In this installment I will explain the different options for going from any of the international airports in Moscow (Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo) to the center of the city or the Red Square. Whether taxi, train, or bus, each option has advantages and disadvantages. In whichever case, I will explain how you can prepare in advance and how you can reserve a taxi or buy train tickets online.
I'm going to talk about ...
Moscow has 3 international airports:
- Domodedovo (abbreviated as DME). 42 kilometers to the south of the city.
- Sheremetyevo (SVO). Situated about 30 kilometers to the northeast of the city center.
- Vnukovo (VKO). Situated about 28 kilometers to the southeast of the center of Moscow.
There are basically three options for travelling from the airport to the center of the city or the reverse: taxi, train, or bus. The taxi is generally the most comfortable option but it is also the most expensive (unless you are splitting it between 3 or 4 people), the train (called Aeroexpress) which is generally the fastest choice but depending on the location of your lodging it can require switching to the Metro, while the bus is the cheapest option but is best for more experienced travelers.
In my opinion the best option for going to the center of Moscow if you go with a group of 3 or more people or if you are going with small children or if you are arriving early morning at the airport.
APPROXIMATE DURATION OF TRIP. The duration of the trip will depend on whether it is daytime and if there is bad traffic or if you are traveling by night and with little traffic:
- From Domodedovo to the center of Moscow: between 1.5 hours to 2 hours, depending on the location of your lodging
- From Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo to the center of Moscow: between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours
APPROXIMATE PRICE FROM AIRPORT TO CITY CENTER. The cost depends on the taxi company, the type of car, and the distance traveled:
- Economy (4 passengers): 1,600-2,000 rubles
- Comfort (4 passengers): 2,000-2,500 rubles
- Minivan (7 passengers): 3,000-3,500 rubles
- Minibus (16 passengers): 5,000 rubles
- It is the most comfortable option for reaching the center of Moscow. You are picked up at the airport and dropped off at the door of your hotel.
- 24 hours service. If you arrive late at night to the airport this will probably be your only option.
- Taxi drivers generally only speak Russian, although there are some private companies that allow you to rent a taxi with a driver that speaks English.
- During the day there is a lot of traffic, so this is not a good option for going from the center of the city to the airport because you risk missing your flight (in this case you should catch a taxi well in advance).
- It is more expensive, although for groups of 3 people or more it can be less expensive than public transport.
This is the option that I use to go from the airport to center of Moscow when I travel with more people, although for the return trip from the center of Moscow to the airport I do not like to use taxis due to the traffic jams that often turn up in Moscow and the risk of missing your flight (for the return trip I use the Aeroexpress train and which I discuss in the next section).
There are two ways to reserve an official taxi:
- Reserve a taxi when you arrive at the airport. You can just make a reservation when you arrive at the airport in any one of the stalls that the official taxi companies have in each of the airports’ terminals.
- In the Domodedovo airport the taxi service is provided by Gett Taxi. More info: http://www.domodedovo.ru/en/passengers/transport/taxi/
- In the Sheremetyevo airport the companies are: Yandex Taxi and Svo-Taxi. More information: http://www.svo.aero/en/directions/
IMPORTANT NOTE: try to avoid the people who “assault” you as soon as you get through customs with your suitcase offering taxi service even though they may have uniforms that say “Official airport taxi”. These are usually illegal taxi services and can occasionally cost you much more than the official taxis because they do not have set prices.
- Reserve a taxi in advance. If you want to take care of everything before your arrival and avoid having to look for official taxis at the airport and wait in lines, you can make your reservation in advance with another taxi company, so that when you arrive at the airport you will be waiting for your taxi. There are many Company that allow online reservations in advance. The option that I personally prefer is offered by the Russian KiwiTaxi, which allows taxi reservations not just in Russia (Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Vladivostok, etc.) but also all over the world.
The process for reserving your taxi with a company is very simple:
Step 1. Log on to their web page and select your place of origin and your destination. The online reservation must be made with at least 16 hours advance notice:
Step 2. Select the type of car according to the number of passengers and level of comfort desired. You can choose between an Economy car for 4 people (VW Golf, Ford Focus, BMW 3, etc.), a car with a higher level of comfort (VW Passat, Mercedes S-Class, Audi A7, etc.), a minivan or a minibus.
Step 3. Enter the number of passengers, your flight information (flight number and date and hour of arrival), the name of your hotel or the address, as well as your contact information (name, email, telephone, and whatever other additional information you wish to provide).
Step 4. In order to make your reservation you should prepay 4 dollars (although you can also choose to make the entire payment). The rest should be paid to the taxi driver in rubles (1,600 in this example). The payment can be made using your bank card (Visa or Mastercard) or through Paypal. If you cancel your reservation with 24 hours advance notice they will reimburse whatever payment you have already made.
Step 5. They will send you an email confirmation for your reservation in which you can find a voucher with the details of your reservation. If the flight arrives late there should not be a problem since the taxi company should be monitoring your flight.
2. Train: Aeroexpress
This is an excellent option, above all else because it makes the return trip to the airport with predictable arrival times, although do keep in mind that in order to get to your lodging it is most likely to switch and board the Metro.
DURATION OF TRIP:
- Between Sheremetyevo and Moscow (Belorussky station): 35 minutes
- Between Domodedovo and Moscow (Paveletsky station): 45 minutes
- Between Vnukovo and Moscú (Kievsky station): 35 minutes.
You can see the route that Aeroexpress follows from each of the airports on the following map:
As you can see, Aeroexpress ends at stations near the center of Moscow; however, if your lodging is not close to one of these stations, you will have to take the Metro (or a taxi) to get to your lodging. Aeroexpress leaves you right next to the Metro. On this map you can clearly see the connections between Aeroexpress and the Moscow Metro that will take you to the city center or the Red Square:
PRICE. There are several different rates. On Aeroexpress’s official web page, you can buy the following types of tickets:
- Standard ticket:: 420 rubles (roundtrip 840 rubles)
- Business Class: 1,000 rubles (you get to travel in a more comfortable car and you have an assigned seat).
However, at the ticket booths (or at the dispensing machines) you can buy other types of tickets, such as family tickets, children’s tickets, combined tickets for both Aeroexpress and Metro…More information on the different rates can be found at this link:
You also have the option to buy the Troika card and recharge it for use on the Aeroexpress. It’s explained in this article: Moscow’s Troika Card: paying all public transport costs with a card
- The departure and arrival times are predictable. Aeroexpress trains do not make any unscheduled stops and you can know with certainty when they will arrive.
- If your lodging is far from the station where you arrive with Aeroexpress, you will have to use an additional transport method (Metro or taxi). Keep in mind that it is possible you will be tired after arriving from your flight. Moreover, if this is the first time that you have used the metro and you are not familiar with it, it might be better to take a taxi.
- The Aeroexpress train only runs from 6:00AM until midnight, while the Metro runs from 6:00AM until 1:00AM (the trains run every hour or every half hour depending on the schedule). If you arrive very late you will not be able to use this method of transport.
Aeroexpress is generally the best option to use to go from the center of Moscow to the airport.
You can buy tickets for Aeroexpress in two ways:
- At the ticket stands or ticket dispensing machines at the stations. It is a little more expensive but this allows you to get other types of tickets that you cannot buy on the Web.
- In advance of your arrival, through the official Aeroexpress website. The process for buying tickets online with Aeroexpress is very easy:
Step 1. Select the day of your trip, the type of ticket and the number of tickets. The ticket is the same for all three airports:
Step 2. Enter your email address and telephone number:
Step 3. Enter your personal information:
Step 4. Make your payment. You can make your payment using a debit or credit card or with Paypal:
Step 5. Print the tickets that have a QR code in order to be able to pass through the turnstiles at the station (you can also display the QR code on your phone without needing to print a ticket).
This is the cheapest transportation method but you must keep in mind that these buses only go as far as the outskirts of Moscow where the Metro lines begin. Therefore, you have to combine the bus with the Metro as well in order to arrive at your lodging. This is a method of transport for more experienced travelers only.
APPROXIMATE DURATION OF TRIP. The duration of the trip depends heavily on the amount of traffic as well as the airport:
- From Domodedovo to Metro Line 2: 30-35 minutes
- From Sheremetyevo to the “Rechnoy vokzal” station: between 45 minutes and 90 minutes
- From Vnukovo to the “Yugo-Zapadnaya” and “Troparyovo” Metro stations: 35-40 minutes.
These generally pass every 15 to 30 minutes. Some lines also run at night. You can find Express buses that are more modern and also vans commonly known as “Marshrutkas” and these function similarly to shared taxis.
PRICES. These can fluctuate between 30 and 120 rubles depending on the route you are taking and the airport. Some tickets also include a Metro ticket. It is common to pay the bus driver directly.
The best thing to do is to consult the most detailed information that is generally available on the airports’ websites where various bus companies sometimes advertise their services, with the different routes and prices:
- Domodedovo: Express and shuttlebus service (line 308)
- Sheremetyevo: bus service (lines 949, 851, 817, 948 and H1)
- Vnukovo: bus service (lines 611 and 611c)
- This is easily the cheapest transport method available.
- This is the most uncomfortable transport method: you have to transfer lines and probably with heavy luggage as well.
- It leaves you on the outskirts of Moscow and it is necessary to take the Metro to get to your lodging.
- The drivers usually only speak Russian.
I would like to read about the experiences of other travelers when they have gone from the airport to Moscow center. Below you can tell me about your experience in the comments section.