How to Get From Pulkovo Airport to St. Petersburg City Center

So you’ve just arrived in St. Petersburg from who knows where, you’re exhausted, jetlagged, you don’t speak the language, and you just want to get to bed as soon as possible. Familiar? Here's how to do that with the least amount of fuss and without getting lost. 

Pulkovo Airport. Credit: domoos.ru

Whether you’re in Russia for two days or six months, one of the best things about coming here is the affordable SIM cards with great cell phone service. Before diving into a cheeseburger at McDonald’s (which is naturally more expensive in the airport than the city), drop into Beeline or Tele2, the two cell providers’ stores nestled between domestic and international arrivals. Tell them how long you’re here for, and how much internet you need, and they’ll suggest the best plan for you (make sure the plan you get can not go “into minus” once the money runs out). You will have to present your passport to get the sim card, but that’s normal procedure for citizens of all countries. Read more about getting a cell phone in Russia here

Cellphone stores
Cellphone stores

Once you've set up your new SIM and connected to the internet or the airport Wi-Fi (you can also connect to Wi-Fi without a SIM if you have roaming), as you’re edging towards the exits you will encounter lots of people approaching you saying “taxi”, “taxi”, “do you need a taxi?”. But remember, you must resist! While they all will most likely take you to your destination, the prices are much higher than the standard.  Also please DO NOT hail taxis on the street! 

Taxi

If you do want to take the quickest route from the airport to the city center, then download one of these apps on your phone: UberRussia (App Store; Google Play), Yandex.Taxi (App Store; Google Play), Gett (App Store; Google Play), or Taxovichkof (App Store; Google Play). Use your fancy new phone number to sign up, and you can pay for the taxi by cash (many ATMs are available in the arrival and departure terminals) or card (you have to input your card details in the app before you make the order). These apps are among the most widely-used taxi services available in St. Petersburg. The cost of a taxi ride from Pulkovo airport to the city center is approx 700 rubles (11 USD) and takes about 35-40 minutes. You will have to specify on the app which exit you’re going to, as the Pulkovo airport has two exits. The first exit (Exit 1) is right by international arrivals, and the second exit (Exit 2) is by domestic arrivals. 

Arrivals. Credit: pulkovoairport.ru
Arrivals. Credit: pulkovoairport.ru

Advantages of taking a taxi

  • The door-to-door service makes it very convenient. 
  • Available any time of day.

Disadvantages of taking a taxi

  • If you’re ordering a taxi online, you need an internet connection (Wi-Fi is available in the airport but can be unreliable, and if you don’t have roaming it might be hard to connect)
  • It is much more expensive, unless you’re travelling in a group.

Public Transport

If you feel that taking a taxi is too luxurious for your needs, you can traverse the city by public transport. This approach will cost you about 85 rubles and will take you about an hour to get to the central subway station Nevsky Prospekt. Be ready to carry your suitcase up and down stairs! 

Pulkovo Airport is located about 20 km south of the city center. City buses 39 and 39 Express, as well as the minibus 39K, run between the airport and the nearest metro station Moskovskaya, from where you can take the blue line.

Information about transport arrivals
Information about transport arrivals

Bus to Moskovskaya Metro Station

The buses and minivans stop right outside the arrivals hall, between the two main exit. 

City bus 39
40 rubles (tickets are purchased on the bus by cash or credit/debit card from the bus conductor)
Departs every 12-20 min (runs between 5:30am - 1:30am). Travel time: 30-35 mins

Express city bus 39Ex
40 rubles (tickets are purchased on the bus by cash or credit/debit card from the bus conductor)
Departs every 25-30 mins (runs between 5:25 to 12:20am). Travel time: 20 mins

Minibus K39
40 rubles (tickets are purchased on the bus by cash-only to the driver)
Departs every 15 mins (runs between 7:00 and 11:30pm)  Travel time: 20 mins

Minibus K39 and Bus 39
Minibus K39 and Bus 39

Metro from Moskovskaya Metro Station to City Center

When you arrive at Moskovskaya Metro station, you will immediately have to descend a flight of stairs and walk through a tunnel into the metro station. There are no elevators, so be prepared to carry your language down the stairs. Once you enter the station, you can buy a metro ticket from one of the ticket machines or at the ticket office. 

A single trip will cost you 45 rubles (and you’ll get a coin-like token), but you can purchase an electronic card (which you can top up after paying an initial fee of 60 rubles) that will allow you to save on ticket fares (around 36 rubles a ride) for both the metro and other kinds of public transport. You can also buy a one-day ticket, which is effective for all kinds of public transport and will cost you 180 rubles. For more information, visit the official website of the St. Petersburg metro. The metro itself has English-language signage, and transfers from line to line are easy. 

Narvskaya metro station
Narvskaya metro station

You can use the St. Petersburg Metro interactive map that allows you to plan and calculate the duration of your trip. Likewise, you can download the non-interactive map in PDF format to use on-the-go. The ideal version, if you aren’t sick of downloading new apps by now, is to get the Yandex.Metro app (App Store, Google Play), which will even tell you which part of the train to enter to alight closer to the exits. 

And while you’re there, take some time to admire the interiors of our metro, which is considered among the most beautiful in the world. Read about the must-see stations to stop by on your visit to St. Petersburg in our article.

Advantages of using public transport:

  • Avoid busy traffic in the city center during peak hours
  • Very low cost of travel

Disadvantages of using public transport 

  • Most stations have no elevators, so you’ll need to carry your bags up and down the stairs
  • Buses and metro don’t run during the night. Check out the schedule here.
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