After spending our time in Europe traveling only overland by car or train, we were posed with the task of getting from Stockholm to Helsinki.
We explored our options with the most adventurous being a multi-day train trek into the arctic circle and back down again all the way to the simple answer of just hopping a plane and flying.
Our biggest obstacle really ended up being time. We didn’t have the time for the grand adventure (next time!) and just plain didn’t want to fly, so we took to the internet and came across the middle option; taking a ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki.
The ferry boats that run between these two iconic Scandinavian cities are more than your typical ferries, they are like cruise boats.
Complete with cabins of all classes, multiple restaurants, casinos, and entertainment for the 14-hour journey by sea.
We figured this would be our best option to avoid flying and still give us a couple of days to explore Helsinki before moving on to Russia.
Set on our decision, we began researching the route and quickly realized that there were options on the route between Stockholm and Helsinki.
Selecting which company to go with was an easy decision after reading the reviews and learning of the party nature on the one line, we confidently went in the direction of booking with the Tallink & Silja Line for our journey.
Boarding the M/S Symphony in Stockholm
Finding the ferry terminal in Stockholm was surprisingly easy and straightforward. We took the metro to the closest station and followed the crowd of roller bags, led by well-marked signs, right over to the check-in area.
Admittedly, it is a bit of a walk from the station, but on a paved path with minimal stairs and it brings you right into the ferry terminal check-in area.
We had booked online, so we made use of the kiosks to check-in and print our boarding passes. After that, we simply walked over to the security line, went through security and then boarded the ship.
Our check-in card acted as our room card and we simply went straight to our room once on board.
We were expecting to have lines because the ferry is huge and holds loads of people, but the process is streamlined and we were never waiting during the whole process.
Knowing it would be a long journey, despite the entertainment onboard, we wanted some comfort for the duration of the journey and booked into the Deluxe Cabin.
This offered us a queen-sized bed, window, desk, TV with cable, a sitting chair and a private bathroom with shower.
It wasn’t posh, but it was certainly comfortable and the perfect size to hang out in when we weren’t eating or exploring the ferry.
Something to note here; there are many cabin categories on the Tallink & Silja ferries. They range from dorm style shared accommodation of 4-6 beds to luxury suites and everything in between.
I believe the most booked are their standard private rooms but they are basic. The Deluxe Cabin we opted for is right in the middle between the shared dorm style and the luxury suites and we found it the perfect choice as a married couple.
Exciting Views from the Top Deck
I think our favorite part about taking the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki was the views.
As the horn sounded and we departed the terminal in Stockholm, we were treated to sailing through the Stockholm Archipelago on our way out to sea.
Starting in the city and slowly progressing into more of a rural area, we eventually left civilization altogether and couldn’t help but dream up ideas of exploration in the remote areas of Sweden.
The top deck of the ship allows for sweeping panoramic views of the areas that you sail through and you really can’t beat that.
We can’t imagine having missed all the scenery and were instantly glad we had opted to sail instead of flying from Stockholm to Helsinki.
The whole of the evening was spent sailing past small chains of islands, some inhabited but most of them just empty.
The area is very rustic and filled with photography opportunities if you’re willing to hang out on the top deck. We lucked out and had some great weather, albeit a bit windy, there was no rain.
The ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki on Tallink & Silja offers a plethora of entertainment options onboard with its own shopping mall, bars with live entertainment, pool & hot tub and onboard casino; but the best entertainment is really to just step outside on the top deck and take in the views.
It’s a wild and native part of Northern Europe that you wouldn’t get to see if you had chosen to travel this route any other way.
Dinner at Bon Vivant
One of the impressive features of the Tallink & Silja Line is their variety of food choices ranging from gourmet Scandinavian dishes to your standard cruise ship buffet.
Wanting to see how their gourmet food held up, we chose to dine at the Bon Vivant restaurant for dinner and put the menu to the test.
I’ll preface this by saying, as you know, we are not foodies but we do appreciate a decent meal. The Bon Vivant offered fine dining that showcased the area with a variety of seafood and specially prepared dishes.
Everything was beautifully prepared and the service was first-rate. I even tried the scallop ice cream, it was weird but tasted just like scallops, and that is a dining experience we have never had elsewhere.
We recommend upgrading from the standard buffet service and treating yourself to the services and food at Bon Vivant to enhance your trip on the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki.
Taking the Ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki
Without a doubt, we made the best decision for our travels by taking the ferry.
It gave us a chance to travel a bit slower and take in the views around us. The next morning we arrived in Helsinki and there was something special about standing on the top deck and arriving at our new port of call.
We experienced arrival into Helsinki in a very special way and this set us up for a very memorable time in the city.
Our favorite aspect was that the ferry terminal is located just blocks from downtown, so arriving by ferry puts you within walking distance to most of the great hotels and the downtown area.
You really can’t beat that when you arrive in a new city. We hopped off the ferry into Helsinki and were at our hotel within 15 minutes of arrival.
No cab or public transport needed which saved us the money it would have cost us to get into the city had we arrived at the airport.
We can’t think of a better adventure for getting from one point to another and hope you will consider taking the Tallink & Silja Ferry on your next visit to Scandinavia.
Check prices and routes on Tallink & Silja from Stockholm to Helsinki and other destinations in the Baltics including Riga and Tallin.
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