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Photo by: Maret Põldveer-Turay

Photo by: Tallinna Sadam

Tallinn, must see cruise destination

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By Mai-Liis Mägi  •  17.07.2018

This historic harbour city has long been a popular stop for Northern European seafarers, and today is one of the top three cruise destinations on the Baltic Sea. In 2018, Tallinn expects 341 cruise ship calls and up to 565,000 cruise passengers to visit.


The reason why Tallinn is so popular is no mystery – its UNESCO-listed, medieval Old Town, free public Wi-Fi, cosy cafés, elegant gourmet restaurants and plenty of shopping opportunities continue to draw visitors. 

The city is thrilling enough to explore for days, yet also small and compact enough to give you the full Tallinn experience in a few hours. You can even reach many destinations on foot via cobblestone streets! It takes just 15 minutes to walk from the cruise pier to the Old Town, and another 15 minutes to reach the Town Hall Square at the centre of the medieval hub.
Taking an organised tour provided by your cruise ship is often the simplest option, however, in case you want to explore the city on your own, we have compiled two different itinerary suggestions for you to choose from.The reason is no mystery. Tallinn has a lot going for it – its Medieval, UNESCO listed Old Town, free WI-Fi equipped, cosy cafés, high-quality, elegant restaurants and plenty of shopping opportunities. 

Itinerary for up to four hours

This itinerary is well-suited for passengers who want to get a short introduction to Tallinn’s top attractions. To start, we suggest you take a ride with a hop-on-hop-off bus that stop right at the cruise ship terminal. After completing the one hour bus tour of Tallinn, get off at Viru Square and continue on foot. Here begins the Old Town of Tallinn. Walk on the main street, Viru, until you get to the heart of the Old Town the Town Hall Square. Besides the fact that the square is frequently a site for markets and concerts, here you will find two of Tallinn’s must-sees! The Town Hall, built in 1404, is the only Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. On the other side of the square is the Town Hall Pharmacy, Europe’s oldest continuously operating pharmacy! The square is also a perfect location for a cup of coffee and some people watching.

The second must-do, besides exploring the heart of the Old Town, is to see the beautiful views of Tallinn from on top of Toompea Hill, also known as the Upper Town. Toompea Castle has always been a seat of power, now housing the Parliament of Estonia. There are three different viewing platforms in the Upper Town, the most popular being Kohtuotsa. Take a nice selfie as a souvenir, and continue your walk down the hill from one of two streets: the Long Leg (Pikk jalg) or the Short Leg (Lühike jalg). The Short Leg and the Long Leg towers are the only intact gate towers of the city wall. In medieval times, they were also the only way to pass from the Lower Town to the Upper Town. You can explore more towers and walk on the actual town wall on Kooli street. Be sure not to miss it!

On your way back to the port, the bravest can visit St. Olav’s Church Tower. This is the highest tower you can climb to get an unparalleled view of Tallinn that will take your breath away. If you still have some time left, pay a visit to Rotermann Quarter − the modern side of the city that lies next to the harbour.

Itinerary for the whole day

Although Tallinn is a very compact city and lots can be seen in a short time, the city continues to surprise even the most frequent visitors. Plenty can be discovered in the Old Town and in the City Centre, but if you have time, you should definitely pay a visit to the hip Kadriorg or Kalamaja areas. If you are more interested in nature and rural life, then Rocca al Mare will be your cup of tea. Read more about the neighbourhoods of Tallinn and choose the one that interests you the most.

Getting around Tallinn is cheap and easy. The best transport choices for this itinerary are either a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket or the Tallinn Card. Both can be purchased at the cruise ship terminal, and the Tallinn Card can also be purchased in advance online. If culture, sights and museums are your passion and you plan to visit at least two of them, then consider getting a wallet-friendly Tallinn Card. Tallinn Card is an all-in-one city card offering free entry to most of Tallinn’s museums and sights, plus free public transportation. There are also various discounts on excursions, restaurants and shops. Tallinn Card PLUS includes an added bonus − a free ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus tour, which lasts about an hour. 

To get more help in planning your day, have a look at the following articles.

With the majority of cruises calling during the summer season, passengers are treated to lively cultural events that flood the city’s streets as soon as the weather warms up. To keep up with all the latest trends and fashionable happenings, follow the calendar of cultural highlights in Tallinn.

Read more about Port of Tallinn.

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