Last updated on November 9th, 2019
In this post, I’m going to tell you about all the alternatives you have when it comes to travelling from Moscow to St. Petersburg and vice versa. Travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg by plane, high-speed train, night train or bus: which way is faster, better, cheaper or more convenient? I used to live in St. Petersburg for 22 years, and I often went to Moscow for work or to meet with friends, so I was always up to date with the most convenient ways to get from St. Petersburg to Moscow and back.
First of all, it’s great that you’re coming to Russia. I have a lot of blog posts on Russia on Tripsget, and I’m always keen on answering all the questions you might have, so don’t hesitate to ask. Feel free to check the posts about Russia in the Russia category (here) on Tripsget.
Okay, let’s get back to the main topic of this post – how to get from Moscow to St. Petersburg: train, flight, bus or something else? I will break down the ways to get from one Russian capital to another (St. Petersburg is the “Northern capital”) ordered by convenience, budget and price.
Moscow to St. Petersburg: how to travel between 2 biggest Russian cities
Moscow to St. Petersburg by speed train: the most convenient way
Okay, here’s my favourite way of getting from St. Petersburg to Moscow and back – by the speed train. Why is it the most convenient way? Well, it’s simple: the speed train between Moscow and Saint Petersburg takes just 4 hours. It departs from Moscow city centre and arrives right to the city centre of St. Petersburg, and you can arrive at the speed train station for Sapsan just 15-30 minutes before the departure. You don’t need to go through extensive security checks, and it’s so fast and painless that it’s the best way to travel from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
The price of the high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg varies a lot, but it’s rarely more expensive than 4,600 RUB or $70. If you buy tickets for Sapsan (that’s the name of the high-speed train) 3 months in advance or so, you can even get it for as low as 990 RUB or $14, which is insanely cheap for a 4-hour train ride in a luxury train (yes, Sapsan is excellent).
Sapsan also features a nice menu on board, and I always loved the food in the restaurant cabin. You can buy the tickets to Sapsan by registering on the rzd website (they have an English version) and pay with any credit or debit card (sometimes the website doesn’t work – Russian Railways can be quite annoying). Alternatively, you can buy your tickets here on RussianTrains.com (no need to register).
The cheapest way to get from St. Petersburg to Moscow – the night train
The cheapest feasible way to travel between the two biggest cities of Russia is the night train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. There are different categories of tickets, and the cheapest one that is often sold for as low as 800-1200 RUB ($12 – $18) is a bench in a common car. If you’re not susceptible to noises and people snoring around you, if you ever slept in hostels and were fine – you can go for that option. There are plenty of night trains to choose from, and some depart at 9 pm and arrive at 6 am, while the others depart at 10 pm or even almost midnight and arrive around 7-9am in the morning. That way you’re a) sleeping all night b) moving between two cities c) don’t need to pay for a hotel.
There are, of course, more “luxurious” cabins for 4 and even for two people, but they are often the same price as the high-speed train Sapsan.
You can buy the tickets on the same website as the high-speed train Sapsan.
Alternatively, you can buy your tickets here on RussianTrains.com (no need to register).
The fastest way to get from St. Petersburg to Moscow and back: by plane
Another good alternative to high-speed trains are the flights from St. Petersburg to Moscow. There are plenty of flights during the day (around 150 at least from different airports of Moscow). The price usually depends on the time of the day. The popular times are the times around 8 pm or 7-8am when people go on business trips. If you’re okay with flying around 1 pm, that can be cheap – maybe only 1800 RUB ($27), while during the peak times the flights could be quite expensive ($90).
It takes quite a while to get to the airports in Moscow (60 min to 2 hours depending on your location and the mean of transport), and you need to be there at least 50 minutes before the flight, so catching a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg could be time-consuming, even though the flight itself is just 55 minutes.
Other ways to get from St. Petersburg to Moscow
Okay, I won’t tell you the real-life cheapest way to get from St. Petersburg to Moscow or from Moscow to St. Petersburg, because it requires taking 4 or 7 suburban trains and takes about 24 hours. I also wouldn’t recommend taking a bus from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, as the journey time is about 9-11 hours depending on the traffic on the road and the journey is far from the pleasant one.
I wouldn’t say it’s a great idea to rent a car and head from St. Petersburg and Moscow either – it takes a lot of time and the road isn’t precisely the best. Also, there are no highlights or landmarks on the way from St. Petersburg to Moscow, so going there by car would be just a waste of time.
Hopefully, this post helped you to make your mind about how you’re going to get from Moscow to St. Petersburg and which mean of transport you’d prefer. I would prefer a high-speed train from St. Petersburg to Moscow (SAPSAN), but whatever you choose – it’s up to you.
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