27 Jun From Moscow to St. Petersburg on a Sapsan Train
Named after the peregrine falcon, Russia’s fastest animal, the Sapsan train is this nation’s bullet train. Running between Moscow and the historic city of St. Petersburg, it is a popular way to get between the two centres for locals and travellers alike.
Why should you choose it over alternatives, and how can you ride the Sapsan on your visit to Russia? We’ll answer both questions in today’s blog.
It’s more comfortable
As a budget traveller, you may be tempted to take the bus over the train, as the ticket for the former mode of transport costs less. We advise against this, however, as not only are buses slower in Russia, but they are significantly less comfortable.
Taking the bus means wasting an entire day stopping and starting in traffic, whilst Sapsan train travel is smooth, your seats come with rests for your entire body (even in Economy), and you have access to a fold-out table where you can place a snack or a tablet (there are power outlets and wi-fi on board).
This way, you’ll arrive rested and ready to take one of the many private tours in St Petersburg Russia rather than being worn out from the road.
Trying to save time by taking to the skies? The quick fly times on booking sites (1 1/2 hours) may look great, but as they say, appearances can be deceiving. Airports in Moscow are located well outside the city centre, with most being roughly 40 kilometres away.
Taking commuter rail to these airports will take at least an hour, and you’ll have to arrive three hours before even domestic departures, as security procedures in Russia are strict, and thus, take longer than elsewhere.
Add in transit times upon your arrival in St. Petersburg, and you may find it actually takes longer to get to your final destination via plane versus the train.
Here’s why: train stations in both Moscow and St. Petersburg are situated within the central parts of the cities they serve. While the time spent travelling between the two centres is greater than when you fly, time spent going from your hotel to the station is less than when you fly, and the recommended check-in time is only 45 minutes before departure.
As such, not only is the train faster than the bus (by a lot), it is possible you may arrive at your hotel in St. Petersburg before a colleague who chooses to fly.
See the Russian countryside
There is more to Russia than its glorious cities – when you choose to take the train over flying, you get to see its pastoral countryside. Even if skies are clear, those on a plane only get to see a miniaturised version of the country, with no chance to see the humans who call it home.
With farms, homes, and peaceful woods visible from your train window, all of rural Russia will be on display as you enjoy a spot of tea from the comfort of your seat.
Buy your ticket online
Interested in taking the Sapsan train to St. Petersburg? You could buy yours at the station, but this is far from convenient. Instead, book through www.russiantrains.com, which is the provider which issues these tickets online.
After purchasing, you are highly advised to print out your copy so it can be easily scanned by ticket agents at the station.
Boarding the Sapsan train
After making sure you have your train ticket printed out and your passport ready, arrive at Leningradsky Station 45 minutes before departure. After passing through security, check the departure boards for platform info.
All information displayed will be in Russian, so refer to Sapsan’s website for instructions on what to look for so you can find your way to the correct platform.
Pass through the second security checkpoint, find your platform, show your documentation to the train staff, and you’ll be well on your way to St Petersburg train station.