Six cities in seven days: Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Helsinki
Six cities in seven days. Phwoaaar, bet you’re tired just reading that title right?
Call me grandma but where you may have found me backpacking this route as an over excited backpacker let loose from education three years ago, I now wouldn’t inflict such madness on myself.
As I’ve gotten older and more ‘travelled’ I definitely have more of an interest now in seeing a country and really experiencing the culture for longer than a touchdown ‘tick’. Saying that, I do still have a bucket list as long as my arm and a desire to pursue it. Houston, we have a problem.
I’ve found a wonderful solution. A way of travelling through multiple destinations and doing so at a speed that you would struggle to self navigate without totally exhausting yourself.
If you haven’t yet seen ‘My Scandinavian and Russian adventure on board Regal Princess’ with Princess cruises click here for an insight into what life on a cruise really looks like. I’ve gone into detail on what I loved, what I didn’t and I also addressed all the FAQ’s I got before during and after the cruise. You’ll be surprised.
In this post i’m going to take you through the highlights of the destinations we stopped off in during the 11 day itinerary.
(In case you’re confused, I hopped on to experience the 11 day itinerary as a guest of Princess Cruises* but due to my schedule I could only make it for 7 of the 11.)
Destination One – Tallin, Estonia
Tallin was the destination that surprised me the most, probably because I had no idea it even existed prior to booking onto this trip and I did zero research before landing at 1am on a fine Friday morning.
Top tip: When I arrived to Tallin airport at 1am in the morning, it was cold and there was a long queue for the taxis with not many arriving. I opened my Uber app on the off chance they existed there and boom I was picked up and dropped off at my hotel within 30 minutes for 11 euros!
When I woke in Tallin at Kalev Spa Hotel and Waterpark I was a stones throw from the most gorgeous part of all – the Old Town, and so i spent the morning exploring the likes of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Town Hall Square, St. Catherines Passage and some gorgeous lookouts. In the afternoon I met up with the crew that I was spending the week on the cruise with and we all walked about 15 minutes out of town to the industrial art centre of Telliskivi where we had the dreamiest of lunch at F-Honne. If you’re anything like me and love a menu filled with avocado, houmous and vegetarian goodness then you will love this place. It’s like something plucked straight out of Shoreditch (London) and best of all? It was so reasonably priced. My meal (see below) was £8!
My favourite finds in Tallin:
- Epic coffee – Located in the old town with all the herbal blends and nut milks. They do matcha too!
- The times we had lookout over Tallin – Pop ‘Kohtuotsa viewing platform’ into your Google Maps
- Telliskivi creative city
- F-Honne restaurant in Telliskivi – Order the Pumpkin and chickpea falafel with rocket-quinoa salad and cashew cream (G,L,V)
- They had mulled wine everywhere!
- Coffee / lunch at one of the main restaurants in the Town Hall Square (the main square pictured below with all the pretty coloured buildings)
Destination Two: St. Petersbourg, Russia
If there are any days that i’d recommend jumping on a shore excursion from your Princess Cruise adventure it’s for the docking time in St. Petersbourg, Russia. Not only because you can’t go ashore without one (visa rules) but because there’s a lot to see and it’s not all close together.
Top tip: A visa to enter Russia (for a UK citizen) usually costs around £200 and takes around 4 weeks to process. When on a cruise you are granted a 72 hour visa free exception if you’re booked onto a tour with an authorised travel agency. See more on Russia’s entry requirements here.
I’m not sure I would have come to Russia considering the visa cost and process so visiting it as part of Princess Cruises itinerary felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Add in the honour of watching the Russian Ballet perform Swan Lake at the Alexandrinsky Theatre whilst we were here and you could say I ticked off a huge bucket list number that I didn’t even realise I had. Very lucky indeed. I’d highly recommend watching the ballet if you come here to St. Petersbourg. There’s nothing quite like watching other peoples passion burst out in art and the performance was second to none.
We hopped ashore with Zhayna from Arctur Travel (A Princess Cruises partner) who, for our two days here, enlightened us with her incredible knowledge of the city and it’s many palaces, cathedrals and museums. Admittedly, history isn’t my forte and I found Zhayna’s wealth of knowledge and information rather overwhelming in Russia, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and had massive appreciation for the visual details.
The architecture and decor in Russia, particularly in The Hermitage and Petershof Palace, was so extravagant and the sheer volume of gold used in the designs was incredibly beautiful. They certainly know how to do it as you can see in my photos below…
My favourite finds in St.Petersbourg:
- The Hermitage museum
- Boat cruise – the city looks so different from the water, an insanely beautiful POV
- Russian Ballet performing Swan Lake at the Alexandrinsky Theatre
- Peterhof Palace – about a 40 minute drive from the centre
The Hermitage museum
Swan Lake at the Alexandrinsky Theatre
The Hermitage museum
Destination Three: Helsinki, Finland
Finland is one of my favourite countries in the world, period.
Finland is a country that that I have been blessed to visit on three separate occasions now. Once to explore the south here in Helsinki, Hanko and Salo (see my blog post here) and then again recently in the North where I explored Karelia in the -25 artic conditions. There’s a real purity to the life here and I fall in love every time I come back.
Here’s a little taster of my last trip here…
So what should you do if you come to Helsinki?
My favourite finds in Helsinki:
- Kulma for a gorgeous Fiinish interior and a matcha! Beautiful cafe in the centre of Helsinki to grab a coffee and bite to eat (cake)
- Senate square
- Grab a cocktail / coffee at Ateljee Rooftop Bar
- Grab a healthy concoction of goodness at Mari’ s Smoothie Bar in the Old Market Hall
- Dine at Restaurant Kuurna – one of my favourite meals ever on my travels. It’s a gorgeous little restaurant where they use local and seasonal produce to create the yummiest flavour combinations.
- Get into a sauna and experience the sauna culture. You can book into a private sauna or visit one of the public ones!
Stay Tuned For Part Two Of ‘Six Cities In Seven Days With Princess Cruises’ Where I’ll Be Passing On My Favourite Finds In Stockholm, Copenhagen And Oslo!
If you like the idea of the cruise, you can check out the exact itinerary I went on through Russia and Scandinavia here.
Have You Ever Been On A Cruise?
Would you ever think to go on one?
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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