Kalamaja, a former fishermen’s district, today one of the trendiest areas in Tallinn, is most definitely the place where I want to hang out when visiting Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Here you can find local living, abandoned factories as well as off-beat cafes, restaurants, trendy boutiques and a lot more. My favourite things to see and do in Kalamaja are as follows, go and explore if you get a chance!
1. Visit Balti Jaam Market
Only a few years back this modern market used to be a depressing bargain hunter’s paradise where you could shop like a Soviet in the old times. The newly restored modern Balti Jaam Market was opened in spring 2017. Today this hip and cool market accommodates nearly 300 stalls and shops selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and dairy to clothes, antiques, Soviet souvenirs and so much more. There is also a good street food section with a range of cafes, restaurants and pubs.
2. Get inspired at Telliskivi Creative City
Telliskivi Creative City (Telliskivi Loomelinnak), located just around the corner from Balti Jaam Market and the train station, is the heart and soul of Kalamaja. The revamped complex of 11 old industrial buildings has become a magnet for all kinds of creative initiatives and activities. At Telliskivi Creative City you can admire Estonian design, discover small antique and vintage boutiques, shop little gems for your home, find natural and fair trade products, eat and drink at one of the many cafes, eateries and pubs, watch alternative theatre and go clubbing.
3. Take a walk along Tallinn Culture Kilometre
Tallinn Culture Kilometre (Kultuurikilomeeter) is a 2,5 km interesting walkway through the historical part of Tallinn’s seaside. It runs from the passenger harbour all the way to the northern parts of Kalamaja. The Culture Kilometre cannot be considered as the most scenic walk, but does provide a good overview of the industrial part of Kalamaja with plenty of historical vibes from different eras. In addition, many of Kalamaja’s sights are situated along the Culture Kilometre. Read more about Tallinn Culture Kilometre here.
4. Enjoy coffee and cake at Pagarikoda Bakery
This small and cosy corner bakery is the place where I love having a cup of tea and a cake every time I come to Kalamaja. Pagarikoda is very popular among locals who come here to buy fresh bread for breakfast. Pagarikoda serves very good coffee and offers a wide variety pastries, buns, cakes, cinnamon rolls etc. straight from the oven either to eat in or take away. Prices are cheap, for this cake and cup of tea and I paid no more than 2,75 €. Makes me very happy!
5. Admire old wooden houses
Take an easy walk around in Kalamaja and admire the beautiful old wooden houses painted in different colours. These simple wooden houses were originally built to accommodate working class but over time they have become Kalamaja’s architectural legacy and give the neighbourhood its unforgettable charm. The most architecturally unique of these houses are called ‘Tallinn Houses’. Built in the 1920s and 1930s, these two to three-story residential houses are made of two symmetrical wooden wings separated by a central stone staircase. I absolutely loved the beautiful and colourful houses along the street of Salme.
6. Sense the Soviet era at Patarei Prison
This imposing seaside complex of Patarei Prison and Sea Fortress is a good place to peek into the Soviet era prison life in all its misery. Originally opened as a sea fortress in 1840, later functioning as Russian army barracks, and from 1920 onwards as a high security prison under several regimes until 2004, the place has been left practically untouched since. At Patarei Prison you get to explore hallways, cells, work areas, exercise yards, hanging rooms and so much more. Make sure you do not miss the operation rooms in the medical wing. Take a break at the small beach bar behind the prison and enjoy the great sea view with cheap drinks. EDIT: Patarei Prison is currently closed.
7. Chill out at Kalamaja Cemetery Park
Walking around a lot can be exhausting. Kalamaja Cemetery Park (Kalmistupark), a former cemetery, today a large public park with no immediate visible indication of its previous status, provides a perfect setting for a little break. This is a lovely and quiet leafy park with children playing around and locals having a picnic.
8. Experience maritime adventures at Sea Plane Harbour
The Sea Plane Harbour (Lennusadam), part of the Estonian Maritime Museum, provides an exciting adventure for children and adults alike. The exhibitions in the historical seaplane hangars tell captivating stories from under the water, on the water and above the water. In the outdoor exhibition area you get to explore icebreakers, ships and canons just to name a few.
9. Shop Estonian design at Les Petites
I absolutely love this small design and lifestyle shop in Telliskivi Creative City. Les Petites features small local Estonian brands and over 80 designers: jewellery, handicrafts, toys, accessories, interior design products, home decor, fashion, vintage clothes and so on. I always spend more time and money in this shop than I intend and go home with great gifts.
10. Dinner at F-Hoone
At F-Hoone, located in Telliskivi Creative City, we got to experience a very stimulating dinner in industrial settings with cool and colourful decor. The food was delicious and prices surprisingly inexpensive. F-Hoone was packed and it took quite a while to get a table and another while to get our food but despite I will revisit!
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