• 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? Call 425-608-4217

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

from $3,095 + 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

2015

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 Church • 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
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves Snapshot: St. Petersburg, Helsinki & Tallinn guidebook, moneybelt and earplugs
  • 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 2015
  • 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 and free-time sightseeing. 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 Church, 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. Arriving by early afternoon, we'll transfer to our bus for a rolling tour of St. Petersburg's bridge-and-canal-laced city center. We'll stop 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 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.

Activity Level

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

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."

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."

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."

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!""

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."

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."

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!"

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."

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!"

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."

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."

Leandro

Kennewick, WA

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First Rick Steve's tour I have taken. I agree with Rick's disclaimer that his tours are not for everyone. The "guided" tour parts hit the expected highlights of each city and the local guides were well chosen. You do have to put some effort into research to take advantage of the "YourTime" parts of the tour. Rick's books helped out a lot with this. I feel I was able to get the most out of the vacation since I was doing what I wanted and not tied to a rigid cookie cutter tour schedule.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching Russian ballet of Swan Lake in the intimate setting of the Hermitage Theater in the Winter Palace of St Petersburg. The ambiance of sitting in the personal theater of Catherine the Great and watching perfection is hard to beat. I now realize why the Russians are considered the best. Eszter was able to get us tickets for a sold out show on short notice."

Mary

Pompano Beach, FL

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great trip, fabulous guide and fantastic group!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While we certainly enjoyed Tallin and Helsinki, St. Petersburg was a unique experience.It's hard to pick just one moment...the Church of the Spilled Blood, The Hermitage, Peterhof, the ballet and discovering the city was a thrill"

Barbara

Denver, CO

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was excellent, well-paced, and just-plain fun! Eszter did an outstanding job of leading and educating us, always with a sense of humor; she was well prepared at every point and anticipated our needs. The local guides were also informative, kept us moving along when we lingered too long, and added greatly to our understanding. My husband and I asked lots of questions and they responded with thoughtful answers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The biggest WOW was being in Russia and experiencing St. Petersburg - The Hermitage, Catherine's Palace, Peterhof, Kazan and St. Isaac's Churches, Peter and Paul Fortress, the Ballet at the Hermitage - they all combined to make a long-lasting memory that we'll treasure. SPB offers a wealth of rich experiences and four nights barely gives you enough time to savor them."

Peter

Florence, MA

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Eszter was fantastic! She was the key to making this our best RS trip ever. She harnessed our group energy, curiosity, and love of learning in every country. The guides at each location were very knowledgeable. Their various perceptions on current events were also insightful and stimulating.

Betty

Hood River, OR

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

There were many highlights and cherished moments for me on this much-anticipated trip: the contrast of the Old Town of Tallinn with Helsinki, the open air markets, the city walks, all the churches (Lutheran and Orthodox), the beautiful parks and the grand palaces. And such beautiful weather we enjoyed! Most memorable was touring the Hermitage and seeing paintings I've only seen in books, particularly the Rembrandt's and with only our tour group in the room!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This was more than a sightseeing trip. The unexpected "wow" was the impact of seeing these three cities through the multi-dimensional lens of their unsettled historical backgrounds colored by the issues and events of today, and considering the prospect of their uncertain future. Eszter ably prepared us and each of the local guides added a vital facet to this powerful perspective. Our particularly interesting group continued the discussions and we shared long lists of books to read this winter."

Charles

Tumwater, WA

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a wonderful experience. Every day held experiences that were interesting, visually stimulating, and memorable. The three countries visited were very different from each other makig the tour a constantly changing kaleidoscope of history, architecture, and people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When the whole tour is a "wow" moment, it is difficult to choose just one moment. The Hermitage in St Petersburg has to be one of my favorite places on the tour. The history and beauty of the building, its location on the Neva River, and the fabulous art it holds makes it my most memorable moment."

Elizabeth

Friday Harbor, WA

Tour: 09/15/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had a good and smaller than usual group which was a big plus. There was lots of history and culture which we enjoyed. It was wonderful being exposed to these new (for us) countries. Since it was our third RS Tour, we knew not to expect the slightly romanticized view of travel that I think Rick presents. I'm not sure he appreciates how hard flying coach is, esp for we who are older then he is! I do agree with him that we get a lot of value for the price of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The first one was approaching the Tallinn airport and looking out at the gorgeous countryside."

Bonnie

Nashville, TN

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

pre-trip preparation and tips from travel company excellent, well planned itinerery and great places to stay, eat. Loved our guide Etellka and a very compatible group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"probably the Hermitage, but there were many."

Gale

Mequon, WI

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Etelka was a wonderful leader. She was very knowledgable, enthusiastic and a great group leader. I had a fabulous time. The group was made up of an interesting mix of people who were so much fun to travel with. We seemed to care about each other and genuinely enjoyed each other's company. Thanks!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I am a quilter and have spent hours cutting up fabric and piecing it back together for beauty's sake.The Church built on Spilled Blood was absolutely breathtaking! The entire interior was covered with the most beautiful and colorful mosaic's. The little ceramic pieces they used to create their giant masterpieces was incredible!"

Christine

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a dream fulfilled in going to Russia. Every bit of our trip was wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing what a beautiful city St. Petersburg is."

Elizabeth

Belgium, WI

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Etelka was a great guide. Lots of fun, but also well organized and kept our group on track. Our fellow travelers were also great. Easy to know and mix with. Hotels very nice--especially the one in St. Petersburg. Our city guides were also very good. However, in Helsinki with traffic noise (and even a marching band) it was very difficult to hear our guide. Ear phones were really needed! Thanks.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our Guide In St. Petersburg who shared her opinions on changes in Russia and the impact on its population. And of Course the Hermitage, and other churches & palaces we visited in St. Petersburg. And Tallinn was beautiful. Loved our inexpensive evening concert in the old Town Hall."

Phillip

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Tallinn/Helsinki/St. Petersburg tour was the perfect supplement to our Best of Scandinavia tour as it enabled us to cover the full geographic area and sphere of cultural influences. Tallinn was an unanticipatedly interesting city with its long history. Having previously been to Helsinki in 1992 and 2006 on business, we were reminded of its beauty and vibrancy as a newer European capital. St. Petersburg was exquisite as expected and well worth the hassle and expense to get Russian visas.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tie between Hermitage art in St. Petersburg, Amber Room in Catherine's Palace in Pushkin, and Klaveritrio Amael chamber music concert in Tallinn Town Hall."

Dennis

Gilbert, AZ

Tour: 08/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was quite enjoyable and informative. It was hampered a bit by rain. The tour guide did a great job and we had a number of outstanding local guides for detailed explanations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Russian Orthodox basilicas in St Petersburg were awe inspiring."

Gayle

Caledonia, MI

Tour: 08/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Three different Russian guides in St. Petersburg, all outstanding in their fields but very different in their feelings about Moscow. A new understanding about the difficulty of "free press"."

Michael

Petaluma, CA

Tour: 08/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We've taken 13 RS tours. This tour gave a great overview of Estonia which had never been on my travel radar and a wonderful introduction to Russia in St. Petersburg. The city of Tallinn has a very walkable old town and our hotel was well located just inside the city walls. St. Petersburg was over-the-top opulence from the Czars with a Venice-like feel because of the canals. It's a city you could easily spend a week exploring.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My WOW moment was the political discussion I had with one of our local St. Petersburg guides. It drove home the fact that you are very much a product of your experiences and the news you are fed. He was well educated, but his views of the West and especially the situation in the Ukraine were very different from what we see in our news. In the end we agreed to disagree but it was really eye opening to meet someone whose "facts" were so different from mine."

Kenneth

Painesville, OH

Tour: 08/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second tour so I was able to gauge the quality from one tour to the other. My expectations were met and exceeded on every level. The accommodations were consistent with RS policy, being small, friendly and in the center of our activities. In every case the hotel staffs were friendly and helpful. Transportation was consistently clean, modern and comfortable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments for me but one outstanding moment was the choral performance in Helsinki at the Lutheran Cathedral. A large number of individual choirs sang together outside, on the steps, in front of the White Church. Finlandia by Sibelius has always been a favorite of mine but I got chills hearing it performed in that venue and by so many beautiful voices. It was an unexpected addition to an impressive tour."

Dee

Cottage Grove, WI

Tour: 08/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All was well organized and ran on time just as expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I never really expected to visit Russia but there I was, actually in The Hermitage seeing all this stuff!"

Theresa

Petaluma, CA

Tour: 08/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Three countries and cultures is a lot to absorb in 9 days, but Tallinn, Helsinki and St. Petersburg have much in common. It was fascinating to follow the cultural and historical threads from country to country. The three languages are another story, however ...

Favorite "WOW" moment

"1. People Our group was so compatible and gelled very quickly into a traveling "family". We all looked after each other and showed true consideration for each other. 2. Places Tallinn's Old Town was delightful with photo ops around every corner. The food was a surprise to me - I didn't know what to expect but all the meals were wonderful. 3. Things The Armory in the Kremlin holds amazing artifacts from Russia's imperial past, like the Diamond Throne. Wow!"

Linda

Marion, KY

Tour: 08/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was excellent! Just the right amount of guidance and time on your own. Guides were all well informed and easy to understand. Our primary guide was extremely knowledgeable and personable. She made the tour fun, interesting and educational. Others on the tour were all good travelers and enjoyable companions. Although I generally prefer to travel on my own, I could not have been more pleased with the Rick Steves' experience. I will definitely consider another Rick Steves' tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Catherine's palace and grounds in St. Petersburg was most surprising to me. I did not expect it to be that spectacular and so well restored."

Anne

Brookline, MA

Tour: 07/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Never been on a tour before, never wanted to. This one was a revelation: our main guide was marvelous and fun, the local guides offered perspectives I would never have found on my own. Tour members were all pleasant, the group worked well. Once there, I saw how clever the concept was: Tallinn old, Helsinki newer than St. P, both brought under Russia as satellites for St P. Trying to grasp the impact of Russia on Estonia and Finland was fascinating. Then St. Petersburg, the climax.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to choose, but I have to say arriving in the bus from the train at the bridge over the Neva, seeing the wide expanse of the river, the formal but colorful façades of the buildings lining it on the other side, I was astounded. I've always wanted to see St Petersburg, but I had no idea it would be so beautiful. Then to walk along the Moyka near our hotel, the same effect on a small scale--ravishing."

Dawn

Seattle, WA

Tour: 07/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steve's tour and once again we had a wonderful time. My husband picked this destination. It was not my first choice, but I am so glad that I had a chance to visit this beautiful destination. We saw amazing places and art and met wonderful people. The weather was much warmer than I expected. We had beautiful warm days our entire trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is very difficult to choose one "wow" moment, but I really enjoyed Tallinn. The Old Town was so charming."

Maxwell

Atherton, CA

Tour: 07/21/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Enjoyed the tour a lot. Very knowledgeable guides, interesting places to visit. Only negative comment is that Helsinki is not up to the other places. We could have gone elsewhere or cut the time in Helsinki considerably.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Initially, St. Petersburg was not very appealing, largely because of the 85+ degree weather. But as it cooled down a bit, we warmed up to St. Petersburg. The Church of Spilled Blood and the Russian Museum were our favorites."

Daniel

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 07/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour began in Tallinn, Estonia - a charming medieval city. The people are friendly and the food was excellent. After 2 days we headed to Helsinki, Finland, by ferry. Helsinki is spotless. The people are the friendliest I have encountered. Meals were excellent. Lastly we took train to St. Petersburg. WOW. Incredible city with a rich incredible history. Thank you to Adelka (sp), George and our many local guides for making this trip an unforgettable experience. I HIGHLY recommend!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. I was awed by it's size."

Darlene

Baton Rouge, LA

Tour: 07/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second tour and it was very well organized. All hotels were quite good and I appreciated the air-conditioning as it was 90 degrees in St. P. one day. Etelka did a fantastic job and was always available to answer questions. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge about traveling and I really enjoyed being with her. The ferry ride to Helskini was fun and I enjoyed the train ride to St. P. All local guides were very knowledgable and also gave good restaurant suggestions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think seeing the Church on Spilled Blood in St. P. I really wanted to see the burial place of Nicholas II and his family since I had read a lot about them and I am so glad that I was able to see their final, dignified resting place. The word "[INVALID]d" was used instead of "died" on the tombstone - this spoke volumes about how the Russians have come to view this chapter in their history."

Lawrence

San Jose, CA

Tour: 07/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

WOW! The trip was great. Our tour guides (Etelka and George) were wonderful, helpful, knowledgeable, and more. Everything went very well and we had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tallinn was very exciting because of the old world charm. St. Petersburg was just amazing and was a wonderful way to get to learn more about Russia."

Greg

Palo Alto, CA

Tour: 07/21/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guides and cities and enjoyable travel companions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in Russia."

Veronica

Prague,

Tour: 06/27/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was well organized and went smoothly. I know from previous experience that once the tour starts, I don't have to worry about details but can just enjoy and soak it all in, and such was the case with this tour as well. Local guides were excellent and Eszter was exceptional! She is personable, knowledgeable and was attuned to the "pulse" of the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The opulence of Summer Palace in St. Petersburg... AND...by some alignment of the cosmos, the throne room was completely empty when we arrived. It was an incredible sight. Interestingly, I was unimpressed upon arrival in St. Petersburg- crowded, traffic congested, all the pre-warnings of pick pockets colored by impressions. As we explored the city, I came to really appreciate its beauty and history."

Weather

Estonia / Tallinn

Estonia Weather


Finland / Helsinki

Finland Weather


Russia / St. Petersburg

Russia Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go at our St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Hesinki 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, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

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 your 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 your 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 an eye shade 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.