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Photo by: Maret Põldveer-Turay

Photo by: Tallinna Sadam

Tallinn, must see cruise destination

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By visittallinn.ee  •  13.05.2019

This historic harbour city has long been a popular stop for Northern European seafarers, and today it is one of the top three cruise destinations on the Baltic Sea.

Cruising in medieval Tallinn

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. 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 a list of suggestions for you to choose from.

A top tip: if you plan to visit museums, use public transport, or the hop-on-hop-off tour bus, consider purchasing a Tallinn Card, a sightseeing pass that includes free entry to Tallinn’s top museums, free use of public transport, and a 50% discount on the hop-on-hop-off tour bus (free with Tallinn Card PLUS). 

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 stops 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 frequent markets and the many outdoor cafés, you will find on the Town Hall Square two of the Tallinn’s must-sees! The Town Hall, built in 1404, is the only Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. And, on the other side of the square, the Town Hall Pharmacy, Europe’s oldest continuously operating pharmacy (since 1422)! The square is also a perfect location for a cup of coffee and some people watching.

  • Next, head up to Toompea, also known as the Upper Town. Toompea Castle has always been a seat of power, now housing the Parliament of Estonia. 
  • The amazing city views from the top of Toompea Hill are definitely a must-see. There are three different viewing platforms in the Upper Town, the most popular being Kohtuotsa. If you have a little more time on your hands (or prefer indoors), head to the Maiden's Tower in the Danish King's Garden. In addtition to breathtaking views, you can enjoy a cup of coffee, walk on the town wall from one tower to another, and get to know more about the history of Tallinn's fortifications.   
  • 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 town wall on Väike-Kloostri street
  • 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.

Extra tips for a longer stay

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, and for a full dose of history and sea air, head to Pirita. Read more about the neighbourhoods of Tallinn and choose the one that interests you the most. 

Getting around

Getting around Tallinn is easy. The best transport choices for a short stay in Tallinn are either a hop-on-hop-off bus or public transport. If you are also interested in visiting museums and other attractions, consider purchasing a Tallinn Card (24h): 
  • The regular Tallinn Card gives you access to free public transport and a -50% discount on the hop-on-hop-off tour bus.  
  • Tallinn Card PLUS includes free public transport and a complimentary ticket to the hop-on-hop-off bus.

You can purchase the Tallinn Card online or at the R-kiosks located in the A- and D-terminals of the Port of Tallinn. 

Tallinn Card

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 (you can ride all lines all day long). Use their online calculator to get a glimpse of your potential savings.

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 get up to speed on what is happening in Tallinn during your stay, check out our events' calendar

Read more about the Port of Tallinn.

Welcome on board!

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