Cozy cafes and fireside dining in Estonia

Source: James Melzer/ CC BY-NC 2.0

Cozy cafes and fireside dining in Estonia

According to legend, the Danish flag floated down from the heavens and landed in Tallinn way back in 1219. While the Danes left behind Tallinn's thick stone walls — first ordered built in 1265 by Queen Margrethe — they failed to leave behind a proper Estonian word for hygge

Despite not having an exact translation for the Danish sense of coziness, contentment, and conviviality, Estonians do, indeed, know how to hygge. Just take a look at the warm wool socks for sale at the Christmas market, the fluffy sheepskins draped over wooden benches, and the heaters and blankets used on the outdoor terraces during cold weather, and above all, the flickering fireplaces.

For those who long for coziness and comfort during the colder months of the year, we've compiled some of the best places to curl up next to a fireplace. Enjoy a drink by the light of the flames, tuck into some comfort food, and feel your toes begin to warm. Soon you'll forget about hygge, as your heart will fill with rõõm, the Estonian word for joy, satisfaction, and pure delight.

Cozy cafes, bars, and restaurants in Tallinn's Old Town

Tallinn's Old Town is the main attraction for visitors to Estonia. It's attractive in any season thanks to its well-preserved medieval architecture, but the snow cover in winter makes it look like a fairy tale. As you stroll the cobblestones streets, here are a couple of ideas for cozy cafes and bars in Tallinn if you need to head indoors to warm up.

Atmospheric dining at Stenhus in Tallinn's Old Town

Photo by: Lauri Laan

Beer aficionados will want to stop by Beer Bar Koht for a drink by the fireplace. (Non-drinkers can cozy up with a coffee). The selection is ample and affordable, perfect for warming up after a walk around town. If you need something a bit more substantial while you're in Old Tallinn, then book a spot by the fireplace at Stenhus in the Schlössle Hotel, Elevant on Vene Street, or Controvento, the oldest Italian restaurant in Tallinn, tucked away on the picturesque St. Catherine's Passage. The ultimate fireside dining experience can be had at Olde Hansa, where you'll eat by candlelight like a medieval merchant.

Rustic taverns and pubs around Estonia

Pubs and taverns have traditionally provided warmth and sustenance to travelers. These casual eateries will give you a chance to have a drink or typical Estonian pub food in front of the fire while on your way from point A to point B, though some are destinations in and of themselves!

Pub Hüüru Veski, in the suburbs west of Tallinn, is located on the site of a century-old watermill. You'll get a taste of rustic countryside living without going too far out of the city. South of Tallinn, you can visit the tavern in the Viking Village. Kids can experience life as a Viking in these cold northern climes, and then you can enjoy a meal by the fire.

Unwind with a drink in the fire hall at Villa Ammende

Photo by: Villa Ammende

Skiing and winter sports fans will want to head to Kõrvemaa nature reserve where you can go cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing at Valgehobusemägi Ski and Recreation Centre. Afterward, warm up in front of the fire at their rustic cafe.

On your way south to Otepää, the winter capital of Estonia, stop at a central Estonian tavern. Kreisi Tavern is located in historic Paide — on the weekend, you might catch live music there. Laisholm Pub in Jõgeva also has live music on weekends and cozy couches in front of the fireplace. Once you get to Otepää, the Pühajärve Spa & Holiday Resort makes for a great base for skiers. Plus, their pub has a fireplace and an open grill kitchen. In the city center, you'll find Edgar Tavern, a local favorite where you can listen to the crackling fire while enjoying their homemade baked goods and processed meat products.

Elegant eateries with fireside dining

The ultimate rõõmus experience? Fine dining by the fireside. In Tallinn, MICHELIN-Starred Restaurant 180° by Matthias Diether has a modern fire feature where you can enjoy drinks before moving on to your table. NOA looks out over the water, and a fireplace keeps diners cozy and warm even when it's winter white outside.

Hotel Villa Theresa in Rakvere is known for their antique elegance and comfy lounge chairs by the fireplace where you can enjoy a drink. After snowshoeing in Lahemaa National Park, head over to the restaurant at Sagadi Manor Hotel where a fireplace warms the chilly night.

A crackling fire takes pride of place at Mon Ami.

Photo by: Jüri Seljamaa

Pärnu may be known as the summertime capital of Estonia, but these restaurants make Pärnu a cozy wintertime destination, as well. In fact, Restaurant Mon Ami of the aptly named Frost Hotel makes the fireplace a central feature of their dining room. As it's located in a stunning 20th-century home, Villa Ammende Restaurant has an entire fire hall where you can relax in front of the fireplace.

Pilguse Residency's cozy fireside tables

Photo by: Pilguse Residency

Whether you head out to Saaremaa for untouched nature or a luxury SPA-remaa experience, you can find fireside fine dining: eco-friendly Pilguse Residency attracts visitors longing to get away from it all while the restaurant of the Georg Ots Spa in Kuressaare lets you unwind by the fire in their lounge area.

Even though Estonians may not have a word for hygge, they have clearly understood the concept. And don't forget their word for that feeling in your heart as you sit by the fire! That would be pure rõõm.

Last updated : 08.01.2023

In category: Food & Drink & Nightlife, Activities & Adventure