How to Spend a 72 Hour Visa Free Stay in St. Petersburg, Russia

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
Russia is not the easiest place to visit. Most nationalities require a visa in order to enter the country; a visa that requires many pages of paperwork and several weeks to obtain. We recently discovered a loophole in the Russian visa law that allows visitors to spend 72 hours visa-free in St. Petersburg. The trick is to travel on the St. Peter Line ferry. If you sign up for a mandatory 'tour' (which is essentially ground transportation to and from the port), you can spend 3 days exploring the sights of St. Petersburg without a special visa. Purchasing the ferry ride and visa-free excursion is clearly built into the St. Peter line purchase flow. As an added bonus, the ferry runs overnight in both directions and the fare is way less than two nights of hotel for two people. Visiting St. Petersburg on a visa-free ferry tour is also economical. Here's how we spent our 72 hours in Russia's picturesque St. Petersburg.

Cruise Your Way to St. Petersburg from Helsinki via the Bay of Finland

St. Peter Line ferry from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, Russia
Ferry tickets in hand, we boarded a large cruise ship equipped with a number of bars and restaurants and even a night club. There was plenty to do as we crossed the placid Bay of Finland. After a hearty dinner and a good night's sleep, we arrived at our destination: St. Petersburg!

Acknowledge the Contrasts in St. Petersburg

Blue building and smokestacks in St. Petersburg, Russia
The first thing we did upon disembarking the ship was acknowledge the contrasts in St. Petersburg. A gorgeous powder blue building hinted at St. Petersburg's luxurious past while smokestacks poking up behind it was a reminder of the communist era. We saw many examples of these contrasts during our 72 hour stay in Russia.

Embrace the Russian Culture and Don't Smile

Escalator in the St. Petersburg Metro
We'd heard that Russians are wary of people who smile a lot and quip that they are either American or crazy. Apparently during the Cold War, communist propaganda reinforced this suspicion. As an American, my natural inclination is to smile nervously when I'm out of my comfort zone. This was an instinct that I tried hard to surpress in St. Petersburg. We rode the metro a lot during our 72 hours in St. Petersburg. The long escalators are great for people watching and I took to counting the riders that were smiling. Turns out it was about 2 in 100. I'll need to repeat this experiment sometime in an American city but I'm sure the number would be much higher.

Experience a Russian Style Musical Greeting

Russian band playing at St. Petersburg Port
Despite the lack of smiles, we still felt very welcome upon our arrival. A quartet of older gentlemen serenaded our arrival with a Russian musical greeting.

Look for Familiar Western Brands in Cyrillic Characters in St. Petersburg

Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Russia
I suspect things have changed a lot since the Cold War ended. We got a kick out of spotting popular western brands with signs in Cyrillic characters. McDonald's and Starbucks were two of the most obvious nods to western culture that we saw in St. Petersburg.
McDonald's in St. Petersburg, Russia

Enjoy a Hearty Meal at a Self-Service Restaurant in St. Petersburg

Lunch at a self-service restaurant in St. Petersburg, Russia
Personally, we avoided the American and European chains in favor of local self-service restaurants. We paid less than the equivalent of $20 USD for two courses and a beverage for two people. The experience reminded us a bit of a Polish milk bar.

Explore St. Petersburg on the Economical Metro

Artwork in the metro in St. Petersburg, Russia
The economical metro is a fantastic way to get around and explore St. Petersburg especially since the city is so spread out that it's impossible to walk everywhere. Subway tokens cost the equivalent of about $0.50 USD at the time of writing. As an added bonus, the metro stations featured really cool artwork, much of it dating from the communist era.
Artwork in the metro in St. Petersburg, Russia
Artwork in the metro in St. Petersburg, Russia
Artwork in the metro in St. Petersburg, Russia

Admire the Pastel Art Nouveau Architecture

Art Nouveau facade in St. Petersburg, Russia
Outside the metro, much of the architecture was in Art Nouveau style and lent St. Petersburg a certain charm. St. Petersburg is well known for its decadent pastel buildings.

Admire St. Petersburg's Stunning Church of the Spilled Blood Inside and Out

Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Church of the Spilled Blood lured us in for a closer look with its colorful turrets. The church does have a dark history and is noted as the place where Czar Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881. Once inside, my jaw simply dropped. The interior of this former church is covered in bright blue mosaics. I could have stood here snapping photos for hours. The Church of the Spilled Blood was by far the architectural highlight of our visit to St. Petersburg. 
Mosaics inside the Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia
Mosaics inside the Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia
Mosaics inside the Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia

People Watch in St. Petersburg Near the Admirality

Statue on top of the Admirality in St. Petersburg, Russia
The pointy spire of the Admirality is a great spot for people watching. We'd been walking a fair bit and took a well-deserved sit on a park bench. We enjoyed watching a pair of young kids toddling after the local pigeons.

Explore the Architectural and Artistic Delights of the Cavernous Hermitage

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Admirality is located just next to St. Petersburg's most famous museum: the Hermitage. No visit to St. Petersburg is complete without paying homage to the Hermitage which is amazing both for the art inside and the architectural marvels of the palace that houses them. Each room was grander than the last.
Chandelier inside the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
Ballroom inside the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
Throne room at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
I especially enjoyed the room full of military portraits from what I like to think of as the 'Mutton-chop Era'.
Military portraits at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
There is no finer period for facial hair than this one!
Military portraits at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Get Close to the Works of the Great Masters in the Hermitage General Staff Building

Self portrait of Cezanne at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
The General Staff Building Annex of the Hermitage houses paintings from the great Impressionist masters like Cezanne and post-impressionists like Picasso. We were even allowed to take photos inside (a rarity in an art museum).
Works by Picasso hanging in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia

Experience Soviet-era Throwbacks in St. Petersburg

I great up in the 1980s during the tail end of the Cold War. Because of this, I was especially intrigued by the Communist Era throwbacks that we found in St. Petersburg. One of our favorite diversions was the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines. I loved playing video games back in the day so was excited to get a glimpse of the games that Soviet children were playing while I was breaking records at Pac-Man. Games ranged from feats of strength (I nearly threw my back out trying to yank the handle and achieve a ranking of anything other than 'mouse') to tests of the local road signs (not being able to read Cyrillic characters was definitely a handicap for this one.
Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines in St. Petersburg, Russia
Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines in St. Petersburg, Russia
After playing our hearts out at the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, we feasted on Soviet era cuisine at St. Petersburg's Kvartirka Soviet Cafe. We washed down hearty dumplings, meat and potatoes with homemade liquor.
Soviet era cuisine at Kvartirka Cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia
A cedar flavored vodka (yes, it was indeed woodsy) was the highlight of the evening.
Cedar flavored liquor in St. Petersburg, Russia

Sample Georgian Cuisine and Wine

Georgian wine served at ChaCha restaurant in St. Petersburg, Russia
When in St. Petersburg, also make sure to sample Georgian cuisine (we enjoyed ChaCha, not far from the Church of the Spilled Blood). The wines are the best in the region and Georgian cheesy bread is comfort food at its finest.
Georgian cheesy bread

Visit Peter and Paul Fortress

Entrance to Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia
With 72 hours to play with, we budgeted half a day to visit St. Petersburg's Peter and Paul Fortress. The cathedral on the fortress island is the burial place of the czars including Peter the Great. We stumbled upon the daily cannon firing ceremony at high noon.
Cathedral at Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia
Grave of Peter I at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia

Step Onto the Beach at Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia viewed from the river
The waters of the Neva River lap up to the walls of Peter and Paul Fortress creating a beach of sorts. We found our way to water's edge. I smiled when I saw a man looking sheepishly at three ladies sunning themselves in bikinis. They look positively delighted with themselves! Apparently Russians do smile...sometimes.
Sunbathers at Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia

Enjoy Panoramic Views from St. Isaac's Cathedral

Inside St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Isaac's Cathedral was another architectural highlight of our trip. Not only was the church beautiful in its own right but it also offers sweeping views over St. Petersburg if you climb the tower.
Views of St. Petersburg from St. Isaac's Cathedral
Views of St. Petersburg from St. Isaac's Cathedral
Views of St. Petersburg and the Admirality from St. Isaac's Cathedral
Sturdy bells mark the passage of time hour by hour.
Church bell at St. Isaac's in St. Petersburg, Russia

Experience Russian Ice Hockey at Its Finest and Get Tickets to a St. Petersburg SKA Game

Flags waving at the St. Petersburg SKA ice hockey game
Even though we only had 3-days to spend in St. Petersburg, we made an effort to get off of the tourist trail and go where the locals go. I love ice hockey and the St. Petersburg SKA happened to be in town to coincide with our visit. We cheered SKA on to victory along with about 12,000 other rabid local fans. For more on how Russian Ice Hockey in the KHL compares to the National Hockey League in the US and Canada, check out my post devoted to the subject.

Admire the Imperial Eggs at the Faberge Museum

Imperial Egg at the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia
Back on St. Petersburg's tourist trail, we budgeted an hour to explore the fascinating Faberge Museum. The highlight was the signature Faberge Imperial eggs. Each egg took almost a year to construct and came with an ingenious surprise inside. It was a gift fit for a king, or in this case, a czar and his family. Positively stunning.
Imperial Egg at the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

Get Off the Tourist Track and Try a Hipster Coffee in St. Petersburg

Winged griffins on a bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia
En route to our final tourist attraction, we wandered the streets of St. Petersburg and stumbled upon the Coffee Owl. Half bar, half coffee shop, this place has cred as a hipster coffee joint. It's well worth a stop to fuel up after a couple days of hardcore exploration.
Blogger: Sidewalk Safari - Edit post
Coffee and cake at Coffee Owl in St. Petersburg, Russia

Tour St. Petersburg's Yusupov Palace

Interior of a blue room in Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia
Fireplace in Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia
We love getting tips from locals. One of my colleagues hails from St. Petersburg and recommended that we check out Yusupov Palace for a more authentic experience. Incidentally, Rasputin was murdered here which lends a certain macabre ambiance to the place. The palace was finely decorated with period furnishings.
Theatre inside Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia
The highlight of Yusupov Palace was the sumptuous theatre. An acapella trio serenaded us with a selection of Russian songs. It was a magical experience. 

Watch the Sunset Over St. Petersburg Port 

Sunset over St. Petersburg Port
Before we knew it, our 72 visa-free hours in St. Petersburg were drawing to a close and it was time to catch our 'tour' back to the ferry port. As we waited to lift anchor, we were treated to a positively stunning sunset over the St. Petersburg Port and Bay of Finland. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the jam-packed experience we had exploring a culture quite different from our own. Whether on the tourist trail or off of it, a 3-day visa-free stint in St. Petersburg should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Based on this sample of Russia, I'd definitely consider applying for a visa so we can go back and explore more of what Russia has to offer beyond St. Petersburg.
Sunset over St. Petersburg port

Useful Links

COMMENTS

Name

#DrJSabbatical #pigsonparade #tasteoftravel 1916 Rebellion a City Break Absolut Fringe Adelaide Adriatics Africa Agra Aix-en-Provence Alameda Alamo Square Alfama Algarve Alliance Francaise Americas Amnesty Amsterdam Andolu Kavagi Android Ann Arbor Antwerp Argentina Arizona Art Gallery Arthur's Day Asia Asia Pacific Athens Augsburg AUNZ AUNZ_Archive Auschwitz Austin Australia Austria Auto Awesome Avignon Baixa Baltics Bangkok Barcelona Barrio Alta Basel Basque Basque Country Bath Bazaar Beijing Belem Belfast Belgium Bellagio Bergamo Berlin Bern Bernal Heights Best of Beyond Dublin Bidart Big Island Bird Watching Birmingham Blackrock Market bleisure Bloco de Dublin Blogger Fiesta BloggerFiesta Bologna Bonn Boston Brad Pitt Bray Brighton Bristol Bruges Brussels BTW Bucharest Budapest Buffalo California Camargue Cambodia Cambridge Canada Canary Islands Cannes Cannonball Cannonball Run Canterbury Cape Town Carcassonne Cardiff Carnival Castro Catalonia Catalunya Cats Central Europe Central Richmond Chemistry China Chinatown Christmas Christmas Market City Break Itinerary Civic Center Cobh Coffee cole valley Cologne Comedy Club Commute Chronicles Connemara Copenhagen Cork Costa Brava County Kerry Cow Hollow Critical Mass Croatia Culture Night Cyprus Czech Republic Dalkey Dalkey Castle Danang Delft Delhi Den Haag Denmark Denver Derry Diamond Head Disneyland Dolores Heights Donegal Dover Downtown Dresden Dublin Dublin Castle Dublin Culture Night Dublin_Archive Dubrovnik Ducks Dun Laoghaire Dusseldorf Eastern Europe Edinburgh Eindhoven England Eruption Estonia Europe Europe_Archive Evora Fado Fall Foliage Faro Faversham Festival Film Film Festival Financial District Finland Fisherman's Wharf Flanders Florida Flugtag Food France Frankfurt French Riviera Fringe Fringe Festival Galway Gandhi Gdansk Gdynia Georgian Dublin Germany GhostBus Gig Girona Glasgow Glen Park Golden Gate Park Google Plus Granada Grand Canal Greece Greece and Cyprus Guest Posts Guiness Storehouse Guinness Gurgaon Half Moon Bay Halloween Hamburg Hangzhou Hanoi Hawaii Hayes Valley HCMC Helsinki Hermanus Hilo Ho Chi Minh City Hobart Hoi An Holland Honolulu Hula Hungary Hurling Hyderabad Ice Cream Sandwich ICS India Inner Richmond Inner Sunset Ireland Ireland_Archive Istanbul Italy Itinerary Izmir Jackson Square Jaipur Japan Japantown Johannesburg Kaunas Kenmare Kilauea Kilkenny Kilkenny Cats Killarney Kiluaea Kona Krakow Kuala Lumpur Kyoto Lake Como Lake Street Languedoc Lanzarote Las Fallas Las Vegas Latvia Laurel Heights Leeds Leinster Leipzig Lemesos Let's French 2011 Liechtenstein Limerick Lincoln's Inn Lisbon Lithuania Liverpool Lloret de Mar London Los Angeles Louisiana Lower Pacific Heights Lübeck Lucerne Lyon Mackintosh Madeira Madrid Mainz Malaga Malaysia Mallorca Malta Manchester Marina Marrakech Marrakesh Marseille Massachusetts Mdina Med Melbourne Menton Milan Mission Bay Mission Dolores Modena Monaco Monte Carlo Montenegro Monterey Montpellier Morocco Munich Munster Music NA_Archive Naples Netherlands New Orleans New Year 2011 New Year Festival New Years Eve 2010 New York New Zealand Nice Nicosia Nob Hill Noe Valley NOPA Nordics Normandy Norrkoping North America North Beach Northern Ireland Nuremberg Oahu Oakland Oktoberfest Oliwa Olympics On The Road Osaka Outer Richmond Outer Sunset Oxford Pacific Heights Padua Palafrugell Palma Panorama Paphos Paris Parma Pearl Harbor Pennsylvania Perth Philadelphia Pingyao Pittsburgh Poland Porto Portugal Potrero Hill Prague Presidio Presidio Heights Pride Provence Queensland Rabat RAF2010 Rainbow Ranelagh Ranelagh Arts Festival Recent Red Bull Regensburg Reims Restaurant Review Riga Ring of Kerry Rochester Roman Ruins Romania Rome Rotterdam Rugby Russia Russian Hill Salt Lake City Samba San Diego San Francisco San Sebastian Sand Castles Santa Cruz Scandinavia Science Gallery Science Museum Scotland Seattle Segovia Seoul Seville SF - Further Afield SF_Archive Shakespeare Shave Ice Sicily Siem Reap Silent Film Festival Singapore Sintra Sligo Snow SOMA Sonoma Sopot South Africa South America South Beach South Korea South San Francisco Soweto Spain SPWC St. Petersburg Stellenbosch Stirling Stockholm Strasbourg Street Performance Stuttgart Sultanahmet Sweden Switzerland Sydney Tallinn Tasmania Tavira TBEX Telegraph Hill Temple Bar Tenderloin TenderNob Tenerife Texas Thailand Thames Festival The Haight The Kruger The Mission Theatre ThisIsAthens Tipperary Tokyo Toledo Toronto Toulouse Trad Trad Sessions Transylvania Trinity College Turkey UBTD10 Uganda UK Ulster Bank Theater Festival Union Square United States Uruguay Utrecht Vacation Rental Valencia Valletta Venice Vienna Vietnam Vilnius Volcano Volcanoes National Park Waikiki Wales Walking Walking Tour Warsaw Washington Waterford Western Addition Western Australia Westerplatte Westfield Where's Wally? Whiskey Whitsundays Wicklow Wine Tasting Wisconsin World Record World War II Wroclaw WWI WWII Xi'an York Ypsilanti Zurich
false
ltr
item
Sidewalk Safari: How to Spend a 72 Hour Visa Free Stay in St. Petersburg, Russia
How to Spend a 72 Hour Visa Free Stay in St. Petersburg, Russia
Learn how to visit St. Petersburg, Russia without a visa for 72 hours and see the top tourist sights while you're there. A photo-rich post by travel blogger Jennifer, aka Dr. J, from Sidewalk Safari.
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-H7jWZwTciSo/WBTaqxN4DGI/AAAAAAABF_I/leEJKJC86ucQfiobeBtT7shwrDy7oxNXwCLcB/s640/IMG_7028.JPG
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-H7jWZwTciSo/WBTaqxN4DGI/AAAAAAABF_I/leEJKJC86ucQfiobeBtT7shwrDy7oxNXwCLcB/s72-c/IMG_7028.JPG
Sidewalk Safari
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/2016/11/72-hours-visa-free-in-st-petersburg.html
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/
http://www.sidewalksafari.com/2016/11/72-hours-visa-free-in-st-petersburg.html
true
2802498442123035908
UTF-8
Not found any posts VIEW ALL Read more Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS CONTENT IS PREMIUM Please share to unlock Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy