We are trying to decide the most cheapest way to travel between Helsinki and St. Petersburg. We already have our Russian visas so do not have to go by boat. Has anyone taken the bus or slow train? If so, do you remember the cost? Thanks!
I took the Allegro train both ways last summer and found it to be a relaxing, comfortable, and scenic trip. Granted, Helsinki to St. Petersburg was with a RS tour, so our guide was there to handle any issues, but it didn't seem that anything came up. I was on my own on the way back and it was a breeze. My one-way ticket was about 30 euro. I don't know what the bus costs. Probably less, but it would certainly take longer.
The train stops at the border and some assortment of Russian and Finnish border police and Russian and Finnish customs agents (I couldn't always tell) check your passport and visa. The stopping time is built into the schedule (you're not stopped long. I think the agents get on and off at different stops and do most of the checking en route); both trips left and arrived on time.
It's a nice ride, I'd certainly recommend it. The train is very clean and there's a cafe car. Just remember that the Allegro departs from a different area of the Finland Station than other trains. It isn't hard to find, just about halfway around the block.
I forgot to add that I had a second-class ticket. In terms of cleanliness and comfort, it was equal to or even better than second class or coach seats I've had in the U.S. or elsewhere in Europe.
Thank you both for your answers. They help! Becky
We also took the Allegro train with my sister last year and the trip was very picturesque and comfortable. It was amazing to experience the Northern pearl Helsinki and then the most beautiful city of the Russian empire – Saint Petersburg!
Took the Allegro train as well. We traveled first class so it was a bit expensive. The train was fast by my standards and a breeze. Was enjoyable.