A day trip to Tallinn from Helsinki

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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…

Talinn Estonia

A day trip to Tallinn from Helsinki

Tallinn looks to the naked eye to be rippedΒ 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 andΒ a labyrinth of small boutique stores selling everything from antiques to kitsch souvenirs.Β 

Talinn Estonia

Getting There

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!

Disclosure: I definitely chose Viking Line based on the name implying I could be a Viking for a day.

Viking Helsinki to Tallinn

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.

Talinn Estonia Tallinn Estonia Talinn Estonia

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

Raekoja Platz

St Catherine’s Passage

Talinn Estonia Talinn Estonia



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    June 27, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Hello I am Portuguese and I am going to participate on the 15th World Gymnaestrada in Helsinki, starting on the 12th ’till the 18th of July … and I would like to visit Tallin as this looks so lovely, can you please tell me the best places to visit and best places to eat… also what kind of food is the traditional food… Is it easy to go to Riga in Latvia and St Petersburg?
    Thank you

    June 16, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I’m from Estonia and lived in Tallinn about 7 years. Now I live in Australia and in a few weeks will go back to visit Estonia. I’m surprised that you have been in Tallinn and I
    m glad that you liked it:)

    May 20, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Thanks Koen – really appreciate the tips! πŸ™‚

    May 19, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Tere SK,

    No worries. You can always buy tickets the day itself if you re travelling without a car. However it s cheaper to buy them upfront. Check Viking Line, Tallink or take a fast option – Linda line-.
    Cruise ships and ferries are not interfering each others schedules as they have different docks. There is a guarded luggage room at the Tallink D-terminal where you can leave your luggage. The price is approximately 2€. There are also lockers in the terminal and the price is also 2€.


    May 14, 2015 at 5:52 am

    Oh and one more question. Does anyone know if the Tallinn ferry station has luggage lockers to store my stuff for the day? Thanks!

    May 14, 2015 at 5:48 am

    I’m considering flying to Tallinn from Stockholm in the AM and spending the day there and taking the ferry to Helsinki in the evening. (Or, do what you did and do a round-trip ferry ride from Helsinki for a day trip to Tallinn.)

    My question is, for ferries do you need to purchase your tickets in advance? How far in advance? Or can you purchase them the day of? (I’ll be going during peak tourist season unfortunately – in July, although I wonder if most of the tourists are cruise travelers so maybe they won’t be clogging up the ferries?)

    Thanks for any advice!

    April 26, 2015 at 12:06 am

    You could also visit places like Seaplane Harbour, TV Tower, Kalamaja District and Bastion Tunnels, just to name a few. πŸ™‚

    December 7, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Great blog, it’s a nice way to etch memories of your travels into e-paper for eternity πŸ™‚

    Can you suggest what to do on Christmas Day in Tallinn? Thanks!

    October 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    As a local of Tallinn, I would also recommend you visit these places in addition to the ones listed:
    – Danish King Garden for a wonderful town wall experience and nice views over the old town
    – Patkuli view platform in Toompea, the view form there is the best you can have (google it!) – Tornide vΓ€ljak (square of towers), a lovely park where you can see many of the historical towers of the wall

    Definitely don’t visit Tallinn during July-August since it’s the height of the cruise season and the streets get packed with tons of people (ruining your experience). Late spring or early autumn is the best time to visit (or winter, if you’re not afraid of the cold). And the best thing to do in the old town – just wander around and see where your feet will take you πŸ™‚

    October 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I love Old Town charm and that’s exactly what Tallinn looks like. It reminds me of some cities in Poland

    October 18, 2014 at 3:00 am

    πŸ™‚ Great pictures and post. I’m on my last night in Tallinn and it has been incredible! I’ve stayed for a couple of days and pretty much saw every inch of it, but it’s such a beautiful city!

    October 13, 2014 at 5:07 am

    For many Finns Tallinn is like an extension to Helsinki. They go there to get their hair done, their nails done, their teeth done. Or they take their car there for maintenance. And to buy groceries – and alcohol.

    All of this because of the fact that it is still much cheaper in Estonia than in Finland.

    But also Finns also go there just for a day and just for fun – it’s the easiest break for a day from Helsinki.

    Did you also know that the languages have a resemblance – and many Estonians do know Finnish as they for ages have been watching the Finnish television there?

    Also, a really large number of Estonians come on weekly or even daily basis to Helsinki for work, most of the builders and cleaners in Finland are nowadays Estonian! But we also get more and more well educated people crossing the bay, like doctors.

    Cacinda Maloney
    October 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I did this same trip! It was fabulous in the wintertime as well, as we got the snow and the the Christmas time decorations!

    October 11, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I was so excited when I saw this post. I’m from Estonia and just moved to Tallinn last month. I absolutely love when foreigners come here and what makes it even more amazing is that you actually like our country. Reading this post made me so happy. Hope you enjoyed your stay here and will come back one day. To everyone else here, figuring if they should come here or not, I definitely recommend to do so. There’s so much to explore in this tiny country. πŸ™‚

    Kadri-Liis Kutser
    October 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Wow! Tallinn is my hometown and it is so nice to read that you liked that little bit that you saw there. I am so sad that you were not able to spend a little bit more time there, because there is beauty all over Tallinn (and all over Estonia, of course), not just in the city center.

    Your blog is just amazing and you give me so much inspiration and motivation with every new post. Thank you!

    Best holiday destinations
    October 9, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    such a beautiful place for visit. thanks for posting nice views.

    Debbie @ Buisson International
    October 9, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    We just LOVED Tallinn!!! I’d actually recommend staying in Tallinn and doing a day trip to Helsinki hehehe

    Maria Andrea
    October 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Brooke πŸ™‚ Just wanted you to know that I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award today (I promise I’m not spamming you). If you want to participate or just know more about it, this post has the rules πŸ™‚

    Lucky Traveller Merja
    October 9, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Tallinn is great! I also recommend the beautiful little town of Porvoo near Helsinki. It’s only one hour by bus and in the summer you can go there by a small ship as well. Hopefully no drunks in the bus! πŸ™‚ If you are coming to Helsinki, please, check my Helsinki tips in English for every month.

    October 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    What a charming town! I love European cities and towns like these more than almost anything else in the world… Looks like Tallinn is going to be added to my list! Thanks Brooke! πŸ™‚

    Veronika @
    October 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Hello Viking girl..! I did that trip too. It was entertaining from the first minute! First, you’re shocked by how Finns can get drunk fast on a ferry and admire their alcohol supplies bought in the international waters πŸ™‚ And then – the beautiful Tallinn! I must say I loved it despite the heavy rain that was pouring for the whole 3-4 days we spent there.
    Beautiful photos btw! But you know that πŸ™‚

    October 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    A little bit more than perfect. CanΒ΄t wait to go there one day!

    October 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Your pictures of Tallin are so cute! I have planned to visit all the Baltic countries, but I need to visit Scandinavia first πŸ˜‰

    Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    October 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Love the bright colors of the buildings. Beautiful pictures!

    Occasionally I may...
    October 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    This town looks so charming. I never thought of visiting but after seeing this post I think I need to add it to my bucket list.

    October 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    These photos are absolutely beautiful!! Sometimes day trips are even better, as they make you appreciate the place even more πŸ™‚

    21 year old travel blogger, check out my latest post on Chamonix in the French Alps!

    October 8, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Nice! Thanks, I’ve been planning my next trip to Estonia and your tips will be very useful πŸ™‚
    Do you have any suggestions on where to eat by any chance??


    October 8, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Thanks Brooke for promoting the beautiful city. I also liked the city a lot and if you are interested in more travel insights and addresses, check out my blog:

    Absolutely worth to visit, either from Helsinki or Stockholm coming!

    October 8, 2014 at 5:22 am

    I think Talinn is a great choice for one day excursion!
    Nice post! xx

    October 8, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Beautiful photos. Tallinn reminds me the Czech republic a little with its historical sights.

    Natalie @ Budget and the Bees
    October 8, 2014 at 5:12 am

    I love the colorful facades and red roofs! Those are picturesque features that always make me think of Europe.

    Ashley | Ashley Wanders
    October 8, 2014 at 4:10 am

    Tallinn looks so lovely!

    The slow pace
    October 8, 2014 at 1:48 am

    What a beauty!!! You are discovering a new Europe! I’ve never given Eastern Europe much thought but you seem to love it and now I’m really curious!!!

    Marie @ Marie Away
    October 8, 2014 at 1:11 am

    It really looks like a beautiful place, as you said, out of a fairytale.

    I hope to make it there one day during my travels to Scandinavia!

    Angela Groom
    October 8, 2014 at 12:13 am

    What a lovely post and great pictures. I keep a file of some of your must visits and I already have a huge choice for my next holiday booking session.

    As you have been away for so long and visit so many diverse places how do you decide what souvenirs to buy on your shopping sessions. I know you have to travel fairly light.
    Also how do you organise your clothes as you seem to travel from hot to cold, dry to damp climates ??

    What fitness regimes do you follow whilst away?

    Your an inspiration to all of us.

    Happy travels.

    October 7, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Heia Brooke! I am an Australian living in Norway! Hope you’ll visit here soon πŸ™‚ Sooo. I am wondering how did you take photos of the rooftops? Did you take it from your room view? And which season do you think it is better to visit Tallin? Autumn or Winter?

    October 7, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Would love to go to these two places soon! But Helsinki is so expensive:-(

    October 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I visited Tallin two years ago. Your photos brought back memories of this lovely town. Loved Tallin.

    October 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I’ve been wanting to visit Tallinn for ages now, this has just made me want to go even more!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Tallinn looks adorable!

    October 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I love Tallinn! It’s such a gorgeous place. I visited recently with my partner. We stayed in the hotel Telegraaf which is highly recommended. It’s right in the old town – the ideal location. You can check out some of my posts on Tallinn on my blog –

    Lovely post and great pics! xxx


    October 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Stunning colourful houses!

  • Madelinefedmont@yahoo.con'
    October 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Tallinn looks absolutely gorgeous. Can’t wait to visit this beautiful city next year!!!

    October 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I really want to go to Tallinn! Do you think a day is enough time to see everything or is it better to do an overnight stay?

    • worldofwanderlust
      October 7, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      It was the perfect time for me because I travel solo – when you’re alone you get to do exactly what you want to do, no more and no less! If you’re going solo a day is enough time but if you were with anyone else I would recommend an overnight trip!! πŸ™‚