Getting around Moscow by metro and public transport

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 02 Dec 2014)
Moscow public transportation is horrible and the city is immersed in the constant traffic jams, so don't even attempt to go overground during the peak hours (8 to 11 am and 5 to 8 pm). The only good thing about the city's transport is the famous Moscow metro, which is very efficient, fast, and is so beautiful it could well be a museum. Although, again, avoid using it in peak hours, otherwise you'll be squeezed in the train carriages like sardines.

Another cool thing about Moscow that instead of using the buses you can hail any car on the street and it'll stop and give you a lift for money. Don't ask why it works – it's just a life-long tradition and it feels great. By the way, there's a great service from the local internet portal Yandex where you can see all Moscow traffic jams online (it's in Russian, but it's worth it, because you even got live video feeds at the key locations).
Also, to save your time, you can install a local taxi app on your phone, such as GETT Taxi or Yandex.Taxi – both find the nearest driver and have prices that start from 500 R (€10) for a 20-minute ride. It's good to use them as you don't have to negotiate the price in Russian (it's fixed) and if you're traveling longer than 30 minutes (the time it takes from Moscow center to suburbs) they have better prices.


Moscow traffic / Photo by Leszek Golubinski @ FlickR
Moscow traffic / Photo by Leszek Golubinski @ FlickR

Moscow Metro

It is easy to use it, although there are no signs in English. As you can see on the Moscow metro map all the lines have its own color.

There is a ring-line (brown) which has crossings with all other radial lines. Metro entrances are marked with a large red letter "M".

The open hours are from 5.20 a.m. to 1.00 a.m. Usually the last train starts its way at 00.50 from the last station at any line; the passes between stations are closed at 1.00 am. When there're rush hours (8.00-9.00, 17.00-19.00) the metro is overcrowded, so it's better to avoid it.

Ploschad Revolutsii metro station in Moscow / Photo by Sbisson@FlickR
Ploschad Revolutsii metro station in Moscow / Photo by Sbisson@FlickR
Some stations in Moscow metro have interesting traditions. For example, when you go to Ploschad Revolutsii
(blue line, center – pictured on the photo above) you will see lots of bronze statues of partisans commemorating
the communist revolution.
Many people have this weird superstition to touch the nose of a dog or the shoe of a worker as it’s believed to bring luck. Watch it a bit and you will see. And touch it!

Tickets & Prices. The metro has no special zones - all the metro is one zone, and there's no time limit for using your ticket. You can buy a ticket for 28R ($1) for one trip and spend as much time inside as you like. You can also save money and buy tickets for 5, 10 or 20 trips – they are less expensive. If you don't pay, then you'll have to pay around $50 fine.

See a video of a trip in Moscow metro:

Moscow metro is sometimes beautifully decorated, in fact, it looks like an underground museum. One of the reasons is that when it was built it was supposed to be an underground shelter in case of war, so it was built to be pleasing to the eyes and to 'promote' communist way of life. Hence many mosaics and sculptures dedicated to the life of Soviet people.

The most interesting stations of Moscow metro are: Kievskaya (blue line, west center - mosaics dedicated to the life of Ukrainian people), Komsomolskaya (circle line, north-east - mosaics on the ceiling), Mayakovskaya (green line, north - the winner of grand-prizes, decorated in a cool way), Ploshchad Revolutsii (blue line, center - sculptures of Russian workers, soldiers, and just normal people), Arbatskaya (blue line, center - just nice interior), Chkalovskaya (light green line, east center - one of the newly built stations, futuristic minimalistic design).

Inside Moscow metro  / photo by Wrong_Wai@FlickR

Inside Moscow metro / photo by Wrong_Wai@FlickR

Buses, Trolleys and Trams

Bus - av`tobus. Trolleybus- tro`leibus . Tram - tram`vai.
Most of them don't go on the schedule, and the average waiting time can be from 5 minutes to 40 minutes in the evenings. The public transport works are from 5:30 until 1:00. The bus stops are yellow plates marked with "A" signs, trolleys' - white plates with "T" and trams' with "Tp". There are no night buses or trolleys or trams. If you're late, you can only take a taxi.

are the same for buses, trolleys and trams: one trip costs 28 R ($1). You can buy them from the driver directly, in metro stations, or from the kiosks located near the busier bus stops. Almost all Moscow transport has now been fitted with turnstiles where you have to stick your ticket into a machine to pass through. This means you now have to enter through the front door, creating long queues for boarding, and it also means that fare evasion is no longer possible, like it was in the good old days.

Moscow trolleybuses - photo by Trolleway@FlickR
Moscow trolleybuses - photo by Trolleway@FlickR

Selected Public Transport Routes in Moscow

It's great to experience Moscow if you move around by city transport - Moscow is a big city and there're many places worth seeing. The route given is the list of the areas the bus, trolley or tram goes through, it's not all the stops. If you don't understand where the areas and the streets are, read about this at Moscow Guide / Moscow Areas & Maps. The route is given in [square brackets].


#119 [Kievskaya metro - Vorobyovy Gory observation deck - Moscow State University];


#7 [Park Pobedy (Victory's Park) - Kutuzovski prospekt - Kievskaya metro - Moscow river's bank - Vorobyovy Gory, observation deck - Moscow State University - Leninski Prospekt - Oktyabrskaya metro - Yakimanka street - Kamenny Most (Stone Bridge - great place to see the view of Moscow Kremlin)];
#15, #31 [Tsvetnoi Boulevard metro - Kropotkinskaya metro]
#44 [Kropotkinskaya metro - Alexandovski Sad (Alexandrovski Garden) metro]
#B [this circle route is through all Sadovoe Koltso - Garden Ring]


#A, #3, #39 [Chistye Prudy metro - Maroseika street (Kitai Gorod area) - Boulevard Ring - Solyanka street - Novokuznetskaya metro (Zamoskvorechie (outside the Moscow river) area) - Paveletskaya metro - Serpukhvskaya metro - Dobryninskaya metro]

Marshrutka (Minibus-Shuttle)

These are smaller, normally private buses. They usually have the same numbers as the buses or trolleys and go the same route. If you see an approaching shuttle just wave it down like a taxi. You must pay for a trip from 30 R ($1) to the driver. When you are near your stop just say aloud to the driver where to stop. He will understand if you just say "Stop!" or more polite "Ostano`vite po`zhaluista" (stop please).

Taxi and Cars in Moscow

In Russia you can use any car as a taxi, most of the private drivers will give you a lift but only for money. Just wave any car like a taxi. It's better to negotiate the price before starting a trip (even cabmen don't like to use counters). When the driver recognizes you as a foreigner, he will try to make you pay the highest price - so bargain. It is a good way to find out the fair price before (ask the locals).

In any case the car prices have risen up in Moscow recently but are still not as high as in Europe, for example. Normally it should cost around 400-500 R ($12-$15) to get from the outskirts of Moscow to the center of the city (about 30-60 min drive depending on the traffic) and it's around 200 R ($8) to move around the center (10-15 min drive). I usually calculate 200 R ($7) for every 10 minutes.

Using the taxis is more safe and sometimes even cheaper, but there are not many taxis on the streets, only in lively places. You can recognize a taxi by a typical 'chess' sign on top and yellow colour. Usually taxis take around 10 R ($0.3) for one kilometer (only inside Moscow) and they start the counter at 25 R ($0.9). Here's a list of Moscow taxi operators (they barely speak English, though), the prices are as of February 2004:

Allo Taxi. They charge 250 rubles for the first 20 minutes (300 rubles at night) and then 7 rubles per minute after that (8 rubles at night). Moscow – Sheremetyevo II: 850R ($31). Sheremetyevo II – Moscow: 1000 R ($37). Phone: +7 (495) 225-3588. Website: (You can order online).

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City Taxi. Their tariffs are 250 R for the first 30 minutes during the day (for the first 20 minutes at night) and then 6 R for each additional minute (7 R at night). Moscow – Sheremetyevo II: 700R ($26). Sheremetyevo II – Moscow: 850 R ($31). Phone: +7 (495) 225-9225. Website: (You can order online).

Krasnaya Gorka. The cheapest in the list – billed by km: 5 R ($0.15) / km. Ask for a Russian car - Zhiguli - the cheapest. Moscow - Sheremetyevo II 700R ($25), Sheremetyevo II - Moscow 900R ($32). Phone: +7 (495) 454-6291/7201. Fax: 454-7201.

Taxi 505. Probably the cheapest, at least for airport transfers: prices are 170 R for the first 20 minutes during the day (180 R for the first 10km at night) and 5 R per each additional minute during the day (10 R per extra km at night). Moscow – Sheremetyevo II: 550R ($20). Sheremetyevo II – Moscow: 750 R ($28). Phone: +7 (495) 505-3661. Website: (You can order online).

Taxi Club. Prices are 200 R for the first 20 minutes during the day (250 R at night) and then 6 R per minute after that (7 R at night). Moscow – Sheremetyevo II: 750R ($28). Sheremetyevo II – Moscow: 850 R ($31). Phone: +7 (495) 540-0400. Website: (You can order online)

XXL Taxi. Prices are 240 R for the first 30 minutes during the day (270 R at night) and 8 R per minute after that (9 R per minute at night). Moscow – Sheremetyevo II: 750R ($28). Sheremetyevo II – Moscow: 900 R ($33). Phone: +7 (495) 105-8866. Website: (You can order online).

Limousine Service. The most expensive in the list. They use Lincolns or Mercedes limousines and charge $100 Moscow - Sheremetyevo II. Sheremetyevo II - Moscow costs $150. Phone: +7 (495) 257-4000/4400. Fax: 257-1596. Website: (You can order online).

You can also order a taxi online through this site, please, see Moscow Taxi & Transfers section.


Renting a car can be a good alternative to taking taxis. For example, a ride from a Moscow airport costs about $70, but you can rent a car for $50 / day directly from the airport if you rent it for 3 days (it costs less if you rent it for longer). Be sure to take insurance as well, it's worth it because driving in Moscow is a bit chaotic (similar to Greece, Italy or Caribbean). If they let you leave the car in another city it might be a good and cheap way of travelling around when you are in a group.

You can check the prices of the major car rental operators in Moscow using Way to Russia online car rental service. It will normally cost about $30-$50 / day depending on how long you rent it for. The Russian operator Eleks-Polus offers cheaper Russian cars ($25-$30 per day), but they don't have offices at Moscow airports and don't speak English.

AVIS Rent-a-Car Moscow. Address: Sheremetyevo II airport, Phone: +7 (495) 578-7179, Fax : 578-7179.

AVIS Rent-a-Car Moscow. Address: Gallery Actor business center. Tverskaya Ul., #2. Entrance.3, 6th floor. Area: Tverskaya, metro Pushkinskaya (violet), Tverskaya (green). Phone: +7 (495) 937-9434, Fax: 937-9433

BUDGET Rent-a-Car Moscow. Address: Volgogradsky Prospekt, #43, building 1. Phone: +7 (495) 737-0407. Fax: 737-0406.

HERTZ Rent-a-Car Moscow. Address: Chernyakhovskogo Ul., #4. Phone: +7 (495) 937-3274. Fax : 956-1621.

ELEKS-POLUS - The local rent-a-car operator, offering Russian cars at lower prices ($20-$25 / day). You will need to pay $300 US as a deposit and, and present your passport. Internet:, tel: +7 495 232-9009)


Bicycle and Scooter Rentals in Moscow

There are no special bike lanes and it's not safe to leave bikes on the streets, even attached. However, there are a few bike rental services in the city. Also, in Summer scooters are popular. Moscow is not the most pleasurable place to drive around with a scooter, but it's still a lot of fun. 

Kruti (in English), +7 495 642-1942 - rents bicycles and scooters in Moscow. They charge about $15 / day for bicycle rental (less if you rent for longer) and you need to pay a deposit of $30. For scooters they charge about $70 / day (much less if you rent for longer) and you need to pay a deposit of about $150.




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