Flying into St Petersburg – a quick guide to transfers
Flying into your travel destination is an exciting experience – but what about the transfer from the airport to your hotel? If you’re an independent traveller and you’ve never been to St Petersburg before, it can be a daunting experience.
But it doesn’t have to be. Pulkovo Airport is only about 17 km from the city centre, and though it doesn’t boast modern, hi-tech transport links, getting to the city centre is cheap, simple and usually very quick. And a little bit of prior knowledge here can prove really useful if you’re loaded down with baggage, and all you want to do is get to your hotel.
Located to the south of St Petersburg, the airport is split into two terminals. Most international travellers will arrive at Pulkovo-2, which is just over 7km by road from Moskovskaya Metro Station (Pulkovo-1 is a further 3 km out of the city, and is mainly the domestic terminal).
Although the Pulkovskoe Highway can get congested, particularly during morning rush hour and on Sunday evenings, the journey into the city centre rarely takes more than 45 minutes. The easiest and most comfortable way to travel is to order a transfer with a driver to meet your flight. A cheaper option is to book a taxi over the phone when you arrive, although bear in mind that either you will have to wait for the taxi to arrive, or you risk leaving the driver waiting for you and having to pay extra (usually calculated by the minute after the first ten minutes). The average fare to the city centre is around £16.
Then there’s the official airport taxi service. To use this, head for the booths marked Taxi Pulkovo in the arrivals lounge of both terminals. There are rarely queues, and fares are only slightly higher (less than £24 to the centre). It’s best not to try to negotiate with the drivers touting for fares around the baggage reclaim area and on the street – this option is definitely not recommended for tourists.
Alternatively, you can take a combination of bus and metro. City buses, costing less than £1, run from both terminals to Moskovskaya Metro Station on the blue metro line, seven stops south of Nevsky Prospekt in the very centre of St Petersburg. The bus stop at Pulkovo-2 is to the left of the exit from arrivals, and from there the N13 operates between 5.40am (6.00am at weekends) and 0.47am, runs every 15 minutes, and takes just over 20 minutes to reach the metro.
A Marshrutka minibus shuttle service runs the same route (the 39A or K113 from Pulkovo-2). These are slightly quicker than regular buses, and cost around £1, although you will have to pay double if you are carrying large baggage. The K3 marshrutka from Pulkovo-2 continues past Moskovskaya Metro Station up Moskovsky Prospekt to Sennaya Ploshchad in the city centre.
Finally, the Airport Express service offers more comfortable shuttle buses (larger seats, better luggage space and air-conditioning) from both terminals to Moskovskaya Metro Station (around £1.20), Tekhnologichesky Institut (around £4), and Vladimirskaya (around £5.20), which is in the very centre, about 200m from Nevsky Prospekt. The service operates 24 hours, tickets can be bought from booths in the arrivals lounges, and card payments are accepted.