Tallinn: Hopping the Russian border, just for one weekend

(Photo credit: Denise Kopyciok)

I was told that Tallinn would be a beautiful town to visit in the summer: with green parks, small lakes around the fortress, the sea-side, blue sky, and warm sun—you know—just perfect. These are stories I had heard often until I decided to stop by

Travelling to Tallinn, Estonia, from St Petersburg

  • Bus Ticket: Take a direct bus, for example, via LuxExpress, to Tallinn Coach Station. A round-trip ticket is about 40-50 euros (the regular price, when you book in advance you can get a cheaper promotion price)
  • Distance: 370km, time: 7 hours
  • Type of Trip: weekend trip, outdoor
  • Things to Do: See the old town of Tallinn and Kadriorig Palace
  • Travel Budget: besides the bus ticket, calculate 10 euros per person per night in a hostel in the city centre (such as the Old Town Hostel Alur) and additional fees for museums and a walking tour
  • Tip: Take the Free Walking Tour that starts everyday at noon at the Tourist Information Office in the centre. It’s donation based.
  • Important note: as an EU citizen you won’t have a problem in entering Estonia, just make sure that you have a multi-entry visa to get back to Russia. As a non-EU citizen, make sure you have the correct document to enter the Schengen zone.
(Photo credit: Denise Kopyciok)

Snow covered roofs and negative four degrees—it was love at first sight

It was the middle of the night when the bus from St Petersburg arrived. Not on time, of course, but ten minutes early. The weather was freezing, but inside the Uber, I could not stop looking out of the window at the deep, dark sky, the illuminated fortress, and the colourful facades of medieval houses that appeared gritty and beautiful at the same time.

Day 1: Tallinn’s Old Town

Tallinn might be a small capital city, but in terms of history, it is huge. Situated as a port city right on the Baltic Sea, across from Helsinki, the citizens of Tallinn always had a special connection to the world beyond, and, at the same time, based their culture around nature and fairy tales. Tallinn can be proud of its 5,000 years of history, but things really got interesting in the last 300 years. The city’s history began to be shaped by one occupation after another: the Danish, followed by the Germans, Swedes, and Russians, preceding a period of independence. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the Estonian people could again claim independence in 1991.

Walking History Lesson

The Free Walking Tour gives you a perfect introduction to the city’s history—including some fun facts about Tallinn’s medieval period: Why are we celebrating Christmas with a tree? What were the two ways for Tallinn’s infamous executioners to find a wife? Or, what were the six ways to be executed in medieval Estonia (swords for knights might be obvious, but did you know that common people could choose between—among others—being buried alive or boiled alive)? Join the group and discover the city!

Day 2: Get out of the city centre

When you just have one day in Tallinn, you are really motivated and good on foot. No worries, you can do both the Free Walking Tour and the tour outside the city centre in one day. The map below shows some starting points, just follow the route or look for one yourself and discover the Tallinn of today, shaped by the history of yesterday.
Tip: Café Klaus is right in the middle of the walking tour, so take your time and have a break in this cosy café and try their homemade soups!

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