What To Do On Your Cruise Excursion in Tallinn, Estonia
Cruising to Tallinn? Consider A Private Walking Tour
In the summer of 2009, my family had the privilege of travelling to Europe and taking a Baltic cruise. Our very first stop was Tallinn, Estonia where we enjoyed a private tour and a medieval meal.
Tallinn is easily accessible by foot, particulary if you are a walker. We walked from the ship to the city walls and up the hill to the departure point for our walking tour which, interestingly, was with a company that is run by students and operates as an alternative tourist information center in a tent.
This page will fill you in a bit on OUR choices when it came to visiting Tallin for a single day. Hopefully, this information will help you as you weigh your options for your Tallinn shore excursion.
Visit Beautiful Tallinn, Estonia With Us...
Tallinn, Estonia Medieval Turret Postcard
Tallinn, Estonia Medieval Village Postcard
Quick Facts About Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, is located on the northern coast of the country on the Gulf of Finland 80 kms (50 mi) south of Helsinki, Finland. It is a small country with an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) and a population of just 410,050.
Interesting Facts About Tallinn, Estonia
- Tallinn has a beautiful, medieval old town.
- Tallinn has the only surviving original Gothic style town hall.
- Every year on December 24th the president of Estonia proclaims Christmas peace.
- The official language is Estonian but Russian is spoken frequently. Our guide spoke very good English as did our waitress at the restaurant.
- The country of Estonia has the most meteorite craters per land area of any country in the world.
- It also has one of the lowest population of all of the countries in Europe.
- Apparently, a mouse robbed a bank...by living in an ATM.
The Tallinn Traveller Information Tent
Provides information and student-run tours.
There are plenty of choices when your cruise ship docks in Tallin. You can, of course, take a cruise ship excursion. You could also choose to tour Tallinn on your own armed with information you find online and a good guide book. However, I prefer to have a guide or tour of some sort and find that when we do, we learn more about a destination. Since the city of Tallinn is easily accessed by foot from the dock, we decided to hire a student run company called Tallinn Traveller Info.
Tours are available as part of a group or privately. Tallinn Traveller even offers a free tour for which, I presume, they accept donations. We chose to spend a bit of money and book online a private tour so that we could choose the timing. In order to maximize the short day we had in Tallinn, we wanted to have our tour first thing in the morning and be free to wander as we wished in the afternoon.
The Tallinn Traveller Information company assigned us a young guide named Karoli. Karoli did a great job of leading us around the city, explaining the history of the city and of what we were seeing as we went. She spent longer than the alotted time and, when we passed the huge crowds from the bus excursions, we were glad we had opted to make our own arrangements for a private tour. Karoli was even, of course, able to make lunch recommendations. (More on those later.)
In case you are wondering, our private student-run tour was actually quite inexpensive.
TALLINN TRAVELLER INFO.
"Tallinn Traveller Info tent is an alternative tourist information center that provides you with best insider tips about Tallinn. Run by local young people, it is the best place to start any stay in Tallinn, no matter the length. We know all the best restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, cool secret places and phone numbers of every hostel in Tallinn."
Cruise Ship Excursions are definitely an important part of cruising for most people. However, taking the excursions offered by the ship is not the only way to see your ports of call. If you are planning a cruise in the near future, I know you are trying to determine what to do. Will you take the cruise ship excursions offered by the ship or will you make your own arrangements for the ports of call? Read more about the pros and cons of cruise ship excursions by clicking right here.
The Bradt City Mini Guide Guide to Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn is a medieval city with beautiful cobbled streets in the old section. This book covers Old Tallinn including architectural details, museums and shops. It also includes information on excursions out of the city, which may not be required for cruise ship travellers as they do not usually have more than a single day in Tallinn. It includes a walking tour; restaurant, cafe and bar lists; museums and short excursions; and, city maps.
A Medieval Feast at Olde Hansa - A genuine medieval meal, fit for royalty...
To say we 'enjoyed' our midday meal at Olde Hansa might be stretching it a bit. However, I can say in all honesty that we were totally amazed at the setting. The experience may have been worth what we spent just to soak up the atmosphere, but be aware that our Canadian palates were, ahh, surprised and not necessarily delighted with the offerings. Most of the food was foreign to us and, therefore, not particularly enjoyed. However, if you are seeking a genuine medieval feast, you ought to seek out Olde Hansa but be warned that it is not inexpensive fare and that it is authentic...
If you go but are unsure of the food choices, we would recommend ordering something simple and inexpensive, like the soup. That way, if you get something you are not crazy about, you will not have spent a lot for it and you will have had the opportunity to try some medieval food and to check out this amazing medieval-themed restaurant.
The 'Fine Almond Chicken of Mild Taste' was the most successful of our four choices; my son Douglas (who also took the photographs of the postcards on this page) chose the chicken and ate every morsel of the meat but not the accompaniments.
The choice is yours. If you want to seek out something authentic and you are brave and/or have more adventurous palates than we do, we say give Olde Hansa a try. The setting is magnificent, the service very helpful, friendly and efficent and the food, well, it will take you back a few hundred years.
Alternatively, our tour guide recommended a restaurant where she eats, which probably would have meant a more pleasing (in terms of food) and less expensive.
The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black - Interested in learning more about medieval cooking? Check out this overview of medieval food practices.
Beautiful Antique Yellow and Blue Tallinn, Estonia Doorways
Cruise Ship Excursions Versus Your Own Excursions - More information on whether to book cruise ship excursions or to plan your own. We did a bit of both.
Estonian Cobblestone - These feet were made for walking and that's just what they did...
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