My first travel blog post EVER was about my desire to visit Estonia. It would have cost me an arm and a leg to visit in 2011. A few blog websites and 6 years later, I am finally in the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. Before I go into details about my trip, here is a quick itinerary:
DAY 1: 30 December 2017
- Travel from Helsinki to Tallinn by Ferry
- Christmas Night Market
DAY 2: 31 December 2017
- Self Guided Tour
- Sunrise at the Kohtu Platform
- St. Alexander Nesky Cathedral
- Danish King’s Garden
- Börsi Kirik
- City Hall Walk
- Katariina Kirik Passage Way
- Master’s Courtyard
- New Years Eve Celebration
- Live Performance in Freedom Square including firework
- Christmas Market
- Kohvik Dannebrog Cafe – Very expensive, Medieval Cafe
How to Get to Estonia:
A 2 hour ferry will get you from Helsinki to Tallinn. You can purchase your ticket online at Tallink or at the port. Make sure to purchase your tickets earlier if possible to avoid overspending. I’ve been browsing through tickets for maybe two or three days. I was trying to finalize my trip when suddenly, the tickets jumped from €19 to €42 one way. By inputting different variables in the search engine, I found a round trip day ticket for €34. I purchased the ticket immediately and decided to not use the return ticket. Below, you can see a sample of the difference between prices for the same departure time. The top is the one way fare and the bottom is the round trip.
You can also see the frequency the ship operates in a day from Helsinki to Tallinn.
Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn
Shortly after purchasing my ticket, I received my itinerary which points out that I was departing out of Terminal 2 at Helsinki Port. As stated in my last post, make sure you verify which terminal your ferry leaves because there are 2 terminals, 700m apart.
I went to the check in counter and presented my passport and booking number. The agent handed me my boarding passes and directed me to the escalator where I was to board my ship.
Heading on the Cruise:
I scan my boarding pass on the automatic scanner like you would with a metro pass. The barricade opened and I was on my way. I waited a few minutes before boarding my cruise.
Where to Sit:
The entire ship is made up of restaurants and shops. Choose a restaurant and enjoy a beverage while you enjoy the view.
Exiting the Cruise:
You exit the cruise the same as you would a plane. No need to go through customs or immigration.
Where to Stay:
I booked my hostel in the Tallinn Port. It was the day before New Years Eve so everything was pretty much booked. I was thrilled when I scored a room in the city center for €61.60 (2 nights). I stayed at a hippy-centric hostel called Euphoria. The location was close to Freedom Square and better yet, close to the port so I decided to walk there in the rain. I was greeted by the hosts in Euphoria and they escorted me to my room. I shared a room with one male from Belgium and 2 females from Russia.
What to Do:
Tallinn is a fantastic place to do a self guided tour. Everything is in walking distance in old town. It felt like walking through the medieval times due to their brick buildings and red roof tops.
I wanted to admire the sunrise at the Kohtu Platform so my tour started before the 9am sunrise. I arrived at the Platform around 8:50am and it was just me and the view. Shortly, the platform was filled with tour groups and eager travelers. The view was spectacular.
From the view, I made my way through the different churches and cathedral. Below is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox Church named after a Russian hero who defeated the Teutonic Knights in the thirteenth century.After viewing a few cathedrals, I headed back towards old town where I stumbled upon the Jardines del Rey Danes (Danish King’s Garden) by accident. Legend has it that the monks would come here to pray during the war. The monks saw the Danish flag fall from the sky, helping the Danes win the war.
I find the iron monks to look quite eerie. It felt like the graveyard scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Out of all the attractions in Tallinn, this was the most fascinating sight.
After the Danish King’s Garden, I visited Börsi Kirik, a street that lists important date and events in Estonia History on the sidewalk. As I was trying to find the Old Town Hall Tower, I came across the City Wall. It costs €3 to climb a small portion of the City Wall. You can see the view of the town below. I never made it to the Old Town Hall Tower. The lines were long. The City Hall had no line and wasn’t crowded. Tallinn has some interesting streets including Katariina Kirik and the Master Courtyard. They are small but charming.
I was in Tallinn during the New Year celebration. Their Christmas Market was still going strong. They had nightly performances, different food and shop vendors, and plenty of hot wine. The markets were located in the shopping center by Viru Tower.
Where to Eat:
I highly recommend Rataskaevu 16. My experience was so superb that I will dedicate an entire blog to it. It’s named after the location of the restaurant. Reservation is MANDATORY.
Spice | Mündi 4, 10123 Tallinn, Estonia
Spice is a family-owned Indian and Thai Restaurant. There was only 1 server and a cook when I had lunch there. The restaurant got so busy that the server started quoting 1 hour food wait. I waited 20 minutes for my check than decided to stand at the counter til the server could give me my bill. They do not take bills larger than €20.
The food was just mediocre. I ordered the green curry but it was too creamy for my liking.
Quick and Cheap Food Options:
Trying local fast food is always a must for me. It’s cheap and easy to devour on the go. I stumbled into Hesburger when I saw a local carrying out the brown bag from the shop. Hesburger is the largest fast food chain in Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. I ordered a basic hamburger and fries. Total was just under €3. The hamburger joint is comparable to McDonald’s. Nothing too special but budget friendly.
Kohvik Dannebrog Cafe is a very expensive cafe located in the Danish King’s Garden. I spent €14 for Vana Tallinn Hot Chocolate. I felt robbed but at least the ambiance was on point. It place felt like I was lost in the Medieval Times. It was a neat experience and I had a place to charge my devices.
Pôrgu | Rüütli 4, 10130 Tallinn, Estonia
Porgu is such a fantastic place. The bar is small and always packed. There is a great selection of bottled beers and various spirits. They also serve food.
I went to the Patcave for the New Year. The drinks were pretty cheap. There was a DJ and a small dance floor. Very low-key place. Free champagne at midnight on New Years Day.
I enjoyed Tallinn. It was perhaps my favorite city that I had visited in the Baltic Sea.
→Next Stop: A Day in Riga, Latvia