Travellers who find themselves in Helsinki, Finland, should set aside a day to take advantage of the seamless crossing via ferry to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. All in one day you can set sail and reach Tallinn from Helsinki in just 2.5 hours, spend 3-4 hours exploring the quaint capital and return to Helsinki by 20:30pm – an opportunity too good to refuse! Here’s how to take a day trip to Tallinn from Helsinki…
A day trip to Tallinn from Helsinki
Tallinn looks to the naked eye to be ripped right out of a fairytale picture book. The Old Town is indeed so charming and medieval that you will feel as if you have stepped back in time – to an age of cobblestone alleyways, colourful architecture and a labyrinth of small boutique stores selling everything from antiques to kitsch souvenirs.
There are a range of operators making the crossing from Helsinki to Tallinn, all for a similar price but varied service. I chose to book the Viking Line Cruise on a daily crossing, departing Helsinki at 11.30 am and arriving in Tallinn at 2.00pm. Later in the day the ferry returns to Helsinki at 6.00pm departing Tallinn and arrives back in Helsinki precisely 2.5 hours later. Prices start from 22 euros – though I can highly recommend upgrading to an outside cabin with the incredible buffet – a great way to pass the time enjoying the food, wine and soft drinks!
A day in Tallinn
When I stepped on dry land in Tallinn, the distinction between the two capitals was immediate. From the newness of Helsinki to the quaint old world charm of Tallinn, I couldn’t wait to spend a few hours exploring the city.
Armed with a map and no idea of my geographical location, I took the easy route and simply walked in the direction of the church towers in the distance.
Winding my way up the cobblestone alleyways, I soon enough found myself in the centre of town. My first stop was the Old Town Square – which was bustling and alive by the time I arrived around 2.00pm.
From there, I made my way uphill to the impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. A short walk in the hillside, you will then find yourself at one of the few lookout points with impressive views of Tallinn.
Before I knew it, it was almost time to head back to the ferry. But not without an hour of saved time for some shopping! If you’re looking for antiques or souvenirs, anywhere in the Old Town is a good place to start. For international brands, head straight to Viru Keskus – it’s not only home to everything you’ll want and need, but also en route back to the ferry.
What not to Miss
If it’s only a day you have, then it’s time to hit the ground running! Don’t miss:
Alexander Nevski Cathedral
Tallinn Town Wall
St Olav’s Church
St Catherine’s Passage
Hi michael, these are great tips! Thank you for contributing!
Good write up, but I would set aside a few more hours for Tallinn. You can get a 7:30 AM ferry on Silja Tallink from Helsinki that gets you into Tallinn by 9:30 AM. It’s a short walk into the old town from there, but on the way you can stop at a little shopping center that has an amazing chocolate place, an amazing bakery, and a good coffee shop. Once you’re in old town, you can take some time to walk around, grab lunch, and then after lunch, take an hour or two to wander around the “hipster” section… Read more »