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Voyage to Tallinn, Estonia - a Mini Tailor-Made Adventure

Updated: Nov 3, 2023


Author: Barry Pickard

**Disclosure: I was a guest of Viking Line and Visit Tallinn for this day trip. Regardless of this, please be advised that all opinions expressed in this blog post are genuine and authentically my own.**


Embark on a fantastic adventure with me to Tallinn, Estonia, as I share my experiences of this beautiful city and on my journey via the Viking XPRS ferry. Join me as I delve into Tallinn's rich history and culture, visiting iconic landmarks and immersing myself in its local traditions. Discover the convenience and comfort of traveling between Helsinki and Tallinn in just 2 hours with this high-speed service.


Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting Tallinn appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the attractions of Tallinn, or indeed, a general tour of Estonia.



Viking Line


Traveling from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia is an experience that I would recommend. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do this in partnership with the Viking Line transportation company, a Finnish company that has been providing passenger and cargo services for over 50 years. With a fleet of 8 ships, they offer a comfortable, convenient, and affordable way to travel between the Finnish Archipelago and the Baltic Sea region.


 Viking XPRS ferry
Viking XPRS ferry

Viking XPRS


The ferry I took was the Viking XPRS, which operates a high-speed daily service between Helsinki and Tallinn. With a capacity of 2,500 passengers and 240 cars, the Viking XPRS is the fastest and largest ferry in the Baltic Sea. It boasts a travel time of only 2 hours, making it an excellent choice for those who want to make the most of their time in Tallinn. I was also impressed with the ships restaurants and facilities, and enjoyed an excellent brunch buffet during the cruise. I was even given the use of one of the many private cabins in which to relax before my exploration of Tallinn.



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The Rotermanni Area


Upon arrival in Tallinn, I was greeted by Stanislav Lomunov, of Visit Tallinn, the official tourism board of the city. Stan led me on a fascinating 2.5 hour guided walking tour of the city, which was a great opportunity to explore the city’s rich history and culture. The tour started in the Rotermanni area, which is a modern shopping and business district in the heart of Tallinn. This area is named after the Rotermann Salt Storage, which was built in the 19th century and is now home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and museums.



Hotel Viru


Looming over the southside of the Rotermanni area is the Hotel Viru. This is a 23-story high-rise hotel built during the Soviet era. At first glance, it is a fairly unremarkable looking building, but it has a dark history that really piques the curiosity of many visitors to Tallinn. The hotel is infamous for being used as a KGB surveillance hub during the Soviet occupation of Estonia. You can now visit this hub, on a floor which did not officially exist, and check out the interesting exhibition on those more troubling times. Today, the hotel is a luxury hotel and one of Tallinn's most recognizable landmarks and is now equally well known for its bar on the 22nd floor, which offers breath-taking views of Tallinn.


Hotel Viru, Tallinn
Hotel Viru, Tallinn

Old Town


The tour then took me into the Old Town area of Tallinn, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This area is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and cobblestone streets. During the tour, I learned about the history of Tallinn and how it has evolved over the centuries. The city was founded in the 13th century and has a rich cultural heritage, with influences from the Scandinavian, German, and Russian cultures. The Old Town is a great example of this mix of cultures, with buildings that feature a mix of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles.



Viru Gate


This is the last remaining city gate from the medieval walls of Tallinn, making the Viru Gate an important symbol of the city's rich history. It was built in the 14th century and was used to control access to the city, with a drawbridge and a guard tower. Today, the gate has been beautifully restored and is a great starting point for a tour of Tallinn's old town, as it is located at the edge of the old town and new town.


Viru Gate, Tallinn
Viru Gate

St. Catherine's Passage


This is a narrow and picturesque alley that runs along the walls of the former Dominican Monastery. The passage is named after St. Catherine's Church, which is located at the end of the passage. The church was built in the 14th century and is one of Tallinn's oldest churches. The lane is lined with interesting boutique stores which focus on local artists showcasing their work. While there, I had the opportunity to inspect the colourful studio of stained-glass artist Dolores Hoffmann, which I found delightful.



St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral


This Gothic-style cathedral is one of Tallinn's most recognizable landmarks and is located in the heart of the old town. It is one of Tallinn's oldest buildings and was mentioned as far back as 1322. The cathedral has undergone several renovations over the years and is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. Visitors should visit the cathedral to see its impressive stained-glass windows and intricate carvings.


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Town Hall Pharmacy


This is the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in Europe, dating back to 1422. It still operates as a pharmacy today and is a fascinating piece of Tallinn's history. There are several displays of pharmaceutical history, showing medicinal ingredients like sun bleached dog faeces, a human hand and a hedgehog!



Tallinn Town Hall & Square


This medieval building served as the city's political center for centuries. It was built in the 14th century and is one of Tallinn's oldest buildings. Today, parts of the Tallinn Town Hall are open to the public during the summer, allowing visitors to enjoy the buildings well-preserved Gothic architecture, including the beautiful stone carvings and intricate details. The town hall is also surrounded by a plethora of stunning buildings that line the breath taking square.



Alexander Nevsky Cathedral


This is an Orthodox cathedral, built in the late 19th century. It is one of Tallinn's most recognizable landmarks and is named after the Russian prince, Alexander Nevsky. The cathedral is an example of Russian Orthodox architecture and features beautiful frescoes and intricate details. Visit the cathedral to see the impressive architecture and to learn about the city's religious history.



Kohtuotsa viewing platform


This viewpoint located on a hill in Tallinn's old town, offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside. It is a popular spot for visitors to take photos and to enjoy the views and a great location to get a sense of the city's layout.


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Bon Voyage


After this whistlestop tour, which only left me wanting to visit Tallinn again soon, it was time to board the Viking XPRS ferry, with the departure back to Helsinki at 17:30. The journey back was just as enjoyable as the journey to Tallinn. I spent my time on the ferry relaxing in the comfortable lounge area, listening to, but definitely not participating in, the highly popular Finnish past time of Karaoke!



Conclusion


Overall, my collaboration with the Viking Line transportation company and Visit Tallinn was a wonderful experience. Traveling by ferry between Helsinki and Tallinn is a great way to experience the beauty of the Baltic Sea region. With the Viking Line transportation company, you can enjoy a comfortable and affordable journey, while also taking in the sights and sounds of one of the most interesting cities in the region. Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or just someone who loves to explore new places, a trip to Tallinn is an experience you won't soon forget. So, if you're looking for a unique and unforgettable way to travel, be sure to give the Viking XPRS ferry a try. You won't regret it!


Comment below and let us know what your favourite ferry crossing was and why.



Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting Tallinn appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the attractions of Tallinn, or indeed, a general tour of Estonia.



Join me next time on my adventures when I share my favourite museums and art galleries in Helsinki, Finland. Tailor-Made Itineraries posts every two weeks, and you can subscribe to the latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.

Barry

Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travellers.

These self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.




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