For the only airport serving a city of nearly 5 million people, Pulkovo is surprisingly modest in size and undeniably showing signs of age. However, while the airport cannot boast modern, hi-tech transport links, getting to the city center is cheap, simple and usually very quick.

Airport 'Pulkovo' in St. Petersburg
Airport 'Pulkovo' in St. Petersburg

Located to the south of St. Petersburg, the airport is split into two terminals. Pulkovo-2 serves most of the international traffic and is located about 17km from the city centre and just over 7km by road from Moskovskaya Metro Station. Pulkovo-1 is a further 3km out of the city, and is ostensibly the domestic terminal, although it serves a reasonable number of international flights as well, including regular flights from several CIS countries and a lot of charters in summer.

By taxi
Although there can be chronic traffic congestion on Pulkovskoe Highway, the road that runs from the airport into St. Petersburg, particularly during morning rush hour and on Sunday evenings, it rarely takes more than 45 minutes to get to the city centre. The easiest and most comfortable way to travel is to order a transfer with a driver to meet your flight, which you can do here. The cheapest is to book a taxi over the phone when you arrive, which you can do through any of the companies listed here, although bear in mind that either you will have to wait for the taxi to arrive, or you risk leaving the driver waiting for you and having to pay extra (usually calculated by the minute after the first ten minutes). The average fare to the city centre is around $20.

Finally, you can use the official airport taxi service. To do this, you should head for the booths marked Taxi Pulkovo in the arrivals lounge of both terminals. There are rarely queues, and fares are only slightly higher (less than $30 to the centre). We strongly recommend that you don't try to negotiate with the drivers touting for fares around the baggage reclaim area and on the street.

By bus
The only way to get into the city by public transport from either terminal is to take a bus. City buses, costing less than $1, run from both terminals to Moskovskaya Metro Station on the blue metro line, seven stops south of Nevsky Prospekt in the very centre of St. Petersburg. From Pulkovo-1, the N39 leaves from opposite Exit 1 of the arrivals lounge at roughly 15-minute intervals from 5.30am to 1.30am, and the ride to the metro takes around 30 minutes. The bus stop at Pulkovo-2 is to the left of the exit from arrivals, and from there the N13 operates between 5.40am (6am at weekends) and 0.47am, also every 15 minutes, and takes just over 20 minutes to reach the metro.

Marshrutka minibus shuttle services run the same routes (the K39 from Pulkovo-1 and 39A or K113 from Pulkovo-2), are slightly quicker than regular buses, and cost just over $1, although you will have to pay double if you are carrying large baggage. The K3 marshrutka from Pulkovo-2 continues past Moskovskaya Metro Station up Moskovskiy Prospekt to Sennaya Ploshchad in the city centre.

Finally, the Aeroport Express service offers more comfortable shuttle buses (larger seats, better luggage space and air-conditioning) from both terminals to Moskovskaya Metro Station (around $1.50), Tekhnologicheskiy Institut (around $5), and Vladimirskaya (around $6.50), which is in the very centre, about 200m from Nevsky Prospekt. The service operates 24-hour, tickets can be bought from booths in the arrivals lounges, and card payments are accepted.