Arrival and getting around Moscow – your tools for stress-free navigation
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
Your next mission after passing the immigration control and locating your luggage on the belt is to… brace yourself for a warm welcome from flocks of taxi drivers waiting around at the arrival area. They would bombard you with "Taxi ???" question, but unless you are ready to pay 3 times the normal price, just politely ignore them.
The 2 options that I always recommend for getting to where you need in Moscow from the airport are either taxi or express train. The choice depends on circumstances: size of your group, budget, how much luggage you have, traffic situation at the time of arrival.
There are three main airports in Moscow: Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo. A ride between any of the airports and city centre can take between one and two hours, depending on means of transport and traffic.
TIP: to check traffic use Yandex.Maps App for your phone, it tends to be more accurate than Google Maps when it comes to route calculation. Rush hour normally occurs between 7.30 and 10am, and 5 and 7.30pm on weekdays. However, Moscow is notoriously known for its traffic jams popping up from nowhere even outside typical times. So best to double check the route online regardless of time of the day.
I would always recommend taking a taxi if
there is no traffic or
you have heavy luggage or
in general, you don’t like the fuss of taking trains/metro after a flight and prefer the comfort of a car (and even don’t mind the prospect of spending extra time in it during rush hour), or
you need a ride between 00.30 and 5.00 when express train does not operate.
As per warning before, similarly to most countries, avoid accepting a ride from the drivers in arrivals’ hall - the price will be triple of what you'd normally pay. And what you'd normally pay is roughly 1200 - 1800 RUB (17 - 26 EUR) per trip between the airport and city centre, depending on traffic.
What you can do to order is book your taxi in advance via internet. Some of the taxi companies have English-speaking staff/English website version for your convenience. Just google your options away, there is plenty of choice.
Taxi desks at airports are also OK to use, as the price of the ride is communicated in advance. Just be sure it does not differ drastically from mark point provided above (given you are going to city centre)
Alternative solution, that I always resort to, is getting a taxi via app on a smart phone. Three of the most used taxi apps are Uber, Yandex.Taxi and Gett. Reviews for each of the service tend to get better or worse now and again, so there is no obvious first choice, but I personally go for Uber in most cases, as drivers never moan about receiving a payment via bank card on the app.
In case you have never used a taxi app before, let me spill some advantages to this option:
Affordability: especially if you are 2 or more, ride cost will be comparative to that for express train tickets
Ease: all is sorted just with a couple of taps on your mobile screen, and you receive car info, location as well as live route map
No surprises: approximate cost of the ride and time of arrival are there too
Flexibility: ride fare is payable in cash or bank card (enter card details before the trip). So if you don't have rubles this will save you an ATM run or rescue from exchanging money at outrageous rates in the airport.
The only drawback of this lovely story is that English speaking cab drivers in Moscow are still rather rare species. So have some survival phrases in Russian on hand if the driver calls to double check something.
If you do not have to carry a lot and not quite keen on finding out if it is true what they say about Moscow traffic, use Aeroexpress to reach the city from the airport. These comfortable high-speed trains depart every 30 minutes and connect Sheremetyevo airport with Belorussky station, Domodedovo with Paveletsky station and Vnukovo with Kievsky railway station.
One-way tickets cost 420 RUB when purchased online and 500 RUB from the ticket office (around 6 -7 EUR). At the railway stations you can easily change to metro.
Getting around Moscow is easy and quick thanks to the extensive metro network. Hands down it is the most beautiful, reliable, speedy and affordable underground that I’ve ever used. A lot of work has been done in terms of 'englification', especially recently with FIFA 2018 coming up, but lack of English signs still makes using it more challenging for those who cannot read Cyrillic. Hence, first advice is to familiarize yourself with the alphabet so you can get an idea of where the train or exit to city signs are taking you.
Below are a few highlights for Moscow metro newbies:
Metro entrances are recognizable by ... surprise!! a big red “М”
To pay for your ride, buy smart-card "Ediniy" (Единый) for a fixed number of rides or a reusable plastic card "Troika" (Тройка) from a cashier/machine in the metro (monorail, MCC) station vestibule. Some stations are also equipped to accept contactless credit card payments.
Cost of 1 ride depending on the type of transport card used is 36 - 55 RUB (0.5 - 0.8 EUR) (true on March 2018)
There is free Wi-Fi underground
During the opening hours (5.30am‐1.00am) trains run every two-three minutes, and about every 30 seconds during rush hours. Although I strongly advise to avoid the fun of metro experience at these times (7.30-9.30am and 18.00-20.00), unless you are eager try what it feels to be a tinned sardine.
The metro network consists of 12 lines, each having a unique number and colour. Pay attention: Many transfer stations don't share the same name.
TIP: Get yourself a free Yandex.Metro app - its a great little helper for creating optimal routs for underground travel. It works in St Pete too!
To exit the metro, follow signs “Выход в город” (exit to the city). It is not always easy to find your destination once you exit the metro: stations usually have multiple exits, all marked in Cyrillic. Again, there is a technological solution to tackle this. Make sure you have an app for building routes and finding your way. A Google map or Yandex map of the city can come in really handy. Make sure to download the map beforehand of Moscow to be able to use it offline.
Hope this will help to make your navigation around Moscow smoother!If you would like a more detailed consultation on planning a trip to Moscow or inspiration for activities in general, send me a message . I would love to hear from you.