At the end of July, I went back to Helsinki for a week. As part of my trip I wanted to spend a day in Tallinn because I heard so many good things about this place. Plus, I really enjoy exploring old towns, so I had to grab the opportunity and visit Estonia’s capital.
Tallinn can easily be reached from Helsinki – the ferry ride takes about 1,5-2 hours and tickets start from only 30 EUR return, so it’s really a must when visiting Helsinki. We decided to take the Tallink ferry that departs from the West Ferry Terminal. It’s quite a big ferry that also holds vehicles but it’s still only a two-hour trip. We got up early to catch the ferry at 7:30am. On the way to the departure gate we came across the ‘Bad Bad Boy’ – an oversized statue of a boy who is taking a pee. His face impression is hilarious and a true eye-catcher. Apparently, he used to be at the busy market square, but got moved to this more secluded place this year… I wonder why?!
The check-in at the departure hall was very easy – we just had to show our passports and shortly after boarded the ferry. It was an extremely beautiful morning, so we went to the top deck to enjoy the views. Helsinki got smaller and smaller and soon only the ocean was surrounding us. While I got comfy in one of the deck chairs, many fellow travellers where already sipping on their second morning beer. Alcohol is very expensive in Finland, so many Finns travel to Estonia to stock up on their alcohol supply as it’s a lot cheaper over there 😉
Two hours later, we arrived at the ferry terminal in Tallinn. The Old Town is a 10 minute walk away and that’s where we started our adventure…
Exploring Tallinn’s Old Town
I love exploring old towns as I enjoy walking along cobblestoned streets and alleys, admiring historic buildings, climbing the walls, getting lost and I was excited to do all this in Tallinn again. When we entered the old town it was still very quiet and peaceful – we walked passed a very arty cafe & restaurant, cute buildings and churches and ended up on top of the city walls where we got some beautiful views over the city. However, only parts of the walls are accessible unlike in Dubrovnik where you can walk around the whole old town.
After strolling through the streets and alleys of the lower part of old town, we eventually got to the town square. Also known as Raekoja Plats, this is the busier part of the old town with the town hall and lots of restaurants, bars and shops. As it was already midday, we decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants at the square.
After our lunch break, we headed to the upper part of the old town, also known as Toompea Hill with its castle, Russian church and viewing platforms.
First stop was Kiek in de Kök – a 38m-high cannon tower originally built in the 1470’s. Funny fact: The tower’s name means “Peek into the Kitchen”. It got that name from medieval guards who joked that the tower was that high they could see right into people’s kitchen of the houses below. Inside the tower is an extensive museum about the medieval-era life. If your interested in walls, towers, cannons and that sort of thing this is the place to go. While in the museum, you can also go to the top floor cafe where you can get some beautiful views.
Another must is the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which is located on the hill of Toompea, opposite the Estonian parliament buildings and Toompea Castle.
Not to be missed are also the viewing points. The Kohtu and Patkuli viewing platforms are on the edge of Toompea Hill from where you get great views across the red-tiled roofs, church spires and towers of the lower old town. Especially Kohtu platform gives you a beautiful view over the old and new Tallinn as well as the sea and church towers. When we got there, it was busy but eventually we go into the front row and could enjoy the views and snap away.
As the weather was really nice, it was great just to wander around the alleys and to admire the beautiful buildings and churches.
At the end of the day we came across this funny dude…
Overall, we had a great day and I truly enjoyed wandering around the old town. We’ve only stayed for the day which was enough to see the old town and some of the surrounding attractions, but if you’re planning to see the Botanic Garden and visit museums, it’s worth considering to stay for an additional night.