Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and the only city most tourists visit while in the country. That is a huge mistake because the rest of the country has so much to offer! My favourite city in Estonia is Tartu. Today I’m going to teach you have to travel from Tallinn to Tartu, so you can experience everything the beautiful city has to offer!
Tallinn is at the top of the country across the sea from Helsinki, and Tartu is at the very bottom of Estonia.
Over 180km separate the two cities, and it can be a bit daunting to figure out how to get from Tallinn to Tartu.
This post will solve that problem and take the uncertainty out of travelling between the two cities.
There are two ways you can travel from Tallinn to Tartu: bus or train. They both cost about the same, but the train is quicker. However, the buses run more often and fit more schedules. Finally, you have to consider where you catch the bus or train. The bus station in Tallinn is further outside the old town than the train station, but the train station in Tartu is quite a ways away from the city centre. With all that considered, the best way to travel from Tallinn to Tartu is by bus.
No matter whether you choose to take the bus or train from Tallinn to Tartu, it is well worth the journey.
You won’t regret visiting Tartu on your trip to Estonia!
Option One: Taking the Bus from Tallinn to Tartu
The bus is my preferred way to travel from Tallinn to Tartu. It is affordable, convenient, and comfortable.
The bus isn’t as quick as the train, but it is more convenient.
There are more departure times, and the drop off location in Tartu is closer to the city centre and easier to navigate to your hotel from than the train station.
How Long Does the Bus Take?
The bus takes, on average, 2.5 hours to travel from Tallinn to Estonia. Some buses are quicker and some are slower.
This includes a stop at the Tallinn Airport, which does slow down the bus journey a little bit. Every bus stops at the airport, so there isn’t a way around that stop.
At least you’ll snag a good seat before the people from the airport board the bus!
Of course, your journey can be delayed due to traffic or construction, so I don’t recommend planning anything for at least an hour or two after you’re scheduled to arrive in Tartu!
How Much Does a Bus Ticket Cost?
This, of course, varies depending on which bus you take.
Buses that depart during peak times cost more, and buses that depart at undesirable times cost less.
The average bus ticket from Tallinn to Tartu cost between €11 and €17. That is approximately $14 USD to $21 USD.
I think it is quite affordable and a fair price to pay for the bus ride.
Where to Purchase Bus Tickets
There are two options for purchasing your bus ticket from Tallinn to Tartu:
- Online in advance
- In person at the bus station
My preference is to purchase a ticket online in advance. It ensures you get the departure time you want and allows you to get to the bus station a little later than you would if you had to purchase a ticket on the day of departure.
Lux Bus is the company that served the Tallinn to Tartu route.
They run buses to Tartu from Tallinn pretty much every hour from about 6am to 11pm. You can purchase your tickets online through their website, and the website is in English, which makes it very easy for tourists to navigate.
One of my favourite features of Lux Bus is they accept electronic tickets! You simply take a screenshot of your ticket and show it to the bus driver or bus attendant when you board.
It is incredibly easy.
The other option is to purchase your bus ticket at the station the day you’re leaving.
This is great for spontaneous travellers who don’t want to plan their trip far enough in advance to pre-book a ticket online.
The downside to purchasing your ticket at the station is the bus you want may be sold out, and you might have to wait for the next one.
It isn’t a big deal and doesn’t happen very often, but it is something to consider when deciding how to travel from Tallinn to Tartu by bus.
Where the Bus Depart from in Tallinn?
The bus station, unfortunately, is a little bit outside of Old Town Tallinn where most tourists stay.
It is only 2.5km outside of the old town, and it is really easy to get to.
You can take an Uber for a couple of Euro, take bus 2 or 4 directly to the bus station, or walk.
I personally walk to the bus station because I’m one of those weird people who will walk everywhere even if it is the least convenient option. It takes about 20-30 minutes, and you walk through a new part of town you probably didn’t see while exploring Tallinn.
If you’re not like me, the best option is probably taking an Uber.
They are super affordable and the most convenient option. You can leave whenever you want and don’t have to plan your departure around a local bus schedule.
A car takes about 10 minutes to travel from old town to the bus station, and the public bus takes about 20.
All three are great options, and it just depends what your travel style and budget are.
Where Does the Bus Arrive at in Tartu?
The Tartu bus station is in the perfect location.
It is located just 700 meters away from Tartu Town Hall Square, which is the heart of Tartu and where most tourists stay. You can walk from the bus station to the middle of Tartu in about five minutes.
It doesn’t get any better than that!
It is a straight line from the bus station to the central square. Across the road from the bus station is Hotell Tartu. Have your back facing the hotel and walk away from it. Follow that straight line through a park, and you’ll arrive at the square.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Pros of Taking the Bus from Tallinn to Tartu
- There are a lot of departure times every day
- It is comfortable and provides fee wifi (but make sure you have a VPN installed on your phone to protect your devices!)
- The arrival location is unbeatable
- Can pre-book tickets online
Cons of Taking the Bus from Tallinn to Tartu
- The journey takes longer than the train
- It is the same price as the train but takes longer, which kind of sucks
- Have to stop at Tallinn Airport to pick up passengers (it isn’t really a bit deal though)
A Word of Warning About Using Internet on the Bus
Lux Bus offers guests complimentary wifi on board their buses.
It is an awesome feature, and I’ve had no trouble connecting to it any time I’ve used on of their buses.
The problem with connecting to a public and unprotected wifi account like the one on Lux Bus is that it puts you at risk of having your online data and privacy stolen and sold.
Hackers lurk around every corner, and you never know if there is someone connected to the public wifi you’re using that has bad intentions.
Most people are pure of heart and don’t use the internet for anything but scrolling on social media, but the few bad apples are the ones you have to look out for.
The only way to protect your online privacy and data is by installing a VPN on your devices.
A VPN makes using public wifi as secure as using your private home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.
When you have a VPN turn on and protecting your device, nobody can see what you’re doing online or steal your personal information (like your banking information).
Internet safety is so important, but too many people overlook it when they travel.
Option Two: Taking the Train from Tallinn to Tartu
Your next option is taking the train from Tallinn to Tartu.
The trains are comfortable, moderns, and quick. You can’t go wrong with choosing the train, and it is a very popular choice amongst tourists visiting Estonia.
How Long Does the Train Take?
Journey times vary depending on what time of day you leave and how busy the train tracks are.
On average, the train from Tallinn to Tartu takes between 2 hours and 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Most train journeys take 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes, so it is quicker than the bus. The time you save by taking the train over the bus is negligible though since the journey times are so similar.
Every train from Tallinn to Tartu is direct, so you don’t have to worry about transferring trains part way through the journey!
How Much Does a Train Ticket Cost?
The price of a train ticket is very similar to the price of a bus ticket, but the cheapest train ticket is less expensive than the cheapest bus ticket.
Train tickets from Tallinn to Tartu range from €9 to €15 with most train tickets costing around €11. That is equivalent to approximately $11 USD to $18 USD.
Where to Purchase Train Tickets
Just like with the bus, you can either purchase your ticket online in advance or in person at the train station.
I highly recommend you purchase your ticket online in advance because you receive a 15% discount for doing so.
Elron is the train company in Estonia, and you can purchase tickets directly through their website. They have an English page on their website, and they accept foreign credit cards with no issue.
If you’re not interested in purchasing your ticket online in advance, you can purchase your ticket at the Tallinn train station.
You can either purchase your ticket with a human employee or by using an electronic ticket machine.
Both are very easy options. English is widely spoken in Estonia, and the ticket machine has an English option.
Where Does the Train Departure From in Tallinn?
Trains depart from the Tallin train station. The train station is a little difficult to find on Google Maps, so here is the address for you to copy and paste into the app if you need:
Tallinn, Toompuiestee 37, 10149 Tallinn, Estonia
The train station is just 750 meters from the old town, and you can easily walk to it in less than ten minutes!
It is along the main road, so it is quite easy to find if you’re walking!
I 100% recommend walking to the train station. It is so close to the old town that it isn’t convenient to take public transportation and most people who don’t have mobility issues can easily walk to the station with no issue.
If you’re not interested in walking or have a mobility issue, taking an Uber or taxi is the next best option.
I don’t suggest taking public transportation. It will take way longer than it needs to, and the Uber ride is so inexpensive that you won’t save money by taking the bus.
Where Does the Train Arrive at in Tartu?
The train arrives at the Tartu train station.
It is located 2km outside of the city centre, but if you choose to walk, it is only about 1.4km because you can cut through parks.
The train station is quite a bit further outside the city centre than the bus station, so it is a little less convenient. It is still a straight shot to the city centre though.
If you’re walking, put your back to the train tracks and walk straight ahead. Keep walking straight, and you’ll be in the city centre in about 20 minutes.
There are also a number of buses you can take to reach the city centre. Bus numbers 1, 2, 3, 8, 11, and 12 all travel from the train station to the city centre.
Your final option is to take an Uber or taxi. It takes about 5 minutes by car to get to the city centre, and it only costs a couple of Euros.
My preference is to walk, but if you’re not interested in walking, I think taking an Uber is the next best choice.
Pros of Taking the Train from Tallinn to Tartu
- Most tickets are less expensive than the bus
- The journey time is a few minutes quicker than the bus
- The departure station in Tallinn is super conveniently located
Cons of Taking the Train from Tallinn to Tartu
- The train station in Tartu is a bit outside the city centre
- Not as many departure times
- No wifi on the train
As you can see, it is very easy to travel from Tallinn to Tartu whether you choose to take the train or the bus.
You don’t have to transfer to another train or bus, and it is easy to walk to and from the bus or train station in both cities.
It is so easy to get to Tartu from Tallinn, so there is no excuse not to visit the amazing city of Tartu!
My personal preference is to take the bus from Tallinn to Tartu.
It departs more frequently, and I like being able to walk to the hotel within minutes when I arrive in Tartu. Plus it has free wifi onboard!
But just because I prefer the bus, doesn’t mean it is the right option for you.
Travel is so personal. You did the research by reading this article now go make the decision that suits you and your travel needs the best!