Russia's chief international carrier remains Aeroflot, the former Soviet behemoth. Delta is the only major U.S. airline that flies into Russia, though all major European carriers serve Moscow. You can often find good deals through British Airways, Air France, and KLM. For a cheaper option, try the Eastern European airlines, such as Poland's LOT or Hungary's Malév, or Asian carriers such as Air India that use Moscow as a fueling stop.
For internal flights in Russia, such as between Moscow and St. Petersburg, the luggage weight limit is 20 kilograms (44 lb.); sometimes carry-ons are weighed as well. Above that weight, you'll have to pay a fee, usually at a separate cash desk apart from the check-in counter.
The main port of entry for international flights is Sheremetevo-2 Airport (tel. 495/956-4666 or 495/578-9101; www.sheremetyevo-airport.ru), a dingy gray terminal 30km (19 miles) north of downtown that was built for the 1980 Olympics. The passport control lines are formidable, as the border officers inspect every passport and visa. Luggage carts are free, though they sometimes run short in number, so grab one as soon as you see the baggage carousel. Porters hawk their services for exorbitant rates. A currency exchange booth and ATM are available after you've cleared Customs; rates are better in town. An information desk with English-speaking personnel is in the main arrivals hall, along a row of car-rental desks and airline ticket offices. Package tours generally include transport to and from Russia's airports.
If you're on your own, your best bet is the Aeroexpress train to Savyolovsky Train Station, which runs once an hour and takes 40 minutes compared to the 1-to-2-hour car ride (tel. 800/700-3377; www.aeroexpress.ru). It costs 250 rubles for adults. Tickets are available in the airport after you emerge from Customs.
Be prepared for the odorous herd of taxi drivers in the arrivals hall. If you prefer taxis, better to reserve in advance. Moscow Taxi (www.moscow-taxi.com) and Taxi Blues (tel. 495/925-5115; www.taxi-blues.ru) offer good English-speaking services. Women travelers, try Pink Taxi (tel. 495/662-0003; www.womantaxi.ru) with exclusively women drivers and passengers. If you arrive without a ride, push your way to the official taxi desk near the exit. Official cabs are either yellow or have TAXI written in big letters in English and Russian. Rates are determined by a zone map, and a ride to the city center runs about 1,500 rubles. The freelance cabbies will try to convince you that $100 (or even 100 euros) is your cheapest option.
There is no train service to downtown, but buses leave from the airport parking lot and stop at Rechnoi Vokzal metro station (bus no. 851) or Planernaya metro station (bus no. 517). The fare, about 20 rubles, must be paid in rubles to the driver. Allow yourself at least an hour to reach downtown in a taxi, and at least 90 minutes by bus or metro.
A few European airlines now arrive at the bright, renovated Domodedovo Airport (tel. 495/933-6666 or 495/720-6666; www.domodedovo.ru), 50km (31 miles) south of the center. Domodedovo has all the same services as Sheremetevo but in a friendlier setting, and has two major advantages: It runs a train direct to Paveletsky station, just south of the city center, and it has a clear, fair, and computerized taxi service greeting passengers as they exit. The taxis aren't cheap but make sense if you are in a small group. Taxis from Domodedovo to the center take about an hour (it could be more than 2 hr. in heavy traffic) and cost around 2,300 rubles. The train ride to Paveletsky is 40 minutes and costs 200 rubles (view the schedule at www.aeroexpress.ru). Two metro lines meet at Paveletsky station, where taxis are also available. Private buses run from Domodedovo to the nearest metro station, Domodedovskaya, every 15 minutes for just 80 rubles. Look for the buses labeled Scania. It takes about 30 minutes depending on traffic.
Flights from St. Petersburg usually arrive at Sheremetevo-1 (tel. 495/232-6565), adjacent to Sheremetevo-2 but smaller. Taxis from there cost slightly less than from the international terminal. Other domestic Russian flights come into Vnukovo (tel. 495/436-2813), 30km (19 miles) southwest of the city. Taxis to the center of the city cost about 1,500 rubles. Vnukovo also runs a train directly to Kievsky Station close to the city center that costs 100 rubles. The train runs every hour between 7am and 9pm; the trip takes about 40 minutes.
The St. Petersburg-Moscow train route is the country's best-maintained and most romantic. An overnight ride on a sleeper brings you into Leningradsky Station and costs 1,200 to 3,500 rubles, depending on the train's class and hour. The pricier rides come complete with slippers, in-cabin television, and a late-night meal. Two fast day trains, the Express and the Aurora, make the trip in about 5 hours, with a seat running 2,300 to 4,500 rubles. Leningradsky, like all of Moscow's train stations, is conveniently located on the Circle Line of the metro. Western European trains generally arrive in Belorussky Station, barely north of the city center and within walking distance of the hotels on busy Tverskaya Street. A second-class ticket in a sleeping car from Warsaw takes 24 hours and costs about $70; from farther west the time and cost rise accordingly. Most European trains travel through Ukraine or Belarus, both of which require a transit visa. Contact the Ukrainian or Belarusian embassy in your country for details, or pick a route through the Baltic states or Scandinavia. The train from Beijing takes 5 days and costs about $250. Note: Rail passes that serve the rest of Europe do not serve Russia.
For those rare arrivals by car, take the vehicle straight to your hotel and inquire about secure parking. Unfortunately, no current maps in English indicate one-way streets or other such crucial details for drivers. The Travellers Yellow Pages map in English, otherwise quite good, is available at www.infoservices.com and at major Moscow hotels. Do not underestimate Moscow traffic, which has mushroomed in the past decade and can leave visitors trapped in a labyrinth of jammed one-way streets, especially from 8 to 10am and 5 to 8pm. Watch out, too, for the traffic police, who, always eager for pocket money, can stop you just to make sure your documentation is in order. Garages are rare despite rising demand. Muscovites park on sidewalks and in doorways if they can't find free spaces, but because theft is common this is not advised. There are also an increasing number of guarded parking areas, usually just a strip of parking places commandeered by a private company with a fare collector hanging out on the corner. Rates are usually fixed regardless of how long you stay parked. Renting a car with a driver is a more reliable and often cheaper option than driving yourself.
Several European tour companies offer bus trips to Moscow, usually departing from Germany. However, the journey is long (2 days from Berlin) and along poorly maintained highways, and the waits at the borders are significant. For any trip traveling through or originating in Ukraine or Belarus, you must get a transit visa from those countries. Buses arrive at Tsentralny Avtovokzal (Central Bus Terminal) at 2 Uralskaya Ulitsa (tel. 495/468-0400). The Shcholkovskaya metro station is adjacent. Taxis from the terminal take about 30 minutes to reach the center at a rate of about 450 rubles.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.