Will I need a visa for this tour?
Yes! For US (and Canadian) citizens a Tourist Visa is required to enter Russia. We recommend the multiple entry three-year Tourist Visa. This visa is less expensive and will cover any future travel to Russia within the three-year period. Apply for your Russian visa no earlier than 90 days before your tour is scheduled to enter Russia (visa servicing centers do not accept earlier applications). If you are a citizen from any other country, please check with your local Russian Consulate to verify if you will need a visa.
Where can I find the visa application and processing information?
About four months prior to your tour departure, we will email important information explaining how to obtain your visa. We partner with Passport Visas Express (PVE), and they will provide you with the support documents required to complete your online Russian visa application. PVE has great customer service and will be happy to assist you if you have any questions during the process. Other nationalities will be required to go through a local visa processing company or the closest Russian Consulate to obtain the visa. Once you receive your visa, do not alter it in any way. Any alteration will invalidate your visa and may result in you being denied entry to Russia at the border.
How long will it take and what will it cost to process my Russian visa?
It usually takes 14-21 business days for the entire process to be completed and costs about $350 USD ($425 CAD). If necessary, you can apply for an expedited visa for an additional fee.
How do I get a Russian visa if I reside in Europe?
EU citizens will need to go through their country's Russian Consulate directly. American citizens residing in Europe can apply for a visa directly with the Russian Consulate of the country in which they reside (proof of permission to reside/work in that country is required) or you can obtain your visa through Passport Visas Express. Visa application requirements may be different than that of US and Canadian citizens living in their home countries.
Will I need any vaccinations for this tour?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend any specific vaccinations for this region. They do, however, recommend that you are up-to-date on routine vaccinations, such as Tetanus.
What flights should I book?
We recommend purchasing a "multi-city" ticket, flying into Tallinn, Estonia, and home from St. Petersburg, Russia. Lufthansa, KLM and SAS fly into both cities. We recommend contacting your travel agent to purchase your airline ticket. If you need a recommendation for a good travel agent, see below to contact a Seattle agency that we use to book our flights, and a Russian agency that can assist you with post-tour travel in Russia.
How should I budget for personal expenses?
This tour includes all group sightseeing admissions, all breakfasts, half of your dinners, plus all hotel, guide and driver tips. We suggest you plan for about $75-$100 per person per day to cover extra and non-included meals, beverages, snacks, souvenirs, and transportation costs and/or admissions for sightseeing during free time.
What types of currency will I use, and how much should I bring?
You will be using the Euro in Estonia and Finland, and the Ruble in Russia. We do not recommend bringing US or other currency with you. ATMs are common in the cities we'll visit, so we recommend getting local cash after you arrive.
How will I access my money when traveling?
We recommend using an ATM/Debit card to access your funds while traveling. Travelers Cheques are rarely accepted today and it can be very difficult to exchange foreign currency at banks and exchange offices in these areas (especially if bills are worn or marked in any way). Be sure the PIN for your ATM card is a numeric pin (1-2-3-4) and not letters. If you do not have a numeric pin, contact your bank before you depart to change your PIN.
Will I have access to phones and internet?
Yes. Internet cafes are very popular in the region, and you should have no problem finding one near your hotel. Prepaid local phone cards are widely available and similar to those used in Europe and in North America. A PIN code on the back allows you to call from your hotel room or a phone booth. Your guide will have more information on this at your first group meeting.
What are the hotels like?
Our hotels are centrally located in the old town areas of Tallinn, Helsinki and St. Petersburg. As on all of our tours, there will be stairs to climb. Many of our hotels have one tiny elevator — one more reason to pack light and be in good shape!
Will there be a lot of walking on this tour?
Yes. While you'll have the option of taking a tram within cities during your free time, the most efficient and direct method of getting around is on foot. Please bring comfortable shoes, and expect uneven sidewalks, cobblestone streets and several flights of stairs in and around the towns, cities and sights we visit.
Will we visit the Hermitage Museum?
Yes, we'll visit a portion of the Hermitage Museum as a group in the morning with a local guide. The remainder of the day will be free if you want to explore the full six buildings of the Hermitage. Please be prepared for a lot of walking during the guided tour.
Can I attend a Russian Ballet?
If you are interested in attending a Russian ballet, you have free time available during the evenings on Days 6 and 7 of your tour. We recommend either the Marinsky (Kirov) Ballet or the State Hermitage Theatre of Classical Russian Ballet, one of the best Chamber Ballets in Russia. Please note: The Marinsky and Hermitage Theatre do not perform on a daily basis and are also closed during certain times of the year. You can find performance schedules and purchase tickets for both ballets online.
Will this tour include Moscow?
No. This tour covers what is known as the "Triangle of the Baltic Sea" — Tallinn, Helsinki and St. Petersburg. If you'd like to visit Moscow after your tour, it is easily reached from St. Petersburg via train, plane or a Volga River cruise. We recommend working with your travel agent for all of your Moscow arrangements, such as hotels, local guides and sightseeing assistance. If you don't have a travel agent, here are two we work with and recommend:
Pre- and Post-Tour travel arrangements in Russia:
For Flight Reservations contact:
Elizabeth Holmes Travel Agency in Seattle
Toll free: 800-588-8361