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Itinerary advice: Stockholm to Helsinki to St. Petersburg to Tallinn to Copenhagen. ARGHH!!! Help???

I'm going to Stockholm this summer and want to visit Helsinki, Tallinn and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Can anyone offer advice on the most cost efficient way to do that? I'm aware of some cruise options among those cities, and also am considering taking trains or a combination of both. Ultimately I go on to Copenhagen, so that would be my end destination. I could return to Stockholm and Fly to Copenhagen if necessary, but that seems a waste. I'm a budget traveler with more time than money, so cost is the greater factor. Can anyone offer suggestions on how to make this happen?

Also, upon arrival in St. Petersburg, what concerns should I have regarding safety and the ability to find my way to the Hermitage without incident? I'm comfortable traveling Europe solo, but this will be my first trip to a Russian city, so I need to know what to expect.

Posted by
1286 posts

There are a few options, but I'm not really qualified to talk about costs.

Starting with an overnight ferry to Tallinn would make the most sense, I think. It gets you from Stockholm to Tallinn, travels through stunning scenery in the early evening, and replaces a night in a hotel.

From Tallinn, it's a short ferry ride to Helsinki.

Then from Helsinki to Saint Petersburg, you can take the train. The downside is that you will need to apply for a Visa to visit Russia, and I believe that costs about $160 and takes some time, so if you do this, you should get on it right away. (There may be some options to expedite this at a higher cost.)

From there, you could fly to Copenhagen.

A friend of mine (in her 70s) took the train round trip between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg. She hired a local guide who she found invaluable. She also spent time on her own and did not find it difficult or unsafe.

Alternatively, I believe there are cruises to Saint Petersburg that allow you to visit on organized tours without a Visa. But I don't know anything about that. And you'd have to leave via the cruise ship; you wouldn't be able to fly to CPH.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
696 posts

My wife and I visited Scandinavia several years ago which included a ferry between Oslo and Copenhagen; it was a pleasant experience. We're returning to Scandinavia later this month and will include a visit to Tallinn and St. Petersburg as part of a Balic Cruise. As I was researching our upcoming visit, I ran across many references to ferries that sail between Stockholm, Tallin, Helsinki and St. Petersburg in any combination. You said you had "more time than money" so I'd suggest you use the ferry as the primary source of travel among the cities. Most routes would be overnight and on these the ship is both transportation and your "hotel". Not fast, but cost-effective. You might even be able to get a ferry from Helsinki, or Tallin, or Stockholm to Copenhagen, or if not Copenhagen at least to Rostock, and then take the train from Rostock to Hamburg to Copenhagen. It is about a half-day train trip and the connection at Hamburg is easy; it even includes the train moving onto a ferry then resuming the land journey into Copenhagen.

Regarding St. Petersburg, the note above about a Visa is what we faced so we decided to do a multi-day tour of St. Petersburg which included the Visa. We don't speak or read Russian and felt it would be difficult to navigate the city on our own, but we will be visiting several venues in St. Petersburg and some outside the city and language could be a stumbling block; again the tour was the right choice for us. If you would arrive in St. Petersburg at the Moscow Station getting to the Hermitage wouldn't be a problem even if you don't speak Russian as it is on Nevsky Prospekt the main thoroughfare that runs directly to the Winter Palace/Hermitage. Have a great time.

Posted by
162 posts

Thank you both, you've been very helpful and I appreciate the advice.

Posted by
2779 posts

If you take St. Peter Line cruise ferry from Helsinki to St. Petersburg you will not need a Visa for Russia. The journey comes with a 72 hours visa which allows you to move around freely as long as you don't leave St. Petersburg county (which you won't anyway).

Posted by
661 posts

I was going to post about the St. Peter Line (www.stpeterline.com), but Andreas already has. So I'm just confirming his suggestion. Though we went to St. Petersburg overnight from Helsinki, from the website it appears you can travel there from any of the three cities and return to a different port. The important point is you can spend two nights or one night or no nights in St. Petersburg without a visa! Have a great trip.