Do you know you can visit St. Petersburg with no Russian visa?
Yes, it’s possible. Fortunately, St. Petersburg is more open for foreign visitors than any other Russian city. Developed infrastructure, lots of hotels and restaurants, good public transport turn St. Petersburg into a great travel destination. And, above all, the city’s cultural heritage is so rich that the city bears the title of the cultural capital of Russia.
Rules for Visiting Saint Petersburg With No Russian Visa
Saint Petersburg is situated at the border with Finland, very close to other European countries, and has a nice marine infrastructure. Besides, local authorities realize the importance of tourism development. they do a lot for making access to Saint Petersburg easier.
By the decision of the Government of the Russian Federation, nowadays cruise and ferry passengers are allowed to stay in the Russian Federation up to 72 hours without Russian visa if they arrive at Saint Petersburg on board of a vessel and make part of a tour group. A visa-free journey can last up to 3 days.
I admit that 3 days is not a very long stay. However, it’s fairly enough to visit must-see places, to discover local food, and to but some souvenirs.
Who Can Enter Saint Petersburg with No Russian Visa:
1. Cruise Liner Passengers
More than 500 000 cruise line passengers arrive at Saint Petersburg this way every year in spite of some limitations passengers have on arrival:
- the tourists are required to return to their cruise ship for the night;
- the tourists are allowed to leave the ship only within an organized tourist group or with a local licensed guide.
Fortunately, dozens of tour agents provide different kinds of shore excursions. Thus, passengers have a large choice and can find unusual, off the beaten path tours. Besides, these independent companies’ tours are often cheaper.
Where to Book a Cruise?
Another important point is that cruise lines offer a wide range of possibilities as selecting departure city, duration and other ship features.
- Princess Cruises offer an 11 night Europe cruise departing from Helsinki, Finland. The starting price is of 2000 USD
- Princess Cruises 11 night Europe cruise departing from Copenhagen, Denmark, is a nice opportunity to see picturesque Nordic cities like Stockholm, Tallinn, Oslo, Helsinki and spend a couple of days in Saint Petersburg. The starting price is of 1700 USD
- Silversea offers luxury 7-11 night Northern Europe cruises from Stockholm, Sweden. The price depends on the duration and the itinerary.
2. Ferry Passengers From Helsinki Or Tallinn
Almost every day MOBY LINE LIMITED ferries departure from Helsinki or Tallinn to Russia. Ferries arrive at Saint Petersburg at 9 a.m. so you won’t waste your time and will have 3 full days for sightseeing!
Ferry passengers can spend nights at local hotels, which means they have 72 TRUE hours stay (unlike those who arrive by cruise liners). Nights in St. Petersburg are as spectacular as days. Especially during the summer season of white nights!
Check for Moby SPL updates and don’t miss sales and special offers. They often have advantageous proposals!
Pay attention: if you come to Saint Petersburg by ferry, your hotel must be booked via booking system of MOBY SPL LIMITED. All other reservations, like via AirBnB or Booking.com, are not allowed.
Check all the visa-free rules here.
Special Visa-free Rules For Sport and Cultural Events
I should also say that from time to time other no-visa ways to come to Russia appear. For example, during the FIFA 2018 World Cup, Russian authorities used an innovative control system — all the fans willing to enter stadiums were obliged to acquire a Fan ID. This special ID granted not only visa-free entry to Russia.
The same control system would be used during the EURO 2020. As Saint Petersburg will host 4 EURO-2020 games, it seems that again football fans will have the privilege of visa-free entry to Russia.
E-Visa To St. Petersburg Is Coming Soon
In July 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree introducing e-visas for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region on October 1, 2019.
“Foreign citizens can enter the Russian Federation and leave the Russian Federation through checkpoints across the State Border of the Russian Federation located in the territories of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, can be carried out on the basis of ordinary single business, tourist and humanitarian visas in the form electronic documents’ — the decree says.
To get the electronic visa, you must fill out an application on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation no later than 4 days before the date of entry into Russia. The visa will be available for up to 30 calendar days with a permitted period of stay in the country of 8 days.
There will be no consular fees for issuing electronic visas.
The only question is citizens of which countries will be able to apply for the e-visa? We’re waiting for further information.
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I hope you will not miss these possibilities to visit Saint Petersburg. Travelling without borders is a dream of every travel addict.
Best wishes from Russia,
Disclosure: some of the links above are affiliate links. If you buy something from me, I get some beer money (not enough for a worldwide trip, but enough to keep this blog helpful for travellers).