Helsinki to Tallinn – How-To Guide

EDITED: May 2018. Many travellers who are visiting Helsinki want to make a trip to Tallinn, Estonia as well. I highly recommend you do. Just to make your life easier, I will walk you through the different choices of shuttles and give you my recommendations on the ferries.

Planning your trip

The first thing you must think about is if you will want to go to Tallinn for just a day trip or perhaps stay one or two nights. If you are pressed for time, then a day trip is your best option. Otherwise, I suggest you take the time to stay at least one night, as then you will be able to see more than just the Old Town.

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If you are going to stay the night, then you might want to look at what kind of ferry+hotel packages the ferry companies offer. But if you are going to be staying in a hostel, you can easily buy the roundtrip tickets directly from the ferry company and then book your hostel separately.

Second, you must choose which ferry to take across. I cannot think of any reason why you should fly to Tallinn, as the ferry connections are so numerous, fast and easy.

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There are four different companies that make the commute across the Baltic Sea. These are Tallink Silja Line, Viking Line and Eckerö Line. It is extremely easy to book the trip directly from their webpages.

There even used to be a helicopter that flew you across but not anymore. Linda Line’s services have also ended. None of these ferries are your luxury cruise liners but if you want to travel in style, they all offer comfort or business class for an extra charge.

Third – you will need to take your passport!

Shuttle options

Tallink Silja Line 

Out of all the different shuttles, I prefer to always use Tallink. My friends are at their wits end with my obsession to use this particular ferry, as I really do not have eyes for other companies. The simple reason is that they have the best timetables with many variations and only a two hour trip which means more time in Tallinn.

Now when choosing Tallink, be careful about which ferry you take. The one you want to maximise your time at the destination is Star or the Megastar. You do not want to be looking at the Silja Europa.

For Star and Megastar, I recommend you take the ferry that leaves 7.30 or 10.30. Thus, you will be in Tallinn at 9.30 or 12.30 respectively. Please note that the departure times vary according to if it’s winter or summer, so do check the webpage for the correct times. You have to be at the terminal both ways latest 30 minutes before departure. I suggest you are there at least 45 minutes before the ferry takes off, so you don’t have to rush as the queues tend to be long during peak holiday times and weekends.

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Booking a cabin may be a good idea if you are taking the 7.30 ferry and you want to sleep. But a cabin is not necessary as you can rent lockers for your things or take your coats and bags to the cloakroom for a small price.

If you don’t need sleep and are leaving on the morning ferry (both 7.30 or 10.30) I suggest you reserve the buffet breakfast for yourself and your travel companions. This way you get a place to sit down, drink your coffee and have something to eat. Unfortunately many other passengers have noticed the convenience of this so it’s often fully booked.

There is also a buffet dinner available when you come back but it’s more expensive and most likely you have already eaten a lot in Tallinn so you might not need so much food when coming back.

If you have not booked the breakfast, then what you need to do when you get on board is rush to get a place to sit. In a café or bar. Let me stress that you need to do this the minute you get on board because you will need your energy for Tallinn and will be happy for a place to relax before or after that. The tables will be filled very quickly, so consider yourself warned! There are different cafés, restaurants and bars to choose from. Even Burger King can be found onboard.

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Tallink has both Business and Comfort Class if you would like to avoid the rush of looking for a place to sit. We once paid the 20 euros/per person to gain access to their lounge as the ferry was so full that we could not find a place for ourselves. What was a bit of a surprise was that the Comfort Class did not have it’s own restroom and you had to exit the premises to use the restroom outside. The lounge was very nice and peaceful though compared to the craziness going on outside as it was a very busy Saturday evening. The price includes some small snacks and drinks. I would love to try Tallink’s business class as I’ve heard good things about it but you would have to pay a hefty 65 euros extra for travelling business.

In addition to eating and drinking, you can shop on board. There is a large tax free shop, a perfume shop and a shop for other knick knacks.

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When coming back, I prefer to take the 19.30 ferry which will bring you to Helsinki at 21.30. This way you will have many hours to explore in Tallinn. This ferry does not go everyday in winter, so again, check the webpage. In summer one feels so much more energetic because of all the light, and then I don’t mind even taking the 21.30 ferry back. There are even earlier ferries if these seem too late for you.

Tallink’s Star and Megastar leave (and arrive) from the new terminal Länsiterminaali T2, i.e. West Harbour (Tyynenmerenkatu 14). Don’t confuse it with the old terminal, Länsiterminaali 1. When you reach the terminal, proceed to check-in (if you have not checked in online). If you have reserved a roundtrip, you will get all the tickets at the check-in, also for your hotel if you have a hotel package. You will want to take tram number 6T or 7 to get there.

The Tallink ferry will arrive and depart from Tallinn at D-terminal (Lootsi 13). It’s easy to walk from there to the Old Town but if you are in a hurry or staying in a hotel, you might want to take a taxi. I only take a taxi if going straight for lunch at the trendy Kalamaja neighbourhood.

I have used Tallink so many times that I cannot even count them anymore. I have not once experienced delays and it’s a good choice to avoid the party crowd. Tallink is my number one choice for sure.

Eckerö Line

The Eckerö ferry m/s Finlandia takes 2 hours 15/30 minutes to cross. The morning ferry leaves at 9.00 and is in Tallinn at 11.15. You will depart Tallinn at 18.30 and be in Helsinki at 21.00. So Eckerö gives you almost seven hours in Tallinn. Yes! However, the sailing time is 15 to 30 minutes longer than with Tallink.

You can order buffet breakfast beforehand – note that there are two seatings, of which the first sitting starts at 8.30 and the next at 9.45. The price is 14 euros/adult. A dinner buffet can also be ordered for when you are returning.

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There are a number of restaurants, bars and shops you can enjoy while waiting for your ship to reach its destination. Cabins can also be booked in advance or you can upgrade yourself to the Lounge for 44€.

Eckerö departs (and arrives) from Helsinki’s Länsiterminaali T2 (West Harbour). This is the old terminal. See map and tram connection from that section.

In Tallinn Eckerö will arrive and depart at A-terminal (Sadama 25). That is the same terminal as for Viking Line. You can walk to the Old Town from there.

Eckerö would be my second choice of a shuttle and now with their new 9.00 am departure from Helsinki, it could very well be a great alternative to Tallink.

Viking Line

Viking Line again takes 2 hours 30 minutes to go across. You will want to use the Viking XPRS that leaves Helsinki at 10.30 (arriving at 13.15 in the summer season). To come back you will then take the 18.00 ferry from Tallinn which will arrive in Helsinki at 20.30. The other times the ferry goes are not convenient for short trips to Tallinn. Please note that the timetables vary quite a bit if it is summer season or a Sunday so make sure you check the exact times on Viking’s webpage!

As you can see, even this will only leave you around four hours ashore (as you will have to be at the terminal latest 17.30), so if using Viking, it could be a good idea to stay the night. Personally I think four hours is not enough – it is only sufficient when I am going speed shopping in the city and know exactly where I will go and what I am going to buy.

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Like Tallink and Eckerö, you can book a cabin if you like. There are many restaurants to choose from and also a buffet brunch is available. The buffet costs around 18 euros and includes all drinks, even alcoholic ones. There are two settings during peak travel times, so make sure you check which one you have reserved and don’t think you can sit there for the whole duration of the trip. One of my friends loves the buffet and always hopes we take Viking on our girly trip to Tallinn. Unfortunately because the time ashore is so short, we seldom do.

You can do lots of shopping on board, anything from fashion, sweets to wines.

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The Viking XPRS departs (and arrives) from Helsinki from the Viking Line Terminal at Katajanokka (Mastokatu 1). You will take the tram number 4 or 5 to get there.

In Tallinn you will arrive and depart from Terminal A (Sadama 25) like Eckerö. As you will only have around three hours, it may be a good idea to take a taxi to where you want to start your exploring.

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Helsinki tram connections to terminals

For all tram/bus/metro/train connections in Helsinki – use the journey planner here. It is absolutely the easiest way for you to find out how to get from your hotel/hostel to the ferry terminal.

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Have you tried any of these ferries? What were your experiences?

I wish you a very enjoyable trip to Tallinn!

xx

54 thoughts on “Helsinki to Tallinn – How-To Guide

  1. Hi Suvi,

    Thank you for the informative article. We are staying in Helsinki in a couple of weeks near the Tehtaanpuisto city park, and will be taking the Tallink Silija Mega Star from West Harbour Terminal 2. Do you think it is practical to walk to the ferry station from this neighborhood?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello and thank you for reading! Helsinki is a very walkable city, so it’s quite convenient to walk almost anywhere! So if you like walking and the weather is good, then I do recommend you do as it can take just as long with the public transport. Do reserve enough time though 😎

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  2. Thank you for the very nice and informative article. My husband and I will be visiting Helsinki in a couple of weeks and then taking the Tallink Silija Mega Star ferry to Tallinn. In Helsinki we are staying near the Tehtaanpuisto city park. Do you think walking to the ferry station is practical?

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  3. Nice guide!

    I’m staying in Helsinki for 3 nights in July and was thinking of doing a day trip to Tallinn on one of the days.
    Can I book the ferry ticket the day before? Will this be more expensive/could be unavailable?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Snoopy! You can always try but July is the peak season so prices will be high and you might only have the choice of Linda Line which I don’t recommend. So I would book beforehand if I were you! Happy travels, Suvi

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      1. Thanks for your reply 🙂 I’m thinking of booking the Tallink arriving at Tallinn at 12:30 and leaving at 19:30. So this would probably be about 6hrs of visiting around. Would this be enough time for a day trip there?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It depends how much you want to do – that should give you enough time for a lunch, strolling around the Old Town, Toompea hill, coffee and some quick shopping. 😊

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  4. Last June I took Viking back and forth to Tallinn. I only recalled the ferry outbound (to Tallinn) was simple with ferry seats, but return I enjoyed even concert songs and dances in the dining hall. I did not find Viking using different cruise boats, so how do I differentiate when buying a ticket this April? Thanks for your very informative writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anthony! Thanks for your encouraging comment 🙂 I think you have been on two different Viking ferries. Viking XPRS was probably the simple one and the other one was Mariella or Gabriella. Have a look at their timetables where you can see which ferry they use for each departure: https://www.sales.vikingline.com/find-cruise-trip/timetables-connections/timetables/helsinki-tallinn/ It does seem that only Viking XPRS ferries across in April, the two others only in the summer season. Hope this helps 🙂 Enjoy your trip to Tallinn!

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  5. Hey there. Thank you for the wonderful and informative share. I wanna ask you about the tallink 22hrs cruise and the day cruise for the viking line. Have you ever tried it and which one is worth it? We will stay onboard for both and tallink let you roam around in Tallin just for 4hrs starting from what 0600hrs the very next day?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Reezal! Thanks for reading. If you are interested in seeing Tallinn, I don’t recommend the 22hrs cruise at all, it’s more of a party boat. The Viking Line day cruise is ok but there’s not much time in Tallinn, so you have to speed through. Happy New Year! Suvi

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  6. Thank you for sharing! I was wondering if you could comment on how rough the seas are. I suffer from motion sickness and am debating if the water gets rough enough that it would flair up. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lauren! Unfortunately this totally depends on the day. Sometimes you don’t even feel that you are on a boat and other times it can be quite rough. I guess you could take a motion sickness pill beforehand if you know that the weather will be windy. The bigger the boat, the less you will feel the waves! I hope this helped. xx

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    1. That’s great to hear! There is now a new ship on Tallink called Megastar, it doesn’t affect timetables and so on but just so you know this is the newest and nicest of the cruiseliners at the moment 😊

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  7. Thank you for such an informative post Suvi, I came across your guide upon searching the different cruise lines to Tallinn and this is extremely helpful. You’ve mentioned the buzy Saturday evening crowd on the Tallink cruise when returning to Helsinki, is this the usual situation on a Sat evening? I plan to take the trip by end of March and is wondering if I will run into a big crowd on my return trip. Not sure if it will be any less buzy in the winter/early spring season. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there! I’m glad I could be of help. Saturday evenings and especially Sunday evenings tend to be quite busy. BUT no worries. Just go to the harbour in good time and try to be in the crowd that boards first. That way you will secure a seat from the café and you will be comfortable even if everyone has decided to leave Tallinn at the same time as you 😛 The crowds only get annoying if you can’t find anywhere to sit. Have a great trip!

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  8. I am thinking of travelling to Tallinn from Helsinki in January 2017. Could you please advise on which ferry line would still operate given that it will be in the middle of winter
    Kind Regards,
    Mrs T

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vicki! All will operate except Linda Line! For the possibility of spending the most time in Tallinn, your best option is Tallink 😀 Wishing you a great visit!

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  9. Thanks for all this great information on travel between Helsinki and Tallinn. We visited both places on a cruise last summer but way too briefly! I saw many Tallink and Viking ferries going to and fro as well as to other nearby countries. I would very much like to return to see these places with more time, on our own. Especially Helsinki which we saw so little of! I will keep this info about ferries in mind, since I would much rather travel this way than fly. Also your tips on restaurants was wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wish I would have come across this post before embarking on the journey! It’s kind of difficult to find the details online and this summarizes everything quite nicely…

    Lastly, if anyone gets a chance to visit either Tallinn or Helsinki, don’t hesitate.. awesome cities!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Talliin is such a beatiful fairytale city and I would absolutely love to see again – this time in summer, however I only have two days in Helsinki and not having been there before, I think there is much in Helsinki and surrounds for me to see. If only I had more time!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe, yes it’s quite cold in this part of the world. But on the day I took those photos, there was a world of difference between these two cities. Helsinki 11 Fahrenheit and Tallinn 30 Fahrenheit. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Woou! That’s so cool! I had no idea it was that easy to go to Tallin from Helsinki. I actually have friends in Tallin, so it’s good to know that I’ll be able to do both on my future trip to Finland.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We always visit Tallinn for a day each summer when we are in Finland. We used to use Linda Line but two years ago it was very windy and when we arrived in Tallinn we were told that services had been suspended for the rest of the day and we would not be able to return on Linda Line. They offered a refund but we had to organise our own return with Eckero Line which was annoying, so we booked again with Eckero last summer, spending a whole day in Tallinn and stocking up on nice things to drink for the remainder of our holiday. Over the years we have eaten in various restaurants in Tallinn, where might you recommend? It would be interesting to hear! xx

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi bonni! Sorry for the late reply. I haven’t been to Kalamaja that much recently, but how about Kivi, paber, käärid? There’s a few fun restaurants in the nearby market hall, Balti Jaam Turg! Have a great visit 😋

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