Travelling to Russia might be a bit complicated, you will need to prepare yourself quite some time in advanced. So I am going to give you some tips:
Helsinki would be the starting point. From there you can choose, road, sea or railway to travel.
By car and train you will need to contact the Russian authorities in your own country and arrange the Visa permit. Passport, pictures and hotel reservation will be asked from you.
Normally the Visa allows you to be in the country for few weeks. There is also the Working visiting Visa which allows you to come and go for a year.
Book yourself 3 weeks before hand to apply for this.
We chose to go by boat for few reasons:
We were not in a hurry and we don't get seasick ;), you travel by night, sailing is always great experience if you are travelling with kids, you don´t need all the Visa stress papers and documents, is cheaper than the train if you travel in a group, you get an automatic 72 hours Visa staying.
Here is the link of Saint Peters Line for more info:
Weather last July in the north was not very pleasant, it was quite chilly and stormy. But is a normal thing here, we are used to this, and there is not bad weather, just the wrong clothes!.
We stayed at Sokos Bridge Hotel, so there was shuttle bus service from the pier that took us straight there for free.
Once the check in was done, we started our tour with local guide Ulrika and driver Mijael!
With the private tour we visited most of the main sights, the Winter Palace, the Sailors church, The Church of the Saviour on Blood, San Isaac Church, The Nevsky Market , Peter and Paul Fortress..
Such an impressive culture and history!
The tour took almost half of our day, so after that we head for lunch in a local bistro, the plan was to visit the Hermitage or Winter Palace after lunch, but, travelling with kids means to take it easy plus the rainy weather took on us all...so, we head to hotel, that offers spa and swimming pool, now was time for kids to have fun :)
Next day we explored the metro. We knew that there are few stations worth to visit, so there we went!
The first line was built in 1941, the Avtovo Station is consider one of the most beautiful ones, was ready in 1955. The metro service is very regular, so you have time to stop in a station, have a look, take some pics, and jump in the next train to the next stop. Very much recommend this visit! Really impressive!!!
Afternoon was booked with a boat tour. It was great to explore the channels of the city.
Last tips from my experience:
The city has lots to offer, so going to SP for longer then 72 hours is very good idea too.
With kids, think about walking and timing, is a long distances city, so better to book a Hotel closer to centre, on the inland side of the River. Sokos Bridge was ok Hotel but nothing to see or do nearby the building. Hotels are expensive in SP. Book with plenty of time in advanced.
If you want to visit the Museums, take it easy and spend the day there. The crowd in the Hermitage is huge! so if you don't like to be surrounded by million people go to the National Museum, Russian artists are really talented and this Museum is not as popular as the Hermitage or the Winter Palace.
Be ready to crash against Russian authorities or bureaucracy in some point. Use your imagination to talk to them, cos they are not going to speak much english.
Try local food. Visit the street markets.
Locals are just great, so friendly and warm, enjoy their company!
I will definelty go back!.