• Sweden edition
 
SPONSORED ARTICLE
Enjoy historic St Petersburg - without the visa

Enjoy historic St Petersburg - without the visa

Published: 03 Oct 2011 09:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Oct 2011 09:49 GMT+02:00

St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 as Russia’s “window to the west” and the city today still bears a distinctive ‘East meets West’ vibe. One of the world’s most intriguing cities and steeped in history, its stunning buildings and monuments bear witness to the bygone Tsarist and Stalin eras, earning its historic centre a place on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. It’s also home to the Hermitage - one of the largest art museums in the world.

A metropolis of around five million people, St. Petersburg is one of the largest cities in the Baltic Sea region and a mecca for culture, history, food and nightlife.

Yet, until recently, the sheer hassle of trying to arrange a visa to Russia put many visitors off. But there is a loophole: Under Russian law, foreigners are allowed to arrive in the country by ferries and stay for up to 72 hours without a visa as long as they have booked the trip with a tour operator, have a pre-arranged program, a valid return ticket and prepaid hotel voucher.

That’s why St. Peter Line started a direct cruise between Stockholm and St. Petersburg. “We wanted to give Swedes the chance to take a short hassle-free trip to St. Petersburg and also to bring wealthy Russians to Stockholm for shopping and so on. We can arrange the entire program for our passengers,” says Tapani Kauhanen, St. Peter Line’s Marketing Director for Scandinavia.

It takes just 24 hours from Stockholm to St. Petersburg on board the comfortable Princess Anastasia which can carry 2,500 passengers and 580 cars.

If, like American Susan Volsky who recently made the trip, your heart is set on the Hermitage and you’re stuck for time, opt for the three-day cruise which includes a full day in St. Petersburg and a few hours in Helsinki. Others combine the cruise and three nights at a hotel in St. Petersburg.

“Americans expect certain things from cruises but we had no expectations. Once we realised what it was all about, we absolutely loved it,” she enthuses, quick to lavish praise on the super-helpful, multi-lingual staff.

“As we arrived in St. Petersburg, I thought ‘wow, I can’t believe I am finally here’ as I’ve always wanted to go to the Hermitage,” she says. “We were just sorry that we didn’t stay overnight. There’s so much to see and do in St.Petersburg, even if the weather is not perfect.”

The cruise is proving a hit with Swedes, tourists and Russians alike. “Up to St. Petersburg we were around 300 passengers but in St. Petersburg we picked up another 800 or 900,” Volsky noticed.

With such a mix of people on board, is it tough to keep them entertained?

“We cover everything from the upper to the lower budgets so it’s up to you if you want to hang out in the Champagne Bar in the evenings for €350 a pop, lounge by the pool with your kids, have sushi with friends or enjoy the nightclub,” replies Kauhanen.

The cruise effortlessly mixes what you’d expect from a Scandinavian Baltic Sea cruise with a touch of Russian charm thrown in. For example, there’s an XXXX Club, a popular Russian nightclub chain, which has some modest topless dancing after the vodka starts flowing. Passengers are also treated to live theatre and ballet performances by a St.Petersburg-based fine arts academy. “The show was a highlight,” says Volsky. “I loved the Russian dancers.”

If you want to relax and unwind, there’s a generous sized swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna.

All in all, the cruise is good value for money. “For around SEK 2,000 per person you can have a B-class cabin and three nights in the Sokos Olympic Garden Hotel in St. Petersburg,” says Kauhanen. St. Peter Line has a special agreement with Finland’s Sokos Hotel chain which owns three central hotels in St. Petersburg.

City tours, hotel packages and meal packages during the voyage should be booked online when you book your cruise to get the best deals.

“St. Petersburg is a beautiful city and this cruise was the perfect way to see the Hermitage in a short space of time,” concludes Volsky. “We visit our children in Sweden every year and always try to fit in a side-trip. Last year it was Copenhagen, this year St. Petersburg and who knows - we might be back again next year.”

St. Peter Line cruises can also be used by companies for onboard conferences or, if you want to combine business and pleasure in St.Petersburg.

Must-sees in St. Petersburg

You’ll never run out of things to see or do in St. Petersburg but here are a few of the highlights that shouldn’t be missed!

The Hermitage Museum: one of the world’s largest and most spectacular art museums.

Peter and Paul Fortress: one of Russia’s most historical prisons.

Catherine Palace (also known as the Summer Palace): A glimpse into how Russia’s royalty once lived.

Peterhof: the playground of the tsars with ornate fountains.

Kizhi Island: an open-air museum of wooden architecture – made without nails - from the Karelia region of Russia.

The Russian Museum: home to one of the largest collections of Russian art in the world.

The Bronze Horseman statue: a symbol of St. Petersburg showing Peter the Great on his horse.

Lazarus and Tikhvin Cemeteries: the burial site of some of Russia’s most famous artists, composers and writers.

Boat tour: by day or night, a picturesque tour on the Neva river and through smaller canals. Best done in summer!

Hop on the metro to see the Soviet-style suburbs: to see how “normal” residents of St. Petersburg live.

About the St. Peter Line cruise

Departs Stockholm Wednesday mornings and Saturday evenings.

Prices range from SEK 2,000 per person.

Related links:

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

NEWS_NOT_YET_IMPORTED
Today's headlines
Late summer sun set to hit Sweden

Late summer sun set to hit Sweden

Forecasters have predicted sunshine across Sweden this week, with a warm front moving in from Russia and temperatures of up to 25C. READ  

International police hunt
Swedish killer arrested after European hunt
Photo: Police

Swedish killer arrested after European hunt

UPDATED: Police arrested a man on Tuesday afternoon after he went missing from a psychiatric ward in western Sweden at the weekend. The man had been convicted of murdering a five-year-old schoolgirl in 2003. READ  

Music
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Swedish singer Tove Lo. Photot: TT

The five best Swedish songs of the month

The summer may be (almost) over but the music will keep on playing here at The Local. Our resident music guru Paul Connolly will be selecting his top new Swedish tracks for us in a new monthly feature. READ  

Hedgehog pet craze sweeps Sweden

Hedgehog pet craze sweeps Sweden

African pygmy hedgehogs are being bought by growing numbers of Swedes, as a trend for keeping exotic pets sweeps the country, the Department for Animal Welfare and Health tells The Local. READ  

Poisonous mushrooms cause stir in Sweden
The mushroom in this picture is not the same as the one from the story. Photo: Shutterstock

Poisonous mushrooms cause stir in Sweden

A person selling freshly-picked mushrooms in Gothenburg has come under fire after it turned out the delicacies were not only poisonous but also hallucinogenic. READ  

Pirate Bay founder case starts in confusion

Pirate Bay founder case starts in confusion

The largest hacking case in Danish history began in confusion on Tuesday, after lawyers representing Swedish Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg accused the prosecution of "unreasonable" tactics. READ  

Swedfund joins H&M in Ethiopia expansion

Swedfund joins H&M in Ethiopia expansion

As H&M expands into Ethiopia, Sweden's state venture capital unit Swedfund has announced that it will back the clothing giant, in a move hoped to create more jobs for local women. READ  

Elections 2014
Social Democrats reveal election manifesto
Photo: TT

Social Democrats reveal election manifesto

UPDATED: Sweden's main opposition party the Social Democrats has revealed its election manifesto at a press conference at a high school in Stockholm, with a key focus on education and welfare benefits. READ  

Teen run over by train after 'shoplifting' chase

Teen run over by train after 'shoplifting' chase

A teenage boy is in a critical condition after he was hit by a passing metro train in Stockholm. The accident ground rail traffic to a halt, and has police suspecting attempted murder. READ  

Swimrun
Record win at Sweden's tough island race
Photo: Jakob Edholm/ÖTILLÖ14

Record win at Sweden's tough island race

Two Swedes crushed last year's course record at the Swimrun world championship in Stockholm's archipelago on Monday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
National
Huge clear up underway after Skåne floods
Politics
Sweden's Alliance reveals full manifesto
Tech
Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
Blog updates

02 September

America night (Blogweiser) »

" There was an event this weekend for the ‘Americans in Sweden’ Facebook group. I’m a member, and I brought my girls to the evening. The gathering was at a Boston-themed sportsbar in a mall. There were loads of screens, a bowling alley, a game room and a jumbotron. It was as good a place as any to..." READ »

 

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
How immigration became a key election issue
Society
Brit's life in Sweden becomes BBC radio show
Gallery
People-watching August 27
Gallery
Top ten false friends in Swedish
National
Roma advocate scoops Wallenberg prize
Society
Meet the man who made a Swedish store recall its high heels for kids
Business & Money
'How I came to run my own business in Sweden'
Politics
Expert explains why Sweden's election oozes uncertainty
National
City plays Schindler's List theme at Nazi rally
Society
For Stockholm Fashion Week, here's the A-Z of Swedish fashion
National
'Amnesiac' man avoids deportation for ten years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Business & Money
Swedish city all set for six-hour workday trial
Business & Money
Five golden rules for the Swedish job hunt
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Gallery
People-watching August 22-24
National
Armed royal guards caught (very) drunk on the job
National
Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination
Gallery
Violent anti-Nazi demonstrations in Malmö
Society
A closer look at Sweden's five official minority languages
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

746
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se