This late summer I was traveling throught Lithuania and Latvia for my vacation. For an extra I and my travel companion decided to take a small detour over Kaliningrad to experience a little bit of russia. This should be an attempt to create a little guide for everyone who wants to to the same and is researching for their trip. I am an German native speaker. Thats why the text may contain mistakes or might sound a little bit strange to you. Also if you want to please feel free to give tips or advise in the comment section below.
To travel to Kaliningrad from Germany or most over countries you need a travel visa to enter Kaliningrad. Especialy if you are living in the EU you might not be familiar to have a visa for traveling because all citiziens of the EU can travel in every country of the EU without general border control or visas. If you are living in Germany it is pretty easy to get a visa beforehand. You just have to do it a week before your trip by filling out an online form you can find here:
Following this link you will find the form and also a list with countries that can apply (for example Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, India, Turkey or Japan and many more; as for 06.10.2019)
When you are filling out the form you have to answer several questions about yourself, your travel document (yes you have to have a travel passport for this), what you want to do in Kaliningrad and where you want to stay. The last one is quite easy. You just have to book a hotel, hostel or air BnB with an adress. We didn´t have any problems with that. At last you need a passport grade photo for your visa. A tip: The form decribes a lot about file formats and aspect ratios. When you are uploading the picture the site will present it to you in a little online tool that allows you to cut and crop your picture, so that it will fit in the specifications. No need to install Paint Shop or something like that 🙂
After sending the form you are getting an email with your application id. After 3-4 days you should receive a second mail that confirms your visa. In that mail you will also find a link where you can download your visa with the application id and an password you have given earlier. Print out the document because you will need it when entering Kaliningrad.
But how do you do that? Well I can tell you our way of doing it and that worked out pretty well. We took a travel bus that started in Klaipeda in Lithuania. The bus drives pretty early but I think thats perfect if you want to experience Kaliningrad for a day and travel back the next one.
You can get your bus ticket here: https://www.autobusubilietai.lt/index.php?lang=0&
We payed around 15€ when we traveled there. Its okay to show the ticket on your phone.
The bus starts at the central bus station in Klaipeda, next to the main train station. The bus is also quite easy to find because there arent many that drive that early. If you cant find the bus with the sign that says Klaipeda – Kaliningrad just ask someone. Normaly everybody is happy to help you.
When you have found your bus a little bit you will find that your new travel mode will change quite instantly. Because the bus is going to drive on a ferry. Thats because the bus is taking the route over the Curonian Spit. Thats a narrow line of coast that is reacing into the russian territory. After around 2 hours you will have a 10 minute break and the last stop in Lithuania before entering the border controls.
These controls are quite easy just a little lengthy. On the european side you have to give your travel passport to a border patrol worker who takes it and all the other ones from your bus to check inside a building. You can wait in the bus, like we did or like some others use the free bathrom in the border building. But be ready to jump back into the bus. They normaly don`t like to wait for some tourist to advance to the next control.
This time you are at the russian border patrol. Its a little bit more militarised and the control is also a little bit tougher. For starters you will be likley counted several times by the first patrol. Then you have to take all your luggage with you an leave the bus to entery the border control building. Inside you wait to be inspected by a border patrol. You give them your passport and the visa you printed earlier. If you have glasses they will ask you to put them down temporarly so they can identify you. After that you will be given a slip of paper that confirms that you have entered, you sign it and give it back. Thats it. You get a stamp and another slip of paper that you have to keep in your passport. Its very important so dont loose it. You will need it for when you are leaving. We took a photo with our smartphone just in case.
And thats it. You are getting back in the bus and after a while your bus can cross into Kaliningrad. From the border you will drive around 2 hours more until you arrive at your final stop at an Kaliningrad bus station.
In part 2 I will tell you how to take your first steps in russia** without money or internet and tell you about some places we went to and who i liked them.
** Spoiler.. its not so hard. The bus stops at an McDonalds or to be precise at an макдональдс