When someone tells you that something is “the best,” what they usually mean is that it’s their favorite. In other words, they’re describing their subjective version of the “best” rather than giving you the objective “best.” And, truth be told, if I’d ever gotten around to writing my imaginary London Market Blog called Fora Londinii, then my entry about London’s “best” market would have read “My Favorite London Market.” After describing how the best market is always the one which has what you need and when you need it, I would have gone on to list my subjective reasons for choosing my favorite market.
While London has somewhere between 250 and 300 active markets at any given time, Tallinn makes my job a lot easier because it has fewer than ten real markets. In other words, I would be hard-pressed to come up with a Top Ten list. And while a Top Three list – or even a Top Five – would be possible, I probably would end up comparing apples and oranges when, all along, there is an obvious “best market.” The rest of Tallinn’s markets might be just fine depending on where you happen to be or what you happen to need. As a result, my job has been done for me, making it easy to arrive at the name of Tallinn’s best market – not only subjectively but objectively as well. And the winner is …
Tallinn’s best market is BJT AKA Balti Jaama Turg or the Baltic Train Station Market. Not only is the market housed in a modern architectural masterpiece which is a pleasure to behold, it also has the largest selection of edibles and consumables of any Tallinn market. This makes BJT a destination market for anyone who wants to explore Tallinn beyond its Old Town walls. You can also use your visit to BJT as a stepping stone for exploring Kalamaja’s beautiful wooden houses or Telliskivi’s post-Soviet industrial sprawl.
My Guide: To help you look at this and other markets in new ways, I’ve even written an essay to guide you around BJT called Tallinn’s Great Market. Elsewhere, I also take you around my favorite stalls and explain why I keep going back to BJT.
Where to Eat: There several places at BJT were you can grab a cup of coffee or a nice bite to eat. I’ve listed my recommendations in Flatfish’s Five Favorite Bites.
How to Get There: BJT – located at Kopli 1 – is just a short walk from Old Town Tallinn down Nunne (Nun’s Street) or you can get there by taking the no. 1 or no. 2 tram and getting off at the stop known as Balti Jaam (Baltic Train Station) – or, better yet, at Telliskivi (The Brick) so you start at the back and work your way forwards.
Tallinn’s most Instagram-able market is Nõmme Turg (Heath Market). And if you’re the kind of person who wouldn’t mind taking a short-train ride out to a nice leafy suburb still within city limits, then you should make Nõmme and its market one of your destinations. You will almost feel as if you’re visiting a small Estonian town. And if you’re a market aficionado like me, then visiting Nõmme Market is a must.
My Guide: You’ll discover in my piece on Tallinn’s Picture-Perfect Market why Nõmme Market is so fun to explore – especially when the weather is nice.
Where to Eat: In season, Nõmme Market is a great place to gather up all the fixings for a lovely picnic.
How to Get There: While you can get out to Nõmme Market (Turu plats 8) by taking a forty-minute bus ride from downtown, I would recommend taking the train from Balti Jaam (Baltic Train Station) as it will take you just 15 minutes.
Tallinn’s most retro market is KT AKA Keskturg or the Central Market. And by retro, I really mean post-Soviet, ca. 1993. KT tends to have the best prices of any Tallinn market as well as being home to the unexpected bargain. Recommended for those of you who might be interested in doing a bit of time travel back into the past.
My Guide: In addition to writing up what there is to see at KT, I’ve also added some advice on how to stay out of trouble when you visit Tallinn’s Forgotten Market.
Where to Eat: While you might want to gather up the fixings for a picnic at the market, you could also go across the street and get something to eat at New Thai (Lastekodu 9).
How to Get There: While there are a number of diffferent city buses that go down Tartu Road, I would recommend taking the no. 2 or no. 4 tram. Whether you go there by bus or by tram, the name of the stop is the same: Keskturg (Central Market). KT’s address is Keldrimäe 9.
Tallinn’s other markets are either specialized markets or outlier markets located far from downtown. The three specialized markets are each worth a visit – especially if you are in town on a Saturday.
Lilleturg (The Flower Market) sells flowers 24/7. If you walk into Tallinn’s Old Town via Viru Gates from Viru Square, then you are bound to see the Flower Market on your left at Viru 26. You can read my impressions of this market in my piece called Tallinn’s Market with Flower Power!
Kalaturg (The Fish Market) is a weekly Saturday market which takes place from 10 AM to 4 PM. Most of the fish it sells is not from the Baltic Sea as it is in sad shape but from other seas or from Estonia’s rivers and lakes. You might want to read what I wrote about Kalamaja’s Other Market before you decide whether or not you want to go. You’ll find the Kalaturg Fish Market at Kalasadam (Fish Harbor) which is reachable by no. 1 or no. 2 tram going to Linnahall (Town Hall) or by taking the no. 73 bus to Kalarand.
Kirbuturg (The Flea Market) also takes place every Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM out in Telliskivi Creative City located at Telliskivi 60A. As you’ll see from what I wrote in Going to the Flea, Tallinn’s weekly Flea Market focuses largely on used clothes. Get there by getting on the no. 1 or no. 2 tram to Kopli and getting off at the Telliskivi stop.
For the market completist – or for local residents, Tallinn also has several outlier markets. While I wouldn’t say that any of these markets is worth a special visit, they are there if you need them – or want to visit them. Mustamäe is home to Mustamäe Turg (Black Hill Market) while Lasnamäe is still home to Pae Turg (Limestone Market). I tried to go for two birds with one stone in my Tale of Two Tallinn Markets. And, to round off this market trio, you could add the very small and seasonal Pirita Turg (Pirita Market) which only has ten stalls – and perhaps two vendors – and is located along the Baltic coastal road headed east at Merivälja tee 34. Sadly, you can no longer visit Tallinn’s New Market as it is long gone.
Image: A vintage 1993 “this little pig went to market” Estonian salt shaker made by an unknown craftsman.