Getting there & away
Good deals on tickets can be found online and with discount agencies. Use the fares quoted in this book as a guide only. They are approximate and based on the rates advertised by agencies and online at the time of research. Quoted airfares do not necessarily constitute a recommendation for the carrier.
There are many websites specifically aimed at selling flights; sometimes these fares are cheap, but often they’re no cheaper than those sold at a standard travel agency, and occasionally they’re way too expensive. However, it’s certainly a convenient way of researching flights from the comfort of your own home or office. Many large travel agencies also have websites, but not all of them allow you to look up fares and schedules.
Websites worth checking:
www.cheapflights.com Really does post some of the cheapest flights but get in early to get the bargains.
www.expedia.com A good site for checking worldwide flight prices.
www.kayak.com Great search engine for flight deals with links through to its selections.
www.lastminute.com This site deals mainly in European flights, but does have worldwide flights, mostly package returns.
www.tch-fly.de/en/index.doo German agency Transport Clearing House can pull up flights with Air Berlin and Niki, with connection onwards with Russian airlines Transaero, Ural, Siberian Airlines, Krasair, Domodevskie Avia, Vladivostok Air, Samara Air, Sky Express, Polet, UTAir and Azal.
www.travel.com.au A good site for Australians to find cheap flights.
To bid for last-minute tickets online try Skyauction (www.skyauction.com). Priceline (www.priceline.com) aims to match the ticket price to your budget. Another cheap option is an air courier ticket but it does carry restrictions: for more information check out organisations such as Courier Association (www.aircourier.org) or the International Association of Air Travel Couriers (IAATC; www.cour ier.org).
From Baltiiskaya metro station in St Petersburg, Eurolines (449 8370; ul Shkapina 10; Baltiiskaya) runs buses to Tallinn (R550, five per day) and Rīga (R500, daily). From Moscow – considering distances – it’s far better to take the train to neighbouring countries.
We do not recommend driving in Russia. Public transport is very good, and Russian driving is aggressive and road rules complex in both Moscow and St Petersburg. However, if you do drive in Russia, you must have a valid International Driving Permit, your passport and insurance documentation for your vehicle.
Moscow is connected very regularly with Helsinki, Tallinn, Rīga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Minsk, Kyiv, Chişinău and Budapest. It is the centre of the Russian rail network, and trains also serve the Caucasus, Central Asia, Mongolia and China from here. The overnight trains between St Petersburg and Moscow run daily and tickets start at around R500.
From St Petersburg, trains serve Helsinki, Rīga, Vilnius, Kaliningrad, Kyiv, Berlin, Warsaw, Prague and Budapest. There is currently no train service to Tallinn. For up-to-date schedules, see Your Train – CIS Railway Table (www.poezda.net). Tickets can be bought in advance from a selection of providers including www.realrussia.co.uk/trains/tickets
Bordering 13 countries and with flights and even boats to many more around the world, there’s no shortage of options for getting to and from Russia.
Unless you have a transit visa, you can enter the country on a one-way ticket (even if your visa is only good for one day, it’s unlikely anyone will ask to see your outgoing ticket), so you have a great deal of flexibility once inside Russia to determine the best way of getting out again.
The information here is particularly vulnerable to change. Check directly with the airline or a travel agent to make sure you understand how a fare (and ticket you may buy) works and be aware of the security requirements for international travel. Shop carefully. The details given in this chapter should be regarded as pointers and are not a substitute for your own careful, up-to-date research.
Airports & Airlines
Moscow's Sheremetyevo-2 (airport code SVO; tel: 495-232 6565; www.sheremetyevo-airport.ru) and the much more congenial Domodedovo airport code DME; tel: 495-933 6666; www.domodedovo.ru) airports host the bulk of Russia’s international flights. There are also many daily international services to St Petersburg’s Pulkovo-2 (airport code LED; tel: 812-704 3444; www.pulkovoairport.ru/eng) airport.
However, you don’t necessarily have to fly into either Moscow or St Petersburg – plenty of other cities have direct international connections, including Arkhangelsk (airport code ARH), Irkutsk (airport code IKT), Kazan (airport code KZN), Khabarovsk (airport code HNV), Krasnodar (airport code KRR), Kavkazskiye Mineralnye Vody (airport code MRV), Murmansk (airport code MMK), Nizhny Novgorod (airport code GOJ), Novosibirsk (airport code OVB), Perm (airport code PEE), Vladivostok (airport code VVO), Yekaterinburg (airport code SVX) and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (airport code UUS).
Airlines flying into Russia include the following. Phone numbers are given for the Moscow office, where applicable.
bmi (airline code BD; 0870-607 0555 in UK; www.flybmi.com; hub London Heathrow, London)
British Airways (airline code BA; 495-363 2525; www.britishairways.com; hub London Heathrow, London)
KD Avia (airline code KD;495-641 1074; www.kdavia.eu; hub Khrabrovo Airport, Kalininingrad)
Lufthansa (airline code LH; 495-980 9999; www.lufthansa.com; hub Frankfurt International Airport, Frankfurt)
Swiss International Airlines (airline code LX; 495-937 7767; www.swiss.com; hub Zurich Airport, Zurich)