For a peek at the coolest of the cool in today’s Tallinn, the place to go is Telliskivi. Jokingly (and correctly) referred to as ‘hipster heaven’, this former industrial complex has recently taken on new life as a buzzing hive of culture, alternative shopping, creative businesses, food, drink and nightlife. The area still carries the raw, proletarian look it got in its 20th century days as railway and electronics factory. Nowadays it’s home to Telliskivi Creative City, an edgy collection of over 200 enterprises ranging from startups and coworking spaces to design shops, galleries, cafés, pubs and more. A packed schedule of performances, festivals, markets and the like keeps the energy flowing. Telliskivi is easy to reach – about 10 minutes by foot from Old Town or a quick jaunt by tram or taxi from anywhere in the centre.
Explore the funky shops
Telliskivi just wouldn’t be Telliskivi without its off-beat shops, particularly the boutiques featuring original fashion, jewellery, accessories and home décor by Estonian designers. There are more than a couple dozen outlets on site, presenting plenty of options for picking up an ‘only here’ find. Though most of the retail here has a fashion focus, there are also some surprises like a bike shop where you can have coffee and snacks, an inviting book shop and even a store selling weird, Estonian-made lighting fixtures. For an edible gift/souvenir, be sure to pick up a loaf of freshly-baked Muhu island bread at the Muhu Bakery.
Dine and mingle with the locals
When Tallinners come to Telliskivi, it’s more often than not to grab a meal or a few drinks at one of the avant-garde restaurants and bars that give the area its after-hours energy. The best way to rub elbows with the local hipster crowd (or find a tasty quinoa salad, for that matter) is to peruse the area’s cafés, eateries and pubs. The area’s oldest and best-known restaurant, F-hoone, continues to impress, while ÜLO, just outside Telliskivi, is where you’re most likely to run into us members of the ECB team – we love the great vibe, service and food. Puudel Bar is the place to go for a craft beer. New stars are constantly appearing on the scene though, so just ask for recommendations from the nearest bearded man holding a jack russell terrier. If it’s just a daytime dessert you’re after, drop into the La Muu Ice Cream Shop for an organic treat made right on the spot.
Tour the gin distillery
Estonia’s first open artisan gin distillery, Junimperium, set up shop in Telliskivi in early 2019 and now offers behind-the-scenes tours for those interested in the history of gin and the art of gin production. The tours even include tastings in the distillery’s cosy bar. Groups of 4 or more need to register in advance, but if you’ve got fewer people, you can take one of the scheduled tours listed on the distillery’s website.
Visit designers’ studios
Roaming through Telliskivi’s fun design shops is one thing, but to really get in touch with the ‘creative’ side of this Creative City, you can actually tour the designers’ studios and sometimes even meet the artists themselves. There are several options to choose from, depending on the hosts’ availability. For instance, groups can arrange leathermaking workshops with bag designer Stella Soomlais, learn about ‘upcycled’ fashion at the Reet Aus boutique, or watch wooden eyeglass frames being handcrafted in Karl Annus’s workshop. Contact the ECB for more details.
Find the freshest nibbles
The newly-revamped Balti Jaama Market is the first hip area you’ll come across as you head to Telliskivi on foot from Old Town. This is the place to go to find fresh produce brought in by local farmers as well as a hodgepodge of other items for sale. Even if you’re not shopping for radishes or cheese, the market is definitely a curiosity worth exploring. It’s also, it should be pointed out, a favourite spot to find great street food, as is the ‘Depoo’ area between Telliskivi and the market, where old train cars and new containers have been converted into a world of mini-restaurants.
Get cultured (and fed) at Fotografiska
Fotografiska is the Tallinn branch of a cutting-edge, Stockholm-based photography institution and is definitely worth putting on your Telliskivi itinerary. Exhibits (more than 10 a year) by the world’s most renowned photographers are the big draw, but they’re just part of the bigger picture here, according to the creative backers. The business is actually designed to be less of a museum and more of “cultural melting pot” that combines art, design, avant-garde dining, a bubbling bar scene, music and education. Among its features is a restaurant headed by chef Peeter Pihel, who is known as a pioneer of sustainable, ingredient-driven cooking.
Fotografiska opens its doors in mid-June 2019, and will operate from 9am to 11pm, 364 days a year.
Catch a performance
With so much life and culture packed into Telliskivi, it should come as no surprise that the area hosts performances of all types. In any given month there could be dozens of events, from intimate jazz concerts and stand-up comedy to multi-day food festivals. To see what’s coming up, check the schedule on the Creative City’s events page. You can also visit individual websites for the Vaba Lava alternative theatre, the Independent Dance Stage or the Erinevate Tubade Klubi, a combination night club and performance venue.