Gilded church dome in St. Petersburg
Gilded church dome in St. Petersburg

Visit St. Petersburg Visa-Free via Helsinki

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Helsinki’s location makes it a great starting point for anyone who wants to explore the nearby cities. From Helsinki, you can visit neighbouring St. Petersburg and it is possible to do so without a visa.

Finland borders Russia on the eastern coast and Helsinki is just under 400 kilometres away from St. Petersburg.  Perfectly located for a short city break, it is an exciting and exotic option for the adventurous at heart.

The biggest obstacle to visiting Russia is getting a visa, which can be difficult and expensive to obtain.  There is one way to get around that obstacle – by taking a ferry.   There is currently only one cruise line company that offers this service, Moby SPL, which operates across the Baltic sea, offering cruises to several cities in the Baltic coastal area.


Known by many as the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg is rich in culture and history. It is a city of grand Baroque and neo-classical buildings, with over two thousand palaces, and an array of museums and galleries, including the magnificent Hermitage museum which houses masterpieces from around the world in an incredible imperial building.

Waterway through St. Petersburg
Waterways running through the historic centre of the “Venice of the North”.
The Historic Center of St. Petersburg and the related group of monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One could spend an entire day admiring masterpieces from Michelangelo to Matisse. The range of experiences available to visitors is truly outstanding, from internationally renowned ballet performances to the vibrant nightlife in the city’s many bars and clubs to exciting events, such as the very popular Stars of the White Nights Festival, (May 22 – July 21).


The journey takes approximately 14 hours and the cruise docks in St. Petersburg at 9 am. One can spend up to 72 hours in the city without a visa when you arrive with the ferry tour.  Moby SPL offers a two-night cruise, which allows you practically a full day in the city.  There is also a four-night cruise which allows for two days in the city and two night onboard.  There are 2 night-hotel packages available through the cruise company.

The Moby SPL cruise visits four cities altogether – St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn and Stockholm, so it is also a great option for anyone who would like to do a short tour of these cities.

The M/S Princess Anastasia in St. Petersburg


Currently there is one cruise ship, the M/S Princess Anastasia, which is comfortably outfitted with a range of comfortable cabins at different price points. The amenities are designed to accommodate anyone travelling with a disability.  There are seven options available, and the deluxe cabins include breakfast on board.  As for dining, there is the New York City restaurant, an a la carte restaurant with an Italian chef at the helm, as well as a pizzeria and café.


There is much to explore, so planning ahead is essential. For convenience, you can book a sightseeing tour, such as those offered by Moby, as this is a really convenient way to see the sights of the city in a comprehensive way.  The tours are guided by a specialist who will describe the history of the sights around the city. For English speakers, or anyone who does not have a basic grasp of the Russian language, this is particularly helpful, as it is not always easy to find English speakers in the city (not impossible, but it can be challenging!)  If you are only in the city for one day then the tour is highly recommended.

You can find more information about the Moby SPL cruise line here.


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