Tallinn city is divided into 8 districts. Some are still developing, while others are booming with great public transportation lines, jobs, and great housing.
The 8 districts of Tallinn are:
- City Center – Kesklinn
- Põhja Tallinn
Kesklinn – The City Center and Heart of Tallinn
Kesklinn, or the city center, hosts the Old Town (Vanalinn) as well as major hotels, shopping centers and acts as a hub to many public transportation lines.
Being the center of Tallinn, it hosts a variety of buildings, new and old. There are also more jobs than residents in the area. Like numerous other cities around the world, the central district is also the most expensive to live and operate in.
Kesklinn also hosts the tallest buildings in Estonia. You will find a variety of tall buildings like Swissôtel, a 5-star luxury hotel standing at 384ft (117m) in the modern area of Kesklinn, or the historical St. Olaf’s Church in Old Town just 10 minutes away.
Like mentioned before, housing is quite expensive in Kesklinn. You can easily bump into a one-bedroom flat renting for over 900 EUR per month.
The three biggest (and most expensive) malls in Kesklinn are Stockmann, Viru Keskus, and Solaris. All three malls are relatively close to eachother and within walking distance, although the walk to Stockmann is a big longer.
Põhja Tallinn – A Personal Favorite
Põhja Tallinn translates to “North Tallinn,” and as you can guess, it’s placed to the North of Kesklinn. I have a bit of a bias towards Põhja Tallinn because I love this district.
As a late-20-something, and as an expat who has lived in Tallinn for over 5 years, if I had to pick one place to live in, it would be Kalamaja – one awesome neighborhood in Põhja Tallinn. I talk about Kalamaja for days, so let’s keep that for another post.
Põhja Tallinn itself is a mixing pot of rich culture and history. It hosts a variety of startups, diverse restaurants, and great parties. Besides Kesklinn, Põhja Tallinn is where you will meet many expats and outgoing locals alike.
Rent is fairly high compared to other districts of Tallinn unless you go way up north.
Besides the culture, it’s also another entrance to the Old Town. From Baltijaam (Baltic Station), you can even see the famous Stenbock House, which is home to the Government of Estonia. There are plenty of public transportation lines from Baltijaam, ranging from busses, trolleys, and trams.
The far north is, however, still a little underdeveloped. There isn’t much there for the tourists either.
Kristiine – A Modern Suburb
The Kristiine district is made up of 7.4% of the population of Tallinn, with around 30,000 people living in it. It was named after the 17th century Queen of Sweden and Poland, Christina, gave the region to Tallinn as a gift.
Like any suburb, you can expect a little privacy, although there are still many Khrushchyovka (or Soviet-era apartment buildings) around Kristiine.
Rent is fairly normal around Kristiine, and can get slightly cheaper as you get further away from Kesklinn.
Mustamäe – Home of TTÜ
If you attend Tallinn University of Technology (Tallinna Tehnikaülikool, abbreviated TTÜ), you will find yourself in Mustamäe. TTÜ boasts itself as the number one technical school in Estonia.
Mustamäe hosts over 66,000 residents along with many Khrushchyovka-type buildings. In fact, it would be difficult to find a building that isn’t a Khrushchyovka.
That said, it is still a safe neighborhood and rent being very cheap compared to other “central” districts in Tallinn.
With a big residential population, it’s also easy to find grocery stores and other amenities around.
Lasnamäe – A Monumental Neighborhood
Lasnamäe is the largest district of Tallinn by both population and size. It hosts over 118,000 residents and spans to 11.5mi² (30km²). That’s 27% of the total population of Tallinn!
The district’s population is mostly Russian-speaking, with around 58.2% of the inhabitants being ethnically Russian.
Lasnamäe is also home to Ülemiste, a business and shopping-oriented subdistrict.
Next to Kesklinn, you won’t find a bigger business hub in Estonia. It’s also home to Ülemiste shopping center, one of the biggest malls in Estonia.
The public transportation line to Ülemiste and the most western side of Lasnamäe is fairly well placed, while it is definitely more difficult to reach the more eastern side.
If you arrived in Estonia by plane, you probably ended up in Tallinn Airport which is also located in Lasnamäe.
Pirita – For the Sea-loving Lavish Locals
Pirita is home to many outdoor activities as well as the lovely beaches of Tallinn. It is also known as the most affluent neighborhood in Estonia.
You’ll find that Pirita is a suburban district, mostly consisting single-family houses or shared houses.
During summer, you’ll definitely have to go to Pirita for its rich sea-side life. Activities like standup paddleboarding or yachting are enjoyed by the locals.
It is rather difficult to get around with the public transportation unless you are planning to go around the beach area.
Nõmme – The Suburb with Soul
Nõmme is the most southern district of Tallinn. It is vibrant and full of trees and is sometimes called the forest city.
If you want privacy, this suburban area is it. You will find many houses with large yards with plentiful trees to protect your privacy.
Like Pirita, Nõmme is considered an affluent neighborhood with family homes. It is rather difficult to get around with the public transportation.
Haabersti – The Up and Coming New Generation Suburb
Haabersti is relatively quiet in terms of media and social presence, but it is considered an up-and-coming area for many new developments.
Subdistricts like Kakumäe is being developed at a rapid pace to meet the needs of those wanting a modern-day suburb to live in.
Like other outer districts like Lasnamäe, Pirita, and Nõmme, public transportation to the outermost areas can get difficult at times.