What To Expect Taking The Helsinki-Tallinn Ferry

April 23, 2023
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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.

What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | arrival in Tallinn on the Tallink-Silja line

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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.

What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | the Helsinki West Harbor Terminal

Other adventures from this trip that you’ll love:

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Experiencing a Traditional Finnish Sauna (Löyly Sauna in Helsinki)

Watching The Northern Lights Dance From A Mobile Cabin On A Frozen Finnish Lake

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The Magic Of Dog Sledding In Finnish Lapland with Guesthouse Husky

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Packing List: What To Wear In Finland (& Estonia) In Winter

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!”

What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | aboard the Tallink-Silja line

What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | aboard the Tallink-Silja line

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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 🙂

What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | walking from the Tallinn terminal to Old Town

What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | walking from the Tallinn terminal to Old Town

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.

What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | arrival in Tallinn's Old Town

helsinki tallinn ferry,tallinn to helsinki ferry,helsinki-tallinn ferry

helsinki tallinn ferry,tallinn to helsinki ferry,helsinki-tallinn ferry

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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:

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What to Expect on the Helsinki-Tallin Ferry | If you're visiting Helsinki or Tallinn, one of the best things to do is take the Tallinn-Helsinki ferry to visit the other city. Here's what to expect with Tallink-Silja, how to do a Tallinn day trip from Helsinki or vice versa, Estonia itinerary ideas, Finland itinerary ideas. #tallinn #helsinki #ferry

Comments (11)

  • Valarie

    February 25, 2024 at 1:05 pm

    Great info. We’re getting off a cruise and then starting 6 weeks or so getting from Hensinki to Barcelona – starting in Tallin. This will be a great way to start our adventure.

    Thanks

  • James

    August 5, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Great info. I am planning on visiting the Baltics in the spring/summer of 2024 and this will definitely be on my list of things to do.

  • Teri Perlstein

    July 18, 2023 at 10:03 am

    Great post! 2 questions
    1) we are not staying close to train ..how do you recommend getting back from ferry if not taxi?
    Day we are going, Rain and possible storms next week (July 24, 2023) ..will it be rough? I get seasick
    Thank you

    1. Jessica

      July 21, 2023 at 8:06 am

      Hi Teri! I don’t think you have many options besides taxi or Uber/Lyft. I don’t remember it being a walkable area to other things. I’d try Uber/Lyft, vs. taxi, so you have a set fare that won’t change. In terms of rough seas, I honestly can’t advise as it wasn’t bad when I went and I don’t get seasick at all. It’s a very large boat so I’d guess that it’s a smoother ride regardless. I did read some blog posts that suggested that you want to take the company that I used as their boat is bigger and more stable, vs. the other two. Sorry I can’t advise there!

  • John

    May 15, 2023 at 5:05 pm

    Lots of useful information, thanks!

    If travelling on the ferry by foot with a suitcase, are there steps or can you use a lift?

    Thanks.

    1. Jessica

      May 15, 2023 at 8:09 pm

      Hi John, I think there was a lift, though I didn’t see/use one myself…however I’d be absolutely shocked if there weren’t one, for accessibility/disability reasons. Also, there’s a luggage storage area when you get on, they strongly discourage people from taking their suitcases up into the sitting areas as they would take up too much space and make it hard for people to walk around. Hope that helps!

      1. John

        May 16, 2023 at 1:03 pm

        Thank you, that’s extremely helpful.

    2. Ali

      December 22, 2023 at 4:38 am

      Hi! Do we need to pick up physical tickets for the ferry from tallinn to helsinki, even if we booked online? And how far is the ticket pick up point from departure terminal in tallinn?

      1. Jessica

        December 22, 2023 at 7:37 am

        Hi Ali! You shouldn’t need a physical ticket, you can print off the ticket voucher they send you (or theoretically just scan that on your phone), or use their app for a virtual ticket. I did both to be safe 🙂 You don’t have to go anywhere special then, just show up at the correct terminal and scan either your printed off voucher or on your phone. Have fun!

  • Jonathan Lawry

    April 26, 2023 at 4:07 pm

    To all this I would add: Get to the terminal at LEAST an hour before the ferry departure time. They pretty much want you on-board 45 minutes before sailing, and it’s difficult to get a decent seat otherwise.

    Also, on the weekends, take note of all the 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!

    Why no pictures of Tallinn’s old town square? That’s the best part.

    (my trip was November, 2022)

    1. Jessica

      April 26, 2023 at 9:33 pm

      Hi Jonathan! Great shouts…I’ve added a note on the timing and also the weekends (which I’ve heard about, but not experienced). And you’re right on not having a pic of Old Town–I just finished a post on what to do in Tallinn and so have linked that here and added a couple photos to whet the appetite!

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