How to travel from Europe to Russia : 3 bus companies

How to travel from Europe to Russia : 3 bus companies

Sovavto  bus between Europe and Russia

Looking to travel from Europe to Russia by bus ? You’re at the right place ! The bus is the cheapest way to get to Russia from the EU and might actually be more effective than taking multiple expensive detour flights to get to Saint Petersburg or Moscow.

In this post I will tell you which bus companies run from Finland, Estonia and the Baltic countries to Saint Petersburg, how to book your ticket and my personnal preference.

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Don’t want to read the whole post ? Here’s the most important :

  • LuxExpress for direct bus Tallinn/Riga – Saint Petersburg
  • Ecolines for direct bus Helsinki – Saint Petersburg
  • Sovavto for cheaper (so they say) direct bus Finish cities/Helsinki – Saint Petersburg

Border crossing current situation

The following bus companies travel through two main border crossings, and here are the most up-to-date current situations on both :

  • Narva – Ivangorod (Estonia – Russia) : open
  • Vaalimaa – Torfyanovka (Finland – Russia) : open

Note that these border crossings are open for third country nationals (aka the tourists with valid visas if needed) for sure. If you’re a national of Finland, Estonia or Russia, you should contact the local authorities to be sure. (I’m no border guard nor embassy employee)

Bus between Europe and Russia border crossing situation

LuxExpress

LuxExpress is an estonian bus company based in Tallinn. It has buses going all around the Baltic countries, Poland, Finland and Russia too.

The bus company offers multiple daily buses to Saint Petersburg, from Tallinn, Riga and other cities in the baltics.

You can buy the ticket directly at the bus station or on the company’s website.

Note : It seems, depending on your IP address, that Saint Petersburg cannot be found on the english version of the website. If this happens, change the language to russian, write down “Санкт Петербург” or just type “Peter … ” in latin letters and the city will pop up. Select the ride you want and turn the page back into english to finalize your booking. (If you speak zero russian use the Google translate extension on your browser to translate the page into your language).

If you own a MIR bank card and wish to buy your ticket with it, book it on Tutu.ru instead.

I’ve travelled in september 2022 from Saint Petersburg to Riga with LuxExpress and I dare say it was more comfortable than flying economic. Spacious seat, free good wifi during the entire journey and friendly driver. Can’t recommend enough.

LuxExpres bus between Europe and Russia

Eucolines

Ecolines (not Eurolines) is a baltic bus company operating from central (Germany) to eastern Europe, Finland and Russia.

Examples of routes :

Helsinki to Saint Petersburg, Moscow and even Petrozavodzsk in Carelia
Riga to Kaliningrad
Tallinn to Minsk in Belarus

Ecolines offers free wifi, comfortable seats and multiple daily buses to Russia, just like LuxExpress. But for example from Riga to Saint Petersburg you must change bus in Parnu, Estonia.

The best route is my opinion is Helsinki to Saint Petersburg, direct via Vaalimaa/Torfyanovka and Tallinn to Saint Petersburg, also direct via Narva/Ivagorod border.

Important : Ecolines has a bus from Minsk to Moscow, however if you’re a third country national (meaning not russian nor belarussian), it’s illegal for you to cross the border between Belarus and Russia. In fact, there is no actual border crossing, no immigration to cross, you will not get stamped out nor in either countries.

The only way to go from Belarus to Russia or vice versa for foreigners is to fly and therefore pass the immigration at the airports.

Ecolines bus between Europe and Russia

Sovavto

Sovavto is a Saint Petersburg based bus company (as well as a freight transport one) running daily between Finland and Russia’s cultural capital city.

They have 7 destinations in Finland including Helsinki. You can book the ticket directly on Sovavto’s website if you have a russian bank card or on Matkahuolto (a finish booking platform) with a Visa/Mastercard.

At the time of writing there were barely any tickets left for the next 3 months though …
Sovavto is supposed to be cheaper than Ecolines or LuxExpress but to be honest, I’m not so sure about that.

Travelling to Moscow

If you’re looking to reach Moscow, I recommend you to go to Saint Petersburg by bus first and then take either a high speed train to the russian capital (expensive and unlikely to be booked last minute at the train station if you don’t own a MIR bank card to book online days before) or an overnight one between the two cities.

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