Tallinn Port Guide (Estonia), Things to Do, Shore Excursions

Viru Gate in Tallinn Old Town

Welcome to Tallinn port guide! Nestled on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea, Estonia’s capital is located in the northern part of the country and is considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Its developed harbour, medieval old town, and proximity to the ports of Helsinki and Saint Petersburg make it a must-stop in Baltic cruise itineraries. In this article, read about:

  • Tallinn port info (cruise terminal, local transportation, getting around the port)
  • Top 10 things to do in Tallinn port and best Tallinn shore excursions

Visit also our cruise port guides to Helsinki, CopenhagenOslo, Stockholm, Dover, Dublin, Cork/Cobh, Glasgow (Greenock), Le Havre, Cherbourg

Tallinn Port Info

The cruise ship docks at the Old City Harbour located approximately 1 km/0.5 miles from the Old Town. Tallinn cruise port consists of three passenger cruise terminals A, B and D handling both cruise ships and ferries, and an Old City Marina, a former terminal C that handles yachts and recreational boats.

Passenger terminals A, B and D have a total berth length of 4,2 km/2,6 miles and are able to accommodate 4 large cruise vessels simultaneously, including the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class (the largest cruise ships in the world). Inside the harbor, there are 3 more quays handling smaller vessels and a ferry terminal serving routes to Helsinki, Stockholm, and Mariehamn.

Very rarely, cruise ships dock at Muuga Harbour, the largest cargo port in Estonia located 18 km/11 miles from Tallinn city center. In that case, taxis and shuttle buses are the transportation options to take you into the town.

The port of Tallinn doesn’t have a proper terminal building, however, you will find a white tent with a souvenir shop and tourist information stand. Within a few minutes walk from there you will find a small craft market in the Old City Marina featuring authentic handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, and local goods. There is a large bus parking and a taxi rank in front of the terminal.

A brand new Tallinn cruise terminal facility (Tallinna Kruisiterminal) adjacent to the cruise berths will include modern facilities with a pedestrian promenade, a playground for kids, and large car parking.

Tallinn port - cruise passenger quay

Helpful info & links:

  • See Tallinn port on Google Maps 
  • See Tallinn cruise ship schedules and webcam 
  • You can reach Tallinn Old Town on foot in approximately 20 minutes. You will see the signs pointing to the city center along the way. Head toward the spire of St Olaf’s Church and round Fat Margaret Tower (Paks Margareeta) that mark the entrance to the medieval city. Once you pass through the stone Pikk gate you will enter the Old Town area. The walk is flat and suitable for people with walking difficulties, however, the heart of the medieval city is cobbled and uneven.
  • Estonia’s currency is EURO (€). Credit cards are widely accepted. See the currency converter
  • Alternatively, the cruise line may offer a convenient shuttle bus to the city center. Tickets can be purchased on board the ship or directly on the pier. Round trip costs approximately 5€ per person.
  • Taxis are quite cheap and available on the pier, but make sure that the meter is on and agree on the price with the driver in advance.
  • Trams are well-organized and a convenient way of getting around. There are four tram lines and you can buy a single 1-hour ticket at a kiosk for only 1.50€. You can also opt for a daily ticket for 4.50€, or in case you stay longer for 3, 5, and 30-day packages. These tickets are valid for all means of public transport. You can check the routes and timetables on the official webpage https://transport.tallinn.ee/
  • Tallinn Hop on Hop off bus tours are also available and are a great way to see the city. The hop-on hop-off bus stop is located within a 10-minute walk from the ship. The bus stops at the major city highlights including the Old Town/Toompea Castle, Song Festival Grounds, Russalka Monument, Hotel Viru (Mere Pst 5), Swissotel/Radisson BLU, and a few others. Check out Hop on Hop off Tallinn bus tours on Viator and Get Your Guide
  • Tallinn Card allows you unlimited rides on public transport, free access to over 40 museums and attractions, and discounts at shops and restaurants. Book a Tallinn City Card
  • Shopping in Tallinn is centered around the Old Town and the city center where you can find authentic souvenirs, local handicrafts and shops. There are also several shopping malls within a short walking distance from the port.
  • Tallinn has a humid continental climate with a long, cold winter and mild summers. For useful cruise packing tips, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise in 2023 – Top 60 Cruise Essentials
  • Tallinn Airport is located in the southeastern part of the city, around 6 km/3.7 miles (a 20-minute drive) from Tallinn Old Harbour. Bus #2 connects downtown and the port.
  • Book a private transfer to/from the port of Tallinn
  • Check out Tallinn rent-a-car deals
  • Explore Tallinn tours and activities
  • Find accommodation in Tallinn
  • Get cashback on travel services – Get a promo code!

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Top 10 Things to Do in Tallinn Port of Call

Always take into consideration your ship’s scheduled time in the port when planning your day ashore. If it is your first time here and you want to get the most of your day, consider taking an organized shore excursion to maximize your port experience. For exclusive, shore excursion tips, sign up below and get my FREE Shore Excursions Guide!

1. Tallinn Old Town

This enchanting medieval town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is by far my favorite place to visit in Tallinn Take a stroll back in time through the winding cobblestone streets and admire the medieval churches and merchant houses dating back to the 13th century situated inside the city walls.

The best way to explore Old Town is on foot and to get the most out of the city, take a guided walking tour with a certified guide. If you decide to do it on your own, I suggest you start your visit at Viru Gate which will make you feel as if you were entering a Fairy tale town. The gate marks the entrance to the Old Town and consists of two massive, ivy-covered watchtowers dating from the 1300s that you can climb and enjoy beautiful views of the square.

Viru Gate in Tallinn Old Town
Viru Gate. Photo courtesy of Sabrina Mans.

Proceed then to Tallinn Town Hall (Raekoda) situated on Raekoja Plats, the Town Hall square where you will have the opportunity to get some souvenirs and local goods in the open-air market with sellers dressed in traditional costumes. The square is packed with people and besides the market stalls, restaurants, and cafes, here you will find Raeapteek, the oldest pharmacy in Europe operating since the 15th century.

Three minutes walk from the square, Maiasmokk cafe – the oldest cafe in Tallinn dating from 1864 and the renowned Pierre Chocolaterie welcome visitors inside their historic establishments. Many museums, churches, hotels housed in historic buildings, and other landmarks can also be found inside medieval city walls. Guests with mobility challenges may encounter difficulty exploring some parts of Old Town due to the cobblestone streets and steep hills.

Explore Tallinn Old Town walking tours and activities

Tallinn Town Hall (Raekoda) and the view of Raekoja Plats
The Gothic Town Hill building. Photo by Bella.

2. Toompea Hill

Located in the heart of the old Tallinn, Toompea is a limestone hill overlooking the old town, home to Toompea Castle (Toompea Loss), Kiek in de Kök Museum and Bastion Tunnels, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and a few other important historic landmarks.

The imposing Toompea Castle dates from the 9th century and used to be a major stronghold site back in the past. Today, it houses the Parliament of Estonia. The whole area is covered by beautiful gardens and parks where you can stroll and enjoy magnificent vistas of the old town. Kuberneri (Governor’s) Garden, Danish King’s Gardens, and Komandandi Garden are only some of them.

Toompea Castle - The view of the tower
Toompea Castle. Photo by Bella.
Toompea Castle - The exterior facade of the Estonian Parliament
The 18th-century Baroque facade of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu). Photo courtesy of Cristina Madrid.

Toompea Hill is an ideal location to admire the panoramic views of the Old Town. Make sure to check out the Patkuli viewing platform (Patkuli Vaateplatvorm) for spectacular photo opportunities. To get to the hill, you need to be able to climb the steps/walk uphill for 10-15 minutes.

Explore Toompea Hill tours and activities

3. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Aleksander Nevski katedraal is the largest and most breathtaking Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Estonia boasting the magnificent architecture and onion domes as well as a rich interior filled with extravagant icons and mosaics. The Cathedral is located on Toompea Hill, opposite Toompea Castle and the Parliament Building.

Should you decide to visit the interior of the Cathedral, please remember to dress in conservative and respectful clothing, with no exposed knees and shoulders. There is no entrance fee, however, photography is prohibited inside the Cathedral.

Explore Alexander Nevsky Cathedral tours and activities

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Toompea Hill - Tallinn port of call
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Photo courtesy of Sabrina Mans.

4. St. Mary’s Cathedral

Also known as the Dome Church, St. Mary’s Cathedral is located on Toompea Hill and is the oldest church in Tallinn dating back to the 13th century. Visitors can admire the beautiful interior, learn about the history of this building that survived the 17th-century fire, and hear stories about important people buried inside the church. You also have an opportunity to climb all the way to the top of the bell tower for magnificent views of the town.

There is an entrance fee of 5€ to visit the Cathedral and bell tower. During services, entrance is restricted but you can still admire the beautiful exterior.

Check out St. Mary’s Cathedral tours and activities

St Mary's Cathedral - Tallinn Port of Call
St. Mary’s Cathedral. Photo by Bella.

5. The Kadriorg Palace

This opulent palace is the best example of Baroque architecture in Northern Europe and was built by Tsar Peter de Great during the Russian Empire for his wife Catherine to enjoy during their visits to Tallinn. Unfortunately, Peter the Great died before the palace was completed.

The palace houses the Kadriorg Art Museum which displays foreign art collections from the 16th century, and its beautiful park and gardens are a popular leisure spot for locals. There is no charge to walk around the park, however, there is an entrance fee of 9€ to visit the museum and tickets can be purchased directly at the entrance.

Tallinn - Kadriorg Palace
Kadriorg Palace. Source: Pixabay.com

Kadriorg Palace is located approximately 4 km/2.5 miles from the city center and Tallinn port. To get there, you can take bus #8 near Viru Shopping Center (across Old Town main gate), or trams #1 and #3. For those in a good shape, you can also walk for around 45 minutes. The museum and park are accessible for people with disabilities/assisted mobility.

Check out Kadriorg Palace tours and Activities

5. Medieval Food Experience

The best way to complete your visit to Tallinn is to enjoy a medieval meal at the famous Olde Hansa Restaurant in the heart of Old Town. Enjoy delicious and unique dishes under candle lights, served by amazing and courteous staff, all dressed in traditional medieval costumes. The food is prepared like in medieval times with quite interesting ingredients. If you are a beer fan, do not miss to try their popular homemade honey beer, herb beer, and cinnamon beer.

I strongly encourage you to make reservations in advance because the place often gets fully booked. Check out the Olde Hansa restaurant website for more info.

Explore Tallinn’s food and beer-tasting tours

Olde Hansa restaurant in Tallinn port of call
Olde Hansa restaurant. Photo courtesy of Sabrina Mans.
Olde Hansa restaurant menu - Tallinn
Olde Hansa medieval menu. Photo courtesy of Cristina Madrid.

6. St Olaf’s Church and Tower

This imposing Gothic church used to be the tallest building in the world between 1549 to 1625 with its massive 159-meter spire whose main purpose was to overlook the harbour and the approaching vessels. The church was severely damaged several times throughout history as it was struck by lightning, and the spire was replaced by a 405-foot tall spire that has remained the iconic symbol of the city. You can access the church for free, however, there is an additional fee to climb the tower.

Tallinn Old Town - The view from Toompea Hill's Patkuli Vaateplatvorm
The view from Toompea Hill’s Patkuli Vaateplatvorm. The tallest spire is St. Olaf’s Church. Photo courtesy of Cristina Madrid.

7. Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum

Located on the Toompea Hill, a stone’s throw from the Toompea Castle, Kiek in de Kök consists of four medieval defense towers (The Kiek in de Kök tower, the Maiden’s Tower (Neitsitorn), the Stable Tower (Tallitorn), the Gate Tower (Väravatorn), the 17th-century underground bastion tunnels and the Carved Stone Museum that make up the complex of over 500 meters long.

Inside this impressive complex, you can enjoy the secret passages, exhibits, and artifacts that will give you an insight into Tallinn’s rich historical and cultural heritage. The full ticket costs 12€ and it includes access to the entire museum complex. It is also possible to buy tickets for towers or tunnels only. Find more information on the Tallinn City Museum website.

Explore Kiek in de Kök Museum tours and activities

Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum in Tallinn port
Kiek in de Kök Fortifications Museum. Photo courtesy of Sabrina Mans.

8. Estonian Open Air Museum

Estonian Open Air Museum is located in the Rocca al Mare district in the western part of the city, approximately 20 minutes drive from the city center and port Tallinn. This immersive museum features 74 buildings from the 18th to the 20th century brought from all around Estonia, including traditional schools and farms that will show you how the rural people lived back in the past. You will have the opportunity to try some local dishes at the Inn at reasonable prices and there are also fun activities for the whole family at extra cost.

To get to the museum, you can walk to Balti Jaam train station in Old Town and catch bus #21 to Rocca al Mare. Check the Hop on Hop off sightseeing buses, as many of them include a stop at the Open Air Museum. The entrance fee is 10€ and there is also a convenient family ticket for 18€. For more information, check out the Estonian Open Air Museum website

9. Tallinn Song Festival Grounds

This concert place was built in 1959 while Estonia was still under the Soviet Union.  In 1988, it became the birthplace of the Singing Revolution that led to the fall of Soviet rule. The Song Festival is one of the largest choral events in the world and takes place every year. It is also a popular concert arena that hosts events and concerts for renowned artists.

The Song Festival Grounds is located close to Kardriog Park, approximately 5 km/3 miles from Tallinn port. To get there, you can take bus #5 from Viru Keskus shopping mall bus stop near the harbour to Lauluväljak. Entrance to the Song Festival Grounds is free of charge when there are no events scheduled.

Check out Song Festival Grounds tours and activities

Tallinn Song Festival Ground
Tallinn Song Festival Ground. Photo courtesy of Cristina Madrid.

10. Tallinn TV Tower

Tallinna Teletorn, a 314-meter-high TV tower is the tallest building in Tallinn and a must-stop when visiting the city. If you are adventurous, you can take the Walk on the Edge experience where you will be walking along the edge of the tower roof, or Base Jump Boogie for those who look for extreme activities.

There are also other fewer adrenaline activities to choose from, like taking the high-speed elevator to the viewing platform located on the 21st floor for great views of the city. The entrance fee is 15€ and all the activities mentioned have extra cost. Make sure to visit the Tallinn TV Tower website to find out more about the activities and prices.

The best and easiest way to reach Tallinna Teletorn is by taxi. The ride lasts approximately 15 minutes and a taxi should cost around 20€ per vehicle one way.

Check out Tallinna Teletorn’s tours and activities

To Wrap Up

For history buffs and those in search of incredible architecture, Tallinn is the place to be! Make sure you plan your day ahead to get the most out of this beautiful city!

Visit also our cruise port guides to Helsinki, CopenhagenOslo, Stockholm, Dover, Dublin, Cork/Cobh, Glasgow (Greenock), Le Havre, Cherbourg


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