Hopefully, this hipster and geek alternative city guide to Tallinn, Estonia, helped you get off the beaten path and explore a hip and local urban side and let your inner geek out. Did I miss any of your favorite spots? Let me know in the comments! Make sure to pin to your ideal boards!
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science.