The capital of Finland, Helsinki, is just 2 hours of a boat trip away from Tallinn, an old town gem of Estonia. Many boats are cruising from Helsinki to the capital of Estonia, and over the years, visiting Tallinn became a common way for Finns to spend a day or two. Tallinn has a lot to offer - the middle-age atmosphere, medieval cafes, cheap groceries, a palace, and a beach, and all that in one place. So, when in Helsinki and considering a sea adventure to Tallinn, let me tell you how to enjoy this authentic local experience!
Three main companies are operating the boat service. Locals mostly use Eckerö for the cheapest one-way trip, Viking Line offers great sleep-on-the-boat packages, and Tallink Silja has their hotels in Tallinn, and they are selling combo tickets if you want to spend a night in the city. All of these companies offer "a day cruise" - options. There are two ports for you to know. Tallink Silja and Eckerö are using Länsisatama, the western port. The easiest way to get there is to catch a tram number 7 or 6T, and you will notice "Länsiterminaali" written on the tram's window. The second port is called the Katajanokka terminal, not far from Market Square, and it is used by Viking Line boats. Jump into tram number five to get to this harbor. Viking Line and Tallink Silja have a club-card, which offers great discounts that vary due to the date of departure. The cheapest trip I took using such a club card cost just 3 euros! So, just as a tip: if you travel with some local club card owners, the trip will cost less.
Estonia offers low prices on many things, and so many Finns travel just for shopping, which is easy to do since a trip from Helsinki to Tallinn takes only two hours. The boats are a great way to have a party or watch a concert. Most boats have a program including disco, karaoke, live music pub, and a dance show. It is so much fun that many people use boats for the party and do not even come out for a city break, relaxing, sleeping, and waiting for the ship to go back. This is a reason (besides cheap drinks) for many "party-trips" in-store. So, be aware not to accidentally buy such a ticket, if your goal is to see Tallinn, as those tickets do not include an option to get off the boat!
There are many restaurants on the boats of Viking Line and Tallink Silja, but to enjoy your dinner like a local, go to the famous buffet. There you will pay a solid price to drink and eat as much as you want. You will have enough time to taste all the dishes, countless salads, meat- and fish courses, many desserts, and top it with beverages, including house wine. If you bought your trip from Viking Line, do not miss the goat cheese dessert with figs, it is the best!
Now, when in Tallinn, you can explore as much as your time allows you. On a cruise, you will get around 4 hours to walk the town. In that case, I advise seeing the Old Town of Tallinn. There are castle walls, the Old Town Square, and many medieval-styled restaurants on your way. Do not forget to visit "Patkuli", the viewing platform with a beautiful city view on countless roofs of the old town. In the case you are spending a night in Tallinn, you will have more time to discover some hidden gems. If you are into fancy palaces and flower gardens, head to Kadriorg, it will amaze you! There is also a beach not far from that place with a long, pretty promenade near the "Rusalka" statue.
In case you enjoy the urban side of traveling, visit my favorite place in Tallinn - the Telliskivi Creative City. Telliskivi is filled with awesome street art, vintage- and handmade shops and galleries. If you are going to Telliskivi, check the "La Muu" cafe for one of the best organic ice-creams in the town. Telliskivi is settled behind the railway station, the old wooden house streets around the region are also worth a walk.
Do not hesitate to embark on the Helsinki-Tallinn sea adventure and have an authentic local experience. Take a boat trip from Helsinki, visit the famous Old Town in Tallinn, and maybe some hidden gems in the Estonian capital. Plus, you will get to enjoy everything the boat has to offer, with its activities, many bars, and restaurants.
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