Planning to travel to St Petersburg by bus? If so, learn how to get to the cultural capital of Russia, and beyond by bus with our best recommendations.
Travelling to St Petersburg by bus is the cheapest way of entering Russia but least comfortable. A trip by bus can be fascinating as much as a trip by train but will be a bit different.
We've have been taking the bus from Tallinn, Helsinki, and Riga to St. Petersburg a couple of times in the past as a way to economize our way back to Russia. During our trip, we have enjoyed amazing landscapes of neighboring countries like Finland and Estonia and the vast green Russian countryside. The trip was cheap but a bit longer than the train and on top of that we have noticed two main downsides.
The first one is that on the bus you can't really walk or stretch your legs like on the train but you must seat until the bus stop somewhere. The bus makes only one stop and that stop is at the Russian border.
The second one is when you reach the Russian border. Here the bus will stop for customs and passport formalities and everyone is asked to leave the bus and walk to the customs and passport control office with their belongings.
Moreover, no one knows how long you will be waiting to cross the borders.
The average waiting time is usually one hour but it may vary according to how many buses, trucks, and cars are on the line with you. If you go by train instead, all border formalities are carried out on the moving train, so you don't need to leave your seat, take your stuff or put it back, and line up to get a stamp.
Speaking of the road trip, the majority of buses going to and from St. Petersburg are nowadays modern and well equipped making your travel experience comfortable and enjoyable. And, lucky for you the main road to the Russian city has been completely rebuilt, and it is now a smooth journey.
In conclusion, you may find the bus a better option if you are on a tight budget, or the train's timetable is unsuitable for your schedule, or if some cities are simply not served by trains. Otherwise, we recommend going to St Petersburg by train to save time and hassle at the border.
Now let's get into the content of St Petersburg by bus to learn what bus you should keep an eye on to get here. To get started just click on the links below or scroll down the page. Happy reading!
The central bus station of St. Petersburg (Avtovokzal in the Russian language) is located at the Obvodny Canal 36, a bit out of the downtown but about 10 minutes walk or a short taxi ride to the metro station Obvodny Kanal. It serves most cities to the south and east, including Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov, Helsinki, and the Baltics cities like Riga, Vilnius, and Tallinn. Also, all buses from Belarus, Ukraine, Germany, Finland, the Baltic states and Scandinavia, arrive and leave from here.
Basically this should be the place you arrive by bus but we say "it should" because not all international bus services stop at the Avtovokzal. Some bus companies have stops at the city's main hotels, so they can also drop you off at a number of different bus stops. The final stop changes depending on which bus company you will be travelling with.
For instance, if you travel to St Petersburg with Lux-Express, you will arrive close to Baltiyskiy Railway Station; if you take Ecolines you will arrive at Vitebsk train station; if you go with Sovavto you will stop outside the Park Inn Pulkoskaya Hotel or the Grand Hotel Europe.
Instead, if you go to St Petersburg by bus with Savonlinja your final stop will be at the Hotel Moskva. Also, some bus companies go straight up to Ligovskiy Prospekt and Moskovskaya Station. So, if you choose to go to St Petersburg by bus remember that there are several bus stations in the city, and knowing where you are going before you leave it's crucial.
Designed for 250 departures per day the bus station has been finally modernized to welcome foreigners. Now you can find ATMs,
toilets, six ticket offices, automated ticketing systems, left-luggage office, pharmacy, cafes, tourist signs in the English language, and much more.
Traveling from Finland to Russia by bus has been always the most affordable option for Finnish tourists, and it can be a good option for you too if you are landing in Helsinki or Lappeenranta. This route is also very popular among Russians because Finland is the country that issues most Schengen visas to Russians.
The distance between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg is 300 km. The trip takes around 7 hours, sometimes a little more. There are a lot of bus companies you can choose from. Among them, we recommend going with Lux-Express, Ecolines,
Sovavto, and Savonlinja, or you can travel by minibus with Skandinavia TK company or AMG TRAVEL.
All bus companies run on a daily basis and at several times of the day and night all year round. The earliest departure from Helsinki is at 00:25 arriving in Saint Petersburg at 07:45. The latest departure is at 23:50 arriving at 07:45. Prices for a one-way adult ticket range from 13€ to 36€.
Apart from the Skandinavia TK company all buses we cited here leave from the central bus station in Helsinki "Kamppi" near the shopping mall and arrive at the St. Petersburg bus station on Obvodny Canal, in the outskirts of the city.
The minibus of Skandinavia TK company departs from the Helsinki Metro station “Kamppi” and the maritime bus station and drop you off on Ligovsky Avenue 10, in front of the Moskovsky Train Station in St. Petersburg.
However, when you travel by minibus with Skandynaviia TK you can also ask to be picked up from the Helsinki Airport Vantaa at Terminal 1, if you pre-order your booking. The same, if you travel with Lux-Express but from Terminal 2 and at an additional cost.
Also, you should know that some of these buses and minibusses run daily between Saint Petersburg and Lappeenranta (170 Km).
For instance, if you fly with Ryanair to Lappeenranta, from there, you can jump on board the Saimaa Express Bus, and in less than 3 hours you can reach the city of St. Petersburg. If you go this route, the final bus stop in the city is on the square between the Moscow train station and the shopping mall “Galleria”.
That said, remember that all these buses will make a stop at Vyborg, a town that shares the border with Russia. Here you will have to go through all the customs formalities and passport checks.
Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and a beautifully-preserved medieval city worth visiting. It shares a land border with Russia and those preferring to travel by bus will be glad to hear that there are several bus companies travelling between Tallinn and Saint Petersburg.
This route is less travelled by Russians and foreigners compared to the route between Helsinki and St. Petersburg. Estonians rarely go to St. Petersburg, and if they do it is only because they have some family connections here. The same is for the Russians!
The travel distance between Tallinn and Saint Petersburg is 370 km. To get there, there are several bus companies you can choose from.
You can travel with Lux-Express, Ecolines, and
Sks-Auto, or even with Temptrans.
A trip to St Petersburg by bus takes approximately 7 hours. All bus companies operate on a daily basis with several departures per day, including at night. The earliest departure from Tallinn is at 00:10 arriving in Saint Petersburg at 06:30. The latest departure is at 22:00 arriving at 06:00. Prices for a one-way adult ticket range from 11€ to 37€.
Remember, whether you go with Lux-Express or Ecolines or Sks-Auto your place of departure will be the bus terminal in Tallinn on Lastekodu 46, 10144. The bus terminal is located about 4 km from the town center, which is only an 11-minute drive or 20 mins by bus or tram. Also, you should know that all buses will make a stop at Narva, which shares the border with Russia. Here you will have to go through all the customs declaration formalities and passport checks.
Riga is the capital of Latvia and one of the most popular locations in the country. It shares the land border with Estonia, Russia, Lithuania, and Belarus.
Many adventurous foreigners have already travelled by bus from Riga to St. Petersburg. Usually, they are people flying to Riga, spend a few days there, and then take a bus from the Riga Bus Terminal, which is located about 1 km from the town center, a very short taxi ride.
The travel distance between Riga and Saint Petersburg is about 575 km.
Yes, it is a long trip, but it is cheap and doable! To get there you can travel with Lux-Express or Ecolines. Both bus companies operate on a daily basis with several days and night departures. The earliest departure from Riga is at 09:00 arriving in Saint Petersburg at 20:30. The latest departure is at 22:00 arriving at 08:20. Prices for a one-way adult ticket starts from 36€.
If you decide to go to St Peterburg by bus via Riga the travel time is around 11 hours. And, remember that you will have to change the bus to Tallinn before entering Russia and reaching the imperial city.
If you're thinking to travel to St Petersburg by bus from Moscow you should know that this is the most unusual way to reach the Venice of the North. Usually, foreigners entering Russia via Moscow (the capital of Russia) spend a few days here, and from there, they book a plane or a train to St. Petersburg.
The distance between the two cities is more than 700 kilometers. The journey takes 10-12 hours by bus; around 3-4 hours by High-Speed Train Sapsan; and 1 hour by plane. As you see going to St Petersburg by bus takes longer than going by train or by plane, but it can be the cheapest option if you find the right bus company.
There are a few bus companies you can pick to get to St Petersburg by bus. Among them, we recommend going with Ecolines only, which is the most reliable and comfortable company among all other local buses, and most importantly, you can book your ticket easily online through their website in the English language. The company’s home page is available in eight languages.
Ecolines is working on a daily basis with several days and night departures. The earliest departure from Moscow is at 07:00 arriving in Saint Petersburg at 15:45. The latest departure is at 23:30 arriving at 09:00. Prices for a one-way adult ticket range from 16€ to 40€.
The bus will depart from the bus station in Moscow "North Gate", on-street Dybenko, 7 p. 3, and arrive at the central bus station in St. Petersburg on Obvodny Canal. If you choose to go to St Petersburg by bus via Moscow remember that during weekends and public holidays there is high demand so the tickets can be sold out quickly.
Getting to St Petersburg by bus from Helsinki and Lappeenranta (Finland), Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), or Moscow (Russia), the most popular bus routes, is a great way to economize your Russian trip and experience something really new.
Of course, if you prefer you can also travel from other major European cities, such as London (48hrs), Frankfurt (41hrs), Berlin (33hrs), Warsaw (25hrs), Vilnius (17hrs), Minsk (14hrs) and so forth; but you should know that there are no direct buses, so the closer you fly to Russia, the better it is. And, the closer you take the bus, the shorter your trip will be. ☺
To give you a general overview it takes around 35-40 hours of travel time to get from Western Europe (France, Belgium, Poland, Germany) to Moscow or St. Petersburg on a coach. Instead, if you take a coach from the eastern part of the European continent like Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine it should take you approximately 20-24 hours.
There are a lot of bus companies you can pick to travel to St Petersburg and Moscow, the two main Russian cities. Most of them are operated by non-Russian companies which prefer to use their own bus stops. They all operate on a daily basis and run on schedule, but prices, time, and on board services vary from company to company.
Below you can find a short description of each bus company we recommend taking into account when planning a trip by bus to Russia.
Alternatively, if you want to travel faster and cheaper but you don't
care to have any service and comfort on board, then you can travel by Minibuses (Also known as Marshrutka),
a very popular form of transportation in Russia. Widely used for public
transportation within cities, they can carry up to 8-12 people.
Privately owned by Russians, Minibuses such as those offered by Skandinavia TK company or AMG TRAVEL
leave and arrive from Helsinki, Saint Petersburg, Tallinn,
Lappeenranta, and other Russian cities, but only by prior arrangement.
They operate frequently, night and day, throughout the week all year
The best part of going by minibus is that they can pick you up at the airport and drop you off at your request. They are cheaper and faster than going to St Petersburg by bus but not comfortable for a long trip.
We know that because we've taken them once from Helsinki to Saint Petersburg.
That said, our favorite bus companies to travel to Russia are Ecolines and Lux-Express (Eurolines Russia). They both offer flexibility and comfort at a great price making your journey pleasant and less stressful.
If you go with Lux-Express and Ecolines
you will be
travelling with the most popular international coaches. Both offer
high-quality, and safety and many routes from and to Russia. We have
travelled with Ecolines and Lux-Express many times from and to Saint
Petersburg and the overall experience has been always good.
For instance, the distance between the seats is wide, air conditioning and electric sockets are installed, and a chemical WC is on board. Also, when travelling at night an English speaking steward will be on the bus to answer any of your questions, provide free covers and pillows, and much more.
you are planning to reach St Petersburg by bus you can buy your ticket online
through the official bus company website (just type their name on Google), or at any of their company sales offices in
the Baltic States or Russia, as well as through their travel agents.
Yes, tickets can also be bought from the bus, just before you leave, but remember that most of the time all seats are already booked. So it's always better to reserve your seat a few days in advance to secure your place.☺
Alternatively, nowadays you can also search, compare, and book your bus tickets via online third platforms such as Infobus, Omio, and Rome2rio. They are good for comparing prices, routes, and buses but we highly recommend booking directly with the bus operator once you have chosen one.
Instead, things are a little different if you take the Russian minibus.
In that case, the payment is often made directly to the Russian driver, while certain companies require that you purchase a ticket beforehand. To book your trip with a Russian company you should visit the bus company website and contact them via email or by phone. However, if you don't speak Russian it will be difficult for you to arrange your tickets unless you ask someone to help you.
Based on our experience, the easiest way to buy tickets for foreigners is via international bus companies such as those we recommend. With them, you can easily buy online your tickets, print out the confirmation ticket, and bring it with you when you go.
When planning a trip to St Petersburg by bus is good to know that whatever bus company you take you will need to go through the Russian immigration border to check your passport.
When you get to the Russian border at some point the driver will ask you to leave the bus, take your belongings, and follow him to the customs office where your passport and visa will be checked by the guards.
Therefore, when you are standing in line at the border make sure you hold all the right documents such as a valid passport, the right Russian visa, and the immigration card. Also, don't forget to smile when you are in front of the Russian officer. Avoid being suspicious! If they notice something weird with you they may start asking you a lot of questions. It happened to me (Davide) once!☺
Lastly, the passport checks at the border takes no more than one hour for the buses as they now have priority over cars and trucks, but if there are other buses in the queue, it may take longer. Your passport will be also checked at the Estonian or Finnish Border (at Narva if you arrive from Estonia; at Vyborg if you arrive from Finland). But no worries! This time the passport checks will be carried on the bus and it will take approximately 30mins.
If you choose to go to St Petersburg by bus, then we suggest that you travel on weekdays and possibly at night or early morning to speed things up and save time. Usually, when you travel during weekends and holidays, you may find more people, trucks, and buses standing in line at the border. Also, the main rule of thumb is to find your way to the nearest metro station before your arrival at the bus station.