Tallinn has an astonishing number of bars and pubs for a city of its size. Most of them are concentrated in the Old Town neighborhood, and the great variety means that there’s a spot to suit every mood and every style. Make sure to visit one of these amazing bars while staying in Tallinn to experience how locals party!
Bar, European, Pub Grub
It is hard not to adore this alternative bar tucked away on the second floor of a regular pub. There’s a whole area dedicated to dancing, with great DJs playing tunes that wouldn’t be out of place in a Berlin club. There is also plenty of room to play pool or sit (on airplane seats!) and play Jenga. It’s a popular spot for backpackers staying at the Red Emperor Hostel, as well as for hip young Estonians, so it’s always busy on Friday and Saturday nights. Another point in its favor is that the crowd is obviously there to enjoy the music – making it far easier to relax.
‘Labor’ is Estonian for ‘Lab’, which pretty much describes what this bar is like: drinks are served in test tubes and Erlenmeyer flasks, and the decoration is decidedly lab-inspired with neon colors dominating. Spread over two buildings facing each other, it’s popular with locals and travelers alike, perhaps because of the large selection of science-themed shots and cocktails; more than enough to suit all tastes. The basement becomes a club Wednesday through Saturday, but entrance is always free.
Must Puudel is one of the most popular cafés/bars in Tallinn because of its unique design, which includes little details from the Soviet era. When you walk in, you suddenly feel the sense of nostalgia that is different from other bars. During the day you can grab a cup of coffee with a slice of delicious pie, while in the evening, beer becomes the best seller, especially on the weekends when locals go out to have some fun!
Bar, Brasserie, Pub, Pub Grub, Beer, European, $$$
Who knew being down in ‘Hell’ (‘Põrgu’ in Estonian) could be so pleasant? Named because of its underground location, Põrgu offers a wide selection of draught beer and ciders. What’s on tap tends to be local, like Black IPA Põhjala Pesakond, so it’s a great opportunity to get acquainted with Estonian brews. Bottled beers are from all over the world, and there’s every style, from alcohol-heavy Norwegian barleywine to Scottish amber ale.
A sister establishment to the nearby avant-guard theatre Von Krahl and Von Krahl restaurant, Von Krahl Bar is for those who want to get away from the mainstream atmosphere of the Old Town’s tourist-heavy bars. Von Krahl is the unmatched leader of the alternative scene in terms of artistic happenings, intellectual conversation and generally erudite atmosphere. Mingle with theatre patrons and artists or listen to live music while enjoying a drink chosen from the concise, but moderately priced menu.
This peculiar bar never sticks to one name and is instead alternately known as Koht, Kuldne Lovi, or Moonshine. The air of mystery makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s also hidden away in a seldom-visited corner of Old Town, but somehow it is always crowded on the weekends. One of the best selections of beer in the city and friendly staff make it worth checking out. It’s also open late on Fridays and Saturdays.
Patcave is the best bar in Tallinn to have that one extra shot, which will make you blackout. Seriously, with low prices and a wide variety of shots, it is hard not to get drunk in Patcave. The place is designed for young people, so if you want to test your partying skills with young locals, look no further!
Those wishing to get to No Ku have to know where it is; there’s absolutely no signage. To get to it, go through the red and blue door at 5 Pikk Street (next to a souvenir shop) and up the stairs. It used to be a members-only club, which explains how hidden away it is. It’s a popular spot for artists, musicians and general creative types, and is quite intimate. It also serves food at an incredibly low price for such a central location.
Parr Veini is a wine bar, which is a breath of fresh air among the beer and liquor-heavy establishments that fill Old Town. There’s a decent selection of red, white and rosé by the glass, including prestigious selections such as Sauternes. There’s a lot more available by the bottle only, like the famous Dom Pérignon champagne. Paar Veini also serves beer (including three on tap), cider and classic cocktails like Bloody Marys and Pina Coladas, so there’s something for everyone.
Bar, Restaurant, Gastropub, European, Pub Grub, $$$
Kohvik Moon's two chefs | Courtesy of Kohvik Moon
By night, this sleek contemporary restaurant turns into a great place to hang out and have a drink. It offers an excellent selection of imported and locals beers, and on weekend evenings, live music. Sports fans can watch the latest match on the giant screens. Better still Clayhills Gastropub prides itself on its creative and hearty pub food. There’s even a large summer terrace, perfect to observe the minutia of life in Tallinn in the warmer months.
Levist Väljas is among the most legendary bars in Tallinn, and every local with a festive soul has at least one ridiculous story that took place in Levist Väljas. It is one of those places that people say they would never come back to, but they still find themselves there from time to time.
Valentine Baldassari also contributed to this article