The Paljassaare peninsula northern tip is a bit mysterious part of the Tallinn. It is located far north- behind the Tallinn Waste-Water Treatment Plant, factories and industrial harbours. On the map, it looks like a shallow wetland, covered with bushes (look it on Google Maps). We even have heard an urban legend of wild dogs running and living freely there (which is not true). For us, it seems that even long-time Talliners don’t know much about this part of the city.
We have liked Paljassare since the first time we visited it, and it still has not lost its charm.
The Paljassaare special conservation area
The northern tip of Paljassaare peninsula is a special conservation area which is important for a large variety of birds that are resting and eating there. It’s also part of an important bird migration route and called birdwatchers paradise. It has many nature trails for hiking or cycling. You can see old military buildings, look around from two birdwatching towers and relax on the beach.
Paljassaare special conservation area today
We had not visited Paljassaare nature trails for a while until this year. We were quite surprised about the developments in the area since we had been there many times before. It was quite different from last time.
It is more accessible and looks better now. Views are cleared up and some sections have boardwalks laid down to keep people on predefined paths and also preserve nature. Some areas are now surrounded by fences for keeping Scottish cattle there. Unfortunately, we didn’t see them in the spring of 2019, but later that year.
Now it felt actually a bit “touristy”
Which is not bad and shows us that it gains traction. From a few hours there we heard many foreign people talking and taking a walk there. We can’t recall such thing 3-5 years ago. Only some sporting people on bicycles or some naked old men taking sunbath there between the bushes further away from the beach.
What is behind these developments?
It turns out that all these developments are part of joint project NATTOURS with Finland which was funded by The European Regional Development Fund. The project introduces the natural heritage and urban nature values that exist within the cities of Tallinn and Helsinki. Also, some old nature trails were restored and new ones were created to make those areas more attractive and accessible.
You can look up info about other promoted nature areas in Tallinn on the project’s official website.
Former military zone
Paljassaare is not always been peninsula. Over a century ago it was two islands instead. They were connected to the mainland and with each other during the process of building a battery for Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress which started in 1912. Most filling materials were dug out from the building of Mine Port. Paljassaare has been extended throughout the 20 century with various filling materials to reach the current state.
It has only been opened for the public for a few decades now. The whole area is actually a former military zone closed to the public. It was converted into a nature conservation area in 2005.
Cycling and walking paths
There are many trails to follow and you can see diverse nature and old military buildings. Trails are accessible all year round and you can walk, cycle or ski.
There are two birdwatching towers near the trails. They are free and open all the time.
The one built with white bricks is former military/border guard structure. It is covered in metal mesh and has metal stairs installed inside to reach the top levels.
When talking about Paljassaare peninsula we can’t miss Pikakari beach. All paths basically start from there. It’s an official public beach and recreation area since 2006 featuring toilets, changing cabins, a volleyball court, swings, a children’s playground, benches and lifeguards on duty during summer months (June – August). If you don’t like sand it’s also possible to use lawn around the beach.
You can walk down the Katariina Quay (Katariina kai) to the sea and see beautiful panorama view of the Tallinn and ships that cross by. It was constructed as a part of a battery of the Peter the Great sea fortress.
There are also some outdoor fireplaces to be used for grilling and hanging out with friends. These are free to use however on hot summer days, it’s hard to get hold of them because of their popularity. We, Estonians, grill outdoors whenever possible during summer.
Be advised. There is nothing to be bought there- so you must bring your own food and drinks. Except for maybe ice cream on a sunny day.
There is only one bus line that includes Paljassaare peninsula in its route and it runs 1-2 times per hour. Bus line 59 from “Balti jaam” (central trains station near old town) goes to “Pikakari” stop. There is also a stop named “Paljassaare” which can be confusing. It’s not the correct stop. You can see it clearly on the bus line map and timetable.
There are currently two car parks as of 2019. One of them is for free and it’s closer to the Pikakari beach. Just drive until the road ends with a parking lot. Another one is on the right which has been recently converted to paid parking. Pikakari beach and Paljassaare peninsula must be gaining traction if paid parking has expanded there.
To get there just put “Pikakari ranna parkla” or “Pikakari beach car park” into the navigation app and it should find it.
Is it next popular destination within Tallinn?
We think its popularity is on the rise especially because of new construction projects planned near the beginning of peninsula. It would connect and familiarise that are a bit more because currently, it’s more or less isolated from the city. There is even a plan to create an artificial island into Tallinn gulf near Paljassare for business and residential use. But I have not heard about that one lately.
But there is another bigger development taking place which seems to be in very real planning phase already as of year 2023. There is plan to build modern studios and associated facilities for filmmakers called Tallinn Film Wonderland.
It is a quick getaway to nature in Northen Tallinn.
We usually visit Pikakari beach many times during summer. It’s not as crowded as other popular beaches in Tallinn, like Pirita or Stroomi. It feels quite private but you can always look for smaller beach strips around the peninsula. It’s a great option when you want to go to the beach, but at the same time, you don’t want to lay on the sand all the time. Great for sunbathing, walking, cycling and discovering old military buildings.
If you are staying longer in Tallinn it’s definitely a great option to see Tallinn from a different angle and visit nature within the city.2