Tallinn's historic old town.

The old city walls, Tallinn...

UK to Estonia without flying...

There's no need to fly to reach Estonia.  You can travel to Estonia by train+ferry via Copenhagen & Stockholm, or by Eurostar and connecting trains to Rostock in Germany then cruise ferry to Helsinki and on to Tallinn, or overland all the way by train+bus via Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, Vilnius & Riga.  The journey from London to Tallinn takes 3 nights, and is a great adventure with lots to see on the way.

Train times, fares, tickets & information...

  London to Tallinn - a summary of the options

  London to Tallinn via Cologne, Copenhagen & Stockholm

  London to Tallinn via Berlin, Rostock, Helsinki

  London to Tallinn overland by train & bus via Warsaw

  Train service within Estonia

  Tallinn to Riga by train or bus

  Tallinn to Moscow by train

  Tallinn to St Petersburg by train

  Useful country information

Sponsored links...

 

Route map:  London to Scandinavia, Estonia & Latvia by train & ferry...

Route map:  London to Stockholm & Gothenburg by train & ferry

Useful country information

Train operators in Estonia:

Internal trains run by Elron:  www.elron.ee.

Sleeper train Tallinn to Moscow: www.gorail.ee

 

 

Ferry operators to Estonia:

www.Tallink.ee (Stockholm-Tallinn, Helsinki-Tallinn) 

www.tallinksilja.com/en/ (Rostock-Helsinki-Tallinn)

Time zone & dialling code:  

GMT+2 (GMT+3 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).  Dial code +372

Estonia implemented summer time in 2002

Currency:

£1 = approx €1.18, previously = 18.9 Kroons.  Estonia adopted the euro on 1 January 2011.  Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.inyourpocket.com/estonia  & http://tourism.tallinn.ee.  

Recommended guidebooks.   Map of Tallinn

Hotels in Tallinn:

Find a hotel in Tallinn.    Hotel reviews:  www.tripadvisor.com    Backpacker hostels:  www.hostelbookers.com

Visas

UK citizens do not need a visa for Estonia for stays of up to 6 months.

Page last updated:

30 June 2014


London to Tallinn

There are several options for travel between the UK and Estonia:

Option 1:  London to Tallinn by Eurostar & onward trains via Copenhagen & Stockholm

The outward journey takes 3 nights, with a night and day to explore in Stockholm.  Departures are daily.  The return leg is faster, only taking 2 nights from Tallinn to London.  On the route map above it's the red line from London to Stockholm, then the pale blue dotted line to Tallinn.

London ► Tallinn

Tallinn ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Introducing the City Night Line sleeper train Borealis from Cologne to Copenhagen...

The Cologne to Copenhagen overnight train is one of the German Railway's excellent City Night Line sleeper trains with a choice of sleepers, couchettes & seats.  The modern Comfortline sleeping-car offers proper beds in 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet, or 1, 2 or 3-berth economy compartments with washbasin.  All sleepers have power-points for laptop computers, hotel-style cardkey locks, and there is a shower at the end of the corridor.  The air-conditioned couchette car offers simple flat padded berths with a rug & pillow in shared 4 & 6-berth compartments.  There are also ordinary seats in 6-seater compartments, but you should always book a couchette.  A bistro car is attached between Hamburg and Copenhagen in both directions.  The train actually starts its journey in Amsterdam.  More pictures & information about this City Night Line train

Dinner in Cologne before you board?  For a traditional German meal in Cologne before boarding your sleeper, try the Brauhaus Sion (www.brauhaus-sion.de), 5 minutes walk from Cologne hauptbahnhof, or the Malzmuehle restaurant (www.muehlenkoelsch.de), 10-15 minutes walk from Cologne Hauptbahnhof, or there's a restaurant inside the Hauptbahnhof itself at the Schweinske, www.schweinske.deFeedback is always appreciated!

Sleeping-car room - Cologne-Copenhagen overnight train   4-berth couchette compartment on Cologne-Copenhagen overnight train   6-berth couchette compartment on Cologne-Copenhagen overnight train  

A sleeping-car as used on the Cologne-Copenhagen overnight train

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper: The most comfortable option, economy with washbasin or deluxe with shower & toilet.

 

4-berth couchettes:  Ideal for families, much more space per person than 6-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes:  The budget option, far more comfortable than a seat for just a few euros more...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car on the Cologne-Copenhagen City Night Line sleeper train Borealis.

More pictures & information about City Night Line

... and the 125mph SJ2000 trains from Copenhagen to Stockholm.

125 mph tilting 'X2000' from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station 2nd class seats on the X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm The self-service buffet on the X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm...

An SJ2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station....

 

2nd class seating on the SJ2000.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles...

 

Self-service buffet car on the SJ2000.  More information about SJ2000 trains

...Then cruise overnight from Stockholm to Tallinn aboard the Tallink ferry.

The Tallink ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn   A cabin on the Tallink ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn

The ferry Baltic Queen sails from Stockholm to Tallinn.  Photo courtesy of Tallink.

 

A cabin on the Baltic Queen.  Photo courtesy of Tallink.


Option 2:  London to Tallinn by sleeper to Germany and ferry to Helsinki...


Option 3:  London to Tallinn overland via Brussels - Berlin - Warsaw - Vilnius - Riga:

The overland option from London to Tallinn via Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw, Vilnius and Riga takes about 4½ days.  It can only be booked from the UK as far as Warsaw, where you will need to buy a ticket for Vilnius, then you will need to re-book again in Vilnius for the bus or train to Riga and in Riga for the bus to Tallinn.  See the London to Latvia page for information on the journey from London as far as Riga.  Riga and Tallinn are linked by regular buses, taking 4½ hours and costing between €16 & €27, see www.luxexpress.eu for times & fares.  You can also use local trains between Riga & Tallinn, with one change at the border, see details here.


Train travel within Estonia

Local trains link Tallinn with many Estonian towns, including Pärnu, Viljandi, Valga, Tapa & Tartu.  For times & fares, see www.elron.ee - Click 'EN' top right for English.


Tallinn to Riga by train or bus

Tallinn to Riga by train...

At last some good news from the Baltic States!  Estonian and Latvian railways finally co-ordinated their timetables again in 2011 and it once more became possible to travel between Tallinn and Riga on a reasonably comfortable and cheap daily train service, with one simple cross-platform change of train on the border at Valga.  It must be stressed that both the Estonian and Latvian trains are local trains and it takes a few hours longer and is less frequent than the bus (the train service runs only once a day), but it's cheap, easy to use, no prior reservation is necessary and you may find it an interesting and more enjoyable alternative to a bus ride.  And as from 2014, the Estonian train between Valga & Tallinn is now a smart modern air-conditioned train with power sockets and free WiFi.

 Riga Tallinn

          

 Tallinn ► Riga

 Local train service

Daily

 Local train service

Daily

 Riga station

depart

12:55

 Tallinn station

depart

08:12

 Valga (on Latvian train)

arrive

16:32

 Tartu

depart

10:16

 Valga (on Estonian train)

depart

17:00

 Valga arrive (on Estonian train)

arrive

11:30

 Tartu

arrive

18:16

 Valga depart (on Latvian train)

depart

11:44

 Tallinn station

arrive

21:17

 Riga station

arrive

15:06

Fares:  Tallinn to Valga costs €13.90.  Valga to Riga costs €5.60 for the 168 km.

How to buy tickets: There's no need to reserve, indeed you can't.  Just turn up at Tallinn station, buy a ticket to Tartu and get on the train.  You simply buy the onward Tartu-Valga ticket on board the next train, then buy the Valga-Riga ticket when you get to Valga, if necessary on board the Latvian train.

How to check these times and fares:  You can check the Estonian train times and fares at www.elron.ee.  At time of writing it's only in Estonian, but click sõiduplaan (= timetable) at the top then look at the Tartu-Valga timetable.  It looks like two trains, Valga-Tartu & Tartu-Tallinn, one report says it's just one train which runs Valga-Tartu-Tallinn with a 19-minute wait at Tartu, another correspondent had to switch trains at Tartu, a simple cross-platform change.  In Estonian, Riia = Riga.  You can check times for the Latvian train times and fares at www.ldz.lv, click 'English' then 'Passenger traffic'.

On board the Estonian train between Tallinn and Valga, en route to Riga.   Estonian train from Tallinn to Valga, seen at Valga

1) Tallinn to Tartu & on to Valga by Estonian train...  These smart new air-conditioned local trains have on-board information screens, free Wifi & power sockets for laptops & mobiles.  Above left, first class seats are also available.  At Valga, it's a simple cross-platform interchange, in the exterior photo that's the front of the Latvian train on the right.  Photos courtesy of Daniel King.

Tallinn to Riga by train:  Seating on the Valga-Riga train   Tallinn to Riga by train:  This is the Valga-Riga Latvian train

2) Valga to Riga by Latvian train...  This is a classic Soviet-era local train, 2nd class only, with a modernised interior (above left).  There's no catering on either train, so bring your own beer and picnic!  Photos courtesy of Jan Špaček

Tallinn to Riga by bus...

Tallinn is linked to Riga by regular buses with a range of departures daily.  Journey time about 4½ hours, fare between €16 & €27 one-way.  See www.luxexpress.eu.

Tallinn to Moscow by train

There is a safe and comfortable overnight train between Tallinn & Moscow run by GoRail (www.gorail.ee, formerly EVR Ekspress).  The Tallinna Ekspress (pictured below right) runs daily, with 1st class Spalny Wagon 2-berth compartments, 2nd class kupé 4-berth compartments, ordinary seats and a restaurant car.

 Tallinn Moscow

 

 Moscow ► Tallinn

 Tallinna Ekspress

Daily

 Tallinna Ekspress

Daily

 Tallinn 

depart

16:50

 Moscow (Leningradski)

depart

18:05

 Moscow (Leningradski)

arrive

09:20

 Tallinn 

arrive

08:05

On board accommodation:  Spalny vagon 2-berth sleepers, kupé 4-berth sleepers, reclining seats, restaurant car.

  The 'Tallinna Express' overnight train between Tallinn & Moscow

Tallinna Express:  The Tallinn-Moscow sleeper train...

Fare:  Tallinn-Moscow costs around €59 in a reclining seat (not recommended), €130 one-way travelling in a 2nd class 4-berth sleeper (recommended for most travellers), or €233 in a 1st class 2-berth sleeper.

How to buy tickets from Moscow to Tallinn:  You can buy tickets at the station in Moscow or you can easily book online using the Real Russia online booking form here.  You pay online and collect tickets at the station in Moscow using the e-ticket option, or collect them at Real Russia's offices in Moscow.

How to buy tickets from Tallinn to Moscow:  You can buy tickets at the station in Tallinn or you can easily book tickets online using the Real Russia online booking form here (a 15-23% mark-up is included in the fares shown, and tickets will have to be sent to you for an extra courier charge as they cannot be collected in Tallinn and the e-ticket option does not work there).  However, the cheapest way to buy tickets is to email GoRail's associated travel agency, www.gotravel.ee (click 'transportation' at top right, then click 'train'). 

Traveller Tomas Ersson booked by email through the GoRail website:  "I just made an inquiry via their website and received a quote and a from to fill out as an attachment.  The fare was relatively cheap, about 60 euros per person in a 4-berth sleeper.  I filled in the form with names, passport & visa card number, signed it, scanned it and emailed it back. One or two days later I received an email attachment which I printed & used as our ticket.  At the station in Tallinn, I just showed them the print out and got on to the train!  We were already on the passenger list and the train departed as planned, hassle-free for us."

How to use the GoRail website:  You can check times and fares at www.gorail.ee, though there's no online booking.  The English version isn't very useful, so leave it in Estonian.  'Sõiduplaanid' means timetable, 'Piletihinnad' means prices.  On the prices page, 'Istevagun' means seat, 'kupee' means 4-berth sleeper, 'SV' means 2-berth sleeper.

Tallinn to St Petersburg by train

This train route has had its ups and downs.  The original overnight train was withdrawn in 2004, a victim of bus competition.  Then a new daytime train was introduced in March 2007 run by GoRail (www.gorail.ee, formerly EVR Ekspress) which was then replaced by an overnight train once more in October 2007, but this was itself withdrawn in August 2008, due to higher track-usage fees and fuel costs.  There were no trains at all between Tallinn and St Petersburg between August 2008 and May 2012, and you had to endure a 7 hour bus journey.  At least the communists knew how to run a proper train service!  But at last things seem to have been sorted out.

Current situation:  It's good news.  GoRail resumed a daily Tallinn-St Petersburg train from 26 May 2012, see www.gorail.ee/?id=1671 (in Estonian, so use Google Chrome's built-in translation facility), and in summer 2013 they added a second train on the three busiest days of the week.  It's also reported that bus operator Lux Express is building new trains and intends to start its own Tallinn-St Petersburg train service from the first half of 2015.  It's business has apparently grown to the extent where buses cannot cope and it wants to switch to trains.  Meanwhile, here's the timetable for the GoRail Tallinn to St Petersburg trains:

 Tallinn St Petersburg

          

 St Petersburg ► Tallinn

 

810P 

812P 

 

811P 

809P 

every day

Thur, Fri, Sun

Fri, Sat, Mon

daily

 Tallinn 

depart

07:23

15:25

 St Petersburg (Vitebski)

depart

06:55

18:00

 St Petersburg (Vitebski)

arrive

15:55

23:03

 Tallinn 

arrive

12:29

22:50

Fares:  Tallinn to St Petersburg on this new train costs €23 in a 2nd class seat, €29 in a 1st (business) class seat.

What's the new Tallinn-St Petersburg train like?  It's a refurbished diesel train with 1st & 2nd class seats and a bar car serving drinks and snacks and (according to their website) renting out 'the latest multimedia devices'.  There's also on-board WiFi promised!

The Russian border point on this train is Ivangorod.

For alternative bus services see www.luxexpress.eu, bus fare around €29.

For direct trains between London and Moscow or St Petersburg, see the London to Russia page.

Tallinn ▶ Helsinki by ferry...

Tallinn is linked to Helsinki by a variety of shipping lines, operating both conventional ships (2½ hours) and fast ferry (1½ hours).  Services run  daily.  Operators include Tallink, Silja Line, Nordic Jet Line, Eckero Line, Linda Line.


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 


Guidebooks

The Man in Seat 61 book - click to buy onlinemake sure you invest in a good guidebook.  For the serious independent traveller this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both books provide a similarly excellent level of practical detail and cultural and historical background.  You won't regret buying one..! 

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk...

My own book, an essential handbook for train travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61", was published in June 2008, and is available from Amazon with shipping worldwide.


Find hotels in Tallinn & the Baltics...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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