Tallinn: Candy Colored Charm, Hipster Haunts, and the World’s Best Brown Bread

While I liked Riga, I loved Tallinn. Pastel streets, cute shops, and the world’s tastiest brown bread – what’s not to adore?

I arrived midday and made my way to Hotel Telegraaf, my homebase for my time in Tallinn. I didn’t have anything planned for the day, so I opted to treat myself to a bit of relaxation before venturing out. I headed to the pool and jacuzzi area, which was lovely (and, as a bonus, featured a very Instagrammable plant wall). The pool was pretty chilly – I learned this trip that Estonians apparently like their water cold – but the jacuzzi was fabulous, and I had it all to myself.

After jacuzzi’ing, I decided to actually head out and explore Tallinn. Right away, it became clear to me that the city was a dream: cobblestone streets, candy colored buildings, the whole nine yards. I meandered through the Old Town, poking down whichever streets caught my eye.

I also stopped at Maiasmokk Cafe for a snack – a pistachio cheesecake and a cup of coffee. The cheesecake was unremarkable, but the the cafe itself was lovely: it had a elegant, grand vibe to it, like many eastern European cafes seem to.

I continued wandering through town, then found myself at La Bottega, an Italian restaurant near my hotel, for dinner. It was a solid enough meal, but what I really loved were the servers. They were so, so nice, and one even gave me a post-it note with a bunch of handwritten recommendations on it (which, as this post will later reveal, I put to good use!)

After dinner, I took a circuitous path back to my hotel, as I wasn’t quite ready to turn in for the night yet. It was nearly 11pm by this point, but the sun was only just setting. Love a good late summer sunset.

The next day, I got a slow start (the minute I realized how late the sun sets in Tallinn, I was toast in terms of morning productivity), puttering around until midday. I eventually ventured to a cute little cafe that I had spotted, but that had been closed, on my previous day’s wanderings, Tassikoogid. The shop’s adorable window display caught my eye – good job, window display makers! – and the interior was just as delightful. I got a cupcake and cappuccino and settled in with my book for a while.

In the afternoon, I set out for a long walk around Old Town, venturing further than I had the day before. This time, I made my way uphill – Tallinn’s old town is divided into upper and lower parts – and to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

After peaking into the cathedral, I wandered around the upper part of town for a while. It was fairly sleepy, but the views were fantastic.

In the evening, I had a lovely meal at Von Krahli Aed. I started with a cheese plate featuring a selection of Estonian cheeses that were seriously good. Who knew Estonia had such a flourishing fromage industry?! They also brought me some brown bread to start and it was TO. DIE. FOR. It feels weird to be so dramatic about bread, but I was obsessed. My main (honey glazed duck breast) and dessert (a carrot cookie) were both good, but those starting dishes were true superstars.

After dinner, I took my customary evening walk around Old Town. Beautiful at any time of day!

The next day, I set out to Telliskivi, which had been recommended to me by my waitress at La Bottega. Telliskivi is basically Tallinn’s hipster area, meaning that I immediately adored it.

At F-Hoone, I grabbed lunch (grilled goat cheese to start and pasta with shrimp for my main), then set out to exploring more of the area.

The waitress with the recommendations had also mentioned Fotografiska, which, as the name suggests, is a photography museum. There were so many cool exhibits on display when I visited, though I loved Jimmy Nelson’s “Homage to Humanity” in particular. Nelson traveled to the most remote parts of the world and photographed indigenous tribes, and this exhibit showcases the results. Words don’t do it justice, but the photos are just so striking and powerful and fascinating. Fotografiska also has locations in Stockholm (which I’ve visited) and in New York (which I should visit)

After museum’ing, I made my way to nearby La Muu for ice cream. I opted for a combination of mint chocolate chip (because that’s what I always get) and Vietnamese coffee (because sometimes you have to be a bit more adventurous), and it was crazy delicious. Highly recommend!

Ice cream in hand, I continued through Telliskivi on foot. I wound up at Balti Jaama, a huge farmers market. I never can resist a good market.

In the evening, I headed to Rataskaevu 16 for dinner. It was another successful meal in Tallinn: more brown bread and more local cheeses! My dessert here was also incredible. I asked my server what she would recommend and she didn’t hesitate to reply: the frozen blueberry cheesecake. She wasn’t wrong; it was sublime, with cheesecake that melted in your mouth and crust that was to die for. When she brought it out, she gave it to me with a little handwritten note on the napkin: “I hope you’ll enjoy this fabulous dessert as much as I do!” I really did!

The next morning, I headed back to the pool/jacuzzi for one final dip, and then it was off to lunch at a local pizza place before heading to the airport and to London. I left happy: I really enjoyed Tallinn! It’s a beautiful city, with friendly people, and with food that constituted some of my favorite meals this year. What’s not to love?!


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