Wandering the Old Town of Tallinn in winter and taking the ferry over to Helsinki

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
2
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
7
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
6
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
4
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
3
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
6
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
57 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
Estonia / Finland
Length of time
3-4 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 300
Time of year visited
January
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
223rd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 70% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing

Summary

Tallinn’s UNESCO-world heritage listed Old Town, with its complete 2.5km / 1.5mile medieval defensive wall and various hidden bars and restaurants, is one of the prettiest Old Towns in Europe and, when combined with a short ferry ride over to Helsinki and its harbourside, makes for quite a fun European getaway for a long weekend, even in the winter

 

The winter weather didn’t spoil things from a Tallinn perspective.  If anything it made the Old Town prettier with all the snow and cosy when you go from the freezing dark outside to the warm interiors of the bars and restaurants serving the hot spiced cider.  Helsinki, however, felt very cold because the buildings were more spread out and the harbourside was very exposed to the wind.  It was still worth heading over from Tallinn as part of the round trip, but I wouldn’t suggest Helsinki in winter on its own

highlights

#1 Views across the spires of the Old Town from the Patkuli Viewing Platform

#2 Wandering through the small alleyways that cross cross Tallinn's Old Town

33 Visiting the harbourside of Helsinki - very briefly in the, literally, Baltic wind!

#4 Visiting Alexander Newski Cathedral in Tallinn

#5 Walking alongside and along Tallinn's medieval defensive city wall

#6 Jumping from the freezing cold into the various restaurants and bars serving the wonderful hot spiced cider

5 High level Travel Tips

1. Stay in the Tallinn Old Town rather than further outside.  It may be a little more expensive, but it represents the key atmosphere you want to experience for the trip

2. Be sure to give the local fish breakfasts a good go.  We were amazed by just how good they were with the combination of fish, cheese and breads

3. Be sure to try to hot spiced cider.  Its an acquired taste but, if you like it, its a gorgeous drink to have when you come in from the cold

4. Getting to Helsinki is super easy.  At time of writing, there were 9 daily options to take and take only around 2.5hours

5. Wrap up warmly – it regularly drops to minus 10 Celsius / 50 Fahrenheit

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone