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Moscow - Getting there & away, getting around

Moscow - Getting there & away

Sheremetevo-2 airport, 30km (20mi) northwest of the city centre, handles flights to and from places outside the former Soviet Union. There are daily flights by numerous airlines to and from nearly all European and many other world capitals, and many provincial cities, too. A flight from London or Paris takes about three hours, from New York about 10 hours. Four Moscow airports are devoted to flights to and from places within Russia and the other ex-Soviet states. Check-in for flights within the ex-USSR is supposed to close 40 minutes before take-off, but be sure to reach the airport well before that.

International flights from most Moscow airports incur a departure tax which is included in the price of airfares. You can get to all five airports and the city centre cheaply by a combination of bus and metro or suburban train, but if you're going early in the morning or late at night, or have a lot of baggage, you'll probably need a taxi. The easiest approach is to arrange an airport-city transfer through a travel agent; you'll pay no more than an average taxi fare.

Moscow has rail links to most parts of Russia, most former Soviet states, numerous countries in Eastern and Western Europe, and China and Mongolia. Moscow has nine main train stations, all with metro stations on the spot.

Buses run to a number of towns and cities within about 700km (435mi) of Moscow. Buses are reasonably comfortable but to most places they're a bit slower than trains, and less frequent.

If you want to travel by car or motorbike, 10 major highways, numbered M1 to M10, fan out from Moscow to all points of the compass. Most are in fairly good condition at first but some get scraggy further out.

In summer, passenger boats from Moscow ply the rivers and canals throughout Russia all the way north to St Petersburg, and south to Astrakhan on the Volga delta, near the Caspian Sea.

Getting around Moscow

If you'd rather catch a taxi than the metro, just stand on the street and stick your arm out. Many private car drivers cruise around as unofficial taxis. Prices vary according to the length of the trip, the time of the day and traffic conditions. Pay anywhere from RUB50 to RUB150No driver uses a meter, so it's probably best to negotiate your fare before you get in. For long trips it may be better to prebook a cab.

There are more than 150 metro stations - many of them elegant, marble-faced, frescoed, gilded works of art. The magnetic card system is easy to use and transferrable between buses and trams, with plenty of signage and maps to help. You'll rarely wait more than two minutes for a train, nine million people a day use the system. The oldest stations were originally intended to double as bomb shelters, which is why the escalators seem to plunge halfway to the centre of the earth.

Buses, trolleybuses and trams run almost everywhere the metro doesn't go, and are good for radial travel or for getting outside the centre. You'll need a ticket that you punch inside the vehicle - tickets work on all three forms of transport.

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