Taxis, Saint Petersburg
I had read that taxis will try to rip you off - I was ready for it and it still happened!! We had caught the free shuttle from the ferry to St Isaac's and found a taxi immediately. I had a map showing our hotel and the address in Russian. The driver spoke a little English and I asked the cost, he said no problem, meter. Once we got into the taxi he pushed a few buttons, lifted the meter to show me very quickly that it was zeroed. I didn't see it and was too polite to insist!!
The driver pointed out landmarks on the way to the hotel. Seemed very helpful when dropping us at end of lane to hotel.
When we arrived, it was the first time I had dealt in roubles so I wasn't quite sure of the notes, what the price should be. It was only afterwards that I realised he had charged me about double what it should have been. After that, we always pre-booked taxis through our hotels at a set price which is more expensive but much safer against scams!
Unique Suggestions: Have an idea of what the fare should be. Check the meter is ZERO!!
Fun Alternatives: Ask your hotel to book your cab at a set price - more expensive that a local picking up one in the street but safer than being scammed.
Be aware of freelance taxi drivers at the airport, they will charge you horrific fares for your trips to the city.
Unique Suggestions: Same as in Moscow, best is to book a taxi in advance. A quick search on Google or TripAdvisor finds you some companies with English speaking operators and drivers.
Alternatively, if you know some basic Russian, ordering a taxi at the taxi stand in the airport is possible. Just check the standard fares beforehand, so you have a basis for bargaining.
never hire a taxi near the airport - men offering you a cab will charge you a double or thee times price! order a taxi from english speaking taxi service or hire from a taxi point inside the airport
english speakin taxi here http://www.dailyexpress.ru/taxi-st-petersburg-russia.php
just to compare - from Pulkovo to Vassilyevsky ostrov price is 800 - 1000 rubles ( never 4000 !)
Almost all the cars in front of the airports, train stations or bus terminals, or ones waiting on the streets are taxis, no matter if they carry taxi sign or not. So there are no meters, so you just need to bargain. Since, most probably, you will not be speaking Russian, you will be easily noticed as foreigner and the bargain will start from a high price, double of the normal fare.
Unique Suggestions: When possible, ask yout hotel, bar, restaurant to call for a taxi so you pay normal rates.
Fun Alternatives: Almost all big cities have metro and very cheap and easy to use.
Taxis in St Petersburg can get very expensive, so at least try to find out how much you will be charged before you hop in.
Fun Alternatives: The private cars that run through the city at night. See at my Transportation Tips
Like in other places in Russia, the airport taxi drivers will try to charge you an arm and a leg to get from the airport to the city.
The airport at Pulkovo is only about 16km out, and it's easy to get into town by public transport.
Unique Suggestions: Bargain with the taxi drivers. They'll give you a discount if you ignore them and walk away. 'Nyet, dorogo', usually gets the price lowered.
Fun Alternatives: Get the minibus to Moskovskaya metro station, and get on the underground from there.
Be careful of TAXI drivers !!!
We went to St.Peter by a train. When we got off the train, a taxi driver accosed us offering a cheap hotel. Proposed fares for a night where OK, but I asked about a taxi fare. The taxi driver wanted us to pay 20 USD !!! Such a price is very expensive even in Warsaw (Poland). Of course we did not agree for it.
If you can ALWAYS negotiate taxi fares especially if you know the Russian language. Finally we paid 4 USD for a similar course.
Taxies from airport are probably a universal headache, but made worse in St. Petersburg by the metro not reaching the airport and some strong arm influence that keeps the taxi market closed to a few. We call them "mafia taxi" which is just an ugly way of saying they have fixed prices far higher than what any ordinary traveller should pay.
Unique Suggestions: 4 options:
1) There are countless websites that offer airport transfers. Some of the prices are as ridiculous as the taxies, but you can probably find it for $25 by searching. Plus you get the pleasantness of seeing your name on a sign and get to feel important as you walk to your limo.... err... Lada outside.
2) Public transportation. Just outside the terminal there will be a sign for a mini-van stop. We call the Marshrutkas. This van runs a regular route. You can take it to the nearest metro stop (Moskovskaya on the blue line: http://www.oksanas.net/Maps.asp)
for 15 rubles (about 50 cents) or you can take it all the way to the main train station downtown right on Nevsky Prospect for 25 rubles. If your luggage takes up a seat, they will ask you for an extra fare. Late at night, the van will only go to the metro. The metro in St. Petersburg is great, though I'm not sure you'll want to do it with a lot of luggage.
Fun Alternatives: continued....
3) Figure out a way to make a phone call from the airport, whether a friend does it for you, you beg somebody to let you use their mobile, you figure out the cryptic payphone system or whatever. Locally dial "068" This is a taxi company, and they will send a taxi within 10 minutes. They claim to speak English, but if you know no Russian, this may be difficult. The taxi will run on a meter. It's 35 rubles (a little over a dollar) for the call, and 15 rubles per kilometer. There is also waiting time factored in, so if there is heavy traffic, the rate may go up. Generally, it will cost about $15, though you will need rubles to pay.
4) Try your luck. Russians (and tourists) engage in "gypsy taxies" all the time. It's just paid hitchhiking. Unfortunately, the main road at the airport is too far to walk to for most people, but if you are landing during the day, wander a hundred meters down to the Departure terminal at the international terminal, or just to the parking lot in the Domestic and look for cars dropping off passengers. Extend you are in directly in front of you, palm down about stomach high. Interested cars will stop. Offer 300 rubles for a ride into the city. You can probably get it for less (he's going back anyways), but this is almost a sure price to get a ride. This is roughly $10. Beats the $40 - $75 the "official" taxies are charing at the airport. It would be good to have your destination written in cyrillic because theres about a 80% chance the driver won't speak any English.
In the crowded Metro, there is the custom that a gentleman should let his seat to a woman. But generaly the first who got the seat keeps it. Babushkas sometimes tell off young men who don't stand up for them.
When taking the Metro with a child, people sitting move a bit to let a little space for the child, and often someone stands up to let you sit with the child. People are helpful with carrying push chairs but like in every capital city, it might be not so comfortable to get it on and off trolley buses, minibuses, Metros..
If you live in the suburbs, you might have to take a 'marshrudka' (e.g. minibus) to the nearest Metro station. In the mornings they're usually very crowded , some of them not even stopping at your stop because they're already full. When one marshrudka stops, the first in the line at the bus stop get in first but Babushkas often fight their way through and in front of the others. If you don't wish to wait for hours, I advise you to do like them and push through the crowd regardless of their comments.
If you're in a hurry, the fastest option is to wave your hand for a car and to ask for a ride to the closest Metro (usually costs around $1US for 5 minutes ride). In the morning it is the safest moment of the day to take a car in this way, as the drivers are often people going to their work.
Some useful tips to take a car: -- Stand next to a bus stop, so the car has space to stop and if the bus you need arrives, you can take it. -- Choose whom you get in with, for example don't wave your hand to a car with more than one man inside, or to a car with black windows. If a car you don't like stops for you, kindly ignore it or nod a 'no' with the head and step back with the people waiting for the bus. -- Wave your hand to a women driver. -- When the car stops, talk through the window and say to which place you want to go ( for ex. 'doMetro Izmailovskaya') and for what price ( 'za sorok-40- Ruble')
Unique Suggestions: At the airports, taxi drivers ask people if they want a drive to the city. Some of them are not very reliable, and they propose high prices. It is not very safe to use their services. If you arrive late at night, it is safe to book a taxi beforehand, it will be cheaper and safe, at the condition that you get in the car of the right driver. You can order a taxi for a transfer in the town through our site. You can tell us with what sign you want the taxi driver to meet you.
Taxis work in an aukward way, you agree the price before you go somewhere, and you must make bargains from airport to hotel Pribaltiskaya the price started from $ 60 and droped to 40, it can even be lower.
Try to bargain as much as you can
The most convinient way to get around is to pick up a 'taxi'. Taxi is practically any private car in Moscow. In most cases, they have no taxi signs. You should discuss the fee before you go. If you pick up a taxi on a street, an average short trip may cost 50-100 rubels ($1.75-3.50).
many russian people are poor;they will try to sell you some stuff;taxi-drivers will take all your money to drive you 2 kms! always call an official company , never accept any car in the street