Estonia’s capital is full of interesting areas to explore, in a way that visiting for only a couple of days probably doesn’t do it justice. So perhaps a long term stay would be the best way to see Tallinn.
It’s hard to truly characterize Tallinn’s atmosphere because every neighborhood is a world apart from every other. Old Town is touristy but so unique with its tall stone walls that I think I would enjoy occasionally having a nice dinner at one of the bistros or pubs in the Old Town center. Walking around in there is like stepping back in time in a very palpable sense. Everything is ancient, but so well preserved that you would think it was built only a couple of decades ago.
Even cooler still are the areas outside of Old Town like Telliskivi, an upscale hipster area full of art, food, and drink. I imagine that in the summer, the outdoor areas between the warehouses are packed full of people enjoying craft cocktails and the nearby galleries.
I love the food in Estonia. It’s like a mix of Scandinavian and Eastern European, with everything else in between. So It’s hearty, meaty, and beautifully prepared but the price won’t kill you. Something as simple as elk soup is going on my list of foods I can only have when I travel that I will occasionally crave. Tallinn is a great place to enjoy a rack of lamb on a red wine puree, before indulging in a decadent slice of chocolate cake. And all of it will be amazing. And if you’re on a budget, you can pick up some street food for a couple of euro and still be satisfied.
Tallinn is one of the safest cities I’ve visited in a long time. All of it feels safe. Even the dilapidated abandoned structures by Tallinn Bay are full of locals hanging out or walking their dogs. You can walk comfortably outside of city center and though it might be quieter, it’s still perfectly calm and no one really bothers you. I think perhaps the greatest threat to safety would be the harsh winter cold. Though the bright side is that the city is probably gorgeous under a blanket of snow. I can’t decide whether I would prefer to return in the summer or winter, which means I would probably enjoy the city all year round.
Though it hasn’t been as cheap as I expected when it comes to food, I think the nice thing about the city is that there are options. You can get a satisfying meal for very cheap, but also sit down and have a three course meal at a hipster bistro and pay regular European prices. An apartment would be around 500-800 euros, which isn’t bad for almost Scandinavian accommodations outside of Scandinavia.
Total Livability Score 7/10
If it weren’t for the fact that it’s a bit pricey, I would rate this even higher. Tallinn was surprisingly elaborate in terms of things to do, both for visitors and locals. I think living there would be a trip.