As much as I’d like to be posting my full Helsinki Travel Guide right now, I’m still working through tons of photos and recommendations (I took a LOT of photos ?). BUT to hold you over, I thought I’d show you our day trip to Tallinn, Estonia!
We were already so psyched to be in Finland, but the fact that we could also explore a piece of another country was such a bonus. We traveled in the Business Lounge of the Tallink Shuttle Star on the way there and the Megastar on the way back. It was a super comfortable way to travel – and it only took 2 hours!
I’m so glad we were able to do this because Tallinn is a completely different experience from Helsinki. It’s almost like walking into a different world! The cobblestone streets, the old historic gingerbread buildings, the ornate churches, the town square. Everything about this little city is charming, and I feel so grateful we got to see it!
Even though we were only there for a day trip, we felt really good about how much ground we covered. Obviously we could have done more if we stayed longer, but if you are planning a European/Scandinavian adventure, don’t discount this city if you only have a day to spare! That’s really all you need – and it’s totally worth it!
What to do in Tallinn, Estonia
Walk around Old Town Tallinn.
I’ll start with this vague one, only because wandering around was my favorite part of the day! There are so many cute little nooks and hidden streets to discover. Even if you ignore everything else on this list, you’ll run into most of these places on your own. Moral of the story: don’t stress about an itinerary too much!
Go to the Town Square.
Honestly, you can’t really miss the Town Square – but I’d recommend going first thing in the morning. It got very crowded throughout the day, yet it was quiet and peaceful when we first arrived. There are so many narrow streets, that the expansiveness of the square is a really cool juxtaposition to the rest of the city. So pretty!
Climb the Town Hall Tower.
While you’re in the Town Square, walk up the 115 steps in the Town Hall Tower! They are steep and your booty will burn (haha it’s true!), but the view from the top is pretty amazing. The tower is very small though, so if you are claustrophobic or afraid of heights, maybe avoid this one.
Go to the Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform.
If climbing over 100 steep stairs isn’t your thing, the Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform is for YOU! I’m not going to lie, I was pretty devastated that someone painted over “The Times We Had” written on the wall, but the view was worth it regardless.
Snack on the cinnamon ginger almonds.
Trust me. They taste as good as they smell.
Swoon over the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
We saw our share of gorgeous cathedrals in Helsinki, but the Russian details on this one made it a must see. It was built in 1900 when Estonia was a part of the Russian empire as a symbol of the empire’s dominance. Wild!
Explore the Maiden Tower Museum.
Adam is a huge history buff, so he had a one track mind for this museum when we got there. This 14th century tower is obviously extremely historic, but it also has amazing views of Tallinn and the Danish King’s Garden. Plus, you get to walk along the battlements on the sides of the building, which pretty cool.
Eat at The Nautilus.
After walking around all morning, we decided to go back to to the Town Square to get some lunch. A pushy restaurant employee convinced us to sit on one of the patios and we quickly realized it was the wrong choice. There were a lot of bees around, the menu wasn’t really what we wanted (bear was an option!), and it was SO expensive. To give you an idea, it cost over 10 euros for one iced tea and one coke. YIKES!
So we paid and wandered down some smaller streets away from the square. We ended up finding this cute little spot called The Nautilus that was absolutely perfect. First of all, the decor is beautiful – brass details, teal accents, and an incredible bookshelf of photos and trinkets. But it really won us over when we read their menu. “It has always been a mystery to us why in Tallinn – a city which historically been considered as a major European seaport, is almost no restaurants specializing in seafood and fish dishes. Therefore, during the creation of The Nautilus, we set a goal to open a restaurant where all the residents and visitors of Tallinn will be able to regularly enjoy fresh seafood and fish.” The answer to our lunch dreams! We had delicious grilled oysters and mussels – and it felt like we won the lunch jackpot. Highly recommend!