Best of St. Petersburg, etc. tour

Hi all,

We are planning on taking the Best of St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Helsinki tour in 2015. For those of you who took this tour, did you leave immediately after the tour ended but felt that you should have stayed longer/an extra day or two? Did you have enough time at the different sites on the tour? I am very interested in seeing the Hermitage and I'm not sure 3 hours is enough. I also would like to go to the Peterhof and wondered if I should stay an additional day to do that justice. Thanks in advance for your input.


Posted by andi
franktown, colorado
490 posts

We took this tour and although it was a few years ago, to this day I regret not going on to spend a few days in Moscow. Several of our travel companions took the train from St. Ps to Moscow and a couple flew. After all, you do have the visa and are already in Russia! We did stay an additional day in St. Petersberg and took a hydrofoil to the Peterhof Palace and Gardens. The fountains were not only beautiful but a lot of fun and certainly worthwhile! Since, as I say, you are already there, take advantage of the opportunity. The Hermitage is my all time favorite Museum; it's incredible.

Posted by Holly
British Columbia
33 posts

We went on this tour several years ago and loved it. We arrived in Tallin a few days early. It is a wonderful and charming city with a wealth of history.

I would certainly take advantage while being in russia and travel. We took the train from st petes to moscow. Please check out some train forums on the internet for advice on how to travel on these trains. Unless things have changed at st petes train station please be prepared for no english to be spoken. You can buy your tickets at the station, but when we were there there were long lines and many people butting into line ahead of us. It would be helpful if you had the tour guide write a note with your destination (moscow) or whereever you intend to go, because as I said there is no english. Get there early and prepare to wait for the train. The train announcements are in russian which can make it difficult.We were lucky as there was a conference going on so there were lots of young men who spoken perfect english who were very happy to help us.

We bought our tickets ahead of time and picked them up at a travel agency (cant remember the name) who also arranged a our guide for our 2 day moscow visit. Moscow is so worth while. Red Square, Kremlin etc. The cemetery of the 2nd honour, university. Try to get tickets to the bolshi ballet (I know they can be expensive) but same day are cheaper. It is so beautiful inside, we were overwhelmed.

There was not alot of english spoken in russia, except for the younger generation. Try to run the subway. It is absolutely breathtaking with the paintings etc downstairs where you catch the train. Be prepared for people to stare at you somehow they just knew we were foreigners, but a smile goes a long way.

We then went on a tour to the golden ring and lake baikal(?). We wanted to take in as much as we could, as we didnt
think we would be back.
Happy travels.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA
103 posts

Originally I planned this as my "60th" birthday gift in 2015. Additionally I would continue to Moscow since I'd have the visa and came all that way. With the unpredictability of Russia (Putin), I will not be going as DH is too uncomfortable with me being in a country of uncertainty. I have read the itinerary a zillion times and read guidebooks from the library and bookstores. Have a wonderful travel!

Posted by John
Lollygag, Missouri
76 posts

Did the tour. i stayed 3 days in Tallin prior to the "real" tour starting. Everything I read said there was not much to see or do in Talllin. I disagree. I found it and its history fascinating. I did take a day trip to Rakvere via bus. Enjoyed that. I also stayed 2 extra days in St Petersburg at the end. Totally worth it. Took a day trip to Peterhof. I opted not to go to Moscow. It was strongly suggested to hire a guide if one goes to Moscow. I opted to not go and just invest my time in St Petersburg. I REALLY wanted more time in Helsinki….that stop was too short. Hope this helps

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
558 posts

I took the tour last year. Spent 2 extra days in Tallinn prior to the tour and enjoyed it. The RS tour does not do all of his suggested self-guided walking tour, which I did. I also had time to his several city museums and their Open Air Museum which I found superior (IMHO) to the one in Finland (although many people may think one is enough.) After the tour was over, I took a cruise down to Moscow allowing me to stop at several other cities before spending a few days in Moscow. As I think it unlikely that I will return to Russia, I wanted to get a pretty good experience of the country before departing.

Posted by John
Lollygag, Missouri
76 posts

I agree 100% with Ray regarding the Tallinn Open Air Museum!!!!!!!!!!! Lots of different styles of windmills.

It was better than the one in Helsinki.

Posted by andi
franktown, colorado
490 posts

When my husband and I took this tour, there was an additional day in Tallinn and only one full day in Helsinki. I whined about not enough time in Helsinki so now there is one day fewer in Tallinn-a loss, I think, and not the result I had hoped for! We arrived two full days before the beginning of the tour and took a fun Brew with a View tour. It was a good time-a tour of the "old town" with stops to enjoy local brews at selected spots. The chats with our local guide were as informative as the city tour. I think they are still a go-I found them online originally. You can google Brew with a View, if something like this interests you. Tallinn is one of my all-time favorite European cities.

Posted by Mary
Reno, NV, USA
393 posts

Thanks everybody for responding. It helps a lot. :)

Posted by Holly
British Columbia
33 posts

Yes, just want to add that I agree completely with the person who mentioned the open air museum in Tallinn. It is certainly worth a visit. You can catch the bus on the main street, some of the bus drivers speak english others not, but we didnt have a problem. You cant get lost at it turns around at the museum. The buses dont run (at least they didnt when we were there) every hour or so, so plan your time well. It may take a better part of the day, but the museum has a excellent gift shop and also a lunch shop (very basic) where you can buy your food.

The museum borders the Baltic Sea. The bluffs in some areas are high and steep, but there are a few areas that are easily accessible. We took a picnic lunch and had a wonderful hour sitting on the beach eating and enjoying the view. At least this marine biologist did!;)

Dont forget some carrots for the horses....

Happy travels


Posted by marinasi
1 posts

Hi Mary,
I took this tour in June of this year and loved it. The guided tour of the Hermitage was great but it's worth it to stay longer in the museum if you enjoy art, it's fabulous! Some people did that and stayed on their own after the guided tour finished around 1:00 pm. I had to choose between doing that and going to Peterhof and I opted for Peterhof because it was a beautiful cloudless day and I felt like being outside. And I really enjoyed it. I did stay an extra day in St Petersburg after the tour finished and went to two other museums that interested me, and I would have gladly stayed another extra day. It's a fascinating place.Have fun!

Posted by Tom
Tigard, Oregon, USA
10 posts

We took the tour this year in June with another couple. After the tour the four of us took a Gate 1 River cruise to Moscow. This gave us three more days in St. Petersburg and a second visit to the Hermitage where we left the Gate 1 group to avoid duplication and see other sights. The cruise ended with three days in Moscow and we spent another two there seeing other sights. We moved to the Best Western Vega hotel and used the subway to travel around Moscow.

If you only go as far as St. Petersburg, you can spend several more days sightseeing. The same is true for Tallinn, arrive a few days early to see the sights and enjoy it before the tour.