Russia’s Polkovo Airport serving St. Petersburg is not as well connected to the city by modern means as would be Moscow. The site is around 15km away from the downtown. On the plus side however the taxi options, bus options and shuttle to metro line options are not too expensive.
Taxi: Like anywhere else a taxi is probably the quickest way of getting from one point to another. The ride should take around 45 minutes to the downtown, possibly more with high traffic. There are three kinds of taxi service:
- Walking up to any driver in the arrivals hall. This is obviously the riskiest but it worked fine for us. We simply had cash on hand for the estimated cost 750 Rubels ($20USD). We negotiated before going near the cab at all and supplied the driver with an exact address. We don’t recommend this option unless you are comfortable being firm, negotiating and have the currency in hand. Don’t rely on a credit card machine or an ATM when you arrive.
- There are some taxi companies you can pre-book ahead of time for the standard rate, just realize that if your flight is late or passport control or baggage claim takes forever, then you will have to pay the driver extra for every 10 minutes waited.
- Upon arrival you can also use Taxi Pulkovo, which is the official airport taxi service. This stand can be found in the arrivals lounge in both terminals. This is the securest way since you pay at the stand and simply hand the driver the receipt and address. This is around $10 USD more, but many prefer it for the peace of mind and accountability it holds the driver to.
Buses: There are no trains or metros running directly to the airport, so a public bus is only way to get into the city by public transport. One can do a Bus/Metro combo, or take a shuttle bus directly into the city. The shuttle bus has the benefit of 24 hour service whereas the public transport option runs at select hours.
1. Public Bus/Metro From Pulkovo terminal 1, the N39 bus departs from opposite Exit 1 of the arrivals lounge every 15 minutes from 5.30am to 1.30am. The ride costs less than $1 and takes around 30 minutes. From Pulkovo terminal 2, the N13 bus departs. One should go to the left of the exit at arrivals, and from there the N13 operates between 5.40am and 0.47am, every 15 minutes and it is a 20 minute ride to the Moskovskaya Metro Station. From this station one can take the trains into the entire St. Petersburg network.
2. Minibuses and Shuttles
From Pulkovo Terminal 1, one can take the 39A minibus. It costs a little more than the public bus and one has to pay extra if carrying lots of baggage. It runs to Moskovskaya Metro Station. From Terminal 2 one can take the K113 which also has the same conditions going to Moskovskaya Metro Station. Also from terminal 2 is K3 which goes further into the city near Moskovskiy Prospekt and Sennaya Ploshchad.
Another shuttle service with more comfortable seats and flexible stops is Aeroport Express. It runs 24 hours and prices vary depending on the stop, but the highest cost would be around $10 at the center of town: Nevsky Prospekt. It also stops at Moskovskaya Metro, Tekhnologicheskiy Institut and Vladimirskaya along the way.