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History in a Nutshell: Medieval Tallinn
Tallinn is a Baltic city well-known for its Old Town area, a compact maze of cobblestones streets, historic buildings, breathtaking vistas and UNESCO status. Tallinn is the capital and largest city of recently turned centenarian Estonia. With Estonia's 100 years being celebrated this year, Tallinn has many things to offer. Being the capital city, Tallinn serves as the major political, cultural and educational center of Estonia. Nowadays, the capital city is also a major fishing port, commercial and industrial centre of Estonia although Tallinn's main strengths are in IT, tourism and logistics.
Reval is the Former Name of Tallinn
The Estonian capital was not always called Tallinn. Before 1918, when Estonia gained independence, it was named as Reval, which is believed to be of German origin. It is special to note that Estonia was occupied by German forces from 1941 to 1944. Legend claims the origins of this former name originates from a deer hunt, when an animal fell off a cliff and perished. Reh-fall means deer fall in German language. Several historians debate about this theory and believe that this old name more likely to have derived from the old Estonian county called Revalia.
Helsinki to Tallinn by a Ferry
Tallinn is one among the favorite getaway destinations among Finnish residents, local or immigrants and also increasingly becoming popular for international tourists visiting Europe via Finland. Tallinn is located on the northern coast of Estonia, on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. It is approximately 80 kms to the south of Helsinki, which explains the easy accessibility of this Baltic beauty from the Finnish capital by boat. Travelling from Helsinki to Tallinn or from Tallinn to Helsinki by a ferry is extremely popular.
The ferry routes between Helsinki and Tallinn connects Finland and Estonia and is currently operated by three active ferry companies. Tallink Silja operates their crossing up to 8 times per day, Viking Line 2-3 times per day and Eckerö Line service is available up to 3 times per day. There is a fourth candidate also, called Linda Line, but it ceased its operation in the winter 2018. It was planning to continue operations in the summer 2018 but so far the plan has not progressed.
Our Ferry Experiences
We have visited Tallinn several times in different occasions and seasons. We have tried all of the four ferry companies. We wrote a comparison about the differences of each cruise ship company to give our readers idea which one suits them best. You can easily have a day cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn if Helsinki is your main destination. Another good option is to visit Tallinn first and then to travel from Tallinn to Helsinki because flying to Tallinn is sometimes cheaper.
Tallink Silja is an Estonian ferry company. Among these four ferry companies, Tallink Silja has the best and the most modern ships operating between Helsinki and Tallinn. Their ships are also fast and the travel time takes only 2 hours. However, one of their ships, called M/S Silja Europa, makes an exception because it travels 3 and half hours from Helsinki to Tallinn. This is the biggest ship traversing the Baltic Sea and it is mainly meant for cruise passengers who are spending their night in the ship. With its recent renovation, this cruise ship feels really modern.
The quality comes with the price and Tallink Silja is not the cheapest option. One way ticket costs usually about 30 euros when the cheapest Helsinki to Tallinn ferry price is less than 20 euros. The cheapest ticket (about 14 euros) is valid for the slowest ship. Consequently, the better and the faster ship you book, the more you need to pay. A return ticket may be really cheap if you go and come back during the same day. Otherwise, return ticket may cost up to 60 euros.
Tallink Silja makes also overnight cruises from Helsinki to Tallinn where a cabin is included. You can sleep in the ship and then visit Tallinn for a few hours before the ship leaves back to Helsinki. Surprisingly, overnight cruises are often very cheap because the company assumes you to spend on the ship. The actual price depends on the cabin class.
Tallink Silja has multiple departures, every two hours during the day so they provide a more flexible option for passengers. If you are not calculating every single penny, we recommend you to try Tallink Silja and especially their newest ship called M/S Megastar. It may be the most modern ship between Helsinki and Tallinn.
Viking Line is a Finnish cruise company which operates only one ship between Helsinki and Tallinn. The travel time is 2 and half hours so the connection is a little slower compared to Tallink Silja. The cruise ship of Viking Line is not as new as the newest ships of Tallink Silja but the ship is still really modern and in good condition.
In the summer 2018 Viking Line operated temporary also another but slower ship between Helsinki and Tallinn. Probably they will do it again next summer.
The price level of Viking Line may be slightly cheaper than Tallink Silja's prices. One way ticket costs about 20 euros. A return ticket costs about 12 euros if you come back during the same day, otherwise it will cost more than 30 euros. As with all companies, weekends and summer season are more expensive time to travel than weekdays and the winter season. Travelling with Viking Line also gives you an option to book a cabin for overnight connection.
Viking Line has a free bonus club called Club Viking which gives you great offers. If you are planning to take Viking's connection, joining the club before booking your ticket is a good choice. Downloading their mobile application allows you to connect to their free public WiFi during the cruise excursion.
Eckerö Line is also a company from Finland from Åland islands. It operates only one ship between Helsinki and Tallinn. The ship travels from Helsinki to Tallinn two to three times a day and the travel time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Eckerö Line concentrates more on the cruising atmosphere and it is popular especially among older Finns who just want to relax by having a nice day cruise to Tallinn and back.
The ship of Eckerö Line called M/S Finlandia is not the most modern but well-renovated. It is almost of the same size as the previous ferries and also able to operate even in extreme weather conditions. Generally,it is comfortable to travel with Eckerö Line too.
One way ticket to Eckerö Line costs about 19 euros and a trip back is included if you travel during the same day. Otherwise, a return ticket booked on different day costs a little more.
The fastest connection between Helsinki and Tallinn was offered by Linda Line. The travel time was just 1h and 30 minutes. The ship operated only during summers and but no-one knows if it continues it operations in the summer 2019. Unlike the above ferry companies, Linda Line is not safe to operate during winter season because of its small size.
The speed comes with drawbacks. The ships are small and crowded. Usually they can't operate with high winds and waves. All other companies can operate in almost any weather even in the winter. Linda Line is more unstable during windy times making people suffer easier from seasickness compared to the bigger ferries.
If you are just finding a fast way to cross Baltic Sea and you do not want to enjoy the cruise feeling, Linda Line may be your choice. It is usually a little cheaper than the other companies and it operates many departures per day. Be prepared that your journey may be cancelled if high winds occurs. Unfortunately, that is not uncommon in the Baltic Sea.
Helsinki to Tallinn Ferries Comparison
|Company||Ferries||Travel Time||Reliability||Price level|
3 fast ships,
1 big but slower ship
|2h or 3h 30mins||Very reliable||Usually more expensive than competitors|
|Viking Line||Modern, only 1 ship||2h 30mins||Very reliable||Often cheap offers|
|Eckerö Line||Older but well renovated ship||2h 15mins||Very reliable||Cheaper normal rate|
|Linda Line||Small basic ships||1h 30mins||Cancellations in the bad weather||Often cheap, currently not operating|
Where to Book?
There are some third party travel agencies which sell really cheap cruise tickets. Unfortunately their websites are often in Finnish language and fetching the tickets may be a little complicated.
The easiest way to book the ferry tickets from Helsinki to Tallinn, is to visit companies' own web pages. All of the companies have often sale campaigns going on but that is rarely told clearly on web pages. It is good to start following prices early to understand what is a good rate.
Are you planning to visit Tallinn but not sure what to do there? Check our article about things to do in Tallinn.
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