Getaway to Tallinn – short vacation across the bay

Last summer we had a great time in Zurich. This year the recession, company bankruptcy and cut in income forced us to scale down also vacation plans. With limited budgets the best deal was a short vacation in Tallinn. Ferry ride back and forth – and two nights in a hotel in the city center was offered for little over 160 euros for two persons.

Tallinn is located 80 kilometers to south from Helsinki and connected to Helsinki with a fleet of ferries, fast boats and helicopters moving travellers back and forth. Stream of traffic between these two lovely cities is so constant that you could easily call Tallinn southern Helsinki. However the two cities are nothing alike, but rather complement each other nicely.

Helsinki and Tallinn have an interesting relationship as people from Finland have for some time exploited Estonian economy and driven Tallinn’s service offering into direction which should not make anyone proud. Even though I believe that trips focused on utilization of cheap alcohol and prostitutes are no longer what defined a Finnish traveler in Tallinn, it is clear that we are also to blame on what Tallinn has become. Numerous alcohol supermarkets right next to the harbour, cheap restaurants offering beef and beer combos – and striptease restaurants in the Old town are clearly market driven developments to serve specific group of customers. However these days Tallinn is much more than poor man’s Las Vegas. Whether you are into the culture and history, music and parties or alcohol and decadent entertainment – Tallinn has something to offer to you.

During our short vacation we tried to sample numerous different things from the city with a limited budget. In the next few postings I’ll write about our experiences, as well as tips and notes for future travels. If you are in a hurry, here is an executive summary:

– Tallinn is a lovely summer town and these days offers great escapes even for couples and families traveling with children. Single men will find lots of entertainment in no time.

– Prices can be cheap or moderate compared to Helsinki, especially for services: spas, restaurants etc. are 20% – 50% cheaper than in Helsinki

– There is no doubt that there can be great parties in Tallinn. Party facilities and dance culture seems a little more evolved in Helsinki ( at least based on our short exposure )

– Piritta beach is definitely a place to go on a hot summer day – two kilometers long beach just 15 minutes away from the city center

– Retail shops offer traditional brands available in other large cities and also some brands not available in Helsinki.

– Fashion sense is much more european and much more courageous than in Helsinki, so prepare to strut proudly and show what you got

– Service has improved greatly in Tallinn during the past few years as more people understand that satisfied customers are more likely to be repeat customers. No more soviet era ’service’.

– Tallinn Card is packed with exceptional value for first timer in Tallinn. Buy it and take advantage of really good sightseeing tours, great deals and even free services around the city.

Piritta beach

Yes. Picture above is from Tallinn.

Stay tuned for actual reports.

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