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St Petersburg - Getting there & away, getting around


St Petersburg - Getting there & away

St Petersburg has direct air links with most major European capitals and airlines, many offering several connections each week. There's a departure tax of around US$11. Domestically, you can fly just about anywhere you want, but only a few times a week in some cases. Air service is best between St Petersburg and Moscow.

St Petersburg has one bus station serving Tampere, Vyborg, Pskov, Novgorod, Moscow, Novaya Ladoga, Petrozavodsk and many smaller destinations. Many short and long-distance buses also leave from outside the Baltic station.

The main international rail gateways to St Petersburg are Helsinki, Tallinn, Warsaw and Berlin. The city has four stations, all south of the Neva River, except the Finland Station, which serves trains on the Helsinki railway line. Moscow Station handles trains to and from Moscow, the far north, Crimea, the Caucasus, Georgia and Central Asia; Vitebsk Station deals with Smolensk, Belarus Prague, Kiev, Odessa and Moldova; and Warsaw Station covers the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe. Baltic Station, just along the road from the Warsaw Station, is mainly for suburban trains.

Foreigners can legally drive on almost all of Russia's highways and can even ride motorcycles. You'll need to be 18 years old and have a drivers' licence, along with an International Driving Permit. On the down side, driving in Russia is truly an unfiltered Russian experience. Poor roads, inadequate signposting (except in St Petersburg's centre) and keen highway patrollers can lead to frustration and dismay. Motorbikes will undergo vigorous scrutiny by border officials and highway police.


Getting around St Petersburg

Pulkova-1 and -2, respectively the domestic and international airports that serve St Petersburg, are 17km (10mi) south of the city centre, about a half-hour taxi ride and about an hour by public transport (metro plus bus).

Though less majestic than Moscow's, the St Petersburg metro leaves most of the world's other undergrounds for dead. You'll rarely wait more than three minutes for a train, and the clock at the end of the platform shows time elapsed since the last train departed. Taking the metro is the quickest and cheapest way around the wider city.

The best way of getting around the city by road is by bus, trolleybus (an electric bus) or tram. Each require payment of an inexpensive talony (ticket), which are sold in kiosks at major interchanges, by hawkers at the train stations, and often in strips of 10 by drivers. Driving a car or motorcycle is definitely not wise - roads are gnarled, road rules are strange, and the traffic cops are empowered to stop you and fine you on the spot. Oh yeah, they can also shoot at your vehicle if you don't heed their command to pull over.


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