27 Jun Best Ways to Travel from Moscow to St. Petersburg
Has the coverage of the 2018 World Cup piqued your interest in a trip to Russia? We feel you, as the culture of Europe’s most easterly country has just enough of an exotic appeal to land it squarely on our travel bucket list as well.
Before you commit to a holiday here, however, realise there are issues you’ll need to sort out once on the ground. While there are many Russia vacation packages to choose from, some of them leave transport between cities up to the traveller.
For example, those wanting to go from Moscow to St. Petersburg will have to book their own tickets, no matter whether they choose to travel by bus, train, or plane.
This fact poses yet another question: which mode of travel should you depend upon? In this article, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of each option so you can determine which one is best for you.
Get there by…
Taking the bus
If you are on a strict budget, or you have a desire to see Russia from its roadways, taking the bus may be the best option for you. Of the three options covered in this blog post, bus tickets are the cheapest option from the standpoint of absolute cost, with most fares costing roughly €20.
The terrain between Moscow and St. Petersburg is mostly flat and forested, but you’ll also pass through smaller communities you wouldn’t have a chance to see otherwise.
The cons of taking the bus have to do with the duration of the journey. Most routes stop at every town or city of significance between Moscow and St. Petersburg, run on undivided highways, and are subject to congestion caused by volume and accidents. Expect your trip to take 11-12 hours from station to station.
As alluded to earlier, the terrain between these two Russian cities is nothing to write home about. While the smaller towns along the way may be interesting at first, they’ll start blending into each other after several hours.
Riding the rails
Interested in checking out the scenery between Moscow and St. Petersburg, but don’t want to spend 12 hours in stop and go traffic on a bus? Taking the train between the two centres may be a better option for you.
By buying a ticket on a Sapsan high-speed train, you’ll zip between these destinations at a breathtaking 250 kilometres per hour. This means you’ll be in the heart of historic St. Petersburg in as little as three and a half hours.
It is a more comfortable way to travel compared to the bus, with seats which have head and foot rests and a foldable table should you decide to have a snack en route.
As for drawbacks, this can be a costly way to travel if you decide to buy a higher class ticket or at a peak time (fares cost as much as €141 for economy class in the morning, but as low as €48 for the last train of the day), but given the speed and comfort of this option, it may end being worth the money.
Catching a flight
Need to get to St. Petersburg on the double? If so, flying would appear to be your best option. With direct flights leaving every hour during peak times, there is plenty of selection and with only an hour and a half spent in the air, you’ll touch down not long after having your in-flight snack.
You might think the cost of this mode of transport would be an issue, but with plenty of competition, fares (before fees and taxes) currently hover around €40 when purchased on the day of travel.
The cons with this approach revolve around the time spent heading to the airport in Moscow and from the airport in St. Petersburg. Vnukovo International Airport and Domodedovo International Airport are situated 35 and 45 kilometres from the core respectively, making it an hour journey by rail.
Aeroflot recommends passengers show up three hours before departure, as security procedures take longer in Russian airports than elsewhere in the world. Not even factoring the time it will take to get from the St. Petersburg Airport to your hotel, the time savings diminishes in comparison to rail.
Which mode of travel is best?
As alluded to above, we feel rail is superior to flying and taking the bus (obviously). When you consider rail stations are situated much closer to the centre than airports, the convenience of taking the train between Moscow and St. Petersburg becomes even more apparent.