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Looking for Moscow Metro tips? Don’t worry, I was the same.
Moscow runs one of the cheapest and most efficient Metro services in the world. It also has some of the most beautiful metro stations I have ever seen in my life! With 12 lines and 200 stations it’s a pretty complex transport system to navigate. Add in the Cyrillic alphabet and it can seem a labyrinth to figure out!
When visiting earlier this year, I have to admit of all the metro systems that I have used – this had to be the biggest transport puzzle yet. Fortunately, I relish a challenge and so made it my mission to solve.
Luckily, I found out there are a few hacks for us tourists out there to ensure that you can find the red square, soviet arcade and other tourist attractions with ease – and you won’t need to learn a single symbol of Cyrillic or word of Russian! (But if you want to, good on you!)
Follow these moscow metro tips to ensure you Master Moscow’s Metro!
Top Moscow Metro Tips
Research your stops
This is important to make sure you know what metro stations are close to the attractions you’re visiting.
Note them down in the ‘notes’ section of your phone or highlight them in your lonely planet guide. Another trick I use is to screen shot them on my smart phone when I have wifi and then I don’t need to rely on good signal to know where I’m going. This will be particularly helpful as you’ll be underground.
This is especially important in Russia as the Metro will not have tourist friendly English signage on their trains, stops or subway signs, whatsoever even for the Red Square.
Tip: Note down the Alphabetic and Cyrillic if possible!
2. Get a Moscow Metro Map
Seems obvious, but this is a really integral part to knowing exactly where you’re going when navigating the metro.
I found that I was using mine constantly! I love a colour code and in true transport fashion all of the metro lines have their own designated colour. These will be important to note as there will be signs on the floor and above which match the line you need to catch.
Some of the metro stops have connections underground to other lines – you can tell this as they will be connected on the map. Don’t underestimate the distances, and the time it will take to walk there especially as there can be 3 stops connected together – make sure you leave plenty of time for that dinner reservation!
3. Cracking the Cyrillic Code
Ah, the big one.
What you’ll quickly notice is that your map will have both Alphabetic and Cyrillic. So, naturally you will be looking for the Alphabetic on the signs which tells you where to go on the metro and in the trains themselves, yes? Easy, right? Wrong. As soon as you get in the metro all the subways, signs, trains and stations will be labelled in Cyrillic. Crazy I know.
This can be particularly confusing when trying to figure out which way to take the train so that you are definitely pointing in the right direction to get to your destination efficiently.
Top tip for tranlating Cyrillic Metro Stations Names
Well, the easiest way I found to make sure I was definitely pointing the right way was to look at where the train will be terminating. Then, have a look for any distinctive characters or symbols which made the Cyrillic word stand out. Or, when you’re looking at the terminating stop – match up the symbols on the sign to your map! Then that way you can make sure you’re heading the right way.
For example there may be double barrelled names, or a symbol which you can easily recognise – keep it in your mind and when deciding which side to go, remember it.
In terms of knowing when you’ve reached your Metro station, again, all the announcements and signs will be in Cyrillic. Even with my best will in the world, hearing the metro station in Russian wasn’t the way I was saying it myself which was even more confusing and I missed many stops due to this!
So, I would take note of the station that I got on and make sure I found this on my map. Then count the number of stops it is until your destination, then get simply get off!
I know these sound like easy instructions, but believe me when you get in there – it’s amazing how easy you can get in a tangle.
4. Have fun & explore the most beautiful Moscow Metro stations!
One of the things that I adored about the metro system is that it was 50 roubles a go…for as long or as short as you want. You could be riding it for one stop or fifty and it would still be the same price. So it’s no stress if you did get lost. This is perfect if you wanted to spend a few hours exploring on a rainy afternoon. Moscow’s metro is world renowned for its station architecture and some of the stops don’t look anything like you’d expect a normal metro station to be; they look like Baroque palaces and works of art – you really should check it out.
They do have Metro tours which are provided by a few tour companies and can be booked online before you visit so make sure you shop around to find the right one for you. These are around 20 euros. Or, you can explore them yourself for a mere 50 roubles and take some reading with you!
Warning: Be particularly careful around the busier metro stops such as Komsomolskaya station for pick pockets!
Good luck with Moscow’s Metro
To finish, just make sure you keep your trusty map with you when in doubt and know what stops you need to get off matching the symbols as you go. Good luck!
If you are worried about it, you can always walk. Moscow has such lovely places to offer which aren’t always in arms reach of an underground. It’s always nice to explore a city on foot and you may see something that’s completely new and surprising to you.
Have you ever mastered Moscow’s metro? Have any more tips for fellow travellers to add? Comment below!