Finland

How to Get from Helsinki to St Petersburg

You have a bunch of ways to get from Helsinki to St Petersburg. The Finnish capital is well-connected to Russia and the rest of Europe. Transportation is cheap, convenient, and fast.

So much so, in fact, that a lot of Finns go drinking to another country. Alcohol is over 70% more expensive in Finland, so a train ticket for a quick booze trip often comes out cheaper.

Whether you are travelling for work, fun, or just for drinking (hey, no judgement if you are), we have rounded up the best ways to get from Helsinki to St Petersburg Russia.

Helsinki to St Peters By Train

Train rides might seem old-fashioned and unnecessarily long, yet the Allegro is anything but.

This high-speed train takes you to Russia in just 3 hours. That is still slower than a plane (which usually takes around an hour), but consider you have to arrive early to the airport and the time spent waiting for your luggage after you land.

Overall, the Allegro actually comes out faster.

About The Allegro Train Service

Back in 2010, the Russian and Finish Railways decided to start Allegro. Previous Helsinki to St Petersburg train services – the Sibelius and the Repin – would take over 5 hours and were not a very popular option.

From December 2010, the Allegro has been running multiple times a day. At first it was just twice but now they are doing four trains every day.

The Allegro leaves Helsinki at 7:20, 11:00, 16:00, and 20:00. Bear in mind that these could vary by an hour. Finland is GMT+2 in winter but GMT+3 in summer, while Russia sticks to GMT+3 year-round. The time changes on the last Sunday of October and the last Sunday of March.

If you are travelling around these dates, double-check the departure times on the Finnish Railways website.

How Much Is The Train From Helsinki To St Petersburg?

Much like plane tickets, the tickets to the Allegro have dynamic pricing.

Your cheapest option is to buy them way ahead of time online. The second class tickets are just around 29 euro that way and first class is around 60 euro. As you get closer to the day of departure, the price goes up to around €80 in 2nd class and around €130 in 1st class.

Children under 6 travel for free. You can have one kid per adult and they won’t have their own reserved seat. If you want your child to have a separate seat, you would have to get them the 6 to 12-year-old ticket (which is usually half-price).

Make sure to double check this information (and all information about prices) as it could change without warning.

Buying Tickets For The Helsinki To St Petersburg Train

You have two options for getting your tickets – online or at the station. Although the people at the booking office are usually very polite and they speak great English, I would strongly advise you to go the online booking route.

The Finnish Railways booking offices require you to collect your tickets two days before departure. They tend to be willing to make an exception, but you can’t always count on that.

If you plan on travelling around Finland and you can’t physically be in Helsinki to grab your tickets two days early (or if you simply can’t be bothered to make two trips to the station), online tickets are your thing.

The Finnish Railways website is easy to navigate and it has a very decent English version. The web page is www.vr.fi.  Select ‘EN’ for English at the top right corner and enter  ‘St. Petersburg (Finlandski)’ to the journey planner. You pay online and they email you an e-ticket.

While you are at it, check out the offers available to Allegro customers. They are constantly adding new ones but here are a few that might interest you:

  • A discount for a Helsinki Canal Cruise that shows you the stunning shorelines of the city (valid May through September)
  • Special offer for the Hop On Hop Off bus of Helsinki, also May through September
  • A significantly lower rate for a sightseeing tour of Helsinki operated on a comfy bus. You would think that it was unnecessary to mention the bus but the Finnish capital gets awfully cold in the winter months. Walking-only tours are torturous during these months.

On Board The Train

Helsinki to St Petersburg allegro

If you haven’t traveled much by train, the Allegro will definitely surprise you. There is nothing run-down or uncomfortable about this train. You have first and second class areas, as well as a nice restaurant car (yes, for a 3-hour train). There is also an area for kids to play and even a conference hall.

You get a complimentary meal with your first-class tickets plus some extra leg room. To be honest, though, the difference really isn’t that huge. Both 1st and 2nd class areas are clean and cosy.

You can splurge to be a little extra boujee but it doesn’t matter too much in terms of actual comfort.

As mentioned, you get a complimentary meal with your first-class tickets. It comes on a cart so you can compile a personalized serving. Alcohol is also allowed on the train now, hence the increasing number of stag party members getting it started before even arriving at their location.

Flights From Helsinki To St Petersburg

Helsinki to St Petersburg

These are not the low-cost fares you can find elsewhere in Europe.

For now, the only company that does this route as a direct flight is Finnair. You could also choose Lufthansa, AirBaltic, or even Aeroflot but you would have to have a connecting flight. With the connection, your trip will take longer than the train and it would cost you at least twice as much.

As for the Finnair flight, it takes a little over an hour. There are usually two flights per day and a ticket will set you back around 100 euro (depending on when you book). Don’t expect the price to go much lower than that. Finnair is not a low-budget company.

Again, I can’t recommend the train enough versus flying. If you factor in an hour to get from the city center to the airport, plus being an hour early for your flight (or more, since this is technically “international”), plus another hour to get to the new city center from the airport…you’re already looking at 4 hours of transit with way more stress.

The Helsinki to St Petersburg Visa-Free Ferry

If you don’t have too much time but you would still like to see St. Petersburg, the visa-free ferry might be the option for you. Russian law allows cruise ship travelers to stay for up to 72 hours in St Petersburg without a visa.

There are ferries from Helsinki and Tallinn (they are not exactly cruise ships but they allow you to use the loophole). Since this is supposed to be an option only for cruise ships you are supposed to also book a city bus tour which is in fact just a shuttle that drops you off at the city center.

It is a pricy shuttle (25 Euro per person) but it’s necessary to make you eligible for the visa-free travel.

You can choose either one-day cruise or a ferry.

One-day ‘cruises’ drop you off in the morning and pick you back up that same night. They are the fastest and cheapest way to visit Russia’s imperial city. Sadly, St Petersburg needs much more than a day if you are going to appreciate the full splendor.

With the ferry option, you get to stay a little longer (still up to 72 hours). You would have to book your own accommodation in St. Petersburg, unlike actual cruise passengers who can only sleep on the ship.

When you are booking your St Petersburg hotel, make sure to let them know that you are travelling on the visa-free ferry.

They would have to issue a letter of invitation or a booking confirmation. Most hotels are well-aware of the process and the exact way that document should look like. Airbnb hosts can also give you a letter of invitation, at least most of them. Send them a message to double check before booking, though.

How To Book Your Helsinki To St Petersburg Ferry

The booking process can be a bit confusing, but thankfully everything is in English. You can choose from ‘cruise’ and ‘ferry trip’. The ferry option lets you book dates outside the 72-hour window as well. Although there are usually zero consequences for overstaying the visa-free period, I wouldn’t risk it. The consequences can be pretty unpleasant.

You are required to book a cabin, as the ferry travels by night. There are several different options, budget and higher-class alike. If you don’t mind the extra charge, the more expensive rooms are actually worth it in this case. You get a decent night’s sleep, as opposed to the noisy cabins underneath the car decks.

In passenger information, you would be asked about visa details. Even though these fields are marked with an asterisk, they don’t apply to you. Apparently, there is also a glitch in the system that lets you book ferry tickets for an interval of over 72 hours without providing information about your visa but that is an entirely different story.

Finally, there are a lot of special offers and vouchers available to ferry travellers. Although the food on board isn’t anything special, it might be worth to check them out. You can’t bring any snacks or drinks on the ferry and buying a voucher ahead of time is more affordable.

Which was your favourite Helsinki to St Petersburg travel strategy? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and make sure to share this article on your favorite social media platforms.

Arlen Tanner

Arlen is your regular geek-turned-blogger who left the traditional 9 to 5 in the US behind for location independent lifestyle and constant travel. After exploring Eastern Europe first (mainly Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia), he settled in the much colder but even more beautiful Scandinavia area since 2016. And he's now here to share with you all the good things about living in the magical 5.

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