Separated by only 50 miles of Baltic Sea and a two-hour ferry ride, enjoy a break in the charming capitals of Tallinn and Helsinki. Estonia and Finland are very close to each other linguistically with both languages belonging to the Finno-Ugric family and both being rather complex to learn. They also share a love of the sauna, so much so that Visit Estonia are celebrating Year of the Sauna this year, and Finland has over 3 million of them! Admire the uber-cool design scene of Helsinki before taking in the medieval charms of Tallinn's Old Town.
This holiday is based on staying at the Glo Hotel Kluuvi in Helsinki and My City Hotel in Tallinn, but there are plenty of other alternative hotel options to meet every taste. Speak with your Regent Travel Specialist about upgrading your hotel or combining this holiday with another destination.
Arrive in Helsinki and take the local train from the airport to the impressive Helsinki Central Station. Trains run every 10 minutes and cost €4.10.
The railway tracks in Helsinki were built in the 1860s. The granite building known for its clock tower was designed by Eliel Saarinen and inaugurated in 1919. Walk the short distance to your hotel.
Today explore Helsinki starting with the iconic Senate Square plaza. Enjoy views to Helsinki Cathedral with its white and green domes. This is the heart of Helsinki's historic centre with some of the city's oldest buildings and streets. We recommend a coffee and cake at Cafe Engel nearby. In the summer enjoy walks in Esplanadi Park, where outdoor concerts are often held. Take a wander around Kauppatori market, which has lots of stalls selling food products, handcrafts and souvenirs. In fact it is more like a traditional farmer’s market selling lots of fresh berries in the summer. From this harbour ferries go across to Suomenlinna fortress - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also on the harbour is one of our favourite places in Helsinki - Allas Sea Pool. It is open all year around. Their saunas that have a great views of the city. We enjoy swimming in the heated pool and taking a dip in the cold Baltic Sea. There is lovely cafe and bar, plus one of the best summer terraces in the city. (B)
Every city has a cool hipster district, so walk over to Kallio to explore Helsinki's Bohemian quarter full of cafes, pubs and saunas. Admire the granite greatness of Kallio Church built in 1912, and one of Helsinki's prominent landmarks. Elsewhere there are any number of fascinating museums to visit including the Ateneum Art Museum, which will re-open in April this year. Housed in a palatial 1887 neo-Renaissance building admire the work of Finland's greatest artists. For those wanting to learn about Finnish design a visit to the Finnish Design Museum is a must.
For architecture enthusiasts stop by Oodi Library admire its spruce-clad edifice, whilst Temppeliaukio Rock Church offers worship in a subterranean setting built inside natural bedrock. Don't miss Finlandia Hall, clad in Carrara marble (currenly under restoration). It is one of the most iconic buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. (B)
Today head over to Helsinki West Harbour Terminal 2 for the ferry over to Tallinn. It is easy to take a taxi (15 mins by car) or tram 9 from the city centre (about 40 mins). We use Tallink-Silja line ferries. For the ferry fans out there - Tallink's new generation LNG powered fast ferry Megastar is their flagship and is 212.2 metres in length and she takes 2,800 passengers. The business class on the Megastar is located at the front of the ferry so has amazing picture windows. On arrival in Tallinn take a local taxi or walk to your hotel. We can book a variety of hotels in Tallinn. (B)
Tallinn is certainly the poster boy for quaint medieval old towns. Most visitors head straight to the jumble of cobbled streets leading to its Town Hall Square and the impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. However, as we discovered on our last visit there are plenty of cool neighbours that warrant exploring too.
Rotermann Quarter, located between the Old Town and the Ferry Port, was once an industrial district that has undergone a radical make over. Wander around lanes lined with old brick warehouses and an odd chimney stack, enjoy boutique shopping and great dining options such as Pull, opened by one of Estonia’s top grill masters! We love Kalev Chocolate Shop, Estonia’s oldest and most cherished chocolate brand. If you still have room enjoy cinnamon buns and delicious sourdough bread at RØST, one of the few bakeries in Tallinn baking sourdough! (B)
This morning explore the district, just past the Tallinn's Train Station. The Balti Jaama Turg (Baltic Station Market) is a packed full of different stalls and shops selling anything from food to vintage clothing and antiques. We really liked browsing through the soviet kitsch on the antique stalls. Visit Telliskivi Creative City and discover lots of cool cafes, boutiques, and independent shops. Stop by the internationally renowned Fotografiska Tallinn Photography Museum.
In the afternoon take tram number 1 out to Kadriorg. At the heart of Kadriorg, one of Tallinn’s most upmarket districts, is Estonia’s only Baroque palace and park established 300 years ago by Russian Tsar Peter the Great. The park actually contains seven museums including Kadriorg Art Museum located in the stunning Baroque Kadriorg Palace. The park with its various gardens is a wonderful place to wander around but make time to explore nearby tree-lined streets and posh villas, old wooden houses and summer residences. (B)
Today make your way to Tallinn's airport just a 15 minute drive from Tallinn's Old Town. Fly back to the UK via Helsinki. (B)
This is an example itinerary staying at our favourite four-star hotels, accompanied by a guide price. If you would like alternative options staying in three or perhaps five-star hotels, or if you have a higher or lower budget than the guide price, please ring one of our travel specialists on 0207 666 1290 and we can tailor this trip to suit your precise requirements.