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5 days - Explore St Petersburg independently via ferry from Helsinki
Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, St Petersburg combines its fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook. Considered the cultural heart of modern day Russia, St Petersburg is rapidly regaining its reputation as one of the great cities of Europe.
This independent itinerary allows you to enjoy the splendour of St Petersburg visa free. You can choose your class of hotel and enjoy the freedom to tailor make your special highlights. Return voyage from Helsinki on an overnight ferry included.
- Private transport from the ferry port to your hotel and visa versa
- Private guided tour of the Hermitage Museum and visit to Holy Saviour on the Split Blood
- Visit St Petersburg's main sights, an almost unrivalled treasure trove of art and culture
- Full half-day guided tour including transport of the Grand Summer Palace and Park
- Two overnight ferries included from Helsinki, Class A cabin with outside twin window
- Day 1
- Board ferry from Helsinki
- Day 2
- City tour - Peter & Pauls Fortress & St. Isaac's Cathedral with afternoon free
- Day 3
- Early visit to the Hermitage museum and then the Holy Saviour on the Spilt Blood Church with your private guide
- Day 4
- Peterhof: Grand Summer Palace & Park then return to the port for your early evening ferry
- Day 5
- Arrive Helsinki Port
- Start/End Place
- Helsinki, Finland tours
- Destinations Visited
- Finland tours
- Russian tours
- 5 Days
- Group Size
- 2 - 6
- Overnight ferry from Helsinki on a Class A cabin with outside twin window
- Transport by sedan car for 1-2 guests, or a comfortable minivan for 3-6 guests
- Program includes 2 night's accommodation & breakfast daily with all taxes & services included
- 2 overnight ferry voyages, Helsinki to St Petersburg return. Class A Outside twin with window, breakfast dinner included
- Services of experienced licensed English speaking guide
- Transport by car
- Entrance fees and meals as per the itinerary. The included activities listed on this tour can be modified. Some activities will vary in winter. Due to opening hours, the order of the tours might change depending on your travel dates.
- Arrival and departure transfers from/to ferry
- One lunch at a local hand-picked restaurants
- Beverages & extras
- All services not mentioned in the program
- Tips and Gratuities
Day 1 - Board ferry from Helsinki
Departure to St Petersburg onboard Princess Anastasia ferry, departing at 7pm. Wander the decks as you pass through the Finnish archipelago and then head inside to one of the many restaurants and bars.
AccommodationPrincess Maria Anastasia or similar
Day 2 - City tour - Peter & Pauls Fortress & St. Isaac's Cathedral with afternoon free
Your guide will meet you at the port with a sign holding your name.
Enjoy the beauty of the city with a Panoramic city tour by private car (3 - 4 hrs). There is one museum in the city that is never closed - the city itself. Discover St Petersburg - a city of infinite charm with its majestic palaces, churches and cathedrals, river embankments, beautiful parks and innumerous bridges, a city of imperial proportions and romantic vistas which has been a source of inspiration for the generations of artists.
Visit Peter and Paul Fortress this morning. It is the historical nucleus of the city as well as one of the most interesting and beautiful architectural landmarks. St. Peter & Paul Cathedral with its long gilded spire is the burial place of all Russian emperors from Peter the Great to the last of the Romanovs Nicholas II. Designed to protect newly acquired lands in the mouth of the Neva River, the fortress lost its military significance before it was completed. It was turned into the most dismal political prison of Russia for almost 200 years.
You will then visit St. Isaac's Cathedral. Fourth highest cupola cathedral in the world, St. Isaac's has a breathtaking interior design. The cathedral can accommodate 13000 worshippers in a time. The monolithic columns of the portico cut from red granite are seventeen meters high and weigh 114 tons each. The mosaic inside has twelve thousand shades and colors, the walls are five meters thick and the main cupola is coated with one hundred kilos of gold.
Your guide will assist with choosing a cafe for lunch. Your afternoon is free to explore this lovely city - if you love modern art, be sure to visit the General Staff Museum, a new and relatively unknown part of the Hermitage. Dine with the locals at one of the restaurants close by along the canal. English menus are common and easily found.
Optional Add Ons
Day 3 - Early visit to the Hermitage museum and then the Holy Saviour on the Spilt Blood Church with your private guide
After breakfast, met your guide for a comprehensive guided visit to the famous Hermitage Museum. The world-known Hermitage museum was the residence of the Russian Emperors in the past, nowadays it comprises 5 palaces and is one of the largest museums in the world. Be ready for lots of walking in the miles of corridors!
Lunch in a local restaurant (optional) and then head to the Holy Savior on the Spilt Blood. This is the five-domed dazzler, St Petersburg’s most elaborate church with a classic Russian Orthodox exterior and an interior decorated with some 7000 sq metres of mosaics. Marvel when you step inside! Your guide will be with you for this tour and then escort you back to your hotel.
Day 4 - Peterhof: Grand Summer Palace & Park then return to the port for your early evening ferry
After breakfast, depart for the tour of Peterhof (also called Petrodvorets). It is the most famous summer residence of Russian Emperors, located 25 km west on the Gulf of Finland.
You will be delivered to the St Petersburg port at 5pm for a 7pm ferry departure.
Day 5 - Arrive Helsinki Port
After your buffet breakfast, you will arrive at 8 am this morning at the Helsinki port.
Shown costs are per person. Twin share standard: Pushka Inn - central, canal front 3.5-star small hotel. Please note departure either Wednesday or Thursday.
30 Nov 2023
This itinerary can be done only on alternate Wednesday and Thursdays.
Due to opening hours, the order of the tours might change depending on your travel dates.
To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in St Petersburg in advance. Please let us know if you wish us to organise this.
In accordance to the legislation of Russian Federation (RF Government Resolution №397), foreign tourists and persons without citizenship or relevant visa and/or proper permission travelling on ferries may arrive to the Russian Federation without Russian visa for the period of 72 hours being part of organised excursion group. VISA-Free journey can lasts up to 3 days.
Interactive Tour Map
If you want to commit to a booking please use the Book Tour form below.
Travel Insurance and Safety
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. The safety of our travellers, staff and operators is a major priority of 50 Degrees North. With an operational office in Norway, 50 Degrees North has access to an up-to-the-minute flow of information regarding the countries we work in. We are also in regular contact with the various operators we use. Their in-depth knowledge and understanding of their various areas is vital.
Visiting the Hermitage
The Hermitage can be very busy to visit with large crowds during summer and little control of the movement of people. We suggest that you try to visit either before the opening hours which can be arranged with us or on a Wednesday evening. The museum stays open until 9pm. Any extra time available will help you enjoy the tour. Our guides will help you navigate the entrances and the best way to see everything you can to see.
The security staff will not allow water bottles into the building but if you have a small bottle in a big pocket, you will usually be fine. There is a free cloakroom to use if needed.
The top 20 things to see in the Hermitage and where to find them:
1. Cézanne's Girl at the Piano
An unusual, intense and relatively early work (1867/8) which depicts the artist’s sister and mother. The emphasis on pattern and rhythm seems to anticipate Matisse. (Room 318).
2. Juan Pantoja de la Cruz's Diego de Villamayor
The Hermitage’s Spanish Collection includes El Greco, Velázquez and Goya, but this vibrant portrait of a 17-year-old courtier in burnished black and gold armour by a much less-well known artist is a remarkably successful study of power and character. (Room 240).
3. Francesco Melzi's Flora
There are two early paintings by Leonardo, both madonnas, but this portrait by one of his followers which hangs in the same room is more immediately appealing - something of a page-three Mona Lisa. (Room 214).
4. Henri Matisse's The Red Room
A fascinating painting, saturated in the deep red of the wallpaper and tablecloth, which saturate the room, while through the window the landscape is clear blue, green and white. (Room 344).
5. Michelangelo's Crouching Boy
Rough and unfinished, the tightly contracted muscles strain with repressed energy. Originally intended for the Medici mausoleum in Florence. (Room 230).
6. Athena, Aphrodite and Eros
Just three exquisitely drawn faces and some flowing drapery have survived in this fragment of a line drawing dating to the 4th-century BC. It is the only surviving example of graphic art of the period. (Room 115).
7. Roger van der Weyden's St Luke drawing the Virgin
Look carefully at this gorgeous study of an artist at work (possibly a self portrait) and you can see a vertical join running down the centre of the canvas. The right half was bought by Tsar Nicholas I in 1850, the left by Alexander III in 1884. Only later was it realised that they were the two halves of the same painting. (Room 262).
8. Picasso's Portrait of Soler
A very early work (1903) from the “blue” period, which is strongly represented in the Hermitage. Soler was a Barcelona tailor and a friend of Picasso's. This powerfully melancholic portrait is distinctly Spanish in tone, echoing El Greco and Velásquez. (Room 348).
9. Veronese's Conversion of Saul
An enormous canvas of chaos and confusion and no obvious subject until you focus on Saul laid low in the composition. (Room 237).
10. Rembrandt's Old man in red
No one has captured the impact of old age on the human face more profoundly or effecitvely, both in his own self-portraits and in rheumy-eyed portraits such as this - just one in a gallery full of major Rembrandts. (Room 254).
11. One-horse carriage
This bizarre contraption dates from 1780 and is loaded with gadgetry, including a milometer and a mechanical organ. (Room 167).
12. Scythian Gold
This is a wonderful and unique collection of ornamental goldwork, much of it produced for the semi-nomadic Scythians by Greek goldsmiths from the 7th century BC onwards. Among the most striking pieces are a stag, a panther and a wonderful comb capped by a battle scene. (Room 44).
13. Rubens' Descent from the cross
The highlight from a room full of some of his best work. The mostly muted colouring, the ordered, stylised composition and the stillness it evokes is unusual for such a flamboyant colourist. (Room 247).
14. Head of Athena
The tilt of the head and serene gaze emanates power and wisdom. The polished marble has been preserved in immaculate condition ( Room 110).
15. Giorgione's Judith
Only a handful of paintings by the great Venetian artist survive and the serene, dream-like quality of this usually grim and bloody scene (she has just beheaded Holoferenes) is typical of his work. (Room 217).
16. White Dining Room
It’s not the finest room in the Palace, but it has a fascinating history. The clock on the mantelpiece is stopped at 2.10am on the night of October 25,1917, when Kerensky’s provisional government, which had held power since the February revolution, was arrested by the Bolsheviks - it is the moment when Russia succumbed to communism. (Room 188).
17. The Pavilion Hall
One the many rooms in the Hermitage palaces that stand out for their sheer extravagance or historical importance. Mosaic floors , 23 glittering chandeliers, two tiers of fluted columns, gold leaf - this is a stunning room and is flooded by light from windows on both sides. The centre piece is an extraordinary English clock (c1760) in the form of gilded peacocks which spread their tails while a cockerel still crows the hour and a mushroom rotates. It still works, though normally only once a week - check with the excursion bureau for performance times. (Room 204).
18. Hidden Treasures
This haul of paintings looted from post-war Germany includes 10 Renoirs, six Cézannes and works by Manet, Monet and others. They were shut away until 1993, and are in a remarkably fresh state of preservation. (Rooms 200-202).
19. Gonzaga cameo
This is the highlight of Catherine the Great’s collection of antique cameos - tiny medallions delicately carved from coloured stone. Look out too for a two-inch diameter head of Zeus. Both are circa 3rd century BC (Room 121).
20. Gainsborough's Lady in a Blue Shawl
The Hermitage has the best collection of English art in continental Europe (much of it acquired by Catherine the Great in 1779 when she bought many of Robert Walpole’s paintings, which used to hang in Houghton Hall, Norfolk, from his cash-strapped grandson. The swirling, uplifting quality of this portrait of an unknown woman marks it out as one of the artist's best. (Room 298)