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 and Helsinki in 9 Days!
You'll get all this!
- An extra-small group, limited to 20-24 people — less than 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 19 group sightseeing events • Tallinn walking tour • Museum of Occupation • Kadriorg Park • Rusalka Monument • Song Festival stage • Seurasaari Open-Air Folk Museum • Helsinki walking tour • Sibelius Monument • Lutheran Church • Uspenski Cathedral • Panoramic bus tour of St. Petersburg • Peter & 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 by bus, ferry from Tallinn and train from Helsinki 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' Scandinavia guidebook, St. Petersburg guide, 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 2013
- 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
- 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 boat 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: light.
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 Peteroff by hydrofoil to view the palace's spectacular fountains. No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 7: Catherine 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, where we'll learn how the residents withstood a 900-day blockade of the city by the Nazis during World War II. We'll also see the moving memorial to the defenders of Leningrad and learn to use to city's metro system on our way back to the hotel. Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.
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
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.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, 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...
- 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.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to four hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in Tallinn before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Scandinavia 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.
Most 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. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). It's easiest to fly into Tallinn and out of St. Petersburg.
Another option (and sometimes less expensive) is to fly roundtrip into Helsinki or Tallinn. However, this option will require an 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: www.tallinksilja.com/en/schedules/helTal/default.htm. To return to Helsinki from St. Petersburg after the tour, you can take the train from St. Petersburg back to Helsinki.
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/lang/timetable.
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.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
While it is important to pack light, there is one item we'd like you to consider including when packing for this tour. In the spring or summer, you may find that the longer days affect your sleep. You may want to consider packing an eye shade to help with getting the darkness you need for a good night's sleep.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
Etelka Parine Berecz
"Etelka was amazing. Her energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and unfailingly positive attitude were a complete joy! I loved her! It was a little scary to travel to Russia, but I felt totally prepared and safe with Etelka. I especially appreciated the Russian language lessons. They were very helpful in making me feel comfortable wandering around on my own."
— Dawn in Corona Del Mar, CA
"Ben was outstanding. He has great sense of humor, works well with the group and the local guides. I would love to take another one of Ben's tours and plan on doing so."
— Stephen in Ojai, CA
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"Each of the three cities is exciting and unique — a fascinating combination of old and new. In Tallinn my husband and I ventured out far away from the tourists and visited the old Russian market where many locals shop. We were taken back to another era! Arriving in Russia was a thrill. St. Petersburg is a beautiful city with magnificent architecture, colorful buildings, and an incredible wealth of art and treasures."
— Patrice in Pittsford, NY
"My 'wow' moment had to be our visit to the Hermitage. I was overwhelmed by the magnificent complex of buildings housing the most incredible art collection anywhere!"
— Barbara in Ukiah, CA
"My favorite 'wow' moment was seeing the Old Town of Tallinn for the first time — what a charming medieval city!"
— Rosemarie in West Chester, PA
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- Russia: White Nights (1985); The Thief (1997); Russian Ark (2002)
- Estonia: Spring (Kevade) (1969); Names in Marble (2002); The Singing Revolution (2007)
- Finland: Drifting Clouds (1996); The Man Without a Past (2002)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves Audio Europe™
- Classical: Tchaikovsky; Dmitri Shostakovich; Igor Stravinsky; Viktor Tsoy and his band; Violinist Camille; Suomi-Findland
- Traditional/folk: Songs of Old Russia, Arvo Pärt; Eduard Tubin; Jean Sibelius; Ulla Pirttijarvi; Mattarahku Askai
- Jazz: Hedvig Hanson; Trio Toykeat
Rick Steves' Articles
- Rick Steves' Scandinavia
- Estonia and the Estonians — Toivo U Raun
- The History of the Baltic States — Kevin O'Connor
- A Concise History of Finland — David Kirby
- Russia and the Russians: a History — Geoffrey Hosking
- Lenin's Tomb — David Remnick
- Spring (Kevade) — Oskar Luts
- Trading Air, Czar's Madman, The Conspiracy and Other Stories — Jaan Kross
- The Kalevala — Elias Lönnrot
- The Bronze Horseman — Alexander Pushkin
- The Master & Margarita — Mikhail Bulgakov