Visiting St. Petersburg , Russia for 72 hours Visa Free


If you’d like to visit St. Petersburg, Russia without having to go through the hassle and expense of obtaining a Visa, you have the option of taking an overnight ferry from Helsinki.  The St. Peter Line Princess Maria ferry leaves at 6:00pm from the West Harbor in Helsinki and arrives the next morning in St. Petersburg at 8:30am, and you have two nights and almost three full days in St. Petersburg before returning!

We arrived to the Helsinki West Harbor ferry on June 17th around 4:15pm and it was a rather quick boarding process.  They say no food or drink may be brought aboard, but I had a small bag of food (coffee, crackers, pasta, nuts, chocolate) in my suitcase.  When you’re booking the transport/cabins on the St. Peter Line website, you’ll have an option to book meals, and I chose “without meals”.  There are a variety of restaurants for dinner and breakfast that you can choose from once on board.  The alcoholic drinks are very reasonably priced.

The total round-trip cost for the transport/cabins/fuel/harbor fees/city bus tour (shuttle) for three people was 266 Euros (not including food) – a great deal!

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This is what the B-cabin looks like.  Small, but adequate with a bathroom.  After dropping our luggage in the rooms, we went to the top deck for a drink.

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These are some of the restaurants and entertainment areas on-board…

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There’s even a casino…

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Here’s Jing, Paul, and I acting silly…

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We took a couple of photos before leaving the harbor in Helsinki…

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Some other useful information:
When purchasing your tickets online, the site will automatically add a mandatory City Bus Tour (25 Euro per person) to your ticket. This is a shuttle bus from the port to the city, but is necessary to be eligible for visa-free travel.  I booked rooms thru Hotels.com at the Comfort Hotel which was reasonably priced and in an excellent location for walking to most of the popular sites (better than the hotels they offer on the St. Peter Line site).  The shuttle has three drop-off locations and our hotel was a 10 minute walk from the last stop at St. Isaac Square.

You’ll need a letter of invitation/booking confirmation from your hotel in addition to your passport and ferry tickets.  Just let your hotel know when you book that you’re traveling visa-free via the ferry and they should be be able to e-mail the letters to you.

Also, when you’re booking the trip choose “ferry” rather than “cruise”, which is rather confusing for those of us who have been on a cruise.  We think of a cruise as being an overnight trip rather than a ferry.  I chose the “B-cabin” and it was fine.  The passenger information section requires some personal information and also has a space for a visa number, which makes it look like it’s required, but it isn’t, so leave it blank.

Hopefully this information will help you when booking your trip!

4 thoughts on “Visiting St. Petersburg , Russia for 72 hours Visa Free

  1. I didn’t know this was possible! Lars and I have always avoided going to Russia, because of the visa and other administrative procedures, but this looks like a very good alternative. I think this will be one of our trips of 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

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