Russian transportation system is well elaborated, relatively cheap and very punctual. Would you like to go on a famous Trans-Siberian train journey? Or explore the underground palaces of Moscow metro? In our essential guide to public transport, you will find everything you need to know about getting around Russia and travelling between and within the cities, as well as some useful life hacks and fun facts.
Long-distance travelling: general information
If you are going to Russia for more than a couple of days you might want to visit several places. Most travellers start their journeys visiting Moscow or Saint Petersburg. The best ways of travelling between these and other cities are by train or by plane. Intercity buses are not that popular in Russia, however, there are several companies that provide this service.
Plane or train?
Do you prefer a quick direct flight or a romantic railroad journey? The wide variety of local airlines from the world-famous Aeroflot to the low-cost Pobeda makes it easy to travel even to the furthest towns. Another option is railroad communication: trains run often, they are fast, comfortable and affordable.
Most train stations are located in the city center. In Moscow, the easiest way to get from the airport to the city is by Aeroexpress â€“ a train that connects three busiest airports in Russia with three biggest Moscow train stations. You can purchase the tickets and check the timetable online. In Saint Petersburg, city buses 39 and 39Ex will take you from Pulkovo airport to the nearest metro station. In smaller towns, railway or bus service is also provided.
Tickets and fares
The easiest way of booking a plane ticket is online via any airfare search site. Prices depend on the distance. An average flight from Moscow to Saint Petersburg would cost you about 60$. Prices for train tickets vary a lot, starting from 20$ for an economy class sleeper ticket booked in advance to 500$ for a last-minute luxury high-speed train ticket. Tickets may be purchased online or at the station.
Travelling by plane is always the quickest option. A flight from Moscow to Saint Petersburg will take 1 hour 30 minutes. The worldâ€™s longest domestic flight is from Moscow to Khabarovsk â€“ 9 hours 30 minutes. If you are taking a train from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, the high-speed Sapsan (3 hours 30 minutes) or Nevsky Express (4 hours) are the best options. High-speed trains connect Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg and Veliky Novgorod and Saint Petersburg and Helsinki. Those longing for romantic atmosphere of an overnight journey may choose a sleeper train.
Booking your flight you can choose between business and economy class. Donâ€™t forget to check whether checked-in luggage is included in the price of your ticket! The railroad has three travel classes: luxury â€˜SVâ€™, modest â€˜Coupeâ€™ and cheap but vibrant â€˜Platzkartâ€™. In any sleeper train you will be provided with bedding items. Meals may be included depending on the class. Water, snacks and hot drinks may be purchased from the attendant.
Did you know that?...
The total length of Russian railway lines is 85.2 thousands kilometers. If we put all that rails along the equator, it would be enough to make two circles. Transsiberian is not only the longest railway in Russia, but in the whole world. The length of the railway from Nakhodka to Moscow is 9438 kilometers. There are 97 big stations on this road.
Travelling within cities
Getting around a Russian city might require some basic Cyrillic skills in smaller towns, but in big cities all the written names and directions are usually doubled in Latin alphabet or translated to English. You can travel by various means of transport, and a single journey wouldnâ€™t cost you more that 1$.
- MetroÂ the oldest and the most beautiful metro systems in Russia are the ones of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Some of the subway stations in Moscow and Saint Petersburg metro literally remind of palaces. You can buy metro cards or tokens at the cashiers or vending machines at the entrance of the stations.
- BusÂ bus tickets may be purchased directly from the driver. In Moscow, you must enter the bus through the front door, validate your ticket and pass the turnstile. In Saint Petersburg there is often an attendant selling tickets on the bus. In some towns, you may find trolleybuses which are basically the same as buses, but powered by electricity.
- TramwayÂ in some cities there is a system of eco-friendly above ground electric trams. The principles of buying tickets are the same as in the bus.
- Mini-bus or â€˜marshrutkaâ€™Â it is different from a regular bus in a way that you may catch it by raising your hand and you should ask the driver to stop wherever you need. There are no regular stops, so pay attention to the road be sure you donâ€™t miss yours!
- Commuter trainÂ if you are going outside the town but not far enough to call it long-distance, commuter train is the best option. Tickets must be purchased at the station. Lately commuter trains in Moscow have been integrated into the metro system by means of Moscow Central Circle - an orbital line that encircles historical sites.
- TaxiÂ an alternative to using public transport in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other towns is getting around by taxi. To call it or book it in advance use one of the popular apps or ask your hotel manager to help you. Avoid private taxi drivers that hang around touristy places, airports and train stations, as they have a rather scammy reputation.