The trip so far:
Happy 2018! When last we ‘spoke’ about this trip, we were packing it up to leave Helsinki, and head to Tallinn. To do this, we hopped the number 9 tram down to the ferry terminal. It stops right where you need it to- across from the large and rather impressive ferry/cruise building. The terminal itself is even an attraction, with great views, as well as food and drink.
They tell you to get there a bit early, and they really do board and leave promptly, so it’s a good idea to give yourself some time so there’s no rush. Plus, it gives you a chance to take in the sea, and maybe a treat.
The ferry is the best way to cross over to Estonia, and takes cars as well as passengers. We booked the Eckero Line with Direct Ferries, and it really is more of a small cruise ship than what we’d think of as a ‘ferry,’ complete with several bars, a cafeteria, concerts on board, and several decks of small private cabins. This is more than enough for the just over 2 hour crossing. There are several companies that make the crossing, so there’s some flexibility in the schedule.
We elected to get a 4 person cabin each way for just a bit more than the basic ticket (around $40), and with a baby it was totally worth it. The space was too small to really be comfortable for all the adults to be in at once, but Baby Flyer napped both ways and we took turns hanging out with her and relaxing with a snack and a ‘Long Drink‘ up on deck.
On arrival in Tallinn, we checked into our next Airbnb, which was a 2 bedroom flat inside of the ‘Old Town.’ Old town, once the partially-walled medieval city, is now the hub of tourist activity and also of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Our flat was on the edge of the Old Town, which was a good thing since this meant it was quiet at night.
Old Town is actually only a 15-20 minute walk from the ferry terminal. If the weather’s good, and you don’t have a ton of bags, it’s entirely reasonable not to try and get a cab for the short drive.
This part of Tallinn is all historic courtyards, narrow streets, and cobblestones. It’s buzzing with pedestrians taking in the architecture in the day, and people out enjoying the cheap(er) food and drinks until late at night. It’s common for the ferries to fill up with Finns on weekends headed out for some fun at a fraction of the prices of ‘true’ Scandinavia.
The old architecture has been beautifully preserved, yet the city is modern through and through. The Old Town is divided into ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ areas, upper once upon a time having been home to the fortified castle and grounds, and the lower the sprawling town connecting it to the port.
Though the streets are winding, it’s hard to get lost here for too long simply because it’s not a large area. Eventually, you come back to where you started.
Now….for the family travel review of this part of the trip- First off, cobblestones are not pleasant with just about any stroller, and definitely not the smaller-wheeled travel models, our Citi Mini Zip included. This was a place we were really wishing we’d brought her Ergo Baby carrier, especially because of the daytime crowds.
Still, we had some nice exploring time, and there’s plenty of green space within and just outside of the Old Town to let kids run around and play.
One thing we will say though, this was our favorite city of the trip for food! It was easier to find and more relaxed than in Helsinki, and much much cheaper than in Copenhagen. The service was family friendly, and everyone could find something they wanted. Even picky Baby Flyer tried some new food and flavors.
As simple as it is, I think some of our fondest memories of the city were of the restaurants close to our Airbnb that we stumbled upon by chance. The first, Must Puudel, was our choice for dinner (twice). It’s a fun (if a bit hipster) bar and restaurant tucked away off the beaten path, that included a hidden garden patio behind. The menu had fresh, innovative dishes and very reasonably priced drinks.
As well as the good vibe inside, the cobblestone street out front was quiet- the perfect setting to let a restless and newly walking Baby Flyer stretch her legs while the rest of the crew finished up eating. What’s better, it’s Estonia, and no one cares if you take your wine glass with you on baby duty.
As luck would have it, just around the corner, we found a little cafe called Kohvik August, that we fell in love with as well. They made great coffee and mate lattes, and had fun lunch specials, including the Estonian version of Aperol spritzers, just for a treat.
While Old Town is fun, it turns out there’s more to Tallinn than that. The next day we hopped the local transit to Kadriorg, an expansive park that includes both playgrounds and gardens, and the site of the historic palace grounds.
The palace and the gardens really are beautiful in the summer. The playground areas were decent, but not overwhelmingly modern or creative (just wait for the post on Copenhagen!!), and we’d had some rain in the morning so things were wet enough that Baby Flyer preferred to run around the other parts of the park instead.
The park was our last attraction before gathering up our things again, and heading back to the boat. All in all, Tallinn was a pleasant surprise in many ways. I didn’t do too much research on it this time around, but it really wasn’t needed. You can easily hit the highlights of Old Town in 48 hours, enjoy some good food and drinks, and return to your Scandi holiday satisfied at the diversion.
Next up- “God Rejse og Velkommen,” or “Hygge With a Chance of Downpour.” (Denmark…the next stop is Denmark.)