How to survive the Moscow Metro
Cost: 50 rub per ride – Can buy multiple ride tickets
How to use: You can buy a single ride ticket or multiple ride ticket. Ride means from one stop to the next, although remembering that you can travel as many stations as you want on one “ride” means you can go from station to station checking out the architecture and only paying once.
Importantly, none of the cashiers speak English and the machines are very difficult to use unless you both speak Russian and understand Russian Cyrillic. However, if you just go up to the cashier and hold up 1 finger they know you mean one ride, or both hands for 10 rides. If you want to buy more rides, I would suggest being prepared with a piece of paper and to write 20 on it or 50 or however many you are seeking. Numbers are the same so they will understand that.
When you get on the train you will notice (or not notice as I did the first time) that the stations only have the name of the station written once on the wall, where the train pulls in, thus obscuring the name from people waiting on the platform and people waiting on the train. I would really suggest writing the name of your closet station down in Russian so you can see where you need to go on metro maps and on the light up signs (left) in the trains that tell you where you are. Sometimes the lights are a bit off centre and it is difficult to tell which station you are at. A much simpler method is to plan ahead and see how many stops you need to go and then count the stops.
If you need to change trains at any point, a crucial thing to remember is that the colours of the lines mean nothing, and change from map to map, so make sure you remember the number of the line your hotel is on and not the colour.
Stations are marker from the outside by a large red “M” for Metro, try to make sure at the larger stations that you get back on the train at the place you popped out. The reason for this is, if you find yourself at the same location on a different number line, you are, actually at a different station. You can likely find your way to the correct line via a series of long tunnels, sometime through shopping centres, but trust me, save yourself the pain. For example, the station for Red Square is called Ploschad Revolution, and is on line number 3, however should you get on at the entrance for line 1 the station is called Teatralnaya and is miles away via underground tunnel, likewise there is also an entrance to line 4, in which case the station will be called Okhotny Ryad and you will need to go through a shopping centre to get back to line 3. I’m sure you get my point.
Watch out for pick pockets, do not use those awful fanny packs or bum bags like most America tourist wear, you will have everything stolen. Watch out for the heavy doors at the entrance/exit to the stations, they are very heavy and most people will just let them swing back and hit you in the face.
Most of the stations are amazing, built during communist times, it was Stalin who said “You will travel in palaces!” to the people of Moscow, most notably spectacular stations are listed below.
Novoslobodskaya Station: Beautiful Stained Glass Windows (Line 5)
Ploshchad Revolyutsii Metro Station: Bronze sculpture, make sure you rub the dog’s nose for good luck (Line 3)
Kievskaya Station: Ornate frames and mosaics of Russian History, if it were not for the trains constantly rushing through, you might think you were in the Palace of Versailles! (Line 4)
Komsomolskaya Station: Fabulous Baroque design, with Mosaics depicting the communist period adorning the ceiling. (Line 1)