How to visit Russia without a visa!

How to visit Russia without a visa!

Anyone interested in visiting Russia may face the obstacles of
applying for a time-consuming and expensive tourist visa.


Currently, visa processing fees for US citizens are: $250 for a single
entry 3 business days, or $450 for a multiple entry 3 business-day visit.
For some this cost may be worth it, but for others it stands in the way of
visiting this country. But good news: there is another option! It’s a way to
travel visa-free under an exception rule, which I just did last weekend.

Here is all you need to know!

  • The exception: if you are traveling to the city of St. Petersburg for 72 hours or less, you can do so on a St. Peter Line cruise ship.
  • You must sleep on the ship both there and back, and set up a tour guide during the time in the city.
  • The cruise line offers a 25€ city bus tour which counts as the tour guide. You’ll be taken into the city on a minibus (to Saint Isaac’s Square), and from there you’re free to explore on your own.
  • Visitors will get an “arrival card,” “departure card,” and immigration form to carry with them while in the country.
  • This cruise is possible from Helsinki, Tallinn, and Stockholm on the different ships (Princess Sophia or Anastasia).
  • It is possible to stay over in the city for 1-2 nights, but if a passenger stays longer than one day the passenger needs to present a hotel voucher with proof of payment to the Border Guard Service.
  • It’s recommended to book a hotel through the system of St. Peter Line to ensure that all is confirmed the correct way.
  • Any passenger with a car on the ferry needs to obtain a visa and cannot use the visa-free exception.
  • Along with this, your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months following the travel, + have at least 2 open pages.
  • This visa exception might be extended to the Allegro train from Helsinki in the future, but as of now this is the only option for visa-free travel!


Though this exception to the rule only allows visit to St. Petersburg
within a confined area, it is still an incredible taste of Russia.

There is something about this imperial capital city of St. Petersburg
that lingers with you. The rough edges combine with the
colors and uniqueness to make you never want to forget it.

Known as the “City of the Tsars,” it was built by Peter the Great and filled
with beautiful buildings from palaces to cathedrals. It was Russia’s first major
city before Moscow became the capital. Though St. Petersburg is no longer
the center of the Russian government, it still maintains the imperial feel.

Along with this, the art and culture is plentiful in the city. Do not miss
the Hermitage Museum which will be a highlight for anyone, as well
as the Russian art in the Russian Museum. Visitors can attend the
Mariinsky Theatre for Russian ballet and opera, and more.

It is definitely worth visiting this “Venice of the North”
and its colorful, regal, and mysterious streets.


Don’t miss the chance to visit this incredibly interesting
and unique country, which you can do with this great
exception to the rule! See more of my experience here.

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*If you do have interest in getting a visa to explore more of the
country, check out this e-visa website for more info!

11 thoughts on “How to visit Russia without a visa!”

  • What a fabulous tip!! My Grandmother had such hell filling out the Brazil visa paperwork and then they announced an exception for the Olympics…Amazing how many other places in the world have strict visa rules. Xoxoxo A

    • Oh my that is the worst! I was wondering what Russia did for the Olympics when they were here…probably the same! Hope it all went through for your grandma! xo

  • Glad you had such a wonderful visit! We were also able to tour St Petersburg and some surrounding areas without a visa on a Baltics cruise in 2014 (Norwegian Cruise Line sailing to and from Copenhagen), so there may be other ship options as well. Ours docked overnight in the harbor so we just went through passport control both mornings and evenings when we came and went.

    • Yes I was thinking about that because I know other cruises go to the area, so I’ll have to check into those! I was told this was the only way for this particular visa but maybe it’s constantly changing :) I’m glad you got to go as well!!!

  • We are coming through Scandinavia this summer and wanted to add Russia, but it seemed complicated. Thanks for this info on what seems like a great solution!

  • Hi Emi! I just ran across your blog and I absolutely love it! I saw where you mentioned the visa-free rule only applied to a confined area, could you elaborate on what that means? I booked this cruise for later in the year and was looking at taking a hydrofoil to the Peterhof Gardens, but don’t want to break any of the visa-free rules if that’s not in the approved area. Thank you!

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