The Art of the Layover: One Night in Tallinn

This post is part of the mini-series I’m going to call The Art of the Layover. Googled it to make sure no one else in the blogosphere has come up with the same theme (say NO to scraping!) and it turns out the only thing I could find and what I expected to find was from this one dude: Anthony Bourdain.


I have been hearing about his new show “The Layover” for the past couple of months and thought it should be brilliant as I am a huge fan of utilizing ridiculous flight schedules to see and do as much as possible. So finally last night I decided to watch a couple of episodes to see how the boss does it, London and New York. I came to this conclusion: it’s good stuff and pretty informative but a lot of it didn’t seem realistic for many of us 20 or 30-something, poor but sexy travelers. He took cabs everywhere, indulged in fine dining and drinking, had hotel rooms mostly for his bags to hangout in. Unfortunately, none of these things are feasible at the moment for Blonde Gypsy layovers, but that doesn’t stop me.


So what is feasbile? Just to give you an idea, here’s a breakdown of one of my latest strategic stops in Tallinn, Estonia. Perhaps it will inspire someone to think twice before booking a direct flight or sitting/sleeping it out in a cold and lonely airport.



Basically was trying to get back to Copenhagen, Denmark from Kiev, Ukraine and came across this Estonian Air flight that departed at 5:35pm on Wednesday and arrived in Copenhagen at 1:35pm on Thursday. Most people who are aware of the distance between Kiev and Copenhagen (about 2 1/2 hours on a direct flight) might think RIDICULOUS, but I thought GLORIOUS.


First thing’s first, a very important factor that I always consider when attempting to make a layover like this cheap and worthwhile is whether or not I know someone living there. Or if I don’t, I usually check to see if someone I know does or turn to Couchsurfing. Luckily I know awesome people in Tallinn from when I was traveling through the Baltics back in 2010 which is the main reason I went for it. I knew that if all else failed, I would at least have my luggage and sleeping situation sorted for those 19 hours.



Next important thing is figuring out what to do with your time and more importantly, what you can do with your time. Estimating airport business and transportation to and from the city, I knew I had a solid 16 hours; I also knew Tallinn was extremely small and well connected so whatever I was going to do it would be relatively close and easy to get to. Moreover, since I had already been before, I knew I wasn’t going to sightsee as much as I was going to drink Vana Tallinn and catch up with my friends. Perfect, itinerary sorted.



Since I had a lot of luggage with me I actually did opt for a cab from the airport but it was only 7 euros and since I wasn’t paying for accommodation it was more than worth it. For the record though, there is a bus, Bus 90K (with free wifi!), that takes you from the airport to city centre for just 2 euros.


Like I said, my friends there are awesome so from the minute I arrived at their place I had everything that I had hoped and dreamed for: a delicious home-cooked meal, Vana Tallinn, and a party. Only thing I ended up paying for that night was this incredible midnight snack combination from their local corner shop (red wine & roséto-go” plus pickled cucumber potato chips, BELIEVE IT).



Turned into an especially fun evening thanks to my abovementioned friends and just that alone was worth the stop; any hassle I might have felt before due to lack of sleep or dragging around two huge suitcases that essentially had my life from Ukraine–gone.  However, felt super ambitious upon awakening the next morning and actually did make it into the Old Town for a coffee and leisurely photo-taking stroll which made this particular layover not only a real success, but one of my greatest ever. Life’s too short, get as much of it when you can and while you can.



In closing, I would like to leave you with some very important information that I learned from Estonian Air’s inflight magazine: in Estonia, World War II ended in 1994.

Until next time, SHABL…


  1. Vanessa

    February 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    OMG… that’s so cool. I don’t anyone else who’s been to Estonia. Heck, I hadn’t even heard of Corn Island before you went!?

    • Larissa

      February 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      For my entire life I just thought Estonia was where Linkovich Chomovsky from Encino Man came from, but no. It’s a thriving little country of 1 million of the nicest people you will ever meet.

      P.S. I still don’t even know what Corn Island is, I just know lots of people there are in need of solar panels.

  2. Rob

    February 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I like this idea, I want to write one on my experience in Vancouver. Using layovers is an awesome way to catch up with people for *just* the right amount of time.

    • Larissa

      February 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      Yeah, people like parents. If I could have a layover in LA every couple of months I’m certain the amount of guilt trips I get for living on the other side of the world would decrease dramatically.

  3. Tom

    February 1, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Nice i want to try that ‘Vana Tallinn’ now. I had to wiki it because i had no idea what it was. I guess you can mix it with a coulpe different things.. for some reason the mixed with milk version sounds good. 🙂

    • Larissa

      February 2, 2012 at 2:10 am

      Haven’t tried it with milk, just straight–that sounds like a stomach ache (or an Estonian Russian?). The “hammer & sickle” with sparkling wine sounds interesting to me …”the drink is so named because according to local legend, it hits the drinker on the head and cuts off his legs”. Wow.

  4. Megan

    February 2, 2012 at 2:53 am

    awesome. love it. i do the same thing with layovers and people think im insane. but, long layovers are how i first saw riga, reykjavik, stockholm, and many many many other places! i just recently had a long layover in frankfurt (used to live there as a kid) so i ventured out to meet some friends and ended up at a bar and barely made it back to my flight (on way to warsaw actually). im really looking forward to this series and cant wait to see all of the fun places you have been able to explore in such short time. screw sitting around in airports.

    i also love the fact that many airports intentionally book long layovers for people. iceland air is notorious for this and while others complain, i thrive and explore. and so many airports provide lockers for luggage (arlanda in particular) which is ideal.

    • Larissa

      February 2, 2012 at 5:56 am

      Ahhhh, I’m dying to do the Reykjavik layover! I was always scared about the Baltic Air/Riga flights because they typically get in super late and leave super early but now that I have friends there, changes everything. Now see them as optimal for a good night out on the town and then off to somewhere interesting (love Baltic Air’s flight routes & prices).

      And let’s not talk about almost missing flights…hence my tweet intro “still perfecting” 🙂

      • Megan

        February 2, 2012 at 6:15 am

        you definitely should check out the icelandair flights. super cheap and such a perfect location to avoid a REALLY long flight (but i guess going to california is ridiculously long anyways). i think i paid 400 bucks (one way) for my last flight from JFK to Bergen with a super long layover in iceland. it was incredible. yea i noticed air baltic likes to do that think where you get into riga at 11 and leave at 6am…but last time i swung through there i got in at 9am (from kiev) and didnt depart until like 6pm. it was completely perfect (except i wish it had been in tallinn since ive never been there…riga is not my favorite city haha).

  5. FuturisticChic

    February 25, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Great blog! I love trip as far as possible also pack my backpack and I’m leaving.You are brave and inspiring!

    • Larissa

      February 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you! P.S. I love Poland

  6. Larz

    August 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Hi! I found your blog by Googling “overnight layover in Tallinn.” Lucky find! I’ll be coming from Oslo to Helsinki when I hit my Tallinn layover. My question is that I will have one checked bag. Will they hold it on Estonian Air or Air Baltic, or do they release all of my luggage during the layover?

    As an aside, you can use advanced search criteria on websites like and search for flights with, say, 18+ hour layovers. The one I’m looking at is a 23:30 layover and it’s only $73!

    • Larissa

      August 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      They should hold it if it is a connecting flight but you should check with them to be sure. If not there is luggage storage at the airport that I saw. That’s a crazy good deal and didn’t know that about Priceline. Thanks for the info!

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