St. Petersburg is not as crowded as Moscow, but the transportation system is far from ideal. If you have the opportunity, just get a room in the city center, so you don’t have to use the metro or buses. There are no bike paths, but some companies do rent bikes and it can be a good idea to get around town this way in the summer. Google maps can be a big help when planning your route to St. Petersburg. What you need to do is set Saint Petersburg as the default location, tap Get directions, choose public transportation, and then specify your departure address and destination.
Google will suggest your different routes, show them on the map and indicate the approximate time. The local Russian portal Yandex offers live information on traffic jams (unfortunately, only in Russian). Every night from late April to November, when there is no ice on the waters of the Neva River, certain bridges are raised to allow ships to pass through the city. This means that you should check the bridge schedules, in case you plan to move around the city overnight, so as not to get stuck on one of the many islands for a few hours (see the information at the bottom of this page ).
The Saint Petersburg Metro is one of the most elegant metros in the world as well as one of the deepest, which is worth a visit even if you don’t really need to travel around the city a lot. As you can see on the metro diagram, there are 5 lines. Metro entrances are marked with a blue letter “M” on the top.
The metro is open from 5:45 a.m. to 0.30 a.m. Usually, the last train on the line starts at 0.00 a.m. and the passes between stations are closed at 0.15 a.m. When there are rush hours from 8.00-9.00, 17.00-19.00, the metro is overcrowded so it is best to avoid it.
2. Buses, Trolleys and Trams
Most of them do not follow the schedule and the average waiting time can range from 5 to 10 minutes to 40 minutes in the evening. The working hours are from 6:00 to 24:00. Bus stops are yellow plates marked with “A” signs, trolleys – white plates with “T” and trams “with” Tp “. The routes are written in Russian on the back of these plates as well as on Public transport stops working after midnight and starts working after 6:00 am There are no night buses, trolleys or trams, if you are late you can take a taxi.
A ticket for a trip costs 21 rubles. You can buy tickets from the driver, in the metro and in some buses, you pay the driver at the exit of the bus. There are “express buses” which belong to individuals. These buses are marked with the letter “K” in front of the line number. They are slightly more expensive (30 rubles = $ 1) and less crowded than standard buses. Usual passes and tickets may not be used on these.
This type of public transport became very popular in the late 1990s and even replaced certain bus lines. In front of and on the right side of the marshrutkas, there are usually signs with their main stops along the route (in Russian), so check these signs or ask the locals for advice. Here is a full website on the marshrutkas and their routes (in Russian only). If you see a shuttle approaching, wave it like a taxi. You have to pay a ride of about 30 rubles ($ 1) to the driver after entering.
When you are near your stop, simply tell the driver out loud where to stop. He will understand if you just say “Stop!” or more polite “Ostano`vite po`zhaluista” (please stop). I would not recommend using marshrutkas unless there are no other means of transport available: the cars are often quite old and the drivers are migrants from former Soviet republics who talk on the phone and smoke even while driving.
4. Cars and Taxis
Many private drivers will accept to give you an elevator, but only for money. It’s best to negotiate the price before you start a trip (even taxi drivers don’t like to use the counters). When the driver recognizes you as a foreigner, he will try to charge you the highest price – so get a good deal. It’s a good way to find out a typical price (ask the locals) before. It costs around 200-300 rubles (7-10 $) to get around the central districts and around 400-500 rubles to go from the outskirts to the city center. Using taxis is safer and sometimes even cheaper, but there are not many taxis on the streets, only in busy places. Usually taxis take around 20 rubles per kilometer and start at 35 rubles.
Airport taxis are more expensive: for example, it costs around $ 30 to get from Pulkovo II International Airport to the city center.