A great idea came to mind during a business trip in Helsinki, is it possible to visit Saint Petersburg in a day?
As we had already stayed for some weeks in Helsinki, we wondered if we could optimize our stay and visit other nearby cities. Taking a look at google maps we realized that Saint Petersburg was not far so we started the planning.
The main problem we came up with was the visa card, we did not have enough time to manage it, luckily there is a way to avoid this requirement, the “VISA FREE RULE”.
“In accordance to the legislation of Russian Federation (RF Government Resolution №397), foreign tourists and persons without citizenship travelling on ferries may arrive to the port of St. Petersburg without Russian visa and stay in Russia not more than 72 h. VISA-Free journey can last up to 3 days.”
If you’re traveling from the US, you can get here all the info about the Russian visa for US citizens.
Based on this, we got in touch with Stpeterline, which offers this kind of cruises, to confirm the visa free rule and make the bookings. Tickets are not very expensive, especially if you buy them in advance.
Due to the fact that our time availability was very limited, we bought the tickets just 2 days before and we chose a ferry departing from Helsinki on Saturday 19.00 and departing back from Saint Petersburg on Sunday same time (please take into account the time zone).
The final price for three people in a 12m2 outside cabin amounted 468 euros including deluxe breakfast. We boarded in Helsinki but there are also departures from Stockholm and Tallinn.
Although you spend much time in the ferry, there are pubs, restaurants and a casino so it is not boring at all, and there is also a tax free store, so you will see people purchasing tons of alcohol and tobacco.
As the effective time to visit the city was around 9 hours and the schedule was really tight, we booked a driver to take us from one place to the other to waste no time in transportation.
As I had no time to plan this trip, the city that I came up with was completely unexpected, no trace of big colorless granite communist buildings, amazing squares and cathedrals instead.
The main spots we visited in Saint Petersburg are the following:
- Peter and Paul Fortress and cathedral
- St. Isaac’s Cathedral and square
- Church of spilled blood
- Kazanskyi Cathedral
- The Bronze Horseman (Peter the Great/the first)
- Hermitage/Winter Palace/ General Staff Building/Palace Square
- Nevsky Prospekt (main street in Saint Petersburg)
I had liked to spend more time but hopefully, I will in my next visit, as there are so many things to do in Saint Petersburg more than cathedrals and embarkments. Don’t miss the beautiful photographs of its side-streets and courtyards.
Some curious facts about Saint Petersburg
- It is the largest city in Russia with more than 5 million people.
- Did you know that famous white nights start in May? This natural phenomenon, that lasts almost two months, occurs when nights are almost as clear as daylight.
- During World War II a bomb fell on Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood dome, but it did not explode and was in the same place for 19 years, when, due to restoration tasks, it was discovered and moved away.
- Don´t doubt about trying the famous Borsch soup, made of beetroot, potato, tomato, cabbage and meat. A must-have dish if you want to know the Russian cuisine!
Have you ever visited Russia? Have you ever made express tourism? Leave your comments!