One of the things I definitely didn’t expect to see on such a big scale in the small, Baltic country is the overwhelming number of cafes in Estonia. Of course my impressions come only from visiting Tartu, Parnu and Tallinn but in these cities cafes are everywhere, almost on each corner and street! And not just some random places but smartly designed cafes that bring local people to spend hours there, chatting, working or reading over the cup of tea/coffee and one of delicious cakes that surely can be found in each local.
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History of cafes in Estonia
The cafe tradition came to Estonia over 100 years ago when the country was under strong influences of Germany and Central Europe. Before the war Tallinn was known for its fancy cafes that brought rich and famous. After the much quieter times of the Communism when Estonia was a part of USSR, the country got its independence back in 1991 and the cafes in Estonia burst again and the good tradition is as strong as ever.
It seems like the secret to make a successful cafe in Estonia is very simple. It has to be small, cozy, with a homey feel and look. It also needs to have a wide selection of delicious cakes and pastries as well as various kinds of tea (and some coffee) to choose from too!
The importance of cafes in Estonia
Every cafe in Estonia I passed by or visited was full of people, no matter what time of the day. In the morning people enjoyed reading a newspaper while sipping a coffee, in the afternoon it was time for a cake and tea and in the evening for chatting with friends over a drink. It was amazing to see how much local people value all these cafes.
After realizing how important a cafe culture is for Estonians I’ve tried to visit at least one place each day to see what’s going on there, soak in the atmosphere and try some of the goodies served there. Somewhere along the way I even found myself looking forward to the moment when I can finally sit down in a cafe to write down my thoughts of the day and to observe the world around me. I managed to discovered some really great places that I spent some quality time in, so if you’re heading to Tartu, Parnu or Tallinn be sure to check them too!
Cafes in Estonia: Werner, Tartu
Located between the Town Hall and Univeristy it’s an important place in the cafe scene of Tartu, serving delicious cakes since 1882. Even if it looks fancy it was the cheapest of the places I visited. A delicious cake and a big cup of tea costed me 2,80€! When in Tartu, you can find it here.
Cafes in Estonia: Supelsaksad, Parnu
Apparently it’s the best cafe in this seaside town. The interior looks like a granny house, reminding you of the childhood days and making you want to sit there for hours. For the amazing chocolate cake and tea I paid 5€. This cafe isn’t located right in the center but not too far away from it, on the way to the Baltic shore and in the are famous for it’s beautiful wooden houses. It makes a perfect stop to relax after exploring the city and before heading to the wide and sandy beach. When in Parnu, you can find it here.
Cafes in Estonia: Koogel Moogel, Tallinn
Hidden in the quiet courtyard in the Tallinn’s Upper Town this cafe is located in the former theater. Even if the nearby lanes are busy with tourists this place is so cozy and quiet. People working there are all artists and the atmosphere is definitely artsy and bohemian. If you want to escape the crowds visiting Tallinn’s old town that’s definitely a place to head to. For the big pot of tea I paid 3€. The place can be found here
Cafes in Estonia: Must Puudel, Tallinn
Probably the most hip cafe in Tallinn. It’s designed in the Soviet nostalgia style, with all the elements reminding about these times not that long ago. Located in the narrow street in the heart of the Old Town yet gathering mostly local people. Such a laid-back, cool place to spend some time in! A cake + tea was 4,80€. If you want to see how the trendy, hip Tallinn likes to chill out then that’s a place to visit. The cafe is here.
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A big help with finding all these cafes in Estonia was an excellent map “Like a local“. It’s free and I got it in hostels I stayed in but apparently it can be found in the tourist info as well. There’re even more cool suggestions on their website and you can also download the application for the iPhone. The map was an Estonian idea but more and more cities around the world are covered. From all the travel maps I’ve ever got in various places around the world this one was definitely the best!
Do you also visit local cafes when travelling? What cities have the best cafe culture?
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If you think of visiting Estonia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
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