• Tallinn, Estonia
  • Marzipan Shop in Tallinn
  • Lutheran Church in Helsinki, Finland
  • Helsinki's Sibelius Monument
  • St. Petersburg's Church on Spilled Blood
  • Peter & Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Catherine Palace in Pushkin, Russia

Tour Questions? See our FAQ | Call 425-608-4217

Best of St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Helsinki in 9 Days Tour

from $2,895 + Air

Optional Single Supplement $575

See Tour Dates

Discover a formerly forbidden corner of Europe, where a blend of east and west has created a region unlike any other. Your Rick Steves guide will get you started with the cozy squares and inspiring independence of Estonia's capital of Tallinn. Then you'll travel by ferry across the Gulf of Finland to the Art Nouveau ambience and high-tech prosperity of Helsinki. From there, it's a mere train ride to the elegant, treasure-packed city of St. Petersburg and its magnificent Hermitage. Join us for the Best of St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Helsinki in 9 Days!

Dates & Prices

2016

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24–28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and Helsinki come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 20 group sightseeing events • Tallinn walking tour • Russian Orthodox Cathedral • Museum of Occupation • Kadriorg Park • Rusalka Monument • Song Festival stage • "Church in the Rock" (Temppeliaukio Church) • Sibelius Monument • Seurasaari Open-Air Folk Museum • Helsinki walking tour • Lutheran Cathedral • Panoramic bus tour of St. Petersburg • Peter and Paul Cathedral • Church on Spilled Blood • Hermitage Museum tour • Catherine Palace tour • Siege Museum tour • Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad • St. Isaac's Cathedral • St. Petersburg walking tour…and more
  • All group transportation from Tallinn to St. Petersburg
  • 8 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Rick Steves Travel Store credit to use toward guidebooks for your trip
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2016
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks, free-time sightseeing, and your Russian tourist visa, which is required to enter Russia (current costs are $350 USD and $425 CAD). Please review for complete details: St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Helsinki FAQ. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above.

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2–4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2–6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2–8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Tallinn

Our hotel is in the charming Old Town of Estonia's capital city, just a short walk from the historic Town Hall Square (Raekoja plats). We'll meet at the hotel at 5 p.m. for a "Welcome to Tallinn" get-together, a short orientation and dinner. Sleep in Tallinn (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Historic Tallinn

Our morning begins with a walking tour of Tallinn's Old Town — a marvelous mix of Swedish and Germanic influences from the Reformation and Middle Ages. Starting with the Old Town's narrow streets and whimsically decorated merchant houses, we'll walk up Toompea Hill to the Upper Town. There we'll learn about the Estonians' struggle for independence as we see the onion-domed Russian Cathedral, Parliament Building, and the fascinating Museum of Occupation. The afternoon and evening are yours to explore Tallinn's inviting streets, squares, cafés, shops, and museums. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Over the Baltic Sea

This morning we'll take a bus outside Tallinn's walls to Peter the Great's ornate Kadriorg (Catherine) Park and equally Russian Rusalka Monument. We'll also visit the famous Song Festival stage where Estonia's peaceful "singing revolution" began back in 1987. Then we'll hop aboard a streamlined ferry to cross the Gulf of Finland. In a couple of hours we'll arrive in Helsinki — one of Europe's wealthiest, fastest-growing cities. Upon arrival we'll visit the imaginative Sibelius Monument, the wonderfully furnished Seurasaari Open-Air Folk Museum, and the awe-inspiring "Church in the Rock." After an orientation to this surprisingly young capital, we'll end our day with dinner together. Sleep in Helsinki (2 nights). Boat: 2 hrs. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Helsinki's Old Town

We'll begin our day with a walking tour of Helsinki's relatively young (mid-1800s) "Old Town" — a tidy tangle of Neoclassical and Art Nouveau streets. Starting on the busy Market Square, we'll see the unusually Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, the contrastingly stark Lutheran Cathedral, the seriously Art Nouveau train station and the pedestrian-friendly Esplanade. The rest of the day is yours to explore the city's modern side, or take an excursion out to the islands where Suomenlinna fortress guards the city. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 5: All Aboard to Russia

This morning we'll catch the train to St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), Russia, and enjoy lunch together on board before arriving in the early afternoon. We'll transfer to our bus for a rolling tour of St. Petersburg's bridge-and-canal-laced city center, stopping to visit the city's birthplace and resting place of the tsars, the golden-steepled Peter and Paul Cathedral. We'll end our tour at the colorfully ornate, mosaic-filled Church on Spilled Blood, built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Then we'll get settled in our centrally located hotel and enjoy a Russian meal together. Sleep in St. Petersburg (4 nights). Train: 4 hrs. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: The Hermitage

We'll spend the morning at the Tsars' Winter Palace, known today as one of the world's premier museums — The Hermitage. With over 2.5 million items on display, our three-hour guided tour will focus on the opulent rooms of the palace and the museum's must-see masterpieces by Leonardo, Rembrandt, Picasso, Chagall, and others. Your afternoon is free to relax, continue sightseeing on your own through the palace/museum's six buildings, or take an excursion out to Peterhof by hydrofoil to view the palace's spectacular fountains. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: Catherine's Palace and WWII Leningrad

Today we'll venture out to the town of Pushkin where we'll tour Catherine I's palace and its stunningly restored Amber Room. After lunch together we'll return to the city to tour the Museum of the Defense and Siege of Leningrad and the Monument to the Heroic Defenders. Here we'll learn how the city, from 1941 to 1944, endured a 900-day Nazi blockade. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: St. Petersburg's Sights

On a walking tour this morning, our local guide will help us gain a vivid understanding of Peter the Great's love for the town he created. We'll explore more of the remarkable buildings, streets, and old ethnic neighborhoods that make St. Petersburg unique, ending at the impressively domed St. Isaac's Cathedral. You'll have the remainder of the day free to wander along Nevsky Prospect (the Champs-Elysées of St. Petersburg) and the picturesque canals, or see more masterpieces at the Russian Museum. For our final dinner together, we'll sample dishes from the Republic of Georgia as we share travel memories and toast new friends. Nastrovia! No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 9: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Some will head for the airport to fly home, while others may choose to continue along the Volga to Moscow. (Be sure to finalize your visa to match your full Russian itinerary, including any post-tour travels in Russia.) Dosvedanya!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Physical Demands

Our tours are physically active! It's an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Helsinki in 9 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily…

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking, and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

Reviews

Gayle

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent introduction to the history, cultures, and arts of this area on the Baltic Sea. We would never have traveled here on our own and we did not feel like we were in a "herd of tourists". We brought back new awareness of the area as well as fond memories of our guide and fellow travelers.

Jill

Corindi Beach Nsw,

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Thoroughly enjoyed this tour of areas I previously knew so little about. All activities were well planned and sites visited most interesting. Accommodation was excellent and in very convenient locations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being able to see the treasures in the Faberge Museum in St Petersburg, which "added the icing" to the luxurious lifestyle of the Tsars seen in The Hermitage and Catherine's Palace."

Carole

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour met my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There weren't any "wow" moments for me. However, it was an excellent tour in every respect."

Jack

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We would never have traveled to this part of the world without this tour. We are much richer in our perspective of the world with this experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The physical opulence of the Hermitage. Seemed like each room I entered was grander than the last. I thought it was great when we were reminded that Putin and Medvedev are both from St. Petersburg! Probably no coincedence about the state of restoration."

J

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Eszter, made this tour exceptional. Tallinn is an undiscovered gem - Helsinki although not an ancient city has several unique and beautiful sites and St. Petersburg is a tourist site waiting to happen. The visa process to go to Russia was well worth the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were wow moments every day - all it takes is opening your eyes and realizing where you are!"

Susan

Julian, NC

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have always wanted to go to St Petersburg but didn't want to go on my own so this tour was perfect. I felt very safe with our guide and tour group. I had never been interested in Tallinn or Helsinki so they were a fantastic surprise for me as I enjoyed them as much as St Petersburg.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Siege Museum in St Petersburg was fantastic as was the summer palace but one of the most awe inspiring stops was the church in the rock in Helsinki."

Marcia

Milton, PA

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I like the style of the tour in that you get an overview of the area first then can go out on your own to explore what's interesting to you. If you read the guide book and listened to the tour guide, there were tips to see and do lots of things. I was glad to have the experience of Finland, but wouldn't go out of my way to visit there again. I could have done without the open-air museum.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the inside of the cathedrals and how elaborately decorated they are, especially Church on Spilled Blood. Unbelievable that all of that is done in mosaic. Also having the opportunity to see Swan Lake done in Russia by Russians with a predominately Russian audience who definitely own the ballet. Wonderful cultural experience."

Jerry

Julian, NC

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I have always wanted to go to Russia and this wasn't a trip that I wanted to take on my own. I felt much safer with my tour group and guide. I am glad that I did the tour but will probably never go back to any of these three countries.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The churches in St Petersburg"

John

Wichita, AR

Tour: 08/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Ezther was fantastic. She solved every problem with a smile on her face.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking tour of St. Petersburg with description of Soviet life after 1992"

Rodger

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 08/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything highly organized and efficient. Hotels were superb. Eszter was as good as they come. Transportion seamless. Guides, for the most part, enjoyable, informative and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each of the three cities were "wow moments" however Tallinn was stunning. Peterhof offered a HUGE "wow moment"."

Lawrence

Prairie Village, KS

Tour: 08/24/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

In general, the tour guides were good. The exception was at the Hermitage in St Pertersburg, who was not an "expert" at the artwork, as had been represented. The hotel locations were great. The hotel in Heldinki was not up to par. We liked the time set aside for ourselves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The boat ride at dusk the last night in St Petersburg was certainly impressive"

Mary

Wichita, KS

Tour: 08/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Something special happened on this tour[INVALID] everyone seemed to enjoy each other, the tour itinerary and the details of the tour itself. This is the first time in four tours with RS that I felt I would like to tour with this group again, pretty much anywhere. The tour itself was a walk through history and politics that is hard to top. However, the patience and friendliness of the tour participants was even better. I've traveled enough to know that crummy tour partners can ruin any trip, anywhere.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Riding on a canal boat in St. Petersburg at sunset, drinking Russian champagne provided by Eszter and enjoying our last evening together as a group. Also, singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" as a group at the Singing Stadium in Tallinn."

Cathy

Ardmore, PA

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am so glad that I got to enjoy the wonders of Estonia first and that St Petersburg came last. St Petersburg surprised me so much. Besides acknowledging the many wonders of each city, I must express my gratitude to our tour guides, TravelGuard, and the Tallinn health care system who all took great care of me when I had an emergency. Although I missed most of Helsinki, I am well and was able to continue on to enjoy all the great experiences on the rest of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wows for me include hearing the Estonians sing at the Brigitta Festival, singing at the Song Stage, and seeing the wonders of St Petersburg, especially the Hermitage, the Catherine Place, and the Peterhof Gardens and seeing Swan Lake at the Mikailovsky."

Bill

Ardmore, PA

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Only one? The Tallinn town square and my first look at the Hermatage."

Georgeann

Frederick, MD

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought this tour was most interesting and educational. It was amazing to see the impact of wars on these countries at such close range and to watch them recover from the horrible experiences. I loved the medieval city in Tallinn, and I enjoyed seeing the KGB Museum. Helsinki was such a vibrant city populated by the most attractive group of people and visiting St. Petersburg was simply the most awesome experience for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have no favorite "WOW" moment. I thought each country stood on its own merits and I enjoyed my exposure to their culture and history throughout my stay."

Douglas

Albuquerque, NM

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The best part was the expertise of George and the local guides. We learned things and got background that we otherwise would not have gotten. The tour went smoothly. I was impressed that Beata stayed with one of the members who was hospitalized in Tallinn. The program was designed to get the member the help she needed, US medical consultation, treatment and the ability to rejoin the tour a day later with no adverse problems.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably what I learned about the Siege of Leningrad."

Regan

Lexington, KY

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All aspects of the tour were excellent. Tour guides and local guides were so interesting and informative. Hotels exceeded my expectations - all very comfortable and well located. Perfect balance of group tour time and individual time to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to choose from but Tallinn was an unexpected jewel that we really enjoyed. St Petersburg was just so lovely - seeing the Winter Palace and Peterhof was amazing. Also learning about the siege of Leningrad was very interesting."

Nancy

Nashville, TN

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We have been on 2 previous Rick Steves Tours, and this one was as excellent as the others. Our guide George was outstanding. Of course we did and saw so much more than we would have, had we been on a cruise. Our hotels were great, the time was well spent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, it was Catherine's Palace. the Hermitage was of course wonderful, but Catherine's Palace seemed kind of feminine, was so beautiful. For my husband, the wow moment was the tour day with the local guide "Peter", listening to him explain the city."

Julia

Lexington, KY

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The attention to detail by RST is amazing - this was a great first trip for me, and I hope to travel with RST groups in the future. The hotels were wonderful, the group meals were wonderful, and the mini-history lessons and cultural notes during the walking tours by local guides provided so much information and context than I could have gleaned if traveling on my own. Thank you to our trip leaders for their energy and enthusiasm - they must have answered hundreds of questions for the 22 of us!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"St. Petersburg local guides - very eye-opening"

Steven

Sacramento, CA

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have traveled in Europe many times over the years, always independently. We have traveled with tour groups in China a couple of times and were unimpressed. We felt that for the Baltics and St Petersburg we could use some help up the learning curve and a Rick Steves tour would be in order. We were so right. This tour was efficient and enjoyable, covering the sights and experiences we sought while still leaving us time to explore on our own...and all this with a great group of people!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pick from any of the sights in St Petersburg."

Jeannie

Sacramento, CA

Tour: 08/14/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have traveled in Europe many times over the years, always independently. We have traveled with tour groups in China a couple of times and were unimpressed. We felt that for the Baltics and St Petersburg we could use some help up the learning curve and a Rick Steves tour would be in order. We were so right. This tour was efficient and enjoyable, covering the sights and experiences we sought while still leaving us time to explore on our own...and all this with a great group of people!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Four days in St Petersburg"

Jane

Wellfleet, MA

Tour: 08/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour experience was terrific! It was made so by Etelka, whose knowledge, enthusiasm, advice, assistance, organization and leadership kept everything moving smoothly and on time! From the first introductions to the final goodbyes, Etelka's involvement with making sure everyone's needs were met, whether it concerned dietary requirements or transportation, made for a stress-free and enjoyable tour. We can't say enough good things about her: Etelka herself was a real highlight of the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tallinn is a real discovery. We enjoyed our stay there very much and could welcome even another day."

Dawn

Seattle, WA

Tour: 08/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We liked Etelka and the interesting experiences while living in Leningrad when studying Russian during Soviet rule that she shared. She was very attentive to the individual needs of our group and always had scrumptious local chocolates to share. The guides in each city provided information that enhanced our traveling experience; interesting to compare their personalities. All hotels were in locations close to the major tourist attractions, comfortable, spotlessly clean, and the breakfasts delici

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hermitage"

Marcia

Houston, TX

Tour: 07/20/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I loved learning about the political relationships (past AND present) between Estonia, Finland and Russia! This tour was a great followup to the Best Of Scandinavia tour. Tallinn was a beautifully preserved walled city - fun to walk around (especially after the cruise tours left)! Helsinki was quite a contrast as a modern, relatively young city. St. Petersburg was altogether different. The architecture reflected the elegance of its tsarist past and culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was sitting in a box seat when the lights went down in the old Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and we heard the first orchestral notes of "Iolanta" by Tchaikovsky! And I am not particularly an opera fan! Pure magic! We would not have thought to do that without prodding from RS!"

Juliana

Denver, CO

Tour: 07/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We went to some very unique places and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I went out in Talinn and met up with some locals and they showed me around the old town after I had already taken the city tour as part of the tour. It was really fun to see it from the locals perspective."

Robert

Yorba Linda, CA

Tour: 07/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized, run, and paced. Leader was very responsive and charming.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing St. Petersburg."

Katherine

Yorba Linda, CA

Tour: 07/20/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My first RS tour. Loved the countries and our tour guides, but feel the trip was overpriced. Since the emphasis is on being physically able to carry own luggage long distances & up & down stairs, staying in small, quaint hotels and considering we had to pay for 11 meals, this was a somewhat stripped down trip, but the price was not reflective of that. Per day the cost was more expensive than comparable tours taking into consideration that tips were included.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Hermitage was definitely a Wow moment, but here are the things I appreciated about the tour: the extra surprises such as Etelka's chocolate treats & Russian prints, our Vodka shots, the great food at all of the restaurants, her enthusiasm and helpfulness."

Kandi

Sioux Falls, SD

Tour: 07/20/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Stepping inside "The Church on Spilled Blood" in St. Petersburg."

Judith

Washington, DC

Tour: 07/20/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was the first tour I've ever taken. It was a nice experience. Etelka was really very good. Her professionalism, thoughtfulness & good nature was a valuable asset. George offered the same support. Their presence made the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Singing @ the Song Festival stage with Etelka, George & rest of the group.Back alley tour of St Petersburg with Peter (the Great). Helsinki's architecture. Church of the Spilled Blood - mosaic paintings."

George

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

George and Betty have 20 RS' tours between them ... including a RS led tour in London. That doesn't make us experts, but it does create experience to observe what works and does not work on tours. We understood this is a city tour. That being said, this tour could use some adjustments. Local guides were less than outstanding. See separate email: The Seven Deadly Sins of Tour Guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Based on our experience, there were no Wow experiences as part of this tour. Not all tours have Wow experiences. That's not negative nor detract from the tour. Our usual Wow experiences have been unannounced surprises, unanticipated happenings. Our Wow times were when we were on our own in the three cities. In one way, that's good ... but the tour needed some Wow opportunities."

Janice

Waseca, MN

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had been looking forward to this trip for many months and the wsit was well worth it. It simply was fantastic! The history behind the countries visited, the sites seen, and the staff that guided us was exceptional. This was our second tour with Etella and she continues to pour her whole heart into her job. Thank you Etella!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Russia was my WOW moment, seeing all the palaces and the history that led up to the revolution was so interesting as was our last guide Peter who was shared his life as a Russian citizen with us."

Lynn

Hillsboro, OR

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour provided an excellent introduction to the cities of Tallinn, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg. We were given ample time to get a taste of the history, the people and the culture of each city. Etelka did a wonderful job of organizing everything; the hotels, meals and transportation were very good. All together, a great, worry-free travel experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting The Hermitage in St. Petersburg was spectacular!"

Leslie

Colbert, WA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a great time on this tour and enjoyed the three cities immensely though for very different reasons - Helsinki with its architecture, Tallinn the medieval charm of Old Town and all the wonderful art and music in St Petersburg. I especially liked that we used different means of transportation, boat, ferry and train, to travel. It was great having Etelka as a guide again and, as always, learned a lot from the local guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a lot of wow moments but if I had to narrow it down, I would choose the beautiful architecture of Helsinki and going to see the Church of Spilled Blood in the late evening our first night in St Petersburg. We also had a very memorable taxi cab ride back from a concert in St Petersburg that I doubt any of us will forget."

Nancy

Longmeadow, MA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This is a very busy tour. The city tours seemed longer tahn usual, especially in Tallinn.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was a treat to be in St. Petersburg. We went to the Russian ballet."

Robert

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Pretty much "as advertised" and as experienced in previous ETBD tours

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Had to be St. Petersburg, with the Hermitage and palaces in particular. Never before seen so much gold leaf and other indicators of "Czar life!""

Dianne

Port Townsend, WA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed Tallin and Helsinki very much, but they are easy to visit on one's own. St Petersburg was another story. I would have preferred to spend 7 or 8 days in St Petersburg alone. The local guides ranged from awful to pretty good. As a general rule they simply talked too much. I can absorb only so much information, then I like silence to "process".

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The afternoon we skipped out (after two and a half hours) the crowded Hermitage to ride the Metro. We rode to a station with no tourists, had a beer and sat and watched people before returning. The Metro was like none I've seen either in the US or elsewhere in Europe. The mosiacs were vibrant and enormous."

Jeffrey

Longmeadow, MA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

A very nice blend of the old walled city of Tallinn, the lovely city of Helsinki with the extraordinary beauty and scope of St.Petersburg.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The stunning beauty of St. Petersburg. Spectacular architecture, stunning museums and great people. A perfect canal ride on our last evening displayed the extraordinary city at its finest."

Betty

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

George and Betty have 20 RS' tours between them ... including a RS led tour in London. That doesn't make us experts, but it does create experience to observe what works and does not work on tours. We understood this is a city tour. That being said, this tour could use some adjustments. Local guides were less than outstanding. See separate email: The Seven Deadly Sins of Tour Guides.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Based on our experience, there were no Wow experiences as part of this tour. Not all tours have Wow experiences. That's not negative nor detract from the tour. Our usual Wow experiences have been unannounced surprises, unanticipated happenings. Our Wow times were when we were on our own in the three cities. In one way, that's good ... but the tour needed some Wow opportunities."

Susan

Henderson, NV

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour, Tallin was cute and fun, Helsinki nice but for tourists, maybe not so exciting, feel I could have skipped Helsinki. St Petersburg was fabulous. Eszter our guide was wonderful and made the sites come alive.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved seeing the fabulous Russian palaces and optional Peterhof! What a wow to see the palace and grounds, Hermitage was fabulous, Church on Spilled Blood fabulous, loved all the crazy over the top palaces."

Sandra

Greeley, CO

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Estonia was delightful and our favorite hotel. Helsinki was my grandson's favorite city, loved the time we spent on the waterfront dining on local food. My grandaughter's favorite was St. Pertersburg, and we extended to go to a couple of ballets, because that was her interest. Liked traveling by ferry to Helsinki and by train to St. Petersburg. Loved the small group. It could also be called the Baltic Sea Experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Not sure."

Leslie

Sparks, NV

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amazing in every way it could be amazing. My only complaint is that there wasn't more time, in Tallin especially, but in St. Petersburg too. I'd always dreams of going to St. Petersburg, so this tour definitely hit the high points. The hotels were very nice, the food fantastic, and the tour group fun and friendly. Eszter was beyond expectations and each of the local guides were also terrific (especially Peter!)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Just wandering about Tallin. I didn't expect it to be so charming. It cast its spell on me. I'll definitely return!"

Pamela

Woodbridge, CA

Tour: 05/25/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We have always been independent travelers, but thanks to Eszter we would consider taking another tour. Her insight and intuition assured that each member's individual needs were met, often without asking. The itinerary is physically and mentally strenuous, and adding one additional day to allow for some "down time" would provide an opportunity to process and appreciate all the information/history you were hearing/seeing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The impetus to further research the history of Estonia, learning about Finland's progressive culture, looking out at the Baltic Sea from atop the bluffs of the Suomenlinna Fortress, and the chance to see and experience St. Petersburg's churches/palaces as well as some "real" neighborhoods."

Weather

Estonia / Tallinn

Estonia Weather


Finland / Helsinki

Finland Weather


Russia / St. Petersburg

Russia Weather

Planning Tips

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go at our St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Helsinki FAQ. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Trip Resources

Learn more about St. Petersburg, Tallinn, and Helsinki: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews, and articles.

Visa Required Before You Go

If you are a US or Canadian citizen you need a tourist visa to enter Russia. About four months prior to your tour departure, we will email important information explaining how to obtain your visa. It usually takes 14-21 business days for the entire process to be completed and the current price (subject to change) is about $350 USD ($425 CAD). Please note that you cannot apply for your Russian visa earlier than 90 days prior to the date you enter Russia. Holders of passports from any country other than the USA or Canada are responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents prior to joining the tour. Please see our St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Helsinki FAQ for more details.

Transportation

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

Many tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. Most tour members will arrange to fly into Tallinn and out of St. Petersburg ("multi-city" on flight booking websites). Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, ferry ride, or additional overnight stay.

If you decide to fly roundtrip to Helsinki, you can then take the two-hour ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn to start the tour. For ferry information please see the Tallink website. To return to Helsinki from St. Petersburg after the tour, you can take the train from St. Petersburg.

If you fly roundtrip to Tallinn, you can take a bus from St. Petersburg to Tallinn after the tour. The bus takes up to six hours and you can buy tickets online at www.luxexpress.eu/en.

If you have additional European travel or tour questions, contact the Tour Department at 425-608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Sightseeing on Your Own

If you arrive in Tallinn before your tour begins, use the Rick Steves guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Estonian (although many locals speak some English), and get over your jet lag with fresh air and exercise.

Remember that Tallinn is a small city and we will be covering a lot of the sights during our walking tour on Day 2 of the tour. Here are suggestions for sightseeing in Tallinn that we will not be doing as a group (see the guidebook for details): Tallinn City Museum; Estonian History Museum; Kumu Art Museum; Estonian Open-Air Museum.

Packing

In the spring or summer, you may find that the longer days affect your sleep. You may want to pack a sleep mask to help with getting the darkness you need for a good night's sleep.

For more advice on what (and what not!) to pack, see Rick's packing tips.