Wondering how to travel in St Petersburg? If so, you've come to the right place. Here you'll learn about all the different ways to get around the city.
Getting around St Petersburg is much easier than before. Whereas in the past you needed to understand the Cyrillic alphabet to take the metro and walk around this beautiful Russian city, now you don’t need to know it. Today, most of the tourist information, metro signs and city maps are in both Russian and English.
The city of St Petersburg has a huge, important and efficient
public transport system, which will get you everywhere you want to go. Definitely, you will be delighted
because the transportation is efficient, reliable and cheap, though still a bit vintage.
Each day of the week, from 6 am to just after midnight, you can choose from a variety of transport options. For example, you can take the Metro (faster, efficient and convenient); the Bus (efficient but slow and confusing); the Trolleybus or the Tram (Efficient, but slow confusing and old fashioned), the popular Marshrutka (faster, efficient, but difficult), or the Taxi (faster, comfortable and not so expensive). In addition to that, you can also rent a Bike, if you like cycling and you don't mind traffic jams, or catch one of those new yellow boats, a sort of Water Taxi that will bring you from one island of the city to another, similar to the river cruise boats, but smaller in size and certainly not tourist routes.
Personally speaking, if you're a visitor and staying in the city center, perhaps in the main avenue of Nevsky Prospekt, or nearby, you won't really need to take the public transportation as you can easily and safely walk up and down the street (day and night). For your information, most of the best St Petersburg attractions and Russian restaurants are located in downtown, so very easy to reach.
On the contrary, if you're staying outside the central part of the city, (not advisable), or you just want to reach a site away from the center, then getting a Taxi or going by metro would be your best option. Avoid taking the Bus, Tram or Marshrutka, unless you are with a local friend, a tour guide, or speak a bit of Russian language. Apart from the Metro, all other public transportation can be somewhat confusing if you don't understand Russian.
Want to know more about each type of public transportation in St Petersburg? If so read below.
To help you getting around the city we have summarized all the information you need to know about each form of St Petersburg Russia transportation. To get started, just click on a topic below to fast-track to that section.
The Saint Petersburg Metro is extremely deep and beautiful, but not as extensive or extravagant as Moscow's Metro. It was dug by nearly free peasant labor in the 1930s and - after a break for World War II - finished in the 1950s. The metro has five colour-coded, numbered metro lines, and is one of the most popular means of transport among Petersburg residents. Definitely your best choice to travel in St Petersburg!
The bus network in St Petersburg is cheap and very extensive, but not particularly easy for foreigners to use, especially if you cannot understand Cyrillic.
There are different types of buses you can take and all Bus stops are marked by signs
with the letter "A", which stands for avtobus.
One can call St. Petersburg a "City of Trams" because it has more trams than any other city in the world. The system of trams works pretty well, but is less extensive than the bus or trolleybus, and sometimes services can easily be disrupted by roadworks. Tram stops are marked with signs above the tracks (with a letter "T" on them), which stands for Tram.
Almost identical from buses (although much more environmentally friendly), trolleybuses has an extensive network like the bus and the tram, and it's an other efficient way to travel in St Petersburg, though isn't a quick option.
Russia's Northern capital is not a biker-friendly city, in fact you can barely see a bike lane, but the city is flat, so very easy to cycling around. However, when cycling on the street of St Petersburg you should be particularly careful at cars. Russian drivers are known to be careless and driving fast. So stay alert and never go on the main road.
There are a lot of Taxis in the Northern Capital, some are legal, other are not. You can find them anywhere in the city, especially along the major thoroughfares. To get a taxi, you can easily ask your hotel, simply flag down one on the street on your own, or much better, book one in advance on the internet. If you speak some Russian you can negotiate the fare, so save money.
The Marshrutka is basically a private minibus running on a fixed route throughout the city. These minibuses are very popular in St Petersburg as per the whole Russia because they are fast, cheap, on time, and particularly useful for getting to the suburbs. Definitely a great option for Russians, but not really for foreigners unless Russian language can be understood.
Known as Aquabus, these yellow taxi boats are a new public transport becoming very popular among Petersburg residents. They are inexpensive and offer three routes through the city and now one out to the island of Kronshtadt. For a visitor could be an interesting and cheap option to travel in St Petesburg, but limited.
Wondering how to buy tickets for those Russian public transport? If so read on..
If you plan to use the public transport system to travel in St Petersburg, then you will need a ticket.
But unlike other European cities, where you can buy a ticket in the shop or from a ticket machine, in Russia, you only buy the ticket when you are on board from the conductor, or you pay directly the driver.
So, when we travel in St Petersburg by bus, tram or trolley, we just get into the public transport and then we pay only when someone with an orange top comes to us. However, when taking the metro the procedure is different. You buy tokens at the metro station (zhetoni) from the windows labelled Kassa or plastic cads for more rides which you can use for a fixed period. That's it!
At present the fare on all Russian public transport depends not on the distance, but rather has a fixed price of 28 rubles (€0.50/$0.70 cents) for the tram, trolley or bus, and 31 rubles (€0.60/$0.90 cents) for the metro.
Written by Davide C.