My visit to the Baltic countries earlier in 2015 involved a fair bit of drinking so Thirsty Thursdays returns today and we are in Tallinn. Beer is really popular in this part of the world. I tried some great beers in Kaunas, Vilnius in Lithuania, Uzupis and then after a stop over in Riga, I ended up in Tallinn. Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and I based myself in the Euphoria Hostel before touring the main sights of Tallinn, visiting the Joey Dunlop Memorial and ready to sample the city’s quirky nightlife.
I had five days in Tallinn in the end and visited a total of 13 bars. These 13 bars were all unique in their own way and I loved them. Tallinn makes for a great pub crawl city. The Old Town Square area is idyllic and the Telliskivi area is up and coming and arty. A few of the other bars I visited are scattered around the city centre.
1. Olde Hansa
Like a scene from Hansel and Gretel, the Olde Hansa Bar and Restuarant strikes you instantly on your walk through the Old Town. “Greetings traveller” comes the voice from a sexily dressed medieval waitress and I take a seat before sampling the delights served in this ancient candlelit banquet hall.
I popped in twice – trying the coffee, the spicy apple cocktail and a hearty meat stew. My waitress was the wonderful Kilu and she also allowed me to select a free gift from the shop. For a tip head to the Tourist Information office and pick up some maps/guides – one of them has a voucher for a free drink in Olde Hansa.
2. Hopner Ollerestoran
This is a quiet downstairs beer bar that is slightly dearer than the others. But don’t let the price put you off – the range of beers here is probably the best on this list and it’s an easy place to relax.
A pub called drink is bound to welcome anyone with a taste for good beer. It has a bit of a British flavour with some British Ale in bottles and on tap. Plus it shows live sports and has pictures of London on the wall.
4. Old Estonia
Old Estonia is in the Old Town Square and has some great meals available. I was there on a cold winter night and loved the hot Estonian mulled wine that they had.
5. Katsusekohvikusse/Rooftop Cafe
I simply can’t pronounce the name of this place but they have a great happy hour on buy one get one free beers. It’s on the top floor of a shopping unit and has free WiFi.
Porgu is the hidden gem on this list. So well hidden that even when you see the entrance to the bar, you’ll still assume it’s closed. It’s on a side street near Kiek in die Kok and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the name of the street is Ruutli.
Once you find the door, head downstairs into the cellar where another door opens up into an underground beer bunker. The range of unique beers on tap is fabulous. I actually wrote a few chapters of my book in here (just before my hard drive failed and I lost them) and I drank the special Pihtla beer – farmhouse beer brewed in Estonian countryside. Well worth a visit.
7. Beer House
Again the surprising places you find in Tallinn just wandering around. The Beer House brews its own beer and sells only the beer it brews. It is a massive dining hall with a wooden decor.
They make five of their own beers here and are proud of them. I popped in to try the Honey Beer. It has WiFi.
8. Hookah Palace
If you want to smoke some Hookah or Shisha this is the place. Even cooler was that it was only a few doors down from my hostel and stays open late. There are lots of corners and cosy booths inside to smoke the night away in.
9. Kuldse Notsu Korts
Another poky restaurant that I cannot pronounce. The Kulde Notsu Korts is a very traditional Estonian restaurant where I first tried the blood pudding and also local beer.
10. Hell Hunt
I was recommended this horrificly named place by a few people so I had to pop in. Apparently this was the first ever “pub” to open in Tallinn and it’s pretty good. Happy Hour beers and a good range of bar snacks. It’s in the old town near St. Olaf’s Church.
You simply can’t believe bars like this exist. It looked from the outside like a swanky restaurant housed in an old barn. Once inside, friendly staff greet me in English and I get to try a local hand crafted beer. This is in the Telliskivi district, so I toured here when I stayed at the Hotel Shnelli. I loved the unusual name too – F. Hooene!
The Telliskivi District was recommended to me by the friendly hotel manager at the Hotel Shnelli (where I based myself for my final night in Tallinn). So thanks for the tip off Hanna! This area is easily walking distance from the Hotel Shnelli as well.
Just down the street from F-Hooene is this excellent and small real ale bar called Pudel. There is a chart on the wall which tells you which beer to choose based on your answers to the questions. I hung around for a few and chatted to the staff. This is a great bar and was the last bar I drank in before leaving Tallinn and onwards to Helsinki in Finland.
Incidentally the photo above I am drinking a beer – they just served it in a wine glass.
13. The KGB Bar – Valuuta Bar
This is the bar for the historic buffs and those crazy about the Russian occupation and the Soviet times in Estonia. Back in the USSR days, all foreigners visiting Tallinn were forced to stay in the Hotel Viru. The entire hotel was wired and monitored by the KGB.
There were money changers and restaurants inside the hotel. Following the fall of communism and Estonian Independence, the hotel has been renovated and now houses a museum on the 23rd floor, once a spy base. The Valuuta Bar serves up drinks including cocktails called Hammer and Sickle and Dead Widow. Souvenirs are also available here.
So how is that for 13 for starters? Pretty damn good I reckon. Tallinn is a diverse and perky city. Most travellers come and go and love it. It’s very difficult to fault this place and for extra ordinary bars it definitely ticks the boxes. I also have to say that this is probably the first ever Thirsty Thursdays I have written where all 13 bars could have justified a TT entry on their own. I simply loved Estonia for the relaxed pub vibe. When the time is right, I’ll be back.
Here are some videos of my top 13 bars in Tallinn, Estonia: