Tallinn, Helsinki and Petersburg without visa – budget travel
We weren’t planning the trip to Tallinn, Helsinki and Petersburg. Actually everything started from LOT special offer for the flights: Warsaw – Tallinn and Helsinki – Warsaw.
You need to check in at least 30 minutes before the departure of the ferry. Check-in desk is located at the Terminal D. Tallink shuttles 6 times a day and the voyage takes around 2 hours and definitely it isn’t boring (you can read about it here).
The ferry arrives at the West Harbor. To the city center you can go by tram no. 9 (in the direction of Pasila) and get off at Kaisaniemi stop. Ticket costs 2,5 euro if you buy it from the ticket machine or 3 euro from the driver. Every needed information you can find here.
Definitely Helsinki is not a cheap city, so in order to minimize the costs we arrived there early in the morning and departed to Petersburg in the evening. We had all day to visit the capital of Finland and we didn’t have to book expensive hotel/hostel. We went from Helsinki to Petersburg by Princess Maria ferry operated by St. Peter Line.
We had chosen the cheapest accommodation option, in a cabin below the deck and without any meals. The cabin was just right for two people and it was equipped with a bathroom. There was no window, but it was a good news for us, as we finally could have a good night’s sleep during the white nights.
During an overnight voyage you can’t be bored there for sure.
On Princess Maria you can spend your time in numerous bars, restaurants, duty – free shops, casino or even a swimming pool (for everything you must pay additionally).
According to the Russian law, passengers who arrive to Russian harbors and stay there up to 72 hours don’t need to have a visa on condition that they are part of an organized trip. In view of the fact that Russian visa is expensive and obtaining it is connected with many formalities, we decided to take advantage of visa – free travel.
Which conditions should be met to stay in Russian territory without visa?
Firstly you have to book an accommodation and organize a tourist guide. Tourist guides are expensive but it’s possible to take advantage of a cheaper option. St. Peter Line organizes a bus transport which is regarded as an organized trip. It costs 25 euro and it shuttles from ferry terminal to the city center. You have to buy it during booking a ferry to Petersburg if you don’t have a tourist guide.
Additionally passengers have to stay on the area marked by the route of the bus. As you can see on the map, it isn’t big thus we decided to take a risk and get lost 😉
During our trip, we visited Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof without any problems (details soon on the blog). Ferry to Petersburg departs from West Terminal (at the same terminal as ferry from Tallinn arrives). After arriving to the terminal you need to go to check – in desk to get boarding card and Arrival and Departure Card.
Documents needed at the border: passport, hotel/hostel booking confirmation, Arrival/Departure Card and Migration Card. You must remember that Departure Card is also the ticket for the bus. You are entitled to go by it unlimited times on the way: Sea Station Terminal, V.O. – Morskoy Slavy square – Sokos Vasilievsky – Sokos Palace Bridge – Saint Isaac’s Square, but it’s available within days of ships’ stay only.
At the border, immigration officer checks passport, hotel/hostel booking confirmation and keeps Arrival Card and part A of the Migration Card. The rest documents you need to submit during departure. Bus stop is located in front of the entrance to the terminal, buses are marked with St. Peter Line logo.
The departure is not so complicated. Additional check – in isn’t needed. Immigration officer checks passport and keeps Departure Card and part B of the Migration Card. More details you can find here.
You must be wondering if trip to Petersburg is safe, especially in the current political situation. We had been really anxious about going there because our trip started just after the Ukraine crisis.
We didn’t have any problems at the border. Petersburg turned out to be one of our biggest surprises. This city is famous for its European, cosmopolitan character.
We haven’t met such welcoming and outgoing people anywhere else (maybe apart from Hawaii).Soldiers posed for the camera and people always helped us out, even when they couldn’t speak English. (more about trip to Petersburg you will find on our blog soon).
How much does 9-day trip cost?
Flight Warsaw – Tallinn, Helsinki – Warsaw – 38 euro
Tallinn 3 nights – 38 euro
Helsinki 1 night – 27 euro
Petersburg 2 nights – 34 euro
St. Peter Line return ticket (with 2 overnight stays included) – 145 euro
Ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki by Tallink – 22 euro
Total cost per person: 304 euro + personal expenses