Is it worthwhile to hire a Tallin tourguide?

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Northern Europe & Baltic Sea
Aarhus, Bergen, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Greenland, Helsinki, Oslo, Reykjavik, Riga, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn
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#1
Michigan
143 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
My impression is that Tallin is a quaint small town that is easy to manage alone. But if we hired a tour guide we might see/learn things that we might not otherwise alone. Is this worthwhile? Is there a lot of interesting history or architecture in Tallin worth having a tour guide take us to? I looked at various tours on the Ahti Arak site and can't tell which we'd like. Any advice for which is the best type of tour to take? I would think I would want a shorter tour to give us time to eat and shop on our own!

I'd love advice especially from anyone who has or plans to take a tour in Tallin.
#2
Germany/Switzerland
9,378 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
We had a personal tour guide in Tallinn and we appreciated it very much.

So have not seen anyone of the other cruisers who obviously walked the same round through Tallinn.

Enjoy.

Regards,
HeinBloed
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#3
Boston MA
6,120 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by Phishface
My impression is that Tallin is a quaint small town that is easy to manage alone. But if we hired a tour guide we might see/learn things that we might not otherwise alone. Is this worthwhile? Is there a lot of interesting history or architecture in Tallin worth having a tour guide take us to? I looked at various tours on the Ahti Arak site and can't tell which we'd like. Any advice for which is the best type of tour to take? I would think I would want a shorter tour to give us time to eat and shop on our own!

I'd love advice especially from anyone who has or plans to take a tour in Tallin.
Phishface, I asked the same questions and I did seesaw back and forth on the answer. For a while, I was going to rent the audiotour available at the Tourist Center (but tapes can't answer questions). Then I back in June, I read a review here from someone who had just come back from Tallin and who said that getting Ahti Arak as a tourguide for his group was the best thing that he had ever done. I booked the 4.5 van+walking tour within 24 hours; even if I couldn't find other people interested in touring with us, we would be taking the tour. I'll let you know how it was when we get back.

Here is the link to the post that pushed me over the edge: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=568942 and scroll down the first post to where it says TALLINN.

Agreed: I'll learn more if I tour with a guide than if I just wander around -- and I'm not very good about sitting down and reading stuff before I tour or even of following along with some written commentary.

Hope this rattling on has helped and hopefully I will remember to post something here when I return at the end of August.





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#4
1,277 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
We took a bus tour first (a double decker affair...we paid on the spot) and then walked the old city of Tallinn ourselves...had something to eat at a medieval type restaurant (I'm having a senior moment...name escapes me) which was wonderful. Tallinn is very doable on your own but, be warned, it's quite hilly.
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#5
Michigan
738 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
We just returned from the July 24th Jewel of the Seas. We booked a tour with Ahti Arak in Tallin. We booked the short walking tour of Old Town. He met us at the dock, then walked into town and around town. We had free time to eat and shop then he took us back to the ship. I would have liked a little more free time, but we learned so much from him. He is a history teacher. There is quite a bit of walking in this city and as stated, it is quite hilly. This was our last port of the cruise, and our 5th port day in a row, so we were pretty tired. But, in my opionion, well worth it, there was time to rest on our two sea days after that. I wouldn't hesitate to book him again.
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#6
50 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
We used Rick Steeves book and did the walking guide. The town is very quaint and very doable on your own without any transportation.
We met people who did the ship's tour and were very upset that they did not have an opportunity to stop and browse along the way.
#7
16 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
We akso used Ahti, and found him extremely accomodating to our desires to stop and shop. He is a very knowledgeable guide who goes out of his way to make sure you are doing and geting what you wan, I am glad we found him through cruise critic. He gave us a tour of Tallin, and a walk through both lower and upper Tallin
#8
1,260 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
We did Baltic cruise last year on HAL Amsterdam. We used Rick Steve's Scandanavia book for all ports except St. Petersburg which we did 2 days with Red October. We cut out the pages of the book that we would need for each port, so that we did not have to carry all of the info on hotels and things we did not need. We enjoyed this cruise the most of any trip we have taken. We find Rick Steve's suggested walking tours easy to do and very informative. He has small descriptions of what you are looking at, so it is nice to pause every so often, rest on a bench, and just enjoy the descriptions and people watching. We like to do things on our own, at our won pace, and not be "trapped" in some shopping tour. Also, we felt we saw everything we planned to see, and never felt rushed to get back to the ship. Enjoy.
#9
Upland, California
2,863 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by teacherman
We find Rick Steve's suggested walking tours easy to do and very informative. He has small descriptions of what you are looking at, so it is nice to pause every so often, rest on a bench, and just enjoy the descriptions and people watching.

Thanks! I just ordered his book. I'm moving right along! Two weeks ago I booked our hotels (B&B) in London both pre and post cruise. This past week I booked our flights.

All that's left is to lose 10 pounds, decide on my excursions and figure out what to do in St. P. Hopefully this book will take care of all the ports except St. P, where I'm debating a private guide or NCL's excursion.

Ginny
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#13
502 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Did you know the Visitor Center at Talinn offers a bus/walking tour of Talinn? We did it in June 2007 and it was excellent! The tour left from the Visitor Center right at the port. I think it started at 1:00. Contact the Talinn tourism board www.tourism.talinn.ee for info. They sent us tons of stuff in response to our email. We also bought a Talinn Day Card which not only included the tour, but free admission to museums etc.
#14
Victoria, BC
39 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
We are taking a Baltic Cruise in June 08. I noticed "Rick Steve's" book being mentioned. Is this like a FODOR's type book. Do you know where I might get one for the Baltic area?
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#15
Mount Pleasant, SC
4,544 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
Originally posted by Daolbuzzard
We are taking a Baltic Cruise in June 08. I noticed "Rick Steve's" book being mentioned. Is this like a FODOR's type book. Do you know where I might get one for the Baltic area?
It looks like this might be the one that others have mentioned - http://www.addall.com/New/compare.cg...rt=50&state=AK
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#16
Boston MA
6,120 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
I promised to post again when we got back from our tour with Ahti Arak. We did a combination walking and driving tour but perhaps should have done just a walking tour as there is just so much to see in the Old Town alone. However, in the long run, the drive/walk combo worked for our group because we had a few in our group with mobility issues of varying types.

We loved the tour and we are so glad that we did it. We learned a lot more than we would have on our own because we just don't have the patience to read the guidebooks as we go along. Our biggest complaint was that we did not have enough time in the port (7am-2pm). We loved Tallinn. We learned a lot from our guide. I never get around to reading the tour books. I brought the Rick Steves along to use in Copenhagen and we never did his walking tour. So, using a tour guide was a good choice for us.

Another reason for using a tour guide is just the chance to meet someone from Estonia and talk with them. Our favorite ports were the ones where we toured with someone local. We toured with a City-sherpa in Helsinki, with friends living in Stockholm and with private guides in both St.P and Tallinn.

BTW, if you are planning to walk to and from the ship, allow at least 20 minutes if not more. It will take you at least 10 minutes to walk through the port itself to the dock.

No matter how you do it in Tallinn, you can't lose; you just have to decide what is right for you.
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"Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." Antonio Machado
Expand for links to links to photos and more.
The high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy Herman Hesse





Click on the links below for photos

AT SEA: 1983/NCL Caribbean ~ 1985/Premier DisneyWorld+Cruise ~ 1997/NCL Alaska ~ 2000/Renaissance Istanbul to Athens ~ 2001/Celebrity Horizon Southern Caribbean ~ 200?/NCL Boston to Bermuda ~ 2005/Celebrity Zenith Central America/Western Caribbean ~ 2006/RCCL L.A. to Ensenada ~2007/Celebrity Century Scandinavia & Baltic Capitals ~2009/Celebrity Infinity South America around the Horn ~ 2016/Viking Sea Midnight Sun ~ 2016/Viking Sea NYE on the Med

RIVER DAYS: 2010/Viking River Cruises "China's Cultural Delights" ~ 2013/Viking "Footsteps of the Cossacks" ~ 2015/Viking "Passage to Eastern Europe"

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#17
California
814 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
Hi,
I am in contact with Ahti for a walking / driving tour. We all walk a lot so that's not a problem. So you think the things you drove to we not a good at Tallinn? Thanks Trish
#18
Arkansas
2,753 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I liked the Frommers walking tours better than the ones in the Rick Steves guide for most ports, but I don't think Frommers has a walking tour for Tallinn. We used the Rick Steves walking tour in Tallinn and were very happy with that option.

Happy travels,
Donna