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Getting a visa puts a lot of people off visiting Russia as it can be a lengthy and expensive process but did you know you can visit Russia visa free? Just visit St. Petersburg by ferry and you are allowed to spend 72 hours visa free in Russia. This travel hack makes the motherland a whole lot more accessible and is a great way to get a small taste of Russia before committing to the complicated Russian visa process. So check out this guide to visiting St Petersburg visa free.
How to visit St Petersburg by ferry without a visa
There are several ways to go about visa free entry to St Petersburg. You can choose a visa free Russia Cruise or opt for visa free tours to St Petersburg, such as ‘Go Russia’ where this is all organised for you. But the cheapest and best option to visit St Petersburg visa free for independent travellers is to take the St Peters Line Ferry.
How to get the St Peter Line Ferry to St Petersburg
The St. Peter Line Ferry operates between St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and Tallinn on a two week rotating schedule. Tickets for the ferry to St Petersburg cost as little as 25 euro without a room. You can book online but it can be a tad confusing, so I’m going to tell you all about it in this post. It’s not the easiest process even for the most seasoned traveller, so take the stress out with this easy to follow guide on how to do 72 hours visa free in St Petersburg.
“Foreign tourists and persons without citizenship or relevant visa and/or proper permission travelling on ferries may arrive to the Russian Federation without Russian visa for the period of 72 hours being part of organised excursion group. VISA-Free journey can last up to 3 days.”MOBY St Peter line website
How to book the St Peter Line Ferry to St Petersburg
The best option is to book directly through the MOBY website here https://stpeterline.com. There are several companies offering the same service at elevated rates to get a slice of commission, but it’s exactly the same thing you’re getting. There are different standards of rooms on the overnight ferry from Helsinki to St Petersburg. An average double room costs around €60pn with an mandatory harbour fee €15pp and city bus shuttle which allows you visa free entry into Russia:
“All passengers travelling visa free have to reserve sightseeing program in St. Petersburg in advance. The most affordable way is purchasing city bus shuttle service offered by MOBY SPL LIMITED mandatory shuttle bus ticket’s price is 25€ for adults and 12,5€ for children (0-12 years).”MOBY St Peter line website
How much does the ferry to St Petersburg cost?
It depends on the cabin class as well as the departure and destination cities. It’s pretty straight-forward to work out when looking at the Moby website. As an example we booked a “B2” two bed cabin with bathroom from Helsinki to St Petersburg to Tallinn. It cost €189 in total for two people with the harbour fee and shuttle. Not bad for two nights accommodation and transport. Plus NO VISA!
Where to stay in St Petersburg if travelling by ferry
This is where it gets a bit technical. We heard you can stay on the ferry, but you have to go through the lengthy embark/disembark procedure. Cutting down your limited time in St Petersburg, so we didn’t really look into it. The MOBY website leads you to believe you must book a hotel with them, as they cannot guarantee a hotel will accept your visa free stay in St Petersburg, and fill out your registration papers. In fact most major hotels should provide registration papers. However there is something to be careful with: DO NOT BOOK AN AIR BNB! They do not have the proper authority to register visa free stays in Russia.
“If a passenger stays within the Russian Federation territory for longer than one day the passenger must present to the Border Guard Service a hotel voucher, a confirmation of payment for the booking. Passing the registration formalities at the hotel is obligatory.”MOBY St Peter line website.
Don’t let these warnings deter you when booking the St Peter Line Ferry
• “Hotel accommodation must be booked via booking system of MOBY SPL LIMITED.
Accommodation booked via Airbnb service is forbidden in frame of visa free cruise. Passengers booked accommodation via Airbnb service will be refused in check-in to the ship.”
• “MOBY SPL LIMITED guarantees accommodation in hotels only if its booked through booking system of MOBY SPL LIMITED. “