Buying a ticket for and riding the metro in Saint Petersburg is, of course, not rocket science.
But it can be overwhelming to enter a metro station in Saint Petersburg when you don’t know what you’re doing, especially during rush hour, with the crowd pushing you a certain way. It is definitely better to be prepared, so that , for example you won’t have to move against the crowd. Also if your seem very clueless in such a crowded situation you will be an ideal victim for pickpockets.
Entrances and Exits
This is obvious, yet often it goes wrong. Every metro station has separate doors for entrance (вход) and exit (выход) of passengers. Your first task is to enter the metro through the entrance! Don’t be discouraged if you see somebody rushing out of an entrance either. For some reason this is common in Saint Petersburg. These people are idiots. Just give such a person a confident look of annoyance and step into the realm of the Saint Petersburg metro. It will be a long descend. Saint Petersburg was build on a swamp and people had to dig deep to finally encounter suitable ground for building a metro.
Unlike the Moscow metro, for which you can only use electronic tickets, the Saint Petersburg metro uses both electronic tickets and tokens (so-called жетоны).
Current ticket prices and a how to buy them are described on this English language page from the Saint Petersburg Metro company. They actually did a very decent job and also made some English language youtube vids, like the one below on how to buy a metro ticket from a vending machine, like the one below, which I believe I am allowed to embed.
I actually didn’t finish watching it, since vids without sound are a bit too boring. However, I am pretty sure they don’t tell you that if you buy 2 tokens from the vending machine and pay with a 100 ruble bank note you will get back 2 tokens and one 10 ruble coin change.
Avoid looking stupid; don’t try to insert the 10 rubles coin into the ….. tourniquet before the escalator. You know which one of these two is the token, right (hint: look for the M 😋)?
As you can see on the metro website linked to above, the current price of a token is 45 rubles (which on the day of writing this article is exactly 70 American Dollar Cents. If you plan to travel more though, it might be a better idea to buy an electronic pass for 10 Journeys within a period of 7 days for RUB 355, or one of the other tickets, that suit you better.
If you decide to buy an electronic metro pass and you have an android smartphone, you might want to download the Wallet app in the google play store. You can then load your electronic metro pass in the app, so that you don’t have to carry it around with you all the time. As long as you have money on your electronic pass, you’ll be able to pay for the Saint Petersburg metro with your smartphone. To be honest I haven’t tried this myself yet. But since you can put not just your electronic metro pass, but many different loyalty cards into the app it might be definitely be worthwhile if you’re staying in Saint Petersburg for a longer while. Many Russian shops give out these cards and after a while you’re walking around with too many of them. You decide to leave some at home. And, then, of course, just when you could use a certain loyalty card, you’re not carrying it with you! So, yes, this could definitely be a solution.
More information about how to use the wallet app can be found here on the site of the Saint Petersburg Metro Company. This page is in Russian only unfortunately, but there are some smart drawings on the page, so you should be able to understand it, even if you don’t speak Russian.
Where to go
Saint Petersburg metro map
Voila, this is an English language map of the Saint Petersburg metro. Obviously normally the names of the stations will be in Russian, so it helps if you can at least read a bit of Russian. It should take no more than a couple of hours to learn the cyrillic alphabet. If you use a smartphone I recommend you download and install the Yandex metro app. Here is a link to it on the Google Play Store for android users and on the Apple App Store. You can set the language of the app to Russian or English. It also has a detailed metro map of Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, Minsk and Istanbul. So if one of these cities is your next destination, you will be already well prepared. For those of you unfamiliar with Yandex: it is the most used search engine in Russia. Yes, in Russia they are bigger than Google.
How to change lines in the Saint Petersburg Metro
As you can see on the map there are 7 stations where you can change from one line to the other, while staying underground:
- Sennaya Ploschad (blue line) to Spasskaya (orange line) or Sadovaya (purple line)
- Nevsky Prospekt (blue line) to Gostiny Dvor (green line)
- Ploschad Vosstaniya (red line) to Mayakovskaya (red line)
- Tekhnologichesky Institut ( blue line) to Tekhnologichesky Institut (red line)(unlike all the other stations in which you can change lines, here both lines actually carry the same name. This is a special station, because you just have to cross the platform in order to change lines, unless you are travelling in the opposite direction you were coming from.
- Pushkinskaya (red line) to Zvenigorodskaya (purple line)
- Vladimirskaya (red line) to Dostoyevskaya (orange line)
- Ploschad Alexandra Nevskogo 1 (green line) to Ploschad Alexandra Nevskogo 2 (orange line)
If you have to change lines there are usually several ways to travel from A to B. On the images below I show the recommended itineraries in the above mentioned Yandex Metro App between metro station Volkovskaya on the purple line and metro station Chornaya Rechka on the blue line. The time of travel and where you have to change, all is neatly indicated.
Once you have chosen your itinerary, the app even indicates in which train carriage it would be best to take place in order to be closest to the pedestrian tunnel towards the other station to change lines. In the itinerary from Volkovskaya to Chornaya Rechka, which I took as an example, the app suggests that you take place in the last carriage of both trains.
Platform screen doors
There are two types of stations in the Saint Petersburg metro; those with with platform screen doors and those without. The following stations have platform screen doors:
- Gostiny dvor
- Park Pobedy
- Ploschad Alexandra Nevskogo 1
People in Saint Petersburg have the strange habit to wait for the next train in front of, instead of besides the platform screen doors. Obviously this way they block people from smoothly exitting the train. They don’t care about jamming the system up. They just want to get into the carriage as quickly as possible, so that they have a better change of finding a seat or whatever. This is annoying. But it’s considered normal behaviour in Saint Petersburg, so you’re just going to have to deal with it.
There are many plans to extend the Saint Petersburg metro. But usually these plans take much longer in practice, However, when new stations do appear I will update this page. I hope the information on this page is useful for you. Have a question or just want to voice your opinion? Please leave a comment below.