On a very cold November Sunday morning, I joined this combined bus and walking tour of the city. I found the tour very useful even if I lost the group at the end of the tour but didn't miss anything crucial. The tour covers Kadriorg Palace and the Song Festival Grounds in the Pirita District whilst giving an overview of Estonian History and its culture. After the bus tour we were dropped off in the old town for the walking part taking in Toompea Hill, Parliament Building, Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, the Dome Church and the scenic view point of the lower town. The tour finishes at Town Hall Square.
If you are going to be doing a lot of sightseeing in Tallinn, it is a good idea to purchase the Tallinn Card. It provides free admission or discounts to most of the museums and other major attractions. It also entitles you to a bus tour of the city (highly recommended) -- and free use of all public transportation in Tallinn (all you need to do is flash your card to the tram or bus operator).
Get a Tallinn card! It includes visits to museums, trips on the great bus tours etc, see the web site. The KuMu art museum is a beautiful building worthy of visiting in its own right, let alone to see the art work on display.
I particularly recommend the Hansa Bus Tours around Tallinn. I had been to Tallinn many times, but still learned and saw something new on my trips around Tallinn in the bus. The recorded commentary is very good.
The Tallinn card offers substantial savings, with unlimited public transport, entry into museums, discounts in some shops and restaurants and you can get tours of Tallinn using it.
The different tyoes of cards you can buy are 6hrs, 24hrs, 48hrs & 72hrs NB The 6hr card does not included the sight seeing tour (which usually costs 200EEK on its own).
Important to note, when choosing which card to buy - Museums are not open on Mondays and some are not open on Tuesdays either.
In 2005 the Tallin card cost 30EEK, 85EEK, 115EEK & 145EEK (respectively i.e depending on the duration of its validity). The card was free for under 7's.
You can pick Tallinn cards in several city hotels (we got ours at Meriton Grand Hotel Tallinn), the train station, the Estravel stand at the airport & the tourist offices at Kullassepa 24/Niguliste 2. I think you can get them at the port, also, but I am not 100% on this.
Old Town of Tallinn can be easily explored by foot, but some may want to ride the bus. I think there is also a hop-on-hop-off bus, but I decided to take 2.5 hour "bus and foot" combination tour starting from the white skyscraper you can't miss, the Hotel Viru (bus tour times at 1030, 1230, 1500). I just waited at the lobby of this hotel, and had a confirmation in hand from a reservation I made along with my ferry ride from Stockholm to Tallinn (booked while I was still in the USA).
I was met by a nice lady and was brought to a big bus - but then, I was the only passenger that afternoon for the WHOLE bus! It was kinda sad having the bus waste gas all for myself.
The bus tour brought me to the outskirts, offering glimpses of Pirita where a regatta was held during the 1980 Summer Olympics, north-east of central Tallinn (I think the guide just mentioned it and I am not sure if what I saw was the actual Pirita beach). Then they also bring you to the Song Festivals Grounds, an important place where Estonian patriotism flourished through the sound of music. You get to see the statue of Gustav Ernesaks, crouching on the green grass in front of the open air stage. He became my friend when I sat beside him.
Once at Toompea Hill, the tour continued on foot. I was shown the Parliament building and the Russian Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with its onion domes, built in 1900. Next to the church is a 14th-15th century fortress wall with the towers Tall Hermann and Kiek in de Kök (Peep-into-the Kitchen), a medieval citadel.
The foot part brings you into winding cobblestone streets leading to platforms that offer breathtaking panoramic views of Tallinn and finally to the Town Hall Square with the dominating Gothic structure, and also where you can see the Town Hall Pharmacy which has been in business for 500 years.
Overall, a nice tour, and extra-nice since the guide was giving me all the attention as I was the sole client!
Hop- on Hop-off city tours
You buy one ticket and you can choose from three different routes, or you can take them all.
It's a good way to see the city on freezing days!
It doesn't cover the old town.
The Tallinn card is a good investment if you plan to stay Tallinn for a few days. You get a good guided tour, 3 unguided bus trips to outlying sights (although we only thought 2 of them were worthwhile), free use of the transport system, and free entry into nearly every "sight" in town.
It means that when you reach a museum door, rather than wondering if the price is worth paying and how long you have to stay to get your moneys worth, you can flash your card, stroll round and leave straight away without feeling out of pocket.
We used ours many many times.
We had already been in Tallinn for 3 days and so had, as such, bearing in mind it's size, pretty much managed to cover the area by foot, sevceral times over. However, it was cold - actually freezing, museums were closed for the day (being a Monday) and we were scratching about for something to do (having ruled out going across to Helsinki for the day, due to illness). We had our Tallinn cards which offered this tour for free so.... why not!
The tour bus departs 3 times a day from Apr-Oct and then 2 times day from Oct-Mar from Viru, Radisson & Olympia hotels and it is a VERY good way of getting out of the cold and warming up a bit!
We were the only takers so it was our own private tour - lasting 1 1/2hrs. It was nice to sit down, be told some of the history aetc... but we were shocked when the bus stopped at the top of Toompea and we were told we had to get out and commence the walking part of the city tour. We very politely insisted we had seen/done town and that we were happy to end the tour here...but NO she was a jobs worth and her job she had to do!!!
Actually, I will admit that some of the info offered around the town was interesting but, to be honest, we were tired of walking the same few streets, frozen to the bones and the kids - bored senseless and tired. My youngest said in his angelic voice "Daddy, this lady is annoying me, can we leave her and go back to the hotel room now?"!!!
Advice is do this tour when you first arrive - before you have had a chance to discover Tallinn for yourself!
There is a choice of 3 tours, which costs 250 EEK for 3 tours over 24 hours. 48 hours is 300 EEK & 72 hours is 350 EEK. Its free with the Tallinn Card though. The web site lists the time table for each tour. The Red Line offers an Old Town tour, the Green Line offers a tour to Pirita and the surrounding area and the Blue Line offers a tour to Rocca Al Mare and the surrounding areas.
We caught the bus for the Green Line tour from the Viru Valjak stop opposite the Sokos Viru hotel & outside the Venus nightclub. We wanted to do the others but there simply wasn't enough time! The beauty of the tour is that you can hop off at a desired stop of interest and another bus circulating the tour will pick you up an hour later. It definitely is a great way to see all the sites of Tallinn that are a little too far away to walk.
You receive earphones to listen to audio commentry in your own language and this explains a little about the area and its history, which is very interesting. Oh and you also get a free sweetie. Some of the stops are not as obvious as the others, so be ready to get off before you want to.
This tour is free of charge if you have a Tallinn card that is valid for 24 hours or more. It takes about 2.5 hours to complete.
First you take the bus tour of the outskirts of the city where you get chance to see the port, Kadriorg Palace (from a distance), the Song Festival Grounds and Pirita (where the sailing events of the 1980 Moscow Olympics took place).
Afterwards the bus leaves you close to Toompea Hill and you continue on foot around the Old Town. Landmarks you see are: Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral, Dome Cathedral, Parliament, the Town Hall and the Main Square.
The tour gives you a good insight into places you may wish to spend more time looking at when the tour finishes. We actually did the tour on the second full day but didn't really end up seeing places that we had already visited (apart from a distant view of Kadriorg). It is also a good way to get to know the city a little better as the guide gives you a potted history of the city, country and landmarks that you would otherwise miss (unless you risked tripping over the cobbles trying to read your guide book as you walked around which is usually what happens to me!)
There are various pick up points for the tour around the city. i would suggest that you avoid the one at the Viru Hotel. You run the risk of not being able to get on if the coach is full by the time its reaches there.
The train takes you around the cobbled streets of the Old Town and is a good way to see the city if your legs are weary after a hard day of sightseeing. Although the train is probably aimed at children you will also see lots of childless adults on the train too!
It is a good way to see the central sights of the Old Town though one thing it did lack was a commentary as to what places were. You really need to take a map or guide book with you to follow the route if you want to know what landmarks are.
Open: May to September Monday to Saturday 12 noon to 6pm, Sunday 11am to 6pm
But it will be closed on rainy days.
Cost: Adult 50EEK, Concessions: 25 EEK
Free with a Tallinn Card
Even if you only have a few hours to spend in Tallinn (from a cruise ship for instance), you might want to consider buying a Tallinn Card. They come with different time validities and if you are really set on seeing as much as possible in the time you have , they offer free public transport and museum entries as well as more commercial discounts, a guide book, a map and (with the longer cards) a guided sight-seeing tour.
A six hour Card will cost you 60 kroon, and there are 24, 48 and 72 hour versions at increasing costs.
A word of warning - Mondays and Tuesdays see many public building, museums, etc closed, so these are not the best days to be buying a Tallinn Card
This is a cold and wet fen infront of the Tallinn city tour bus. it's dry and warm on the bus. a great way to view the city.