Average costs in Tallinn
Stay – Five stars are pricey because there aren’t many. You’ll easily pay $175 to $210 / £120 to £145 /€140 to €170 for one night in such a hotel. For only one star less, you can already find offers starting from (!) $70 / £45 / €55 per night. An overnight stay in three stars can be booked for $37 / £25 / €30 with a little bit of searching.
Budget hostels or backpackers can find youth hostels from $7,5 / £5 / €6 per night and budget double rooms from $25 / £15 / €20 per night.
Eat – Tallinn is the heaven on earth when it comes to food! There are plenty of great restaurants (often reservations are necessary for the top eateries.) and they’re not expensive at all. For a starter, main course, dessert and an apple cider I paid just under $37 / £25 / €30 in one of the best restaurants in the city. You can easily find a main course for $8 to $20 / £6 to £13 / €7 to €15 per person. In cheaper restaurants you can eat and drink for about $13 / £8 / €10.
Transport – Tallinn isn’t that big and you actually rarely need public transport. Certain sights and monuments are just outside the city center, but are easily accessible by tram or bus. A ticket costs $2,5 / £1,75 / €2 (or €1 for a student) and can be purchased from the driver.
For more comfort (and faster) you can also use the Uber app. From the old city center to the ferry port I paid $7,5 / £5 / €6 (about ten minutes driving).
A long-distance bus to Riga costs $21 / £14 / €17 per person. The ferry to Helsinki costs just over $25 / £17 / €20.
Saving money in Tallinn
Use Uber – Some sights are very difficult to reach by public transportation. Instead of taking expensive excursions or taxis, you can also count on Uber in Tallinn. The smartphone app that lets you ride with locals for economic prices. Personally, I found it especially useful to go to the ferry (with luggage), or the airport. With this link you get your first Uber ride completely free.
Take a day trip to Helsinki – If you would like to see Helsinki, I recommend staying there for only one day. From Tallinn you can take the morning ferry and return in the evening. Helsinki is very expensive, and accommodations are ridiculously pricey. So it’s better to stay overnight in Tallinn.
Visit the other Baltics by bus – Would you like to see more of the Baltic states? Then don’t opt for expensive flights, but check out the excellent connections via the buses. From Tallinn to Riga you only pay $18 to $25 / £13 to £17,5 / €15 to €20 and it takes you about four / five hours to get there. Moreover, you don’t have to pay extra costs for a taxi, since the bus stations are located smack in the center.
Things to do in Tallinn
The old town – The old town or Vanalinn is the most popular part of Tallinn. This walled area is almost completely car-free and can therefore be explored on foot without any problems. In the city there are many churches and cozy squares to see, just like relics of a bygone medieval era. Climb a bit higher up, because from the highest points you get the best view over Tallinn.
Alexander Nevski Cathedral – The Russian Orthodox Alexander-Nevsky Cathedral is not to be missed. From the old center you can see the colossal church looming almost everywhere. Especially the exterior is impressive. The inside is a bit of an anti-climax, as is in fact the case for most orthodox churches.
Kadriorg Palace – The easiest way to get to the Kadriorg Palace is by taking the bus or tram. In about ten minutes you arrive at the Kadriorg Park and from there it’s only five minutes walking before you see the beautiful palace. The colorful castle has beautifully maintained gardens in the summer, but the inside of the building looks beautiful and is well cared for as well. Inside you’ll find a museum, but the interior of the house itself is also quite beautiful to see.
KGB museum – The viru hotel (you can’t miss it, it’s about five minutes from the old town) was formerly established to handle the large influx of tourists into Tallinn. In the Soviet period, tourists were both loved and hated at the same time, because they brought with them strong foreign currencies. In order to keep an eye on these tourists, the 23rd floor of the Viru hotel was secretly occupied by the KGB services. For $13 / £8,5 / €10 you get a tour through the small office spaces, but it’s mainly the crazy stories that will make your mouth fall open.
Seaplane harbor museum – This maritime museum is housed in an old hangar (with a rich history of itself, by the way!) and exhibits a dizzying number of boats, sea mines and army vehicles. The museum is mainly about war at sea, but also about the evolution of all kinds of watercraft. Outside the museum you can also enter a few functioning boats with your admission ticket.
Things to avoid in Tallinn
Not making reservations in restaurants – When I go to a cheap holiday destination, I always try to visit the best restaurants. There are quite a few in Tallinn, but all these restaurants are quite small… I myself went to the Rataskaevu and Vegan V restaurant and I was very lucky that I could get a place in both of them. One of the servants told me that the restaurant had already been fully booked for several months …
Going to the ferry well in advance – I myself thought that a ferry to Helsinki would work the same as an airplane; be present at least two hours in advance. But nothing is less true! I waited patiently for an hour and a half until other people arrived. You can check in up to 15 minutes in advance, and that check-in goes incredibly fast. So sleep a little longer, because you can hop on your ferry quite last minute!