For such a large city, Moscow does an excellent job of making all of its nooks and crannies easily accessible with its excellent public transport systems. Whether you’re just arriving from the airport, trying to navigate between points of interest, or heading to the far reaches of Moscow’s suburbs, you’re sure to find your way with (relative) ease at a great price. Just be sure you’ve read through this guide and downloaded all the apps and maps before you go.
The easiest way to get to Moscow from any of the three airports (Sheremetyevo, Domodyedovo, or Vnukovo) is by far the Aeroexpress train. The train takes 30-35 minutes to get from each airport to one of the city’s central metro stations and costs 400 rubles one way. After exiting customs it’s a matter of following the red Aeorexpress signs through the airport to the train terminal.
Sheremetyevo Airport to the north connects to the Belorussky Railway Station and metro station Belorusskaya. Domodyedovo Airport to the south connects to the Paveletsky Railway Station and metro Paveletskaya. The third airport, Vnukovo, is west of the city and connects to Kievsky Railway Station and metro Kievskaya.
How to buy Aeroexpress tickets
Tickets for the Aeroexpress trains can be purchased online through the Aeroexpress website or at the small red and grey kiosks near the entrance gates at either the airports or the train stations in Moscow. If you buy online, you have the option to print or simply download them to your smart phone.
Currently a standard, one-way Aeroexpress ticket costs 400 rubles online and 450 rubles at the physical kiosks. For a business class experience, tickets are priced at 1000 rubles each way. Reduced rates are available for children (130 rubles) and for travelers who buy the tickets in bulk. For a full list of rates, visit the Aeroexpress fare page.
The Aeroexpress trains run regularly from 6am to midnight or 12:30am. Trains run every half hour from Sheremetyevo and Domodyedovo; every hour from the less busy Vnukovo.
Alternative Airport Transfer Options
|If you don’t feel like waiting for the next Aeroexpress train or have a lot of luggage, try a more direct option. Consider a arrival private transfer and, on the way back, a departure private transfer.|
Sheremetyevo Maps – airport and city
Domodyedovo Maps – airport and city
Vnukovo Maps – airport and city
Travel like a true Muscovite by heading underground and attempting to navigate Moscow’s massive metro system. Opened in 1935 by the newly formed Soviet government with just one line and 13 stations, Moscow now has 196 stations (with many more slated to open in the next few years) and 11 different lines. In all the Moscow Metro boasts 326.5 kilometers of rail which can get you anywhere you want to go – as long as you keep your wits about you.
Each line has a particular name, but most are referred to by their color – the exception is the ‘circle line’ (koltsovaya). Transfers stations are mostly contained within that circle line which surrounds central Moscow. Find the best way to transfer by downloading the Yandex Metro Map app to your phone.
All announcements are made in Russian and the large signs that grace the side of the station are also all in Russian; however, the maps affixed inside each car have each station listed in Russian and transliterated into English. Still, it’s best to have a map handy to follow along with the stops. Best of all, the Moscow Metro now offers WIFI in all their trains so you can be sure to be connected, even if you don’t know where you are.
Be aware that rush hour runs from 6:30am-10am and 4pm-8pm – most of the central stations and major transfer points will be uncomfortably busy throughout the day.
How to buy Metro tickets
Kiosks to purchase metro cards are located within each metro station. There are electronic machines where you can purchase a card with just one or two trips at a time. For a card with more than two trips on it, head to the касса (kassa) where an older woman will frown unhelpfully at you. If you don’t speak Russian, you can get by with just holding up the number of tickets you want or providing exact change.
The Moscow Metro is fairly unique in that it is a flat fee to go anywhere in the city – you simply scan your card on the way in and just walk out the turnstiles upon exit. Try to buy as many tickets as you think you’ll need all at once as you can save money per fare if you buy in bulk. One trip costs 50 rubles, 2 costs 100, 5 for 180, 11 for 360, and so on. If you plan to be in Moscow long term, you can also purchase an unlimited monthly card for 2000 rubles or a Troika card which is refillable and costs only 30 rubles per ride after purchase. For the full list of fares, see the Moscow Metro fare page.
Metro stations are officially open to passengers from 6am-1am although most open earlier – though there’s no guarantee a train will come before 6:15am! In the center, trains run every 1-2 minutes at peak times, 3-5 minutes otherwise, and 10-20 minutes late at night.
Visit this interactive metro map provided by the Moscow Metro.
Buses and Trams
Buses and trams are much less popular than the metro in Moscow simply because of the overwhelming traffic jams that clog the city’s arteries almost 24/7. That being said, if you’d like an above-ground view of the city as you travel, buses and trams are a great way to see Moscow – if you’re not in a hurry, that is.
Each bus and tram has a specific number which designates their route; it’s best to plan ahead by researching your route on Yandex Maps and finding out which bus or tram is going where you want to go. Unfortunately, all maps and signs in the above-ground transport are in Russian and you shouldn’t expect the drivers to be able to help you.
You can find bus and tram stops easily. Bus stops usually have a small, covered waiting area marked by a blue sign. Trams are easily found since they’re attached to the wire cables running about the street – stops are marked with a large T sign (and usually a big group of grandmothers waiting to board!).
How to buy bus and tram tickets
Luckily, recent changes to the system mean that metro cards can also be used as fare for buses and trams (on the front of the card you’ll be able to see small circular graphics of each form of transport). Simply scan your card in the black circle on the yellow boxes at the front of the bus and push your way through the turnstile. You can also purchase tickets from the drivers – exact change is a must as they usually don’t have much cash!
As mentioned above, Moscow’s buses and trams work on the same system as the metro. If you buy tickets from the driver, expect to pay 100 rubles for two trips – they usually don’t have any other options to sell.
Bus and tram schedule
Generally, bus and tram stops will have their times listed on a yellow sign at the bus stop. Most run every 10-15 minutes but this is generally just a suggestion as traffic often renders the schedule useless. Buses and trams generally run from 5:30am-1am, although some less popular routes may stop earlier.
Best bus routes
- Route 119: the bus starts at Kievskaya Metro and winds its way south along the Moscow River. The beautiful route ends at the Vorobyovy Gory observation deck across the street from Moscow State University
Best tram routes
- Route A / 3 / 39: this tram route begins at the Chistye Prudy metro station in central Moscow and stops at many major points of interest such as Kitai Gorod, Solyanka street, Novokuznetskaya metro (near the Tretyakov Gallery), Paveletskaya metro, and ends at the Dobryninskaya metro in southern Moscow.
- Route Bk: circling central Moscow, route Bk follows the massive Ring Road allowing you to hop on and off at any point around the city. This tram stops at metro Sukharevskaya, Krasniye Vorota, Taganskaya, Paveletskaya, and Park Kultury. It also has a stop directly in front of Gorky Park.
There are far too many bus routes to list in Moscow; instead, plan ahead with Yandex Maps or explore some of the many Moscow routes with this extensive Moscow transport site.
If you’ve got some extra money and don’t feel like cramming yourself onto public transport, Moscow’s taxi system is massive and easily accessible. With a range of options (from town cars to traditional taxi services to so-called gypsy cabs), it’s inevitable that a taxi will never be far away in Russia’s capital.
Types of taxis in Moscow
- Town cars: Russia’s increasingly wealthy elite has ensured a booming private car market. If you’d like to travel in style and don’t mind the high prices, private town cars are easily found. Companies like Blacklane are very popular although you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re unable to find a car available during high-traffic times.
- Taxi companies: Because many Russians don’t have cars, there are a million and one affordable taxi services that work in Moscow. While you won’t have much luck ordering a cab if you don’t speak Russian, taxis can be prearranged over the phone with the help of a Russian speaking friend or even through an online form. Most companies are quite fair and will always be on time. Also, be aware there are English-speaking taxi services such as Allo Taxi or Angel Taxi which – of course – come at a premium.
- Gypsy cabs: the most popular low-cost option is what’s called a gypsy cab, AKA someone with a car looking to earn some extra cash. While you should be wary, these gypsy cabs are generally very safe and the drivers are usually incredibly friendly. You can find them by stepping on the street and looking a little unsure – one is almost certain to step forward and try to drag you into his car immediately!
Tips for getting a good fare
- Always bargain. Unless you’ve pre-booked a taxi, always feel free to bargain. Even if drivers don’t speak English, they’ll almost always know their numbers enough to haggle with foreigners. Bargaining is usually quite effective on the streets of Moscow and less of a certainty coming from the airports. Still, it’s worth a try.
- Check online first. Most of the legitimate taxi companies have a price chart on their websites. With a little bit of research, you should be able to find a company that is slightly less expensive than the others.
- Reconfirm the price before driving off. This is especially important when traveling via gypsy cab, where a driver may claim you misunderstood him and demands a higher fare. Unfortunately, this can also happen with legitimate taxi companies as the drivers are semi-independent, so always be sure to confirm the price before departing.
A typical fare within the city center is somewhere between 400-600 rubles, unless departing or arriving to a train station. Fares to or from the airports from the center are a great deal more expensive, coming in at 1300 rubles or more, depending on which airport you’re going to and which region of Moscow you’re in.