- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Moscow Guide (PDF)
Moscow is a city of around 12.7 million people and is often plagued by traffic jams and congestion. Apart from the delays experienced while driving, rush hour within the public transport system can also be crowded and uncomfortable.
Still, the Moscow metro is one of the most beautiful in the world and expats in the city will have access to a range of additional options for getting around.
Public transport in Moscow
The Moscow Metro opened in 1935 with one 6.8-mile (11km) line and 13 stations. Since then, it has grown considerably and become the fastest and most efficient way of getting around in Moscow.
Travel is cheap and the trains are fast, clean and on time. Expats will be glad to know that maps are available with the station names spelt out in the Latin alphabet. Before taking the metro, expats should make sure they understand the route necessary for the journey as stations can be enormous and are often interconnected by underground passages. This can involve long walks up and down many escalators to get to the correct platform and line.
Stations are open from 5.30am and the final train leaves at 1am. The final train does not allow passengers to make transitions from one line to another.
Buses, trolleys and trams
When the metro cannot connect with where one needs to go, buses, trams and trolleybuses provide a comfortable alternative for getting around Moscow. These modes of transit don't always run on the advertised timetable and the average waiting period is generally longer than that of the metro, ranging from five minutes during the day to 40 minutes in the evenings.
The bus stops are yellow plates marked with 'A' signs; trolleys are designated by white plates with 'T'; and trams with 'Tp'. There are also night buses and trams that operate from midnight until 5:30am, when the metro starts operating again.
Buses, trams and trolleys usually all follow the same pricing. Ticket purchases can be made within metro stations, at bus kiosks or directly from the driver.
Minibus shuttles (marshrutka)
Minibus shuttles, or marshrutka, are smaller than buses and generally get around much faster than their larger counterparts. These shuttles have the same numbers as the buses and trolleys, and travel the same routes. To get on an approaching marshrutka, just wave it down like an ordinary taxi. Passengers pay the driver as they step onto the minibus.
Taxis and ride-sharing services in Moscow
Expats often use taxis to get around Moscow. There are numerous taxi companies in Russia, some of which employ English-speaking drivers. They can be hailed from the side of the road, by phone or via a specific company's website or app. The fare is normally negotiated with the driver and bargaining is commonplace. Expats should ensure that the price is agreed upon before getting into the car. There are also specific pink taxis for women that are driven by women to help them feel safe.
Ride-sharing services and ride-hailing applications, such as Uber and Lyft, are also readily available in Moscow and other Russian cities.
Walking in Moscow
If the weather isn't too icy and the distance an expat needs to cover isn't too vast, getting around Moscow on foot is a viable option. Downtown Moscow, with its compact design and beautiful, historical architecture, is especially pedestrian-friendly. That said, expats should exercise caution when walking through the more run-down areas of the city, especially late at night.
Driving in Moscow
Expats considering driving in Moscow should carefully weigh up the pros and cons. As previously mentioned, traffic jams can be monstrous and navigating the city's ring roads can be difficult.
Russians have been known to make dangerous manoeuvres behind the wheel, and the Russian police are notorious for extracting fines for small driving offences. Winter weather can make for slick streets and less-than-ideal driving conditions. This has prompted many expats to hire a local driver instead of attempting to drive themselves around Moscow.
Cycling in Moscow
Riding a bike in Moscow is not as common as in some European cities. Given the heavy car traffic on the roads and cold weather for much of the year, cycling is not always the safest nor most convenient of options. That said, travelling by bicycle is becoming more popular. In recent years, the construction of bike lanes has increased and maps of cycle routes have become available to support cyclists in Moscow.
►For an overview of the country's healthcare system, see Healthcare in Russia.
►See Areas and Suburbs in Moscow to learn more about the different expat-friendly neighbourhoods in the city.
"Transport is moderately safe, clean and fast. It always arrives on time without any delays, even on a snowy winter day." Read more about Eva, an Indonesian expat, and her experiences on Russian public transport in her interview.
"You have probably already heard that Moscow has the most beautiful metro in the world, but not so many people know how efficient it is. There are 232 stations and 7 million people per day that use the metro! The government opens new stations at a very impressive rate, so everyone is very well connected.
"We are very proud of our metro, but we also have other types of transport that are pretty efficient. We have extensive networks of trams, trolleybuses and intercity trains that connect all parts of the city and suburbs so that people can commute every day." Read more about Yulia, a global nomad from Russia, and her thoughts on life in Moscow in her interview.
Are you an expat living in Moscow?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Moscow. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.