The first immediate problem you’re going to face when arriving to Moscow is how to get to Moscow city center from the airport. This post will give you a quick overview of what to do and what not to do if you want the arrive in Moscow safely and quickly.
I will cover:
- Which airport in Moscow is best (and why that is so important)
- How to get to Moscow from the airport by cab
- How to get to Moscow from the airport by train
Which airport in Moscow is best (and why you should care)
Moscow has 4 airports but all international flights outside the ex-USSR states fly into Domodedovo (DME) or Sheremetyevo (SVO). Sheremetyevo is about 30 kilometers northeast of Moscow and Domodedovo 40 kilometers south. In terms of location they are not too much different from one another but trust me on the following advice:
Definitely try flying into Sheremetyevo!
The airport in Sheremetyevo is newer, better organized and nicer. It will overall save you a lot of time and nerves with everything from passing border control to checking in.
I mostly fly to Domodedovo and it drives me nuts every time. Domodedovo is old, takes me personally longer to get to and has big queues every time at the border control. On top of that they are doing major construction work for the World Cup next year.
As far as I know this is true for Sheremetyevo for Sheremetyevo as well, so the situation might improve until next year. As of end of 2017, this advice still stands.
How to get to Moscow from the airport by train
Moscow’s three major airports, Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo, are all connected to the city with a direct train, the Aeroexpress. On this map I marked for you how the Aeroexpress connects the airports to the city center.
Trains run every 30 minutes from Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports and hourly from Vnukovo. From 6am in the morning till about midnight. You can check out the precise timetable here.
Tickets are 500 Rubles at the vending machines in the airports or 420 Rubles if you buy them online.
The train takes about 35-45 minutes from the airport to the designated metro stations.
Advantages of taking the Aeroexpress
- It’s cheap
- You have designated departure and arrival times and the trains are never late
- It’s easy to buy a ticket, both online and at the vending machines
Disadvantages of taking the Aeroexpress
If you don’t live close to one of the stations where the Aeroexpress arrives, you have to take the metro or a cab. If you don’t know how to use the Moscow metro, have a lot of luggage or arrive during rush hour, you should take a cab from the airport straight away.
Yes, they do have sort of English info stands and signs in English now but it’s still not all that tourist-friendly. And taking an extra taxi will pretty much end up being almost as much as taking one right away.
How to get to Moscow from the airport by taxi
Therefore, my recommendation is to take a taxi. It’s still cheap and just way more convenient. For Uber, Yandex Taci and Gettaxi these are price ranges from the Red Square to any of the Moscow airports:
- Cheapest taxi: 1000-1500 Rubles
- Comfort taxi: 1300-100 Rubles
- Business taxi: 2000-2500 Rubles
- Minivan: 2000-2500 Rubles
This will of course vary depending on precise location, time and airport but you can make an estimate based on that. Check out my post on Moscow taxis as well for more information.
Whatever you do, do not get a taxi from one of the guys trying to chat you up at the airport!
No matter how “official” they might be they’re not. They’re scammers and scammers do not deserve to be paid, no matter if it still seems comparably cheap to other major cities. For the money they want to charge you, you can get an Uber Black or an official business taxi.
Advantages of taking a taxi
- It's more comfortable: you get picked up and dropped off precisely where you need to go
- Taxis are available any time
- It is really not much more expensive, especially if you're not travelling alone
Disadvantages of taking a taxi
- Drivers speak almost always only Russian
- Depending on the time of the day it can take significantly longer due to unpredictable Moscow traffic jams
You also have the option to order a cab from one of the electronic terminals in the baggage claim hall. These are most of the time either Yandex Taxis or Gett. I never tried, so I cannot comment on how well they work.
Another possibility is to get one from one of the counters at the airport but they will likely cost you more than the apps or the terminals (but still cheaper than the rip-off!).