Getting Around St. Petersburg
The best way to get around St. Petersburg is by public transportation; otherwise, you can walk around Nevsky Prospekt, the main thoroughfare. There's an extensive bus and metro system with lines that run throughout the center and into the city's outskirts. The tram or trolley is best for short journeys through downtown. For trips to the suburbs, try the metro system. Rental cars are available at the Pulkovo Airport (LED), but acquiring the proper driving documents can be a hassle. Taxis are also a prevalent (though, at times, unsafe) way to move around.
From the airport, a taxi can cost anywhere from 600 to 1500 rubles (or about $9.50 to $24), depending on your destination. Taxi Pulkovo is the preferred company; you'll see Taxi Pulkovo stands in the arrivals area of the airport. However, several recent travelers have been overcharged for taxi trips between the airport and the city. Many recommended relying on smartphone apps instead to ensure a fair price.
Taxis can be convenient, but risky. Some tourists have been robbed and drugged by unlicensed cabbies posing as drivers, so it's best to ask your hotel to call a taxi company directly instead of flagging a vehicle down off the street. Drivers do their best to not use the meter, so it's important to insist or at least negotiate your fare before getting in the cab. Several recent travelers recommended using ride-hailing smartphone apps like Gett and Yandex.Taxi to ensure a fair, safe ride.
|On Foot||You can also get around St. Petersburg by foot, especially if you're checking out the sites along the Nevsky Prospekt. If you cross the river at any point throughout the city, be aware that the drawbridges rise at several points in the early morning hours, typically between 1 and 3 a.m.|
Although an inexpensive, efficient way to get around – tokens for one subway trip cost about 45 rubles (or about 70 cents) no matter the distance of your ride – the city's metro stops are located far apart from one another, so be prepared to walk. But the metro is worth experiencing – it's the deepest metro in the world and architecturally beautiful. There are five lines and 72 stations. Trains run every 2 to 3 minutes. Maps and signs are tourist-friendly and are posted in both Cyrillic and English. As with any major city, crowded metro cars are a magnet for pickpockets – keep your belongings close.
You can purchase tokens from a cashier or you can purchase tokens from touchscreen machines with English menus. You can view instructional videos for purchasing tokens on the official St. Petersburg Metro website. Multiday travel cards are also available.
|Bus and Trolley||The bus and trolley systems are efficient and cheap – tickets sell for about 40 rubles (around 60 cents) and are available with the conductor or driver. Service runs from around 6 a.m. to midnight, and vehicles tend to be severely crowded during rush hour. Although the maps posted in the buses and trolleys are in Cyrillic only, stations are clearly marked with yellow signs marked with "A"s for buses and white plates with "T"s for trolleys.
|Tram||While the trams aren't as timely as the metro or buses, they are the more scenic way to get around St. Petersburg. But due to traffic problems, a handful of lines have been removed from the city center, making most tourist spots inaccessible by tram. Tickets are still cheap, however, at around 40 rubles (approximately 60 cents) per ride, and like the buses and trolleys, are available for purchase from the trams' conductors.
|Car||Driving can be a hassle, the poorly maintained roads, reckless local drivers and almost nonexistent or hidden signs exclusively in Cyrillic. But if you really must rent a car, remember to carry your passport, international driving permit and your driver's license at all times. Rental companies will only rent to drivers that are at least 21 years old and who have been driving for at least a year.
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