5 easy ways to get from Moscow to St. Petersburg

Legion Media
There is about 700km between Moscow and St. Petersburg. If you are in the Russian capital and have time, you definitely should plan a trip to one of the most beautiful cities in the world – St. Petersburg. Here are your best options for getting there.

1. Plane

A passenger with luggage walks at Pulkovo airport outside St. Petersburg

Price: $70-250
Duration: 1,5

There are about twenty flights a day from all three of Moscow’s airports. If you book in advance, you can get a really good deal and buy a return ticket for $70 (4500 rubles). Pobeda Airlines usually offers the cheapest options. Aeroflot fares start at $110 (7000 rubles). Check out www.aviasales.ru, www.ozon.travel or other ticket aggregators for the best deals.

The travel time is just about 1,5 hours. Don’t forget to factor in airport transfer from the city center, which takes at least 45 minutes by Aeroexpress,  possibly around two hours by taxi, which has to navigate unpredictable Moscow traffic. And leave at least 1,5 hours for airport check-in.

After arriving in St. Petersburg, you’ll have to get from the Pulkovo airport to the city center, which is an additional 30 minutes.

With no less than five hours spent getting from point A to point B, flying to St. Petersburg is definitely not the fastest way. On the other hand, planes are obviously a better option for traveling late at night, when high-speed trains don’t run and only slower options are available.

John Underwood from the US: “I live in Moscow for 2 years now, and have to travel once a month to St. Petersburg for work. I usually prefer flying because I live and work far away from the city center and not far away from Sheremetyevo airport. For me, it is the most convenient option. One time I had a night flight and was extremely tired after my busy workday. I managed to fall asleep right next to my gate, after all the check-ins. It is still a great mystery for me why nobody woke me up but I am sure that it was obvious for the crew that I was a passenger for their flight. Anyway, the next flight was in one hour, so I had to buy a new ticket and a huge cup of coffee not to fall asleep again.”

2. Express train

Passengers on St. Petersburg's Moscow Railway Station platform by the Sapsan high-speed train on the St.Petersburg-Moscow line

Price:  $39-94
Duration: 4 hours

Do not miss the experience of travel by rail while you are in Russia. Trains between two capitals run on a regular basis during the day and overnight. They connect Leningradskiy Vokzal station in Moscow and the Moskovsky Vokzal station in St. Petersburg.

The fastest train is Sapsan. It is a very modern, comfortable speed train and the journey takes just under four hours. They are planning to make it even faster and reduce travel time to three hours starting in 2020.

Standard seats cost around $39-47 (2500 – 3000 rubles) and business-class seats start from $94 (6000 rubles). There are 13 Sapsan trains a day. The first departs at 05:45 in the morning and the latest one departs at 21:00. Better book in advance atwww.rzd.ru or www.tutu.ru.

Wabke Waaier from the Netherlands: “My favorite way of traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg is by train. The most comfortable way is by Sapsan, and especially in winter, this is a great chance to enjoy the endless Russian landscape with its snowy hills and valleys. But even more romantic is to take the night train. The music that sounds in St. Petersburg at the railway station when the train from or to Moscow is arriving or leaving is unforgettable and makes you feel like you are part of a Russian classical novel!”

3. Overnight train

Passengers in a carriage of the train

Price: $24-102
Duration: 8-10 hours

Sapsan is surely the fastest train, but a night train is where the “Russian train magic” usually happens. If you don’t care about luxury and comfort and want to create lifetime memories you should definitely try a berth in the ‘plazkart’ (sleeping car). However, be prepared to meet all kinds of people here. There’s a chance they are not planning to sleep, but drink, play guitar and sing songs all night long (however, if you want some quiet time, there’s always a train conductor to calm the loudest ones). The Plazkart is the cheapest option, with tickets starting from $24 (1500 rubles), depending on the class of the train itself.

You can always choose a ‘kupe’ (compartment) option instead. There are usually four berths there, and it can be very cozy. But if you travel alone and don’t want to sleep in one small “room” with three strangers, this is not the best option.

Some overnight trains offer a true luxury experience. For example, the Megapolis train (www.poezdmegapolis.ru), which departs daily at 00:30, has  “room service” and offers dinner and breakfast. The prices start from $47 (3000 rubles) for a kupe and $102 (6500 rubles) for a first-class compartment, meaning there are only two beds in a compartment, instead of four.

Chris Gilbert from the UK: “There was a time in 2006 when I missed my evening train back from Moscow, had to buy a ticket on the only remaining overnight, and ended up sharing a compartment with three Kazakh farmers. Ended up drinking samogon and eating horse meat until about 4 am. I never knew how delicious the horse was!”

4. Car

Toll booths on the Moscow Ring Road - Solnechnogorsk section of the M11 Moscow-St. Petersburg highway.

Price: $50-200 a day to rent a vehicle, plus gas and toll. Ride-sharing services cost $23-30
Duration: 9 hours

Low gas prices and a distance of about 700 km between the two cities make traveling by car a solid option. Travel time depends on how long you are willing to drive without stopping, and of course the traffic conditions, but on average, it is a nine-hour journey.

At the end of 2019, they are planning to open a new M-11 highway toll road, reducing travel time to 5,5 hours (if you don’t make any stops). The total toll rate will be around $32 (2000 rubles). You can rent a car at www.europcar.ru or www.avisrussia.ru. Don’t forget to bring your international driving license. 

Traveling by car can become even nicer if you stop (or maybe even stay for the night) in one of the beautiful ancient cities along the way – Tver, Torzhok, Veliky Novgorod and Valdai. There is a lot to see and explore there.

If you don’t want to drive by yourself, but still want to make this unforgettable road trip, you can use one of the ridesharing services. The most popular one in Russia is Blablacar (www.blablacar.ru, and there’s an app). Usually, you only have to split the fuel cost, which makes the ridesharing journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg the cheapest option.

Jan Larssen from Denmark: “I have never used the ridesharing services, but I heard from my Russian friends that it became very popular in Moscow. I decided to check it out and the journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg happened to be the funniest experience of my life. I had to share the car with two other passengers. I was the only foreigner there and knew just a few Russian words but it was not a problem. I have never seen such open and friendly people and in one hour we already became friends. They told me a thousand funny stories of their lives and taught me some Russian and the driver even got me to the exact location I needed to be in St. Petersburg. He didn’t have to do it but I guess this is how Russian people are. It was a long trip and it was exhausting but I have never regretted that I made it.”

5. Bus

Price: $18-25
Duration: 12-13 hours

The last option would be to go to St. Petersburg by bus. However, we wouldn't recommend that, as the trip is very long (12-13 hours) and not comfortable compared to just about every other option here. The bus schedule is also a bit confusing and differs depending on the day. If you still want to try it, stick to official companies like Ecolines. A one-way trip costs $18 (1150 rubles).

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