Crossing the Russia – Estonia border

Crossing the Russia – Estonia border

How to cross the Estonia - Russia border. Ivangorod castle

Travelling to and from Russia isn’t easy these days and let’s be honest it won’t change in the coming month …

I’ve crossed the Ivangorod – Narva border into Estonia by bus in September 2022 and in this post I will explain how I did it in details

Note : I have a french/EU passport and went to Russia with a 3 months tourist visa.

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The only public transportation between Russia and the Batlic countries is the bus. There are no trains nor planes available.

The bus ticket

I bought my bus ticket on Tutu.ru (a MIR card is required), a russian booking platform, 4 days before my departure. It is not necessary to print the ticket, the e-ticket on your phone will do.

The ticket can be bought directly at the station. E.g. In Saint Petersburg’s bus station, look for the LuxExpress counter on the far right side.

My ticket from Saint Petersburg to Riga cost me 4 400₽, about 73€ at that time.

One can buy a ticket on LuxExpress’s website directly (Visa/Mastercard)

The bus ride

I took a bus from Saint Petersburg to Riga. The bus left right on time after the driver checked the passport, visa and all the necessary documents of every passenger. He had a Baltic accent, spoke to me in russian but I guess he could speak english as well.

The bus was brand new with wifi (worked well, in Russia and all the way to Riga my final destination), electric plugs, spacious seats, a bathroom and even hot free drinks.

Ivangorod border, Russia

Arriving at the Ivangorod border, there were 2 controls before entering the customs/immigration zone. Guards came into the bus and checked everybody’s passport.

We arrived at the customs/immigration building and everyone came out of the bus, took their own luggages and walked in.

Customs : all luggages were scanned, I got asked by the two young women if I had any US$ cash and medecine (no questions about euros).

Immigration : not a single question for me. I don’t think the lady spoke any english. She didn’t say a word but smiled. That’s it.

Note : Ivangorod is a town within the russian border zone, foreigners need a border zone permit to visit it. Read my complete border zone permit guide to learn more.

How to cross the Estonia - Russia border

We got back on the bus to cross the No Man’s land between Russia and Estonia.

Note : the bus driver only made announcements in russian. If you don’t understand the language, just follow the other passengers. It doesn’t matters, it won’t go any faster.

Narva border, Estonia

Same again, everyone came out of the bus, took their own luggages and walked into the immigration building.

There is no luggage scan, only go to the customs if you have something to declare after the immigration control.

There is an electronic passport control for European passport holders, so you won’t speak to any border officer.

After the immigration, follow the bus sign on the floor to the bus passenger waiting room. Wait there until you get called by the bus driver. There are bathrooms and seats.

Border Narva 1

The whole border crossing took 2 hours at most. The bus wasn’t full though, in fact it was probably at 1/4th of its passenger capacity.

People travelling with me seemed to be all russian people living in Estonia and Latvia and had European passports.

Arrival in Riga, my destination

The bus was only late of 45 minutes from the planned schedule. In total it was a 12 hours or so bus journey.

Tips

  • The bus doesn’t stop for food or café stop. It’s not a long distance russian bus but an international one. Make sure you get supplies before the journey.
  • The wifi worked all the time, in Russia, Estonia and Latvia. You can easily work online or watch a movie.
  • If you head to Riga’s airport like I did, walk 5 minutes from the Riga’s international bus station. The bus 22 to the airport runs until 11:30pm. The ticket costs 2€ and one can pay by card (Visa/Mastercard. No russian bank card). My bus driver spoke perfect english.
  • I’d recommend to leave extra hours gap if you have a flight to catch. The bus will surely leave on time but border crossing might take longer or the bus could simply get stuck in traffic.
  • LuxExpress also runs from/to Moscow. I took a night train from Moscow to Saint Petersburg to catch my bus to Riga instead of taking a 30+ hours bus ride from Moscow to Riga directly. It made my journey more comfortable, and shorter.
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