Helsinki/Estonia/St. Petersburg - best of for a one week trip?

My husband and I will be in London the first week of June for a quick trip with friends. We're interested in flying from London and checking out Estonia, Helsinki and/or St. Petersburg. Any suggestions for this part of the world and how to prioritize a great, one week trip?

Posted by melissa
Austin
799 posts

Take a look at Rick's book on Scandinavia and see which sights interest you. I found St Petersburg's museums/monuments & Talinn's workshops very interesting. Did not engage much with Helsinki, but willing to go back and try it again since a friend loves it. You will lose some time changing cities and with 3 destinations in 7 days, you're going to be very busy. Also bear in mind you'll need either a Russian Visa or a booked tour for St. P.

Posted by Galen
Dallas, United States
390 posts

We've been to the 3 cities (I assumed you meant Tallinn) and rate St. Petersburg top priority and Helsinki as ho-hum. Others here will, of course, differ. One way to utilize the St.Petersburg 72-hour visa free rule is to use the over night ferry from Helsinki and treat St. Pete as a day trip, or 2 nights on the ferry and a hotel for one night, or 2 nights on the ferry and a St. Pete hotel for two nights. For details see: www.stpeterline.com , or PM me for our experience with them last June. To repeat, I highly recommend visiting St. Petersburg. Have a great trip.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7209 posts

Yes, Helsinki is a nice place but not too much in the must-see department. It really only grew as a town to support the Suomolina Island fortress and became the capital in the 1800's - so not a ton of history. The nicest part of a visit to Helsinki is the ferry from Stockholm that allows you to see the archipeligo. Tallinn has a great medieval center. Outside of that there is a large park, a former residence/small palace from the czar days - so not too many must sees either. I think doing a ferry triangle with Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn makes sense - spending most of your time in Stockholm. St. Petersburg is great but the cost of getting a visa to visit puts me off. We went as part of a Baltic cruise. By booking a local tour we were able to go visa free - maybe you can find a similar tour (I've heard they run train based tours from Helsinki)?

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3509 posts

I loved St. Petersburg, was only there for 2 days, but I think there's enough for a week, at least. It's pretty hard to manage in English. Most people spoke no English, including taxi drivers and people who work in the top tourist sites. You would probably need a guide for at least part of the time. Tallinn is lovely, at least 2 days to enjoy it fully. I also was underwhelmed by Helsinki. Maybe Riga . . . ?

Posted by Mike
Roseville, CA
57 posts

We did a Baltic cruise last July. Like others have mentioned, Helsinki was underwhelming. We did a private full day tour of Tallin Estonia and was quite enjoyable, but we felt we saw many if not all the highlights. We booked a private tour through Alla tours for our 2 days in St Petersburg. We also attended a ballet. By far, of the 3 cities you mentioned St Petersburg was the highlight.