Applying for Russian visa is among biggest obstacles when deciding on visiting this amazing country. Luckily, there is a clever work around for this problem. Helsinki to St Petersburg cruise is by far the easiest way to visit former Russian capital without having to deal with visa issues. Continue reading to find out how you can travel from Helsinki to St Petersburg.
Why Helsinki to St Petersburg cruise?
St Petersburg, Russia is only around 250km away from Finnish capital. Even though you can drive the distance in around 5 hours (+border crossing time), it’s much more pleasant to hop on a ferry and travel from Helsinki to St Petersburg, party all night or relax in an on-board spa.
Once you arrive in St Petersburg, lots of fun activities are available – sightseeing, canal cruises, museums, shopping, food adventures and much more! Considering the cost and how close it is – Helsinki to St Petersburg cruise weekend trip is one of the best ways to combine fun cruise experience with culturally diverse city trip. If you plan to stay for a little longer, consider reading this amazing Full Travel Guide to St Petersburg.
When is the best time to travel from Helsinki to St Petersburg?
The cruise line operates between March and December. I recommend avoiding early spring or late fall due to bad weather, even though winter months have their charm. Here is a guide on things to do in November. Ideal time is from May till late September. Summer months are great due to many fountains starting to operate (best of them you can find in Peterhof), parks are blooming and temperatures are comfortable for long walks. Even though you may face occasional rainfall, it’s usually short-term and warm.
How to book tickets and how much do they cost?
You can book a cabin either through travel agent or directly at https://stpeterline.com/. The price for double inside cabin starts at around 150EUR – meals/transfer/hotel excluded. Currently (2018) they are running a birthday discount campaign with 10% discount on cabin price for passengers celebrating their birthday onboard.
The price for cabin obviously depends on the time you are traveling with July-August being the most expensive months.
Helsinki to St Petersburg cruise onboard experience
Princess Anastasia is a cruise ferry with a total passenger capacity of 2500, 834 cabins and a car deck for 580 cars. Although the ferry is rather small compared to most cruise lines, it still has everything one might need. Sailing distances are quite short anyway, so there is really no need for more facilities.
Onboard entertainment includes cinema, SPA area, casino, creative classes and kids playing room. When you get hungry, you will find various restaurants, bars and pubs scattered along 3 decks.
72 hour Visa deal
So how does this visa deal work? In order to be eligible for visa-free entry for 72 hours, three main requirements need to be met:
- You should arrive in St Petersburg on St Peter Line cruise ship. Ticket needs to be purchased at least 2 weeks before departure
- You should have a valid hotel booking from a list of partner hotels.
- You should purchase City Bus Tour, which is essentially bus transfer between cruise port and city center. Price is 25€.
During your stay in Saint Petersburg you are allowed to visit other cities, sleep at your friends’ houses and move around freely, but you still need to pay for hotel/city tour. Transfer bus is providing regular transfers between cruise port and Sokos hotels/ Ploshchad’ Iskusstv (Arts Square), but you don’t have to take that bus.
Since 1st October 2019 residents of 53 countries can travel to St. Petersburg and its suburbs on a free E-VISA, that can be applied for here. E-VISA should be applied for latest 4 days before departure and you can stay 8 days at a time. Please read the terms carefully before applying.
Things to do in St Petersburg in 72 hours
You won’t get bored in St Petersburg, that’s for sure. If this is your first time, a guided city tour may be a good idea. On the other hand, if you do your homework and research on the places and sights you’d like to visit, you might not need a tour. Our favorite attractions in St Petersburg include:
Hermitage museum – vast collection of paintings, sculptures and world class art pieces
Winter palace – former residence of Russian emperors. Today, Hermitage museum is partially located in this amazing building
Palace Square – central square in front of winter palace where musicians and artist gather
Peter and Paul fortress – seafront museum, originally founded by Peter the Great in 1703
Church of the Savior on Blood – richly decorated church with colourful onion domes
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral – Russian Orthodox cathedral and museum
Kazan cathedral – Impressive Russian Orthodox cathedral on the Nevsky Prospekt (main street)
Russian museum – this famous museum possesses the largest depository of Russian fine art in Saint Petersburg
Kunstkamera – originally this was the first ever museum in Russia founded by Peter the Great in 1727. Today, it is a Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography
Aurora cruiser – former military cruiser, now this is a museum
Peter the Great Statue – impressive 98-meter high statue of the founder of this great city
Back to Helsinki or Tallinn?
Once the 72 hours in St Petersburg are over, you have a choice to go back to Helsinki or to Tallinn. If you have time and wish to explore Estonian capital – I highly recommend spending a few days in this great medieval town. However, you can take advantage of regular Helsinki-Tallinn ferries and visit any other day you want.
My last visit to St Petersburg was in early May and I loved it. I wrote a full review of things we did, where we ate and slept. Feel free to check it out.
Have you been on this cruise? How did you like it?
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