Estonia Travel Part 2 : a Night in the Woods and Tallinn Nightlife

Mark Bibby Jackson visits the Estonian coastline, spending a night in the woods before enjoying the Tallinn nightlife.

Beaches, City Breaks, Culture & History, Europe, Gastronomy, Outdoors

Mark Bibby Jackson continues his journey to Tallinn Estonia, leaving the Old Town and visiting the nearby coastline, spending a night in the woods before enjoying the Tallinn nightlife.

Our Europcar hire car is delivered direct to the hotel, which I find most convenient. Our drive takes us from the Estonian capital and into the surrounding copuntryside.

Before long, we reach Taju nature resort. The old farm building was destroyed in a fire, but the owners plan to open a hotel in 2025 with some units to open this year. At the main building we are given a picnic hamper to enjoy on the beach as well as a map. A very short walk – the map is redundant – takes us down to the secluded beach where a fire keep sus warm while we have our Estonian winter picnic. The produce is organic, seasonal and local. The tomato soup is ideal for a cold November day, and very tasty.

Taju Nature Resort
Taju Nature Resort

Eight highland cows, brought here for retirement, come to greet us. Set on the Ihasalu Bay, there is a tranquil beauty to this spot which reminds me of my recent trip to coastal Denmark. Taju plans to have meditation walks through the forests. On our visit, there was no one else here – just us and the cows. It is totally unspoilt.

A Night in the Woods

The main reason for leaving Tallinn was to spend a night in the woods at Laheranna. Along the way we stop at the 50-metre wide Jägala Waterfall, which makes for an interesting break.

Further along Ihasalu Bay from Taju, ÖÖD Hötels Laheranna consists of four mirror cabins hidden in a pine forest. The cabins are spectacular, with the trees reflecting in the mirrors providing perfect camouflage – we drove past the site initially. Inside, it is just like lying in a forest, only with a high degree of comfort – this is a step up on glamping.

ÖÖD Hötels Laheranna
ÖÖD Hötels Laheranna

Although there is a kitchenette where you can cook, we had booked into dine at MerMer home restaurant in Kolg-Aabla. Here, Merrit treats us to some home cooking while sitting in her kitchen-cum-dining room, and listening to jazz.

Merrit has been cooking for guests for some 20 years. Although the produce is local, with the bread and cake baked by Merrit, the olives pickled by her husband, and the salmon caught by local fisherman from the bay at the bottom of the garden, the food is more Mediterranean than Estonian.

After the meal, I drive back to our mirror house where I start up the sauna, which is basically just like stoking a barbecue. I make the rookie error of placing too many logs of wood in the furnace and soon the temperatures soar to 100C which is a bit too much for me.

I cool myself down by sitting in my shorts in the forest. However, the best was yet to come.

In the morning, after a great night’s rest, I draw my curtains to see the forest surrounding me in its full glory. It is so beautiful and tranquil. I go for a stroll along the totally deserted beach before my drive back to Tallinn.

ÖÖD Hötels Laheranna
ÖÖD Hötels Laheranna

ÖÖD has a very small footprint. It is easy to imagine the cabins being removed at the end of their use and the wooden walkway dismantled leaving the forest relatively untouched. It reminds me that we are all guests of nature on this planet.

Noblessner and POCO Art Museum

The final night of our Tallinn city break is spent back in the Estonian capital, where we check into the excellent Radisson Collection hotel, just outside the Old Town. Then, we catch a taxi to take us back to the Noblessner Marina, for lunch at Lorre restaurant near the Iglupark.

Noblessner is the historic shipbuilding part of Tallinn port. Just like Telliskivi I visited the previous day, it shows how effective repurposing former industrial areas can be in regenerating neglected areas.

Wall devoted to Lichtenstein at POCO
Wall devoted to Lichtenstein at POCO

The restaurant has an industrial feel to it, but with elegant touches, such as the floor tiles. The food is old-fashioned Estonian food given a contemporary twist. The fish soup was excellent.

From here, we go to POCO Pop and Contemporary Art Museum. Not expecting much from what is essentially one man’s private collection of pop art, I am most pleasantly surprised.

Linnar Viik has collected some 340 pieces of pop and contemporary art with original pieces by  Warhol, Lichtenstein, Hirst, Banksy, Haring, Hockney, Man Ray, Koons and Basquiat, displayed alongside Estonian artists.

Organised thematically rather than chronologically, the museum only opened in June 2023. It really is a quite incredible find. This is a collection that would grace many a more famous contemporary art museum. I particularly like Warhol’s tins of Campbell Soup, a wall devoted to Lichtenstein and Banksy’s Er…

Danse Macabre by Edward von Lõngus
Danse Macabre by Edward von Lõngus

Towards the end there is a modern take on the Danse Macabre by Edward von Lõngus, which demonstrates once more how Tallinn is a city that is constantly re-inventing itself.

Black Nights and Tallinn Nightlife

Our trip coincides with two of the city’s major festivals : the Tallinn Restaurant Week and the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. Having dined at some of the best Tallinn restaurants in the city over the last few days, on our final night we head to the opening ceremony of the Tallinn film festival.

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF)
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF), photo supplied by Visit Estonia

A spectacular gala event, I feel somewhat out of place amongst Estonia’s great cinematic talents. So, as soon as I reasonably can, I slip away to explore a bit of the Tallinn nightlife.

The Babylon Bar is based on the American Speakeasies of the 20s and 30s. Provided with the appropriate password we head upstairs to discover a bar open before us hidden behind a bookcase. Inside, I expect to see Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis playing some jazz, but instead discover a comfortable and attractive bar, where cocktails slip from the bartenders hands as swiftly as I can say “and another”.

It is a wonderful conclusion to a brilliant Tallinn city break, which just goes to show that while some may like it hot, you can have a wonderful time in Estonia in winter.

Mark at Jägala Waterfall
Mark at Jägala Waterfall

Tallinn Estonia Flights

Direct Tallinn flights from London are available with Air Baltic from Gatwick. Mark parked his car at Gatwick with Holiday Extras. Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges and transfers – and last year most of their customers saved at least £100 on their airport parking vs the price they’d have paid on the gate.

Booking park up Maple Parking Meet & Greet means you can enjoy more holiday with less hassle. Plus with Flextras, if you need to cancel or amend you can without charge. Five night’s airport parking at Maple Parking Meet & Greet at Gatwick South is £85.  Relax before your flight in Gatwick South’s Club Aspire Lounge for £30pp. For more information and to book, or call 0800 316 5678.

From Tallinn Airport to Old Town

Tallinn airport to city centre is around a 10-minute taxi ride. Most Tallinn accommodation is within walking distance of the Old Town – or within its city walls.

Tallinn Hotels

Radisson Collection

The Radisson Collection hotel is an excellent modern hotel with great breakfast and a good spa – ideal for Tallinn in winter –, which is just a short walk from the Old Town, as well as a 15-minute taxi drive from the airport. The rooms were extremely well-equipped with all the appliances and sockets in the correct places, as well as a great refreshing shower. The good sized spa has a fitness centre, small inside pool and sauna, making this a great choice for expelling all those toxins, or warming up after a walk around Tallinn in winter. On our visit the hotel seemed extremely popular with both locals coming to dine as well as travellers. The welcoming bar served a great gin and tonic.

Tallinn Nightlife

If you are looking for a good night out in Tallinn then we highly recommend The Babylon Bar, which serves excellent cocktails. Alternatively, you can try any of the bars around the historic old town including the Tallinn Depeche Mode bar. Or head to the Telliskivi district for some amazingly cool Tallinn nightlife and the best artisan gin palace in Estonia.

Festivals in Tallinn Estonia

For an alternative take on Tallinn’s music scene, why not take in the Tallinn Music Week. Alternatively try the Black Nights Tallinn film festival. If you are in Tallinn at Christmas, you can try the Tallinn Christmas Market.

Tallinn Things To Do

If you are planning your Tallinn holidays, we suggest you visit the official Visit Estonia website for more inspiration on Tallinn places to visit.

Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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