Citizens of Schenen are, UK and Japan can get a visa valid for 72 hours vithout the usual obstacles of receiving a Russian visa (invitation, presenting your passport personally at the embassy etc) Just prepare a couple of week before, all is done by e-email: you present your hotel reservation, you pay 70 Euro + 30 Euro for the officer of the Ministry to meet you at the aiport delivering the visa. Don´t forget to bring your colour photo - which we did ( but it solved anyway).
From Copenagen we flew by SAS for 1 hour, the other way there was no SAS-flight that day so we have to use LOT with a change in Warsaw, making it much more tíme-consuming.
There is one train linking Kaliningrad with the European network. It leaves Braniewo (last town on Polish side of the border) in the morning (schedule enables change from Gdansk train). Train is more expensive then buses, but enables you to avoid delays on the border. The Braniewo - Kaliningrad ticket cost was 26 PLN (6,50 USD) one way in 2002.
I suggest you to visit the coastal area of Kaliningrad by car (it's better with your own car). First, it's very convient to stay in places you want, because the distances between towns are not big. Second, the petrol is very cheap there that's why it's worth! 1litre costs about 18,50/18,70 Rub, it's two times cheaper than in Lithuania (here 1 litre = 3,50 Lt (35 Rub), 1$ = 2,70 Lt). Third, the accomodation and food is also cheaper, so it's an ideal if you go on a budget trip.
Take the ferry and take your car with you. Each other way of getting here has its pros and cons. A car is very handy if you want to see more of the area. But it will also mean that you will have to wait a long time to cross the border. On the other hand there are trains, boats, planes and busses to this city from Poland and Germany, but in that case you'll need to organize local transport yourself.
Early August 2005 I made an adventurous trip via Riga, Latvia and Lithuania by international coach to Kalingrad.
Requesting and receiving the Visa was not that hard, although pretty costly for a trip of just a few days: price starts from €50.00 for a Tourist Visa and for this money one has to wait outside the Russian Embassy about an hour.
The old rule for Visa still applies: one needs to be invited by a tourist organisation or by a citizen. Since I did not know on before hand where I would stay, I needed an invitation from such a “tourist” organisation: another €80.00 for the Russian Empire.
So as a freelance researcher a start capital of €120.00 was needed to get at least in this Russian Island in the midst of the EU.
At midnight a Eurolines bus (€8.00) left the Russian market of Riga heading for the border Latvia/Lithuania. After a long hour drive over the dark roads we arrived at an EU-frontier, however Russian travellers need to be checked so it meant that all the Russian passports were collected by a “douanier” with big hat on and in half an hour all of these travel docs got returned with a nice stamp.
With a drive through till the Russian checkpoint Charlie this stop took less than half an hour but here at Sovietsk all passengers were drilled out of the bus and driven into a small hall where one by one the travellers had to pass a little cabin in which a Russian official took about one minute to verify the necessary documents.
Of course I was the only West-European and only understood this line-up too late so was the last in line and waited 1.5 hour.
After this intermezzo the Eurolines bus speeded up to the city formerly known as Königsberg. Through little towns and villages, passing deserted oil fields and crappy military kazerns we arrived at the big city – travelling time Brussels – Riga – Kaliningrad: 24hours – price: €150.00 (Air+Bus fees) + €120.00 (Visa+Invitation costs) = €270.00 for 3 days of fun.
Sue to the lack of direct flights from many European cites to Kaliningrad a good option is to fly to Vilnius or Warsaw and take either a train a bus to the city.
For me the best option from London was to flight to Vilnius and catch the Moscow-Kaliningrad train from Vilnius train station. In fact i was the only passenger the huge train from Mosocw picked up at the station.
There are anything from 3-5 trains a day in both directions that stop in Vilnius and journey times are 6-8 hours due to the waiting times at the border crossings on both side. For a ticket in a coupe expect to pay around 30 Euro +
Check out timetables on the website below
Kaliningrad city airport is not served by many direct flights from European Cities so getting here will usually involve a change of transfer. LOT operate direct flights from Warsaw.
I chose to fly to the wonderful city of Vilnius first and take a train to Kaliningrad. The train takes anything between 4 to 7 hours depending on the type, the price is around $25. No problems at the border crossing. Another option is to take a cheap RYANAIR flight to Kaunas, Lithuania or Gdansk, Poland and then arrange a bus or private car to take you to across the border.
The fastest and cheapest way to get around the city is by using the cities vast network or buses and minibuses. The charge is 10 Rubles regardless of distance. Just hop aboard and a lady (have yet to see a man) will come collect the fare. The buses are old but seem to run on time. A point to note for anyone planning a late night is that the buses and transportion in general becomes much less frequent after 8pm and finishes around 10.30pm.
For a real adventure take one of the many ancient and extremely slow trams that meander along the city streets like limping Elephants.
It's quite hard to get around in the kaliningrad region if you don't have an own car. even if there are buslines and some trains, it's very complicated to buy tickets and it's terribly slow. I met by accident a man who drove us for only 50 Euros (!) the whole day threw the region. he had a huge knowledge of the regions history. It was really interesting! As soon as I find it, I'll put in the mobile number of this particular taxi driver. But it shouldn't be a problem anyway to find somebody who drives you around for a little money!