When I planned my four days in Tallinn, I took the close proximity of Finland into consideration because going to a new country while visiting another one sounded like a fun idea!
Helsinki is the capital of Finland and it is two hours away from Tallinn, Estonia by the sea. So, I ended up going on a day trip from Tallinn to Helsinki using the Megastar day cruise run by Tallink Silja, who were kind to offer me a 50% off for my ticket! It was actually my first time ever on a cruise and it was really comfortable and organised inside.
How to take a day trip from Tallinn to Helsinki?
(or Helsinki to Tallinn)
The trip to Helsinki started very early with waking up at 6:30 am to catch the 7:30am MegaStar cruise. The regular price for the return ticket costs €30 and can be booked online. Treat this like any boarding. You need to be there half an hour early to check in and don’t forget your ID or passport because you will be heading to a different country and they check the papers before you get on the cruise. Seats are not reserved, but there were so many choices of seating, so I would hope you get one. I went in October, so it was not the summer season.
One day was not enough to scratch the surface of Helsinki especially if you want to take it easy and enjoy it slowly, but here are the things I managed to do:
10:00am arrival to the Helsinki port. It takes 20 minutes on the tram to reach the market square, where most of the sights and the attractions are. It might be helpful to get a tram day pass if you are planning to go around, but in my case a return ticket was enough because I only did it for two journeys (from and to the port).
10:30am a little walk around the open market by the harbour. There are a few stalls that sell souvenirs and Finish food that you can get somethings from. It wasn’t busy at that time of the day on a weekday, but it seemed like a nice place to hangout if the weather is decent.
10:45am tea & pastries from Robert’s Cafe - €6
The main location around the market area seems to be the big fountain in the middle and around it there are few cafes and that’s where we found Robert’s cafe and it was really nice. I was a bit worried of spending money on tea and pastries, but 6 euros was decent. A plus is that the interior of that cafe is actually very lovely.
11:00am walking tour in Helsinki
You know that’s one of my favourite things I like to do when I visit a new place espically that I never learnt much about the history and the geography of Europe in my Saudi school education, so it’s always interesting to hear. Plus, it’s a nice way to meet other travellers and walk around with a local. The meeting point was from the fountain in between the open market square and Robert’s Coffee (pictured above). I enjoyed the tour a lot. It was such a great way to see the highlights of the city quickly and to learn a brief overview of the history and the finish culture. The tour lasted two hours and a half and included going inside the two main churches.
1:30pm lunch at the indoor market
The indoor market in Helsinki was my favourite in that day trip and it was very conveniently located near the fountain and the open market. It was also WARM, which was so needed after walking for two hours in the cold. There were so many food stalls and little souvenir shops. From all the choices, we opted for a fish soup, which was perfect for that very cold 8 degrees day and the cost was €10, but it was enough for two people.
2:00 walk around the old harbour and some of the bridges without a real plan just to see the ships and the buildings.
2:30 tea & coffee stop at one of their popular cafes and they have a nice selection for both and cinnamon rolls of course. I preferred the ones at the Robert’s cafe though. €10
3:00 walk around the surrounding neighbourhood to take a look at the architecture, which was actually really fun to look at.
3:30 headed back to the port to get the ship for the 4:30 journey back.
If I had more time in Helsinki, I would have loved to visit the close by islands, but it would have been really tight time wise and my return cruise ship was at 4:30, but if you do want to do that get the 7:30pm return. There are tours around the harbour that you can approach and book directly. If you don’t want to do a whole tour, you can book the public ferry that only goes to the major island and that is also the cheapest options and around 5 euros return. There are also more activity options on Get Your Guide below that I included in case you wanted to stay longer.