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Tallinn

The Estonian capital is not a huge city by international standards, but its population of just over 430,000 represents 32% of Estonia’s inhabitants.

Despite its compact and pleasant size, Tallinn is punching above its weight on the global stage, thanks to its distinguished history and forward-looking modern and tech-savvy environment. Tallinn’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, yet the city is also listed among the top digital and smart urban areas in the world and ranked as a global city.

If you’re looking for the most cosmopolitan and well-connected place to live and work in Estonia, then Tallinn is the place to be.

The cobblestone streets of one of the world’s best-preserved medieval city centers give way to encircling newer districts of romantic wooden houses and grand apartment buildings overlooking wide avenues. Leafy suburbs offer a calm getaway for those with families. The sea is never far – the indented 30-mile (50 km) coastline offers some breathtaking views of the city and also great parks and recreational areas, as joggers, walkers and cyclists take advantage of the long beach promenades.

Despite the long history, Tallinn is a very dynamic place. Modern cafes and restaurants offer cozy meeting places, and the nightlife is vibrant. Culturally, Tallinn could compete with much larger cities. Accommodating an opera theater and one of the best contemporary art museums in the Nordic region, it is also host to dozens of smaller theaters and event venues. The annual Tallinn Music Week is the biggest indoor music festival in the Baltic-Nordic region and Tallinn’s Black Nights Film Festival is considered among the world’s top 15 film festivals. Numerous cinemas premiere the latest blockbusters in sync with London or Berlin. It’s no wonder that Tallinn was a European Capital of Culture in 2011.

Most of the people living in Tallinn are Estonians, but Russians form a significant minority, followed by Belarusians, Ukrainians and Finns. In the recent years, an increasing number of Britons, Italians and Americans have also chosen Tallinn as their home turf, citing the great vibe and ease of doing things, while still being so close to nature.

Estonian, Russian and English are the most common languages and German and Finnish are quite widely spoken, too.
A good site for general information on Tallinn and its suburbs is the city government’s official website www.tallinn.ee, which has versions in English, German, Swedish, Finnish and Russian.

For each Tallinn district (eight main districts altogether), you can find contact details below.

The general information phone number is 1345 for the whole city of Tallinn.

City center

  • Area 30.6 km², population 57,731. Density 1,900 ppl/km2

  • Types of buildings: fairy tale-like Old Town (Vanalinn) featuring houses from the year 1230 A.D. to the 21st century office buildings.

  • renting price avg: €500 per month

  • buying price avg: €120,000

  • Your typical neighbor: ranging from busy corporate people and hipsters to students and pensioners. Besides locals, also Finns and Belorussians, Scots, Italians, Americans and so forth.

  • Why Kesklinn? Living in the center, it is the densest and busiest that you can get in Estonia but not as overwhelming as NYC or Hong Kong. Lot of culture and world class restaurants, not to mention pubs and clubs.

  • History brief: besides the Old Town the regulated designing of the streets and dwellings of Kesklinn started in 1857 after Tallinn was excluded from the list of fortifications. Most of the buildings were completed from 1920s to 1940 and from 1945 to 1950s. It took off again in 1990s and has not stopped yet.

  • Key center: the triangle between Vanalinn (the Old Town), Viru Keskus (shopping center) and Vabaduse väljak (the Freedom Square) has a lot to explore in a short distance that can be covered in less than five minutes on foot.

  • Special events: you name it, you’ve got it. For example, in every September the Tallinn Marathon (10k, 21k and 42k distances), in November the internationally recognized PÖFF (Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival), in every April the Restoranide Nädal (the Tallinn Restaurant Week), during summer the Tallinn Bicycle Week (also known as Tour d’Öö), Uue Maailma festival, concerts (like Moby, Rammstein, Robbie Williams), festivals (the International Song Festival) and many others.

Kadriorg

Officially is part of the Kesklinn district but is listed separately on RE sites 

  • District Administration address: please see Kesklinn.
  • Area 2.4 km², population 4,303. Density 1,700 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: ranging from the 19th century timber apartment and administrative buildings to some exclusive 21st century villas.
  • Renting price avg: €650 per month
  • Buying price avg: €160,000
  • Your typical neighbor: young families, some relaxed writers and some pensioners in the bunch.
  • Why Kadriorg? Probably the most romantic and beautiful neighborhood of the capital, featuring the presidential palace of the president of Estonia, several art museums (including Kumu, recently named among the ten best in Europe by Culture Trip), the Kadriorg palace and the surrounding park are gems of Tallinn.
  • History brief: the first inhabitants settled in probably in the end of 17th century. In 1718, the Italian architect Niccolo Michetti designed the Kadriorg palace as the summer residence for the Russian tsar Peter the Great.
  • Key center: the park (of Kadriorg)
  • Special events: year around numerous art exhibitions, film screenings and music events indoors and also outdoors (during summers). Every year in January a large open air ice sculpture show is opened until the weather permits (usually Feb to Mar).

Old town

District Administration address: see Kesklinn.
Area 1.1 km², population 4,184. Density 3,850 ppl/km2

  • Types of buildings: medieval buildings dating back as old as 13th century A.D.. Basically every house here is a living museum, most of them are modernized with modern plumbing and other standards in mind so you don’t be afraid that you have to take a medieval bath.
  • Renting price avg: €700 per month
  • Buying price avg: €220,000
  • Your typical neighbor: hipsters and young urban professionals. See also Kesklinn.
  • Why Vanalinn: you will be living and working in the historic center of Tallinn. Very romantic cobblestone streets and centuries old dwellings, cozy pubs and modern boutiques.
  • History brief: this is the very heart of our capital and it’s listed as one of the UNESCO world heritage protection sites. The first mention of Tallinn was in an Arab geographical text in the year 1154 A.D. Even the world wars could not devastate this beautiful neighborhood, which continues to stand the test of time.
  • Key center: Raekoja plats (the Town Hall Square).
  • Special events: Vanalinna Päevad (the Days of the Old Town Festival).

Nõmme

  • District Administration address:
    Nõmme Linnaosa Valitsus
    Reg. no. 75014882
    www.tallinn.ee/nomme
    Vabaduse pst 77, 11616 Tallinn
    Ph: (+372) 645 7305 and  (+372) 645 7333
    Email:  nomme@tallinnlv.ee
  • Area 28 km², population 39,487. Density 680 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: cozy brick or timber private and small apartment buildings with private gardens with many trees.
  • Renting price avg: €400 per month
  • Buying price avg: €83,000
  • Your typical neighbor: cool pensioners, young and not so young families.
  • Why Nõmme? The garden neighborhood with hundreds of thousands of pines trees, this is the least densely populated and quietest suburb of the capital with street vibes from 1920s and 1930s. Highly recommended.
  • History brief: only a few tiny villages before the 1880s when Nikolai von Glehn started to sell and rent plots. In 1900 already 300 romantic summer cottages and smaller villas were built. During the war years the building process slowed down but continued after that.
  • Key center: Nõmme Keskus (Nõmme Center) has the Cultural Center (Nõmme Kultuurikeskus), a market (Nõmme turg) and a tiny shopping mall.
  • Special events: The Cultural Center holds events, like dancing, occasional cinema and theater shows.

Pirita

  • District Administration address:
    Pirita Linnaosa Valitsus
    Reg. no. 75014250
    www.tallinn.ee/pirita
    Merivälja tee 24, 11911 Tallinn
    Ph: (+372) 645 7600
    Email: pirita@tallinnlv.ee
  • Area 18.7 km², population 17,592. Density 940 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: mainly private housing
  • Renting price avg: €550 per month
  • Buying price avg: €120,000
  • Your typical neighbor: as 80% of the people living in Pirita are Estonians, you hardly hear any other language around. But as a second language, English is here widely spoken as elsewhere in Estonia.
  • Why Pirita? Endless white sand beaches, pine forests, good connection to the city center and not so heavily populated as the outlying districts. Second best after Nõmme if you are looking for a quiet neighborhood.
  • History brief: similarly to Nõmme, the area had only few villages before the 20th century. The building intensified in the 1950s as people recovered from the war and started building private residences, small in scale but cute and cozy. Today it features some of the modern gems of villa architecture.
  • Key center: The Pirita marina and the Tallinn TV tower.
  • Special events: yachting, kayaking and surfing events take place from May until September.

Haabersti

  • District administration’s address:
    Haabersti Linnaosa Valitsus
    Reg. no. 75014244www.tallinn.ee/haabersti
    Address: Ehitajate tee 109a, 13514 Tallinn
    Ph: (+372) 640 4800
    Email: haabersti@tallinnlv.ee
  • Area 6 km², population 43,400. Density 2,400 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: mostly concrete blocks of flats, on the Kakumäe peninsula some beautiful private houses.
  • Renting price avg: €350 per month
  • Buying price avg: €85,000
  • Your typical neighbor: quiet, self-sustaining type who takes a walk or a run along the beach. The sea air makes people happy.
  • Why Haabersti? Recreational areas along Kakumäe Bay and Kopli Bay for kilometers, nationally important are the Tallinn Zoo and the Estonian Open Air Museum (a life-size 18th-century rural/fishing village).
  • History brief: the heart of the district is the residential area of concrete panel apartment blocks of Väike-Õismäe, built in the 1970s. Natural advantages are good so since 1990 new areas of small residential buildings have been built in Haabersti.
  • Key center: Rocca al Mare shopping center and the Saku Suurhall Arena.
  • Special events: around the year festive events at the Open Air Museum, like Christmas and Midsummer Day traditional celebrations.

Kristiine

  • District Administration address:
    Kristiine Linnaosa Valitsus
    Reg. no. 75014238
    www.tallinn.ee/kristiine
    Tulika tn 33b, 10615 Tallinn
    Ph: (+372) 645 7100

Email:  kristiine@tallinnlv.ee

  • Area 9.4 km², population 31,103. Density 3,400 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: from housing from 19th century to Soviet era 1950s blocks of flats to modern private housing that have been built there since 1970s and onwards.
  • Renting price avg: €350 per month
  • Buying price avg: €87,000
  • Your typical neighbor: kids and families, working class, pensioners. People that like to live away from the Soviet-era projects but close to the city center.
  • Why Kristiine? Very close to the center, but away from the busy vibe.
  • History brief: in 1653 the Swedish queen Christina gave an order to survey the area into plots for citizens to purchase. Most of the housing stock was built during 1880 to 1980.
  • Key center: the Kristiine shopping center; the suburb is quite homogenous and there is no other urban center.
  • Special events: this is probably the only neighborhood that does not hold an (annual) event on its own. Even the neighborhood council holds its events in the city center (as it is very close) or elsewhere.
 

Lasnamäe

  • District Administration address:
    Lasnamäe Linnaosa Valitsus
    Reg. no. 75016013
    www.tallinn.ee/lasnamae
    Pallasti tänav 54, 11413 Tallinn
    Ph: (+372) 645 7700 and (+372) 6457718
    Email: lasnamae@tallinnlv.ee
  • Area 21.4 km², population 118,000. Density 5,500 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: mostly concrete blocks of flats
  • Renting price avg: €330 per month
  • Buying price avg: €65,000
  • Your typical neighbor: more than two-thirds are Russian speaking people that include Ukrainians, Belorussians and even Tatars. No matter what their mother tongue is, the younger generation almost always speaks English or some other foreign language.
  • Why Lasnamäe? The largest neighborhood of Tallinn has probably the lowest rents. Eighty-five percent of the housing is 5–16 stories high concrete panel blocks of flats, built between 1973 and 1992.
  • History brief: the first inhabitants settled here about 5,000 years ago. During the 1920s mainly farms and the Tallinn Airfield were located there. With the Soviet occupation after WWII came major changes – the start of mass housing for largely Russian workers in 1973 changed everything.
  • Key center: Lasnamäe Centrum shopping center at Mustakivi and Tondiraba Ice Arena.
  • Special events: ice skating competitions held at Tondiraba ice rink arena.

Mustamäe

  • District Administration address:
    Mustamäe Linnaosa Valitsus
    Reg. no. 75014267
    www.tallinn.ee/mustamae
    Tammsaare tee 135, 12915 Tallinn
    Ph: (+372) 645 7500 and (+372) 645 7511
    Email: mustamae@tallinnlv.ee
  • Area 8.2 km², population 64,237. Density 1,850 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: mostly blocks of flats built in 1960s and 1970s, some private housing exists.
  • Renting price avg: €330 per month
  • Buying price avg: €72,000
  • Your typical neighbor: all types of people, local families and working class to university students and foreign professors.
  • Why Mustamäe? This is a neighborhood that has a lot of parks and other types of public green areas – 44% of the area is green, creating a positive vibe to the place.
  • History brief: the first villages in the area have been traced back to the year 1686. As with Lasnamäe, the Soviet occupation resulted in major changes in the area. Fortunately new office buildings, private housing and also apartment buildings have been built during the last 20 years that add great economic as well as aesthetic value.
  • Key center: the construction of the Mustamäe Center (Mustamäe Keskus) that features restaurants, a cinema, multiple services and of course shopping was started in 2014 – it will be completed in a few years. One of the best universities in Estonia, Tallinn University of Technology, is also based in Mustamäe.
  • Special events: in winter a light festival called the Might of Light (Valguse Vägi) is held. It also may be worth to pay a visit to the University of Technology (Tallinna Tehnikaülikool) to see what’s going on among the academic bunch.
 

Põhja-Tallinn/Kalamaja

  • District Administration address:
    Põhja-Tallinna Valitsus
    Reg. no. 75017745
    www.tallinn.ee/pohja
    Niine tänav 2, 10414 Tallinn
    Ph: (+372) 645 7040
    Email: pohja@tallinnlv.ee
  • Area 17.3 km², population 58,405. Density 1,360 ppl/km2
  • Types of buildings: much of the housing stock has been built between 1890 and 1940, mostly apartment buildings in timber and brick. You can find some private housing as well.
  • Renting price avg: €430 per month
  • Buying price avg: €75,000
  • Your typical neighbor: Russian-speaking multinationals, from blue to white collar, from the yuppies and artists in Kalamaja to the pensioners in Pelgulinna.
  • Why Põhja-Tallinn? One of the most unique neighborhoods of Tallinn, as it is surrounded by sea on three sides (the most popular for recreation is the Stroomi aka Pelguranna beach), but at the same time there is an excellent tram connection to the center. An unpolished gem that will blossom in a few year or decades, though Kalamaja, sometimes calledthe “hipsterville” of Tallinn, is already in blossom!
  • History brief: before there were some villages of fishermen but the industrial revolution and shipyards needed workers, so extensive apartment buildings were erected in the end of the 19th century.
  • Key center: Telliskivi street in Kalamaja. The former industrial complex – the “Telliskivi City” – has been turned into the creative centre of Estonia where artists, music promoters and community activists mingle with the startup community.
  • Special events: Kalamaja days (Kalamaja päevad), concerts, art fares and street markets held in summertime.