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Flâneur’s guide to Tallinn

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By Noora Karppi  •  13.06.2018

Idling is an important part of relaxing and vacationing. Tallinn has endless opportunities for flâneurs to safely stroll, observe and take in the spirit of Tallinn. Read our list of the best places to wander and idle in Tallinn.

Before we introduce the best places to stroll in Tallinn, a few words about flâneurs is probably in order.

What or who is a flâneur?

Flâneur comes from French and it means a man who strolls the city streets, an urban observer and a wanderer. Walking around the city is a way to experience the urban environment, the streets, the architecture, and the people.

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of flâneur in an idle man-about-town. Oxford Dictionaries defines flâneur as a man who saunters around observing society.

The term originates from the 19th century, but we can still see plenty of flâneurs on city streets today (both men and women). Most of us turn into true flâneurs on our vacations, when we have more time to observe and experience our surroundings.

If you are still wondering who or what is a flâneur, you find more information from Wikipedia.

Best places for flâneurs in Tallinn

Old Town
Old Town is like a small piece of heaven for the flâneurs. If you are looking for beautiful, medieval, urban surroundings with lots of people to observe, head to the Old Town. 

Tallinn Old Town was built from the 13th to 16th centuries and has since been the beating heart of Tallinn. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

It is a well-preserved and complete medieval city centre that attracts visitors from all over the world. During summer the narrow streets can get a bit crowded, but hey – the more people to observe!

Start from the larger streets like Viru, Harju or Pikk and wander further to the small pathways and narrow cobbled streets to experience the full beauty of Tallinn Old Town.

Kadriorg Palace and Park were built in the 18th century under the rule of Russian tsar Peter the Great. He named the place Kadriorg (Ekarinenthal) after his wife, Catherine I. So, the first flâneurs to own the pathways of Kadriorg were from the Russian imperial family.

The park has since grown to be one of the most beautiful historic parks in Northern Europe. Today it is the most popular park in Tallinn, where you can observe locals enjoying sunny days.

Begin your stroll from the Old Guardhouse near the Swan Pond and continue to explore the Kadriorg Palace, Estonian president’s residence, Kumu art museum and Peter the Great House Museum.

If you continue south, you’ll find the Rose Hill and People’s Park. Heading north will take you to the English Landscape Park, Japanese Garden and Russalka monument.

Kadriorg Park is a great place to wander for hours.

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Beta-promenade is a newcomer among the promenades of Tallinn. It was opened in 2016, which was the year of Maritime Culture is Estonia.

Beta-promenade offers interesting views and a quick-lesson to the Maritime history of Estonia and Tallinn for people who take this path. The promenade starts from Fish Market and continues along the seaside, passing Patarei prison and Seaplane Harbour all the way to the Noblessner quarter.

Wandering down the promenade you will meet mostly locals, as not many visitors know this pathway.

Feel free to explore the bohemian and trendy Kalamaja area, south from Beta-promenade.

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Telliskivi Creative City, located in Kalamaja, is a great place to wander around in a bohemian atmosphere. Local start-ups and creative companies have offices here, also trendy restaurants, cafés and an inside shopping street have homes here.

The area is not as big as the Old Town or Kardiorg Park, but still a sweet spot for flâneurs, and easy to reach from the city centre.

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Rotermann Quarter
Rotermann Quarter is an old industrial area turned into the hottest restaurant and shopping hub in the centre of Tallinn.

Take a tour on the interesting streets inside the quarter and observe people. Some of them just rush through the area, but some linger longer on the sunny terraces of Rotermann Quarter.

Be sure to walk through the Stalker’s Path (Stalkeri käik) the slightly hidden alleyway starting from the restaurant Taste of Asia.

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