By metro

Central Moscow is best to be explored on foot, but distances can be huge so the famous Metro system is a great help

Kievskaya station of Moscow Metro
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It is comprehensive, boasts some great architecture, and is cheap. You can easily find any station you need on the map.

Logo of Moscow Metro
pinterest button Logo of Moscow Metro Orange-kun, Public Domain

Tickets

«United» («Edinye», labeled with letter E) or «90 minutes» tickets and their equivalents (banking cards, if you have any, of tickets, valid for a time period) can be used to pay for the underground trips. More information on new payment system on transport, introduced in Moscow in 2013 is in a separate article. Information on fares is available on the official website.

Some parts of the metro are very deep, and some transfers between lines are very long. In the city centre it can save time to go directly to the above-ground entrance of the line you want to take, rather than to enter at a connecting station and transfer underground. The metro webpage estimates travel times between any pair of stations. From the deep lines, the escalator ride can be several minutes. On the escalators, stand on the right.

Color scheme

The color scheme of the signs and lines is generally consistent but may not necessarily match up so be careful. Use the lines' numbers rather than their colours to avoid any ambiguity.

There is almost no English signage, so have your itinerary ready beforehand or learn to recognise your station in Cyrillic.

Each metro carriage does have a map in Latin script, and there is usually one near the entrance to each platform. Do not intimidated by the masses of jostling, rushing, cross people.

The Russians also take their time to study the tiny signposts to see where to change trains or which exit to take. To find out in which direction a train is going, look at the signs at the platform or in the front window of the train — the one in the rear window may show the opposite direction. 

Naming of stations

The naming of stations on multiple lines can be a little confusing.

Often a station will have one name for each line: for example, near the Red Square there is an interchange between the red, green and dark blue lines; it is called Okhotny Ryad (line 1, red), Teatralnaya (line 2, green) and Ploshchad Revolyutsii (line 3, dark blue).

Some interchanges, particularly on the brown circle line (no. 5), will only have one name. Smolenskaya and Arbatskaya are odd balls in that in each case there are a pair stations very close to each other but NOT connected at all.

Interesting stations

The most interesting stations in terms of decor are Komsomolskaya, Novoslobodskaya and Kievskaya on the ring line, Kropotkinskaya on the red line, Kievskaya, Arbatskaya and Ploshchad Revolyutsii (there are lot of sculptures on sides of this station) on dark blue line, Mayakovskaya and Novokuznetskaya on the green line (watch out for the mosaics on the ceiling). The Mayakovskaya one is also one of the deepest, which allowed it to be used as a makeshift assembly hall for a Party meeting marking the anniversary of the Revolution during the German bombardments in the winter of 1941.

History buffs may appreciate that the light blue line (no. 4) has some of the first built stations (opened in 1935).

Kievskaya station of Moscow Metro
pinterest button Kievskaya station of Moscow Metro   A.Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

Also you can take a look at architecture of ground entrance building of mentioned Arbatskaya station on light blue line (it's built like red star in plan) and Krasnye Vorota station on red line (it's like a giant portal protruding from underground).

Also there is a unique station in Metro that is located at bridge crossing Moscow River. This bridge also carries traffic road on higher level. There is beautiful view through transparent sides of station. This station is called Vorob'evy gory and located on red line. Great observing point around Moscow is located nearby on Vorob'evy hills. Lomonosov Moscow State University main building is also located next to observing point.

You can also add that in the Moscow metro trains go interesting. For example, Retrotrain on the red line, designed as the first part of the Moscow metro. A blue-line train runs painted, named Aquarel, inside which there is a gallery.

Opening hours

Officially, the Metro is open from 5:30AM - 1AM Station entrances close at 1AM, and this when last trains start from all of the termini stations.

Many Muscovites use the trick of entering the stations through the exit doors after 1AM as the last services will be reaching central Moscow at anthing up to 1:30AM.

The staff do not mind so long as you have a previously bought ticket. Service on the ring line continue until 1:30AM, though entrances are still closed at 1.

Short-length escalators and all escalators running down are also locked at 1AM (although crossings are not closed while there are trains running) and passengers have to walk them. However, long escalators running up work to the last passenger.

Before 7AM and after 9PM, the Metro is rarely busy. Between these times on workdays, however, it can be a real squeeze, especially within the ring.

Safety

The Metro is relatively safe, although pickpockets are a problem, as they are in any environment where a lot of people are pressed together. Opportunistic petty crime, such as snatching someone's mobile phone and jumping out just as the doors are closing, is also commonplace.

Take the usual precautions at the night hours, when the crowds recede to avoid being the only passenger in a car with a gang of inebriated teenagers looking for an excuse to beat someone up.

There is no train guard or conductor, so the first car near the driver may be the safest.

Every car is equipped with an intercom to the driver's cabin; they are beige boxes with a grill and a black button near doors, and mostly work, unless visibly vandalized.

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, press the button and wait for the driver or his assistant to reply. The employee might not understand you but will know that there are problems and will pass the information on. At the next stop, someone (it could be even a bored on-duty policeman) might check in on the commotion.

Avoid the Metro if you are claustrophobic since the air is thick, especially at rush hour.