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Guide to transport in St Petersburg, Russia: How to use metro, buses and more

posted by Liza 12th November 2019 2 Comments
guide to transport in St. Petersburg. How to use metro in Saint Petersburg metro
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Hi everyone! In this post, I’m going to share with you the guide to transport in St. Petersburg: how to use metro, buses and trains in Russia. You will also learn how to buy metro, bus and train tickets in St. Petersburg.

If you’re new to this blog, hi my name is Liza! I was born and raised in St. Petersburg but I’m calling London my home now. On this blog, I like sharing useful information about travelling to Saint Petersburg (and beyond) and helping my fellow travellers. If you’re interested more content about St. Petersburg please go to my Russia travel blog post category and check out some post from there like my ultimate guide to St. Petersburg Russia or how to spend a weekend in Moscow.

Let’s get started with the transport guide to Saint Petersburg, Russia!

Have you already booked a place to stay in St. Petersburg? These hotels are great, pretty affordable and include breakfast: Le Diaghilev Boutique Hotel, Tuchkov Hotel at the Palace Square and Kaleidoscope on Rubinshteina. Otherwise, check my post about the best areas to stay in Saint Petersburg >>>

most beautiful metro stations in St Petersburg
Avtovo – the most beautiful metro station in St. Petersburg

The guide to transport in St Petersburg: how to use metro, buses, trains and more

How to use the metro in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg metro ticket price as of November 2019: 45 RUB

If you’re wondering, how to use the metro in St. Petersburg, in this part of the transport guide to St. Petersburg, I will tell you how. 

As you might have heard the metro in Russia is pretty impressive. Some of the stations resemble palaces: they have marble everywhere and they’re spacious and sparkling clean. When people refer to beautiful Metro stations in Russia, they usually think of Moscow. However, there are multiple stations in St. Petersburg that also very impressive. Check out my guide to the most beautiful metro stations in St. Petersburg

Kirovsky Zavod - Most beautiful St. Petersburg metro stations
Kirovsky Zavod metro station

Saint Petersburg Metro system is not as huge and complicated, as the one in Moscow, however, there are still some things you need to know. Check the newest map of St. Petersburg metro here.

Read my post about the best museums to visit in St. Petersburg >>>

guide to transport in St. Petersburg. How to use metro in Saint Petersburg metro

How to buy a metro ticket in Saint Petersburg. St. Petersburg transport cards

To buy a metro ticket in Saint Petersburg, you need to purchase a token from one of the vending machines in the station hall or from a cashier. Tokens are very old-fashioned, however, we still use them in St. Petersburg. If you’re planning to travel quite a lot via the Metro and buses in Saint Petersburg, you can buy a special transport card called Podorozhnik. If you’ve been to London before, it’s similar to the Oyster card. You can buy it from the vending machines or the cashier inside the metro only. Podorozhnik is a prepaid card so you can use as much money as you will deposit there. The more you travel using Podorozhnik card, the cheaper your metro rides will be. 

how to buy a ticket for metro in St. Petersburg
Buying / refilling a transport card in St. Petersburg

Paying with contactless in Saint Petersburg metro

Finally, the last way to pay for the Metro in St. Petersburg is with contactless. Yes, you can pay by contactless and the Metro of St. Petersburg right now. However, you need to go through either the first or the last gate of every single Metro station and the downside is that not all the gates are always working, so sometimes you still need to go back and buy a token. I paid with a UK card a couple of times and the card was always accepted.

If you wondering, if you will be able to navigate in the St. Petersburg Metro, don’t worry because all the station names are written both in Cyrillic and in Latin. It’s not always the case in Moscow. 

Guide to transport in St Petersburg, Russia: How to use metro, buses and more
The contactless gate in St. Petersburg metro

Read my post about the top places to eat Russian food in St Petersburg and the best restaurants in Saint Petersburg >>>

How to uses buses in Saint Petersburg 

St. Petersburg bus fare as of 11/2019: 40 RUB

Buses are out next mean of transport and using buses in St Petersburg is, well, slightly more complicated than the Metro.

There are two types of buses in St Petersburg: bigger government-owned big buses and privately-owned minibuses. There are also trolleybuses, but I will refer to them as to buses because there is no difference apart from the fact that they use electricity to move.

how to buy bus tickets in St. Petersburg

Where to buy bus tickets in Saint Petersburg

I recommend sticking to government-owned big buses because they always accept the transport card Podorozhnik. Recently, the buses started accepting contactless, however, there is only one terminal inside the bus that usually accepts contactless. Still, not all the buses are equipped with it up until now. The situation might change in the future, but as of November 2019, I haven’t seen it on 100% of the buses but rather on 80% of them.

If you’re wondering, where and how to buy bus tickets in Saint Petersburg, the process is as following (you do everything inside the bus). Once you enter the bus, tap either your contactless card or transport card Podorozhnik on the orange terminals (the ones accepting contactless, will have a sticker saying Visa / MasterCard on it). If your card has been read correctly, you’ll see a green arrow. Don’t get surprised if somebody will approach you and check your card with another pocket-size terminal – conductors are working on every bus and they just check, whether the payment has gone through. You don’t get charged twice.

If you’re paying cash, these people (conductors) will sell you a bus ticket. 

where to buy bus tickets in Saint Petersburg
A terminal that accepts contactless in the buses

Read my post about the best tours to take in St Petersburg for any budget and interests >>>

Minibuses in St. Petersburg

The minibuses usually cover more routes. However, they are a bit trickier to use. Technically and by law, the transport card Podorozhnik should be accepted on these buses, but it’s not always the case. You can, however, always pay with cash. In this case, you pay to be driver once you enter a minibus.

The complicated thing is that you need to request your stop by speaking out loud in Russian. The drivers never understand English. It’s easier with touristy routes, like the one to Peterhof (read my guide about how to get to Peterhof using public transport). In this particular case, you can just say Peterhof once you enter the minibus and the driver will stop. Besides, many people will get off at the stop. If you’re worried, you can also check in on your location on Google Maps and make sure you are actually in Peterhof.

In case of less touristy routes, I just don’t recommend using minibuses because they make everything more complicated unless you’re going from their first stop until the final stop and you don’t need to request your stop at all. 

Read my post about 12+ amazing desserts you need to try in Russia >>>

guide to transport in St. Petersburg

Trams in St. Petersburg 

There are also trams in St Petersburg however they do operate in a similar way as the buses so there is nothing complicated about it. Just tap with your transport card or use cash and pay the conductor. 

Check my post about how much does it cost to travel around Russia >>>

Trains in Russia: how to use trains in St. Petersburg. 

Suburban trains in St. Petersburg 

Finally, there are two types of trains in Saint Petersburg: first are the suburban trains and, secondly, there are long-haul intercity trains.

Let’s talk about the suburban trains first. There isn’t a high probability that you will be using suburban trains, however, you can if you want to. 

Do you like to watch opera or ballet? Read my post about where to buy tickets and where to watch ballet in St. Petersburg >>>

They also cover touristy it’s like the one to Peterhof or the one to Pushkin, where the Catherine Palace is located. You always need to buy a ticket from a designated ticket desk or a ticket vending machine. Make sure to keep your ticket and insert in the slot to pass through the gates. You need to keep it until the end of the ride because you will need it to exit the station as well. The main reason why I don’t recommend using suburban trains in St. Petersburg is because the train stations are usually located quite far from famous landmarks. Once you get out from the station, you might need to walk for about 20 minutes on or take another bus, which to me doesn’t make much sense. 

how to buy train tickets in St. Petersburg
This is a suburban train in N. Novgorod, but the ones in St. Petersburg are identical

Intercity trains in Saint Petersburg. How to buy a train ticket in St. Petersburg

Unlike many other cities around the world, you can’t use intercity trains to commute between two points in the city in St. Petersburg. For the intercity trains, you usually need to buy a ticket online or in the ticket office and you need a passport. If you’re wondering, ho to buy a train ticket in St. Petersburg, you can buy the tickets on the official website: rzd.ru or just head to the physical ticket office (not recommended, as the queues as huge). 

Once you buy the ticket, make sure that you arrive at the station at least half an hour earlier to go for the security control. If you’re planning to visit Moscow as well, I have a guide on how to travel to Moscow from St. Petersburg and back using trains, planes or buses. 

How to use public transport in St. Petersburg
Credit: Sasha Yudaev

Check my post about the best things to do in St Petersburg >>>

Okay, so that was the guide on how to use public transport in St. Petersburg including how to use metro, trains and buses. I hope you found this post useful and make sure to check my Russia blog post category for more content about travelling around Russia or check some of the posts below:

Best cities to visit in Russia >>>

Best areas to stay in St. Petersburg >>>

Local’s favourite bars in St. Petersburg >>>

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2 Comments

How Expensive is Russia? Cost of Travelling in Moscow & St. Petersburg 15th November 2019 at 8:31 pm

[…] ride. Some of the metro stations also accept contactless, so you can pay with your bank card. Read my guide to transport in St. Petersburg here […]

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10+ Basic Russian Phrases for Your Next Trip to Russia 26th November 2019 at 5:57 pm

[…] The guide to transport in St. Petersburg […]

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