Helsinki – Tallinn: the perfect day trip

Helsinki – Tallinn: the perfect day trip

Tallinn and Helsinki are only 90 Kilometers of cold sea water of the Finish Gulf apart. The ferry connection between those two cities is one of the most used international routes. And since 2011 when Tallinn was together with Turku the Cultural capital of Europe the city is trendy. Tallinn is hip, colorful, friendly and quite beautiful. So if you are in Helsinki you should definitely do a day trip to the Capital of Estonia.

We didn’t want to miss this opportunity so we used one of our grey days during our stay in Helsinki to pay Tallinn a visit. Luckily Tallinn showed us its amazing side during 5 minutes of sunshine and turned me into a little Estonia supporter.

That’s how we enjoyed our day in Tallinn:

7:00 – Get up early

Frequent ferry connections are offered by the Viking and the Tallink Silja Line. There are also additional fast boat connections during summer. We decided to use the Tallink Silja ferry, which has seven connections every day. So you are quite flexible for the inward and return trip. The price for the regular ticket (Star Class) is 31 Euro (You can find the actual prices here:

The Tallink Silja ships serve two ports in Helsinki – the South harbor with the Olympiaterminal for ships from/to Stockholm and the West harbor/Länsisatama for the Tallinn ferry connection. We informed ourselves the day before, so we knew we had to go to the East harbor.

As we wanted to reach the first ferry boat at 7:30 and you should be at the harbor about 30 minutes before the ship leaves, we wake up at around 6 o’clock. It is still dark and we use the tramway Nr.9 (Itä-Pasila – main station – Kamppi – West terminal) to get directly to the West harbor where we do the self-check-in, which worked perfectly.

We look for a quiet place on the ship and use the two hour passage, to decide want we like to see in Tallinn. We skip breakfast as I didn’t feel the urge to eat sausages and French fries (anyway to food is not included in the ticket price).

Shortly before we arrive in Tallinn we go on deck of the boat to take some pictures, unfortunately the wind is too strong and we leave quite soon. So due to the weather we had to skip our idea “sunrise on high sea”. Good to know is that the ships also run if the Finish Gulf is frozen.

Helsinki-Tallink Silja-1 Helsinki-Tallink Silja-2

10:00 – Sweet treat

In Tallinn we immediately walk to the first café because we skipped breakfast on the ferry. From the ferry terminal to the first sweet stop in the Maiasmokk Café | Pikk tn 16 it is about 1.7 kilometer. This is a good distance and way to get a first impression and overview over the city center.

The Maiasmokk – in English Gourmet (The name says it all) – is the oldest Café in Tallinn. The interior reminds of old times and the cake is just amazing. Also you get free Wi-Fi here.

tallinn-6 Tallinn-Altstadt-2 Tallinn-Maiasmokk

12:00 – Colorful hustle

Strengthened we linger through the narrow alleys of the city center. Around the town hall square with its distinctive town hall tower, surrounded by neat merchant houses, a lot is happening. The Christmas market which belongs to the most beautiful in Europe is in full swing.

tallinn-23 Tallinn-Altstadt-3 Tallinn-Weihnachtsmark-2

Just behind the town hall tower is the Restaurant Olde Hansa located. As I read somewhere that the food there is delicious, I wanted to check it out. However, immediately after I sit down, I regret my decision. The Olde Hansa is a typical tourist restaurant where the food is served in a medieval surrounding. It is nice, the food is okay, but it is also overpriced and I don’t really like theme restaurants (I guess I missed this part, when I read about the restaurant).


Just after we continue our stroll through Tallinn after the stop in the Olde Hansa restaurant I discover right next to the town hall square a small burger place. I think about getting a second lunch, but I decide to check it out during my next Tallinn visit.


14:00 – Old town with a view

The beautiful old town is the topic of our afternoon. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 because of its preserved medieval structure. You can still feel the medieval charm in the old town. The narrow cobblestone alleys lead around neat, colorful building which structure partly goes back in the 11th Century.

We stop at the Suur-Kloostri gate. Here we pay the old town fortification a visit (2 Euro). The stairs lead up to three towers which can be reached over the city wall are narrow, dark and even adventurous. But the courageous are rewarded with a pretty view.

tallinn-15 tallinn-20 Tallinn-Wachturm-Innen tallinn-Aussicht

Afterwards we climb up the stairs to the Domberg which is just above the old town. Many sights of the city can be found on the Domberg. The Kohtuotsa viewing platform with its great look over the city, the castle, the Tallinn Dom and my personal highlight – Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – shouldn’t be missed.

tallinn-Domkirche tallinn-28 tallinn-26 Alexander-Newski-Kathedrale-2

16:00 – Aperitif of a different kind

Over a steep street we return from the upper town – the Domberg – back in the picturesque alleys of the lower town. Just next to the St. Catherine’s Passage with its numerous workshops the Pierre Chocolaterie | Vene 6 can be found. Creativity and tradition are in the right balance in this area. The cozy decorated Chocolatier confirms this and the chocolate cake is amazing!

Tallinn-Altstadt Tallinn-ChocolatedePierre

In between chocolate aperitif and dinner we make a Blue-Hour-picture walk, which leads us back to the Domberg and the lighten town hall square.


20:00 – Hipster Place

The Sfäär is a clothing/design store and also a restaurant which is located outside of the old town in direction of the harbor area (Mere pst 6). The price for a main course is between 10 and 20 Euro. Soups and other appetizer are from 5 Euro upwards. Here everything works. The food is incredibly good, the sound fits, young people and on the toilet even the biggest sleepy heads will get in a party mood (there the music just goes boom ;-)). In my opinion it is a great choice for dinner.


21:00 – Swinging back

Even with a lot of coffee and chocolate breaks the day in Tallinn made us tired. It was a good decision to use the latest connection at 21 o’clock (Arrives in Helsinki at 23 0’clock) so we could enjoy a full day in Tallinn including the great dinner. But I was glad to have tickets for the Comfort Class for our way back. The Comfort Class is a separate area with some extras like free drinks, snacks, power outlets, Wi-Fi and comfortable sofas. The tickets cost around 20 Euro more than for the Star Class (51 Euro). We are so tired that we fall asleep with the swinging of the ship and the time until we arrive in Helsinki passes really fast.

Helsinki-Tallink Silja-3

Note: My daytrip to Tallinn was supported by Tallink Silja Line – Thanks a lot. All views are my own.


Anita Brechbühl

Anita Brechbühl

Hallo ich bin Anita, leidenschaftliche Weltenbummlerin und Hobby-Fotografin. Ich liebe es, neue Flecken auf unserer wunderbaren Welt zu entdecken. Dabei gilt, das Abenteuer beginnt direkt vor der Haustür! So bin ich nicht nur in exotischen Ländern sondern auch oft in der Schweiz unterwegs.


  • I love visiting Tallinn when I'm in Helsinki, last time I was there was in January. On a earlier visit we ate in Sfäär also, I loved it and it was surprisingly kid friendly too! Oh and good luck tomorrow, very excited about you guys bringing Instagram Travel Thursday to the German speaking blogging world!!! <3

  • Melanie Melanie April 25, at 21:52

    Wow, I love your pictures Anita! This trip sounds like it was very interesting. I probably took more time than I should to read/watch about the chocolate and the chocolate cake haha! Looks delish ;) My husband and I used to travel more than we are now, and Europe was on our radar. We now live in California and have a local busy life. We are surrounded by great places to visit, but I can't wait to discover more culture on the other side of the ocean.

    • Anita Brechbühl Anita Brechbühl April 25, at 23:05

      Dear Melanie thanks so much for your kind words - I just saw the pics on your blog, too and they are amazing!!!! Let me know when you come to Switzerland :)


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