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Last updated : Nov 2009
Russia Getting Around - Internal Travel
Russia Internal Travel - Getting Around Russia - TravelPuppy.com
Air

The internal network spreads out from Moscow’s 4 airports. Aeroflot runs services from Moscow to most of the major cities. All-inclusive tours are available from the specialist tour operators.

Note: In the 1990s, Aeroflot was broken up into numerous small airlines which led to a catalogue of air disasters earning it a reputation for poor safety. Thankfully, its safety record has improved in the recent years.

Domestic airports

Vnukovo Airport (VKO)is 29.5km southwest of Moscow. Coaches go to the airport from the Central Air Terminal (travel time – 1 hour 15 minutes). Outgoing duty free facilities are available at the airport. Taxis are available to the city.

Domodedovo (DME) is 48km southeast of Moscow. A coach goes from the Central Air Terminal to the airport (travel time – 1 hour 20 minutes).

Bykovo Airport (BKA)is the smallest of Moscow’s airports, and is 35km from the city. Coaches go to the airport from Central Air Terminal.

Approximate flight times

From Moscow to:

Bratsk is 6 hours 45 minutes
Donetsk is 1 hour 30 minutes
Irkutsk is 7 hours
Khabarovsk is 7 hours 30 minutes
Kharkov is 1 hour 15 minutes
St Petersburg is 1 hour 30 minutes
Volgograd is 1 hour 50 minutes
Yalta is 2 hours 15 minutes

Sea

Owing to the geographical position, the Russian Federation has ports on its Pacific and Baltic shores and in the south on the Black Sea. The main eastern ports are Magadan, Vladivostok, Nakhodka and Petropavlovsk and the most important western ports are St Petersburg and Kaliningrad on the Baltic. The only links to the Atlantic are the ports of Archangelisk and Murmansk on the Kola peninsula, which never freezes over.

Major harbours on the Black Sea are Sochi and Novorossiysk. There are some plans to build an extension to the St Petersburg harbour at Ust-Luga. Upgrading of facilities at Vyborg and Kaliningrad is also intended. Sea cruises on the Black Sea and the Baltic are quite popular.

River

Cruises and excursions are available on the Amur, Don, Lena, Irtysh, Ob, Volga and Yenisey rivers. Many companies offer cruises on board. The Volga towns, Moscow–St Petersburg and the Golden Ring are popular routes.

Rail

The 87,079km of track are a very important part of the infrastructure because of the poor road system. The biggest and busiest rail network in the world is predominantly for freight traffic. Only a few long-distance routes are open for travel by tourists, and reservations should be made on all journeys. Children under 5 years of age travel free. Children aged 5 to 9 pay half fare. Rail travellers are advised to store valuables in the compartment under the bed or seat and not leave the compartment unattended.

The Trans-Siberian Express, is perhaps one of the most famous train in the world, and it is one of the best ways of seeing the interior of the country. It runs from Moscow to Pacific coast of Siberia and on to Japan. There is daily service, but the steamer from Nakhodka to Yokohama only sails approximately once a week. The through journey from Moscow to Yokohama takes about 10 days. It is world’s longest continuous train journey, crossing 7 time zones and 9745km from Europe to the Pacific, with 91 stops from Vladivostok to Moscow. Bed linen and towels are provided in the ‘Soft Class’ (first-class) berths, and there is a toilet and washbasin at the end of each of the carriage. Attendants serve tea from samovars for a small charge and there is a restaurant car on every train where meals can be purchased (however, no alcohol is available on trains, so passengers are advised to bring their own if desired).

The Trans-Manchurian Express follows the exact same route, before heading southeast into China and down to Beijing. A slightly shorter but no less epic journey can be made on the Trans-Mongolian Railway to Beijing. It runs from Moscow to Irkutsk (Siberia), skirting Lake Baikal and then it enters Mongolia. The journey to the Mongolian capital, Ulaan Baatar, is outstanding for its dramatic scenery. The journey ends in Beijing.

Road

The European part of the Russian Federation depends alot on its road network, which totals 552,000km throughout the Federation. Normally, the few roads in Siberia and further east are impassable during the winter. It is a good idea to arrange motoring holidays through reputable agencies. It is also advisable to pre-plan the itinerary and the accommodation requirements. On the majority of tourist routes, signposts are also written in Latin alphabet.

Travellers can take their own car or hire a vehicle; tariffs include the cost of insurance. Chauffeured cars are also available in major cities.

Sample distances

Moscow to St Petersburg: 692km ; Moscow to Minsk: 690km ; Moscow to Rostov-on-Don: 1198km ; Moscow to Odessa: 1347km.

Traffic regulations

Traffic drives on the right of the road. Speed limits are 60kph (37mph) in built-up areas and 90kph (55mph) elsewhere. Hooting the horn is prhibited except when to do so might prevent an accident. Motorists should avoid driving at night. It is forbidden by law to carry unauthorised passengers or pick up hitch-hikers. Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is forbidden. Every car must display registration plates and stickers denoting the country of registration and be fitted with seat belts, a fire extinguisher, a first-aid kit and an emergency sign (triangle) or red light. In case of accident, contact the nearest traffic inspection officer and make sure all participants fill in written statements, to be witnessed by a militia inspector. All the repairs will be at the foreign motorist’s expense.

Documentation

An International Driving Permit and a national licence with authorised translations are required. Visitors travelling in their own cars must also possess the following documents all the time: passport and visa; itinerary card bearing visitor’s name and citizenship, car registration number and full details of itinerary presented upon entry to the Russian Federation relating to the route to be taken and the date and place of stopovers; form provided by Customs on arrival guaranteeing that the car will be taken out of the Russian Federation on departure; petrol vouchers purchased at the border; and insurance cover documents. A road tax is payable upon entry to the country .Motor insurance for travel within the Russian Federation should be arranged before departure, or upon entry to the Russian Federation at the offices of Ingosstrakh, the Russian Federation foreign insurance agency. Contact the Embassy or specialist tour operator for further details.

Bus

Long-distance coach services have recently become open to foreigners. They are an excellent way of seeing the country but patience is a necessity and getting lost is commonplace.

Urban

Public transport in the cities is comprehensive and inexpensive. Many services are electric traction ( tramway, metro, trolleybus). Stations on the Moscow and St Petersburg metros are always elegant and often extravagant. Entry to underground is by tokens, which are inserted into the ticket barrier. Fares are standard for various forms of transport. Taxis are available as well; they can be hailed in the street, hired at a rank or booked by telephone. It is much safer to use officially marked taxis, which should not be shared with strangers.

Travel times

The following chart gives estimated travel times (in hours and minutes) from Moscow to other major towns and cities in the Russian Federation:
     
 
  Air Road Rail
Khabarovsk
7 hours and 30 minutes - -
St Petersburg
1 hours and 30 minutes 9 hours -
Irkutsk
7 hours 88 hours -
Nakhodka
- - 141 hours
Volgograd
1 hours and 30 minutes - -