Tartu is Estonia's second largest city and home of its largest, oldest, and most important university. In addition to its many wonderful restaurants, Tartu also boasts a number of interesting bars. Note: the Estonian Kroon (EEK) is fixed to the Euro at the rate of 15.667 EEK = 1€.
The recently opened Bin Ben pub, next to the K Kaubamaja on Riia, is rarely busy during the week so it makes a nice place for a quiet evening if you are so inclined. The red phone booth on the stairway, the heavy dark wood trim, the clock from a London train station: all are rather amusingly heavy-handed British symbols. Big Ben stocks a variety of English and Irish lagers.
Maailm (World) is a quirky little bar in the attic of a building along Rüütli, one of the major streets off of the Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square). A long steep flight of stairs brings you to the cozy atmosphere full of couches and African spirit masks. The steepled roof makes it difficult to walk in some hallways and one of the bathrooms is almost completely dominated by a triangular chimney. Other odd touches are the two wooden swings bolted into the rafters and the seemingly random array of famous faces that mark the menu and several of the walls. The daily special is a half liter Saku pilsner for 20 EEK.
Pool Kuus (Half Six) is the favored hangout for the late-night crowd. Open until 5:30 AM on the weekends (thus the establishment's name), Pool Kuus is in the basement of the Arriba! Mexican Restaurant.
Located halfway up Toomemägi, Tartu's central hill, Püssirohu Kelder (The Gunpowder Cellar) is sometimes claimed to be the world's tallest bar. The vast vaulted room was once a storehouse for the Russian Empire's gunpowder and some of that ambiance is retained by the stacked barrels along the walls, but it is occasionally ruined by the American classic-rock-playing house band or the weekly kareoke session. The house special is A.LeCoq beer in big liter mugs for 40 EEK.
Club Tallinn, named afer Estonia's capital, is on Narva. It is by far Tartu's most popular nightclub. The price varies from 50 EEK during the middle of the week up to 200 EEK on a Saturday night. Women get in free until midnight. The muscial theme theoretically depends on the night, including disco, latin, and classic rock, but after about 12:30 or 1:00 it all ends up being techno anyway. There is a large, comfortable back room where you can't actually hear the music from the dance floor if that's more to your taste. Think scantily dressed women sitting around looking bored and being impressed by foreigners.
Zavod is the kind of uniquely grimy place that you have to see just for the cultural experience. Most of the seating consists of the seats from old vans and one of the walls is "papered" with old Soviet motherboards. By the time the bar closes (around 4 AM or whenever everybody gets around to leaving) the floor is usually coated with broken glasses and puddles of beer. A fight or a dance is equally likely to break out, or possibly both at the same time.