Tallinn, Estonia is one of those places that I never thought I would go. Not because I didn’t want to or I wasn’t interested, it just seemed like one of those places I would never have the chance to travel to. And let’s be honest, I knew nothing about Estonia!
When planning our trip to Scandinavia, we bought Rick Steves’ Scandinavia book (Can we pause so I can mention how much I love Rick Steves? Okay, continue!). At first, I was disappointed because I really wanted one book including all of our destinations: Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. But his book includes Estonia instead of Iceland. So imagine my eye rolls as I am forced to buy a separate book for Iceland and as I ignore the entire Estonia section of Rick Steves’ book. But the section on Estonia ate away at me and suddenly I was reading it, looking up photos, and realizing that Tallinn was only a two hour ferry ride from Helsinki.
We booked our ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn through the Tallink Silja Line. Our ferry departed at 7:30am from Helsinki’s West Harbor. There are six different departures to choose from, we chose the earliest. We booked our return ferry for 7:30pm. The prices vary depending on departure times, but we paid about 76 euros per person.
The ferry is actually more of a smaller cruise ship. It’s quite large and has multiple levels with places to eat and shop duty free. I suggest getting to the ship before boarding starts and then immediately find a table with a comfy bench seat near a window. If you wait too long, all of the good seats will be taken and you’ll be out of luck. Also, don’t be surprised if someone asks to join your table. The ride from Helsinki to Tallinn was pretty empty and laid back, while the ride back from Tallinn to Helsinki was extremely loud and crowded.
Tallinn made the perfect day trip from Helsinki and opened my eyes to a place that was completely different to anywhere I had ever been. Tallinn is incredibly picturesque and reminiscent of a fairy tale. We spent most of our time in the Old Town, where you’ll see cobblestone streets, colorful buildings and stunning churches. I felt like we had gone back in time to a thriving medieval city. There are plenty of small shops where you can buy hand painted nesting dolls and woolen clothing. There are also cafes with outdoor seating and sheepskin on the chairs to keep you warm. We spent most of our afternoon wandering the narrow streets and drinking hot tea to escape the cold.
Unfortunately, our cell phones did not work in Estonia, even with an international plan. So we had a very difficult time navigating the city without a map. We ended up getting completely lost on our way back to the cruise terminal. So to be safe, I would suggest getting a map or at least double checking that your cell phones will have service!