You won’t find the best restaurants, activities or sightseeing here. Rather, I’ll tell you
- how to get from Tallin airport to the city center of Tallinn
- what are the supermarket companies
- which hostels I stayed into
- where to find food
In summary, all the “practical” information a classic city guide won’t tell you.
From the Airport to the City Center
You have an incredible range of options.
The best way however is to take tram 4. No need to buy any tickets. You have at the front of every tram and bus a machine that enables you to pay directly with a Maestro, Visa or Mastercard. Just tap your card on the machine and wait for the “beep”.
That’s it! You have paid.
One-hour tickets cost €1.5. Yes, it’s a bit expensive.
There aren’t many hostels in Tallinn.
However, there are many backpackers.
Low competition + high demand = crappy service.
Yep, Tallinn’s hostels are not great.
If you’re out of money, your best option is the Lai 22 hostel. It is a giant hostel in the center. You will sleep in giant rooms accommodating 10 or 14 guests.
Honestly, the ratio price/quality is quite good. They also organize pub crawls and varied activities and have huge chilling areas.
The second hostel I stayed in was the Draper Startup House.
It’s located in the northern part of the old town.
I paid €12.5 per night, but that’s because I booked it directly at the hostel and not through hostelworld (long story). Hostelworld showed 15.
It featured a fully equipped kitchen, a living room, and several small bathrooms. The dormitories are packed with beds and one can barely move around, which is annoying.
Finally, the last option would be to check out the Capsule Hostel. It is exactly what it says it is, a hostel where, instead of a room, you sleep in a capsule. It’s quite pricey though, 27 euros a night on average.
If you want to earn money, steal Swapfiets’ idea and start it in Tallinn. You will be rich because it is drastically lacking!
The city overall is flat, except for the old town which was built on top of a small hill. That means that you will walk quite a lot in Tallinn.
Public transportation is not worth the cost, and you don’t have any other means to reach your destination, besides Bolt’s scooters (I have also seen some Bolt bikes).
The main supermarket chains in Estonia are:
- Selver: Selver are the biggest and most expensive supermarkets in Tallinn. You will find anything to buy there, but it’s extremely expensive because 90% of what is sold is imported from abroad. They are usually open until 23h.
- Rimi: Rimi is my favorite supermarket chain, and the one that I believe has the best ratio price/quality.
- Maxima: they are the cheapest, but with a restricted choice of foods
- Prisma: the most recent to penetrate the Estonian market, they are giant Finnish supermarkets that sell everything. Their prices equal Rimi, more or less.
- Coop: you will only find them in the outskirt. They’re cheaper than Rimi, and more expensive than Maxima.
If you want fresh cheap local food, the best is to go to open-air markets. You will find several spots in the city.
The first one is Keskturg. It’s the traditional market. You will find a lot of clothes, vegetables and fruits, mushrooms, dairy products, and meat.
This is by far the cheapest place to buy your food.
The second place is Balti Jaama Turg. It’s a recent market hall, with trendy restaurants and other venues (as a result, it is more expensive than Keskturg). While everything that is imported (fruits and veggies) will be expensive (€3.5 for a kilo of tomatoes, how dare they), what is locally produced (meat, fish, dairy) will be reasonably priced.
I bought my kilo of lard for €5.2 and my beef for €7.
They also have a mini market reserved for fish. You can buy salmon filet for €15. However, don’t bother. Salmon costs €10-€12 at Selver.
Estonian is the main language in Estonia.
However, 30% of the country is Russian, which is why you see so much Russian. English is the third language you will see, as everyone seems to be moving there at the moment.
Estonian kinda resembles Finnish and shares roots with Hungarian. While Lithuanian and Latvian looked and sounded a bit weird, Estonian sounds like a Nordic language.
Thank you: aitäh
Mobile Network and Sim Card
Estonia being terrorist-free, you don’t need to register your ID when buying a sim card, which makes the whole process painless.
Furthermore, activating it was even easier than in Latvia!
There are three network providers in Estonia. Telia, Elisa, and Tele2.
Don’t go with Telia as you need to order your prepaid sim by post. It’s already complicated.
When I had to decide which provider to choose from, I went for Elisa simply because they had a boutique in the city and I wanted a sim card right away. The boutique is in the Viru Keskus Mall. The truth is that Tele2 also had one there but Google told me it was closed.
I got an Elisa pre-paid sim card with 5Gb and some calls and texts.
It costs me €5 which is amazing considering I’d pay €20 for that in Belgium!
Mind that like Latvia and Lithuania, these prices won’t apply to roaming.
For more technical city guides, head to auresnotes.com.