As many of you know, I am from Helsinki, and I visit quite often. My family and many of my friends still live there. I am around almost every other month. But it has been an embarrassing 10 years since I have visited Tallinn. No, I have no secret estonian relatives, but Tallinn is only 80km – a short boat ride away. Traveling from Helsinki, It’s a great destination for a day trip or even an overnight. Its almost a Finns national responsibility to check it out every now and then. It was actually M that came up with the idea a few weeks ago. And before I had even time to blink, he had mustered up a credible list of twentysomething restaurants, cafes and wine bars worth checking out. So we booked a hotel and the boat trip and off we went. And the trip was every bit as great as we thought it would be. Here are some of my best tips for a foodie in Tallinn.
First and foremost I can recommend the ease of the trip. There are several ferry companies operating between Helsinki and Tallinn. The trip takes depending on the boat from one and a half to four hours. We chose a small company called Linda Line, which was actually the fastest. The trip was over in a solid hour and a half and the boats both left from the center of Helsinki, and arrived close to the center of Tallinn. Although everything arrives close to the center in Tallinn as Tallinn is so small. But the terminal next to the Helsinki Kauppatori square is a big plus. A one way ticket on Linda Line was only 15€. Not much for a fast trip over the sea. Bookings can be done on their website.
The best restaurant we visited was Leib Resto on the edge of the old town. Leib was founded by an Estonian champion sommelier and has a pretty impressive wine list. It was a mix of traditional and trendy; with also some biodynamic and natural wines. The only complaint I can make is that they had Nicolas Feuillatte as their house champagne. No self-respecting wine enthusiast likes that s**t. Now in the summer, the kitchen was also moved outside, so we could follow the chefs at work from the terrace.
The best café was Renard in Kalamaja. Kalamaja and the Telliskivi industrial complex is probably the hipster capital of Europe; or the world. Too design for us nerds, but at least they had attracted a specialty coffee shop; it was in combination with a bike shop off course. What is it biker and specialty coffee? The baristas at Renard made very nice hand brews and the café itself was a cool oasis on a hot summer day.
The best wine bar was a surprising one. We managed to find a Portuguese wine hangout called Wine Not?. I don’t know if it was meant to be Portuguese, but the owner was from there and he was obviously in love with wines from his home country. He had such an impressive collection of sparklings, that we just drank those. The bar was very small, but people were friendly and made space. We had a great time and even bought a bottle to take home. In lovely Estonia, wine bars can be wine shops at the same time.
That’s Tallinn in a nutshell. We also walked around the old town and Kalamaja. The weather was blue-sky-perfect, so I really got some awesome photos. An interesting place to go and check out was also the Patarei Merekindlus old prison. Its unfortunately closed for some remodeling (I bet they will turn it into hipster hell), but you can still sneak a peek from the other side of the gates. Tallinn was awesome! We will be back!