One of the best things to do when visiting Helsinki is to do a day trip to Tallinn (or vice versa). You can take the Helsinki-Tallinn ferry easily, and in just two hours be in another country!
So I wanted to share a little about our trip, what to expect on this ferry voyage, and how to book this for yourself.
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How to take the Helsinki-Tallinn ferry
Since we were doing Tallinn as a day trip from Helsinki, we made sure to book the earliest ferry time out (7:30am) in order to have a full day to explore. There is an overnight sleeper ferry option as well (I think on Viking), but that didn’t seem worthwhile.
There are three different ferry companies that go from Helsinki to Tallinn—the Tallink-Silja line, Viking, and Eckero. You can compare schedules for all three online to see what works best, and then DOUBLE CHECK which ferry terminal you’ll go in and out of!
I do recommend booking directly with the appropriate ferry company. We took the Tallink-Silja both ways for €39 round trip (prices do fluctuate, so booking ahead is recommended).
There are two ferry terminals in Helsinki, in very different places. We went out of West Harbor Terminal 2, which was large and modern. I had printed out my tickets just in case, but the Tallink app worked perfectly as my boarding pass. They pretty much want you on board 45 minutes early, so I recommend arriving an hour ahead of your departure.
Other adventures from this trip that you’ll love:
The crossing takes about 2 hours each way. You will sail across the Baltic Sea, which can be beautiful (though it was dark half the trip and overcast the other half when we went, then dark the whole way back).
Since Tallinn is in the Schengen Region of Europe, you are not required to have any extra visas if traveling with an American or European passport if you’re already in the Schengen zone (which we were, in Finland). There are no security checkpoints or customs or anything like that. It’s more like boarding a train or bus.
The ferry itself was really nice and absolutely huge, with plenty of coffee and food options on board (and bars, karaoke, etc. at some times of the day). The onboard wifi works great, and it was a smooth crossing. I just sat and read my Kindle, snacked, and played on my phone.
One tip from commenter Jonathan below: “On the weekends, be aware that there will be a lot of Finns traveling with empty luggage and hand-trucks. Booze is so much cheaper in Estonia, that they load up at the liquor stores near the ferry terminal and get back on the next ferry home!”
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When you arrive in Tallinn, it’s an easy walk from the Terminal (Terminal D) to Tallinn’s Old Town. You can see what it was like below, about 15 minutes…not counting the coffee and pastry stop I insisted on 🙂
I’ll just whet your appetite…here’s a taste of the charms of Tallinn’s Old Town! You can see my full post on what to do in Tallinn here.
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Not sure what to do there, or how to make the best use of your time? You may want to consider a private or small group tour of the city, or something fun like a food tour (I’m a huge food tour fan!). Check out Viator, Get Your Guide, and TripAdvisor to compare options!
One other tip…when you get back to Helsinki on the ferry, don’t take a taxi from the queue. It took FOREVER due to traffic, and because it was metered it ended up being way more expensive than Uber.
We had barely made it out of the ferry terminal and the meter was up to €20. Literally the taxi ride cost what my round-trip ferry ticket to Tallinn cost.
You can also take ferries from Helsinki to various cities in Sweden as well (and Turku, Finland), which would be a great addition to your Helsinki itinerary.
Other quick country-hopping European adventures you’ll love:
- Slovenia is such an easy drive from northern Croatia
- A Wales day trip from the south of England
- Tiny Monaco is a must-stop on any French Riviera roadtrip
- Geneva has many day trips, including right over the border to Yvoire, France
- It would be crazy to visit the Munich area without also going over to Salzburg, Austria
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