The best preserved medieval town in Western Europe, Tallinn is also a good starting point for day trips. If you want to visit the Finnish capital, Helsinki, you should know that ferry buses run daily between the two cities. Other day trip opportunities from Tallinn include the Western Coast of Estonia and the Northern Lahemaa National Park. Make choice, or savor all of them.
Lahemaa National Park Day Trip from Tallinn
70 km East of Tallinn, Lahemaa National Park stretches itself on 72500 ha, out of which 25090 are covered by water. During this day trip, you will have the opportunity to admire many wonders of the Estonian nature: scenic lakes and waterfalls, magnificent forests, luxurious vegetation and great landscapes.
Moreover, your day trip will include tours to two of the most famous Estonian manors: Palmse and Sagadi. Standing on the place of a former Cistercian monastery erected in 1286, Palmse Manor was one of the Von Der Pahlen family’s properties. The present mansion was built in 1730 and took its Baroque appearance in 1785. However, most of the annexes date from the middle of the 18th century. One of them houses nowadays a hotel. When touring Palmse Manor, you will be impressed by the exhibits’ opulent luxury. This is a very pleasant way of penetrating the life of the 19th century Estonian nobility. The surrounding park, crisscrossed by a meandering water stream, makes a great place for a romantic stroll.
Built in 1753 and renovated at the end of the same century when 2 neoclassic wings were added to the initial building, Sagadi Manor impresses visitors by its Rococo facade as well as by the scenic location it is set in. When touring Sagadi, you can see the lobby (a common concerts venue) and on its two sides, symmetrically displayed the owner’s and his lady’s apartments. It is said that the charming pond the manor is facing was dug in a single night and offered as a gift from the owner to his wife. The lake’s shape resembles that of the infinite symbol – a metaphor of the amount of love he had for her.
One of the annexes houses nowadays the Forest Museum. Its collections are impressive and its tour can be a delight for the young visitors interested in learning about different types of wood, the way to recognize and use them, about various wood crafting techniques as well as about the insects and parasites living on them.
Helsinki Day Trip from Tallinn
While in Tallinn, why wouldn’t you take the opportunity of visiting another Baltic city? A day trip to Helsinki from Tallinn is enough to sample the best sights of the Finish capital. From the medieval Tallinn, you will feel like being transported to a different world when touring the modern Helsinki. Nevertheless, the Finish capital city does not lack its share of historic landmarks. Upon arriving in its charming harbour – one of the busiest spots in town, you will easily spot Helsinki’s most renowned landmark – the Russian cathedral with its white imposing silhouette rising its green domes above the city.
On this day trip, you can benefit from a professional tour of the Finish capital. Alternatively, you can buy ferry tickets and sightsee the city on your own. Cruises between the two cities run almost every hour and there are several companies operating them. If you want to save money, it’s advisable you book your seats in advance. If you want to sample Helsinki’s nightlife, book your hotel for an overnight stay.
Paldiski Day Trip from Tallinn
About 50 km North West of Tallinn, at the end of Pakri Peninsula lies the almost ghost-town of Paldiski. In the 18th century, the Russians insalled here a naval base, which in 1962 became a training camp for the nuclear submarines of the Soviet Union. At the time, the town had about 20.000 inhabitants, but once Estonia gained its independance, the Russian soldiers left the town, which now looks deserted.
This day trip for Tallinn will charm you as you will have the opportunity to admire some of the greatest natural sights of the beautiful Estonian nature: the romantic Keila – Joa waterfall, the sandy Western coastline, the limestone cliffs at Turisalu, etc.
Day Trip from Tallinn to Prangli Island
A day trip to Prangli Island can be the perfect way to add some excitement to a Tallinn holiday. It’s easy to get to the island: just make your way to Leppneeme Harbour and look for the Vesta. This cruise liner departs 2x per day to the island. The bus route from downtown Tallinn will take you right there. You’ll need to park a vehicle as no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island.
The first thing you’ll notice after the hour-long ferry ride is that Prangli Island is incredibly beautiful. Only about 100 people call the island their full-time home, so development is limited. There’s one bar, one church, and one shop to enjoy, but you will still have internet access.
According to local legends, during the European colonization period, Prangli Island was a pirate island. It is said that there could be vast fortunes of loot and treasure hidden in the forests of the island. Searching for treasure can be a fun afternoon to explore the forest, especially for families who are enjoying the day trip from Tallinn.
There are small parks to enjoy a picnic lunch and beaches of varying levels of development are also available. Bicycles are permitted, so consider carrying one onto the ferry.
Explore the island at your leisure, stay the night if you wish at a number of small inns or camping houses, and maybe do some fishing while you’re there. With beautiful scenery, a culture that has a hint of Swedish to it, and a certain old-world rustic charm that is difficult to find in today’s world, Prangli Island is the perfect day trip on a sunny day.
Day Trip from Tallinn to Rakvere
For those seeking an excursion from Tallinn to appreciate the arts as well as some of Estonia’s medieval heritage, then Rakvere is well worth a day trip. Only 30 minutes from Tallinn, this northern town has plenty to offer. Among the most notable landmarks in Rakvere – the famous castle that resides within the town, along with the renowned Tarvas Statue that depicts a massive bull.
The castle itself dates back centuries, initially starting life as a wooden hillside fort, before becoming the stone castle whose ruins you can visit to this day. not only is the site of the castle worth visiting, you can actually get a tour of the interior, including horror and torture chambers along with armor exhibitions.
Not only that but with archery lessons available you can truly step back in time and enjoy the atmosphere of an ancient castle. If that wasn’t giving you an authentic feel for things, there is medieval inspired food and drink served during your visit. Visiting the castle and all of its exhibitions make a day trip to Rakvere worth it on its own!
The town is also known for its arts, perhaps perfectly showcased by the massive Tavaras statue that the town is famed for. Depicting a bull, although the locals will inform you it is actually an Auroch, it’s an impressive sculpture. Designed and crafted by Estonian sculptor Tauno Kangro, it measures 7 metres in length and is 4 metres long weighing in at around 7 tonnes!
Other fun activities Rakvere include the several festivals the town is famed for, including both musical and theatre varieties. Should you happen to be vising during one of these festivals, they are more than worth a look, with artists and performers putting on plenty of shows, concerts and performances.
Day Trip from Tallinn to Narva
Estonia shares borders with several countries, including being separated by others from small bodies of water. This has creating a melting pot of cultures through the entire country. So when visiting the capital, you really can make an excursion and find yourself in a complete different culture. This is never more apparent in the eastern city of Narva.
While it is quite a long drive to make a day trip, taking upwards of 3 hours each way, for those who have the time, it was well worth it. It borders neighbouring country Russia, which has a significant presence in this city, a long standing relationship that has seen it becoming ingrained in the culture of this city.
This is not only because of the close proximity of the two countries, but as a direct cause of how history as intertwined them. During the Second World War, German forces where retreating from the Soviets, the city was heavily bombed with airstrikes, levelling most of the city. Post-war reconstruction was completed under the Soviet rule, which would see them design and build the majority of the new buildings, as well as controlling the residences of the city, hence the strong Russian speaking population and Soviet architecture.
In terms of notable attractions, the Hermann Fortress is without a doubt a must see for anyone visiting. Situated on the banks of the Narva River, it overlooks a castle one the other side of the river, which so happens to be in Russia.
The fort itself is one of the best preserved of its kind, although today it serves as a cultural and heritage sight, consisting of a museum that offers fantastic insight and history in regards to the ancient times of this part of the world.
Modern features include festivals that play throughout the year, along with various concerts and shows. Many of these take place as open air events inside the walls of the Narva Castle. Although a long journey, seeing a city with such a unique blend of cultures is more than worth the time required to travel there.
Day Trip from Tallinn to Tartu
Tartu is another day trip worth making should you find the time, as it’s a rather long drive not unlike Narva, with a journey time of around 3 hours. As Estonia’s second largest city behind Tallinn itself, there is plenty to see and do here should you make the excursion.
Fans of culture, art and history will love all the offerings of this city. There are so many different museums to visit; you may struggle to fit them in on your day trip! The Estonia National Museum is certainly a must see, and with the likes of the Tartu Art Museum, the Tartu Sports Museum and the KGB Cells Museum to name a few, you really can take in many different sights.
St Johns Church and the Tartu Cathedral are other fine locations well worth visiting, and examples of the fantastic Gothic architecture that decorates the historical city. St John’s is home to an observation tower in which you can get a truly spectacular view of the city. Tartu University is one of the oldest in all Europe, having been founded back in 1632. The city also has a strong student population, and is seen as the academic city of Estonia.
The arts have a strong presence here too, as you can take in plenty of shows, with concerts theatre performances and festivals all regular features throughout the entire year. Simply put, you won’t struggle to find something to do in a visit for a day; in fact you may have to make the hard decision of what to see and what you may have to give a miss.
After one visit though it’s said to be impossible not to return!