Moscow transport: how does it work? Here we summarized all you need to know about Moscow city public transport (bus, metro, card Troika), but also taxi in Moscow.
Distances in Moscow: walking in Moscow
Walking. The geolocation of your accommodation in Moscow is important, because the distances are great. You’re definitely not going to be able to do it all on foot. Moscow is the largest city in Europe with more than 12 million intramural inhabitants. Besides, Moscow is made for giants, because everything is big: the avenues, the buildings, the metro stations! So, the place of your accommodation is very important. You can check our blog post: Where to stay in Moscow?
Good to know! We have written 2 other blog posts that could be helpful: Maps of Moscow and Moscow Airport Transfer.
Public transport in Moscow: prices and how does it work?
Even if you are going to be able to visit many interesting places around Red Square (see the article: Moscow Red Square), you will certainly take the metro to get around, but also to see the most beautiful stations. Furthermore, among public transport the metro remains the fastest solution in Moscow.
Good to know! Public transport is free for children under the age of 7. More specifically, 1 adult may not purchase a ticket for 1 child under the age of 7. If you are 2 adults, it is therefore for 2 children that the trips will be free.
Tips for Moscow city transport
Here are my tips to make travel more pleasant and optimized:
- Avoid to take Moscow City transport during rush hours. Especially for ground transportation (lots of traffic jams). You will lose a lot of time, especially for city center trips by land transport. Peak hours correspond to office hours: the standard working day begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m.
- Use a mobile application to estimate your journey time as accurately as possible. In Europe, as in Russia, we use CityMapper. It is a free application that allows you to calculate your trips and see all the possibilities to get from one place to another. For the application to work, you must have an Internet connection: either through your French package which can prove to be expensive; either by wifi, in your hotel, in a cafe (very common in Moscow) or by using the free Wi-Fi of the city of Moscow! To download CityMapper on your mobile, just type its name in AppStore or GooglePlay. Then choose the city where you want to use it.
- Buy a transportation card. If you plan to take public transport several times a day or if you come to Moscow for a university or work exchange, it is more economical to take a transport card. I talk about it later in the article.
- Further info about airport transfer here: How to get from airport to Moscow?
Moscow metro: the fastest way to get around Moscow
Beautiful! The Moscow Metro is considered the most beautiful in the world! You can find out which stations are worth a visit in my article: The most beautiful stations in Moscow.
Metro timetables. Times vary by station, but approximately the Moscow Metro is open from 5.30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Below you can find a map of the Moscow metro, with an example of a metro station. You can find other Moscow maps here.
Metro prices in Moscow
- A single trip = 57 rubles (from February 1, 2020)
- Price for transporting a suitcase in the metro = 60 rubles
- With a transport card, the price of the journey decreases. Example: with the Troika card the price per trip increases to 40 rubles. More details about troika card below.
- You can also pay with ApplePay or GooglePay.
Where to buy metro tickets?
- At the cash desks, where you can buy everything: transport card or one-way tickets. Small flat: most of the time, the employees of the metro do not speak English very well. But they are used to it, you will be able to understand each other.
- At the English terminals, where you can also buy everything. See below for more details on terminal purchases.
Bus, trolleybus, tram in Moscow
Avoid at peak hours. The city center can be literally blocked! Mobile applications are very useful to estimate travel times.
Tram. Trams are very nice to do. It’s a bit special. Tram stops are hard on the road. The cars then stop and let the pedestrians get on or off the tram.
Price of a bus, trolleybus or tram ticket
- One way = 57 rubles (from February 1, 2020)
- With a transport card, the price drops. Example: with the Troika card the price per trip increases to 40 rubles. More details about transport cards below.
Where to buy bus, trolleybus or tram tickets?
To drivers. There are no controllers on each bus, as in St. Petersburg.
By purchasing a transport card in advance at a metro station. There are few terminals installed near bus, tram or trolley stations.
Good to know! It is possible to pay on the metro, but also on buses with your smartphone or a contactless card (Apple Pay or Google Pay)! The price is 44 rubles per way. Beware, however, of bank charges, as for other ruble payments in Russia. See article: How to pay in Russia?
Transport cards in Moscow
Two most interesting solutions for taking Moscow City transport:
Troika card in Moscow (Тройка)
It is a rechargeable electronic card that works for all public transport in Moscow (metro, bus, trolleybus and tram).
Troika card prices
- 1 metro, bus, trolley bus or tram journey: 40 rubles (instead of 57)
- 90 minutes in public transport (regardless of the number of changes): 62 rubles
How to buy a Troika card?
- Cost of purchase: 50 rubles. You can get it at all metro stations.
- Refill. Once the card is purchased, you must reload it. You can choose the amount freely.
- Where? It is possible to buy the card and recharge it at the metro cash desks or via automatic terminals, in cash or by bank card.
The Troika card is interesting if you:
- want to take advantage of lower transportation rates.
- stay in Moscow for a long time (language stays, expatriation, VIE, university exchange), but do not go for frequent daily trips.
- don’t stay long, but you know roughly how many trips you’re going to make or you don’t mind reloading the card often. Why? It is possible, but long and complicated to recover the initial amount of 50 rubles, as well as the rest on the card.
Unlimited Yediny card (Единый)
Unlike the Troika card, Yédiny is an unlimited card. It is a card that also works on the entire Moscow city transport network (metro, bus, trolleybus and tram).
For optional info: single tickets are part of the Yediny offer, so don’t be surprised to see Единый on your single ticket.
How much does the unlimited Yediny card (central Moscow area) cost?
- 1 day = 24 hours = 230 rubles
- 3 days = 438 rubles
- 30 days = 2170 rubles
- There are no unlimited cards for 2, 4, 5, 6 or 7 days.
More details: Moscow transport website
How to buy a Yediny card?
It is possible to buy the card and recharge it at the metro cash desks or via automatic terminals, in cash or by bank card. The card is activated (the countdown starts) at the time of validation and not at the time of purchase. The card must be activated within 10 days of purchase (day of purchase included).
Here are the pictures of the automatic terminal (in English), when buying a Yédiny card.
The Yediny card is interesting if you:
- want to take advantage of lower transportation rates.
- stay in Moscow for a long time (language stays, expatriation, university exchange), but make frequent daily trips.
- do not stay in Moscow for a long time, but do not want to estimate your trips in advance (Troika card) while enjoying the unlimited.
Our experience with transport cards in Moscow
When I was working in Moscow, I used the Troika card. It was the most economical solution for me. We also used it later when we both went there. On the other hand, the last time we were there, we took the Yediny card and finally we found it more practical, even if it turned out to be less economical in the end.
Our verdict (compared to our travel habits): budget side, the Troika card is better. But for less headache (how much to put on the card? How much is left?…), The unlimited Yediny card is more practical.
Boat trips in Moscow
There are several boat trips on the Moskva River. In addition, it is even possible to buy an unlimited day ticket. For more information, you can then consult the article: Take a boat trip on the Moskva River.
Getting around in Moscow by taxi
There are several types of taxis in Moscow:
- First, official taxis (sign on the roof);
- Then individuals who do this out of the blue;
- And finally Moscow taxis via mobile applications (private drivers or taxi agencies).
Good to know. The cost of a taxi ride to the city center in Moscow is around 500 rubles. If you want to avoid negotiations, use the taxi apps in Moscow.
Uber Moscow: NO.
It works before, but not anymore, because Uber does not use the classic app in Russia (they have created a special app for Russia, only this app works now). So, you have to download the special Uber Russia app… but this application is only available on the Russian AppStore, so it cannot be downloaded for us. Uber’s competitors in Russia such as YandexTaxi or Gett can be used.
Use the YandexTaxi app to take a taxi in Moscow
The Yandex company is the Russian Google. Initially a search engine, it also offers several services. YandexTaxi is then the taxi service in Moscow, it works everywhere in Russia. You can download the app from the AppStore or GooglePlay. Thanks to this application, it is possible to pay the taxi in cash (by default) or by bank card directly (to be specified in the application). If you are thinking of paying in cash, then have rather small denominations so that the driver can give you change. The application is now in French.
How does YandexTaxi work?
- First, it detects your geolocation.
- Then you indicate your arrival position using the Latin or Cyrillic alphabet.
- It then offers you the estimated prices for each range (thrifty, business, etc.).
- You choose, confirm and wait for the driver to arrive.
- You identify the driver with the indicated license plate, then at the end YandexTaxi collects the race via your bank card (do not forget to put your card info before using the app, otherwise pay in cash).
Other solution. You can also book a taxi in advance on KiwiTaxi website. It’s easy!
Public transport and taxi in Moscow: summary
Getting around Moscow is quite simple, as Moscow City transport is well developed. However, because of traffic jams, the metro is the quickest solution. It isn’t an issue, because the Moscow metro is very clean and beautiful. Taxis are rather cheap and easy to find thanks to mobile applications like, for example, YandexTaxi.
Moscow travel tips:
- Bolshoi Theater: how to buy tickets?
- Where to eat in Moscow?
- Where to stay in Moscow?
- How to get from airport to Moscow?