St Petersburg public transport | Metro, bus, taxi in St Petersburg

St Petersburg public transport metro

St Petersburg public transport, metro and bus, is quite convenient. Getting around St. Petersburg is a good way to discover the city and its atmosphere. But it is also an opportunity to discover the beautiful metro of St. Petersburg, to see several districts faster, to mix with the locals or simply save your time!

In this blog post, I will describe all the ways to get around Saint Petersburg, with their advantages and disadvantages. 

Getting around St. Petersburg on foot

Not underestimate distances. What could be better than strolling along the docks of the St. Petersburg canals? However, be careful when estimating distances “to the eye” or in metro stations. The distances are great. For comparison, if in Paris we can count 7 minutes on foot between two subway stations, here we will have double that or even more! In our travel guide St. Petersburg in PDF, we have added walking distances between places to make traveling easier. It also includes less touristy but interesting routes and places to visit. Find out more about the best districts where to stay in St Petersburg.

To enjoy the walk. Instead, go to the canals and avoid the major transport routes that remain noisy. Nevsky is the main avenue of the city. You will find many restaurants, cafes and shops, but it is a very busy avenue.

Good to know! There are several mascots walking around downtown and especially in Nevsky. They try to take a picture of themselves with you and charge you for it afterwards.

St Petersburg public transport: 3 useful tips

Here are our tips to make your trips more pleasant and optimized!

Try to avoid rush hour

You’re going to lose a lot of time, especially when you’re travelling downtown by ground public transport. Peak hours correspond to office hours: the normal working day starts at 9 am and ends at 6 pm.

Buy a Podorojnik transport card to save money

If you plan to take St Petersburg public transport several times a day or you come to St. Petersburg on a university exchange or to work, it is more economical to take a St Petersburg transport card. I will talk about it below in the article.

Using a mobile app for using the St Petersburg public transport: find your way around and estimate travel times

In Europe, as in Russia, we use CityMapper. It’s 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 need to have an Internet connection: either through your flat rate which can be expensive; or through wifi, in your hotel, in a café (quite common in St. Petersburg). To download CityMapper on your mobile, just type its name in AppStore or GooglePlay. Then choose the city in which you want to use it. Below, you can see how the application appears on the phone.

St Petersburg public transport: fares, prices, map, how does it work?

The St Petersburg public transport network is quite developed. However, as mentioned above, if you are in the heart of the city center, it is often faster to get around on foot rather than by transport. Except if your journey is on Nevsky Avenue.

St. Petersburg metro: prices, map, fares

The St Petersburg metro is the deepest metro in the world! It is also beautiful and clean. Among other transport in St. Petersburg, getting around by metro is really the fastest.

  • Schedules of the metro. It depends on each station, but approximately the St Petersburg metro is open from 6am to midnight. 
  • Luggage check. Since the attack in April 2017, controls in the St Petersburg metro have been tightened. Gantries have been installed in all metro stations. In addition, it is highly possible that you may be asked to have your suitcase X-rayed.

St Petersburg metro map

Map of St. Petersburg metro below, with the example of a metro station. For more maps, see the post: Maps of St. Petersburg.

Good to know! The most beautiful St Petersburg metro stations are on line 1. For example, Avtovo or Kirovsky Zavod stations.

How much does the St Petersburg metro ticket cost?

  • A single trip = one token = 55 rubles. If you pass with a suitcase and you take only one way (no card, etc.), you have to take a token for your suitcase as well.
  • Price of one suitcase = 55 rubles. You have to pay for carrying a large piece of luggage. People with suitcases go through the nearest gate to the controllers (here some useful information for the transfer from the airport).
  • With the Podorojnik card you can save money on St Petersburg public transport. Look below, if this card is interesting for you. For example, with the reloadable Podorozhnik card, the price of a trip is reduced to 37 rubles per trip instead of 55. There are unlimited cards for the metro. But it’s more interesting to have access to the whole network.

Where to buy subway tickets? 

  • You can buy everything at the ticket offices: Podorojnik card or single trip tokens. One drawback: most of the time, the subway employees don’t speak English. But they’re used to it, so you’ll be able to understand each other.
  • At the coin-operated machines that give change. Insert the ticket (rubles), press the button and bingo! Price of a token = 1 trip = 55 rubles (from January 1, 2020)
  • At the English speaking kiosks where you can buy the Podorojnik card and recharge it.

Bus, trolleybus, tram in St Petersburg

This network is also well developed and can be interesting, if you want to save your strength and enjoy the view. Getting around St. Petersburg by bus, trolley bus or tram is a cheap and convenient way to discover the city. The only disadvantage is the traffic jams at rush hour. Buses, trams and trolley buses become the slowest means of transport in St. Petersburg.

How much does a bus, trolleybus or tram ticket cost?

  • The fare is 45 rubles (from 1 January 2020).
  • As for the metro, with the Podorojnik card, this cost can decrease (see below on this page). There are unlimited cards for this type of transport. But it is more interesting to have access to the whole network: St Petersburg subway and ground public transport.

Where to buy bus, trolleybus or tram tickets?

  • Tickets for a journey can be bought from the bus ticket inspector in cash. This person stays on the same bus for the whole journey and travels around to collect the money. 
  • If you choose the Podorojnik card, you will have to buy it in the metro. Once you get on the bus, you have to pass the card over one of the terminals. The bus controller may ask you to show the card to check whether you have validated it. 

Marshroutka, transport in St. Petersburg adapted rather for locals

Smaller in size and much more “agile” than their big buddies, these private minibuses (marchrutka in Russian) are quite easy to recognize. If you see a “K” in front of a number, it’s them! The minibuses do not always follow the same routes as the classic buses and stop only on demand. They are more suitable for Russian speakers who know exactly where they are going. The marchrutka is the most typical way to get around St. Petersburg. The trip in a marchrutka in St. Petersburg is 50 rubles.

The Podorozhnik transport card in St. Petersburg

Getting around St. Petersburg with a map is convenient. It avoids counting, managing change and carrying cash. There are several types of cards: those valid only for buses, others only for trams or metro, monthly, daily, 90 min … etc… In short, the offer is great. So, here are the two most interesting solutions.

Unlimited Podorojnik card from 1 to 7 days

This card is ideal for you, if you:

  • stay in St. Petersburg for less than a week, 
  • for example, if you stay for 3 days, and plan to make about 3 trips a day,
  • wish to simplify your life (by avoiding paying per trip).

Unlimited card rates. Below you will find the rates according to the number of days. To these you have to add 60 rubles of card purchase.

Nb of daysPrices
(from January 2020)
1 day185
2 days265
3 days355
4 days440
5 days530
6 days620
7 days705

Does the card work on the whole network? The prices of the above card are the prices of an unlimited card for the whole network: subway, tram, bus, trolley bus, except for the marshrutka. The card also works to go to Catherine’s Palace or Peterhof Palace by public transport (bus, metro).

Where can I buy the Podorojnik unlimited card? You can only buy it in the metro: at the ticket office or at the automatic ticket machines, now in English-speaking countries. If you buy it at a pay station, the purchase is made in two steps (i.e. two separate payments): 1/ purchase of the card itself (60 rubles). 2/ reloading the card with an unlimited fee.

Is it necessary to have one card per person? Yes, you need one card per person.

Rechargeable Podorojnik card

This card is good for getting around on St. Petersburg public transport:

  • want to have a ticket that corresponds to your travel needs as closely as possible,
  • wish to simplify your life (by avoiding paying per trip).

How does it work? As above, you have to buy a 60 rubles card and then put on it the amount you plan to spend. So it is a pre-loaded card. You can load it first with a small amount and then another one. The rates are more interesting than the unit rates. From 6 metro rides OR 7 bus rides, you’re a winner.

Can I get the remaining amount back on the card? In theory it is possible, but not interesting in practice. There is only one place where you can do it and it’s in the city centre (if you think you’re going to use the card to go to the airport one last time, it’s not practical). It can take time and can be complicated. Consider that the remaining amount will not be recovered. You must therefore estimate your trips as accurately as possible.

Where can I buy the pre-loaded Podorojnik card? You can only buy it in the metro: at the ticket office or at the automatic ticket machines, which are now French-speaking. If you buy it at a pay station, the purchase is made in two steps (and therefore two separate payments): 1/ purchase of the card itself (60 rubles). 2/ reload the card with the amount you choose.

Is it necessary to have one card per person? Yes, you need one pre-loaded Podorojnik card per person.

Taking a taxi in St. Petersburg

There are several types of taxis: the classics (sign on the roof), private individuals who do this unexpectedly or those from mobile applications. If you want to avoid negotiations, use the applications. With them, getting around St. Petersburg by taxi is really easy.

Using Uber in Russia, in Saint Petersburg

Uber operates in St. Petersburg, just as it does in Moscow, Rome or Milan. However, Uber has launched a special application for Russia, available on Russian AppleStore and GooglePlay only. It seems impossible to download it (we didn’t succeed…). So, that’s impossible use Uber in Russia with your current app, and also impossible to download a Russian one. So, we are using YandexTaxi.

YandexTaxi, the Russian Uber

Yandex is the Russian Google. Initially a search engine, it also offers several Google-like services. YandexTaxi is one of them. You can download the application from AppStore or GooglePlay. As with Uber, the estimated price is given in advance. It is possible to pay in cash (please have small denominations to make sure the driver can give you change) or by credit card directly through the application. The application is now in Italian. It is used a lot since Uber has been blocking foreigners. It’s very reliable, fast. With the “Eco” tariff, we sometimes had drivers who drove too fast for our taste. We only use the “Comfort” fare now.

When travelling in St. Petersburg, as in most big cities, don’t forget to keep an eye on your personal belongings. Pickpockets are always attracted by travelers who are amazed by the city and its architecture.

You now know everything about St. Petersburg public transport. Hope you found this post useful for your trip to the city of tsars and you will feel like one!

Things to know before visiting St Petersburg:

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