Short trip to St. Petersburg (Russia). Low waste and with a free E-Visa
When we stayed in Tallinn, Estonia for 1.5 months, we took the chance for a short trip to Helsinki and St. Petersburg.
Since Oktober 2019 they offer an free E-Visa for St.Petersburg/ Leningrad regions, Kaliningrad and far east regions.
You can apply for this visa online not longer than 20 days, not shorter than 4 days prior your trip. You can then stay for 8 days, and can only cross the border on particular stations (read more here).
After three days we got our Visa approved and booked our bus trip with Lux Bus.
How to get there
I would have loved to travel by train but with the new E-Visa it was not possible (yet). We needed to take a bus and cross border in Narva/Ivangorod.
We choose Lux bus again because they do have the most comfortable buses so far. They also provide free hot water, and coffee from a machine, so remember to bring your own cup to avoid wasteful single use paper cups (the so called paper cups are lined with plastic, so they should be called paper-plastic cups actually;).
It took us about 6 hours to get from Tallinn to St Petersburg. Half an hour for the border crossing, but the bus was not even half full. On our way back we spend a little over an hour at the border but the bus was almost fully booked.
Sightseeing, refills and falafel love...
We arrived on a cold December afternoon and met up with one of my blog readers Dina (Hi Dina 🙂 thanks again for showing us around and all the tips, we had a great time).
She showed us a few parts of her hometown in the dark, and we enjoyed all the Christmas lights. We visited a beautiful small Zero Waste shop and then had a vegan/vegetarian falafel dinner at Bekitzer.
Tap water in St. Petersburg is not said to be safe to drink, so I brought my water-to-go filter bottle with me just in case.
Luckily our hotel had drinking water refill stations on every floor (sadly provided heaps of single use plastic cups too) so I did not need the filter bottle at all (the refill stations in hotels seem to be quite common in Russia I read somewhere, but check at the hotel if you like to know before you book).
Low season means less tourists, and no lines;)
The next day we headed out exploring the city by sun rise. Sounds early but this is around 10ish in winter… crazy late right? 😉
We went to check out the beautiful “Church of the Savior on spilled blood” in the early morning light. No tourists around so early 😉 We continued our way to one of the islands where the churches peter and paul are standing.
The wind was freezing cold this day but we warmed up in a cafe for vegetarian/vegan lunch and coffee and continued walking around the city center.
The architecture is so beautiful that we forgot about the cold in-between. Just be prepared that at the very touristic parts of town (Newski prospect) you will have a lot of people in costumes (zebras, and stuff) approaching you to take pictures with them that you need to pay for of course.
Time travel: Eremitage - Winter Palace
We needed to catch our bus back home to Tallinn at 5 pm so we had plenty of time to do some culture tourist stuff. Since it was not crowded with tourists at all we decided to visit the Ermitage. 700Rubel pP. It is one of the biggest art museum in the world.
I love interior stuff from older times, trying to imagine how it has been once, so we checked out the one part of the museum that had mostly interior stuff to see.
Checked in for another delicious falafel at Bekitzer before catching the bus back to Tallinn
My top tips for a low-waste short trip to St. Petersburg Russia:
1) Go in low season
I know, in summer everything seems to be nicer because it is warm and the days are long. But if you aren’t a fan of crowds and waiting in lines, some parts of our world are better be visited in Low Season.
If you go to St. Petersburg during high season one great tip I got is: if you like to visit museums etc, go late afternoon when the cruise ship tourist crowds have left town.
2) Refill your bottle instead of buying single use plastic bottles:
Bring a filter bottle or choose a hotel with refill stations.
They offer free filter water in most restaurants, cafes so you can also just ask in the restaurants where you have lunch, dinner if it is possible to get some filtered water. Mostly people don’t mind to do so.
Starbucks is always my safety water stop because they have a „rule“ to offer bottle refills everywhere.
The vegetarian Restaurant Rada & K is offering refills too and just started a refill online map thing where locations can be found on a map and put a blue refill sign at their door to show they offer free refills. Since this was very recently made up in Dec.2019, there were no location on the map yet, but I do hope this will happen soon. Check it out and let me know. Refill St. Petersburg.
If you live in St. Petersburg and have a favorite coffee shop, tell them about the refill system and ask them to join!!
3) Vegetarian and vegan food
Like in most bigger cities you have a lot of vegetarian options already. And like in most bigger cities vegan options and places get more and more too.
Just to name a few: Cafe Ukrop, Bekitzer, Rada & K, Primal Vegan Burgers (the have good burgers and offer a zero waste food delivery (I can’t recommend the fries though, very soft, I prefer crispy ones) a little hard to find, at the very end of an area with loads of restaurants and bars: Ligovski 50B).
In case you need plant based milk for breakfast because the hotel don’t provide any, you can buy it in the Finnish supermarket chain called Prisma.
We really enjoyed our short stay in St.Petersburg. Great vibe, good food, beautiful architecture.
Have you been to St. Petersburg already? If yes, tell me about your favorite places in the comments.