Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia Via Eckerö Line Ferry
We traveled to Helsinki, Finland to be there for New Years. As I was looking at things to do, I came across a ferry that gives you about seven hours in Tallinn, Estonia. Since the rest of the trip had plenty of time to see the sights in Helsinki, we went for it. It was definitely worth it, and the Eckerö Line Ferry MS Finlandia with service between the two cities definitely made it easy.
The trip is made specifically for day trips to Estonia. The ferry leaves Helsinki at 9:00am and arrives in Tallinn about 11:15am. The ferry then departs Tallinn at 6:30pm and arrives back in Helsinki by 9:00pm. That gives you about six hours in Tallinn, which was more than enough for us.
Boarding the ferry was pretty smooth. Instead of checking in, we went directly to the turn style and used the tickets we had on our phone. This saved a lot of time, as the line to check in and get tickets at the terminal was pretty long.
The terminal in Helsinki was very expansive. We were required to be boarded 30 minutes prior to the departure time of the ferry so make sure to get there on time. Once we passed through the turn style, we went up to the main terminal. There were various restaurants up there, but only some of them were open since it was early in the morning.
A few minutes later, the doors to the ferry opened, our tickets were scanned again, and we boarded.
The ticket for the ferry roundtrip was €10 ($11.50). I added lounge access to my ticket (more on that below). That cost €50/€25 each way ($57.00 roundtrip).
While this is labeled as a ferry, it is a large ship that matches the size of some cruise ships from major cruise lines. The ferry seats over 2,000 passengers and over 600 vehicles. I did not really feel the boat moving at all.
The lounge was definitely worth the extra $57 just for a matter of convenience. The lounge access came with a guaranteed seat. In the general part of the ferry, there is no assigned seating and you find a seat where you can. The lounge guarantees you a seat, which is particularly helpful if you’re traveling with other people.
The lounge entrance was directly to the right as we boarded. We were warmly welcomed, boarding passes were scanned, and we were escorted to a reserved table. It’s important to note here that our table on the way there was reserved, but we did not have a reserved table on the way back. I’m not certain why that was, but it was not a big deal. There are also conference rooms that can be booked that include large screen televisions.
The lounge access comes with snacks, beer and wine, coffee, tea, juices, and water. It also comes with WiFi access and outlets for charging. There are newspapers included, but they were all in Finnish so weren’t much use to us.
The breakfast spread on the way to Estonia included fruit and some breakfast quiche-like items
There is also other alcohol available for purchase. Of course, you can also exit the lounge to purchase food located in other locations throughout the ferry.
Lastly, the lounge has private bathrooms that were very clean and always available since there were only about 20 people in the lounge.
Boarding in Estonia
Boarding in Estonia was a little less orderly than when we boarded in Helsinki. The gate to enter the terminal opened about an hour before we were scheduled to depart. Once we got our boarding passes scanned to check in, we went upstairs to the terminal. The terminal had very limited seating and was very crowded. Once the gate opened to board the ferry, there was a rush of people on all sides trying to get through the gate and it made for a rather disorderly boarding process.
This is a really easy way to go see Old Town Tallinn. It’s a small area that you can easily explore within the allotted time the you have doing a same-day return ferry trip. That being said, I would have loved to have spent one night in Tallinn. There was a good deal of restaurants to choose from and there was a wonderful Christmas market there. The only thing that could have made it better is if it was snowing.
I definitely would not miss out on the chance to see Tallinn if you are spending any time in Helsinki and have the chance to spend a day elsewhere.