10 Most Beautiful St Petersburg Metro Stations to Visit (Tips & Travel Guide – Russia)

by Russia, Train or Rail Tours2 comments

You’ve probably heard of the breathtaking Moscow Metro stations in Russia — but before you focus solely on those, St Petersburg Metro stations are also a league of their own!

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As the second-largest city in the country, Saint Petersburg’s metro system is not only expansive but also speckled with beautifully decorated interiors. Any visitor would actually doubt that they have stepped into a train station because its designs are unlike anywhere else in the world.

There are about 72 St Petersburg Metro stations but not all of them are equally grandiose works of art, so if you want to make the most of your time and witness only the “best of the best“, you should use this guide to see the top 10 most beautiful platforms in the city!

History of St Petersburg Metro Stations

It actually took quite a while for the St Petersburg Metro stations to be built.

It first started back in 1820 when a man named Torogvanov proposed the plan to Tasar Alexander I — but it was harshly declined. It was only in 1938 when it was finally accepted as an official project; then again… construction was frozen during World War II because of the lack of equipment, funding, and manpower.

Around this time, the stations were used as bomb shelters.

Construction was picked up again in 1946, and then 10 years after the end of the war, the subway with 7 stations was finally opened to the public on November 15, 1955.

* * * * *

The former name of the St Petersburg Metro stations was “Order of Lenin Leningrad Metro“, named after Vladimir Lenin, a Russian revolutionary.

Exhibiting exquisite Soviet designs and artworks, the train stations easily gained popularity worldwide for their beauty as well as for their unique characteristic of being built deep underground (all but 9 stations). So… why were they actually built in such a way?

  • To contribute to Stalin’s vision of portraying socialist classicism, making the Metro stations act as “Palaces of the People”.
  • Saint Petersburg has a lot of underground rivers with multiple islands, so it was imperative that they are built deep.
  • Set at a deep level for the purpose of minimizing disruption and noise.
  • In response to the Cold War threat, the stations were meant to serve as bomb shelters as well (many of the older platforms actually have air filters, blast doors, and provisions).

To date, St. Petersburg’s deepest station is Admiralteyskaya which is at 86 meters (282 feet) below ground, and it is said to be the 4th deepest station in the world!

• • •

Metro Travel Guide

How to Use the St. Petersburg Metro System

Saint Petersburg Metro Entrance (Ticket)

Photo by: Shutterstock

To date, there are 5 lines operating for St Petersburg Metro Stations and they all total to a length of 124km with over 72 stations that are connected by 7 transfer points.

  • Line 1 (Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya): The oldest line of the metro that was opened in 1955.
  • Line 2 (Moskovsko-Petrogradskaya): Second oldest that was opened in 1961, and the first in the St Petersburg Metro stations to have a unique horizontal lift platform style.
  • Line 3 (Nevsko-Vasileostrovskaya): Its stations have the longest inter-station tunnels in the entire Metro system.
  • Line 4 (Pravoberezhnaya): The shortest line in the system in which most of its stations feature a more modern design.
  • Line 5 (Frunzensko-Primorskaya): Mainly connects the city’s center to the northwestern and southern neighborhoods.
  • Line 6 (Krasnosel’sko-Kalininskaya): Set to open in 2020 with 6 new stations.

Open from approximately 5:45AM to midnight, the St Petersburg Metro is relatively cheap — certainly, a small price to pay for enjoying well-connected transportation AND jaw-dropping architecture!

» Cost & Purchase of Metro Tickets

  • SINGLE TRIPS. St Petersburg Metro stations’ fares are at RUB45 (less than USD$1) per entry, no matter how far or how long your trip is! To enter, you just need to…
    • Insert a brass token in the slot
    • Tap a smart card purchased from a ticket machine at the station
    • Tap a MasterCard PayPass or Visa PayWave card on the white circle near the slot

If you carry large baggages, it’s required to pay 1 additional fare.

  • RECOMMENDED: To purchase an electronic card called “Podorozhnik” that act as electronic wallets
    • Price per fare will become RUB36 instead of RUB45
    • There’s an additional RUB60 deposit for the card which can be refunded when you return it
    • They can be purchased from metro cash desks or at the automated ticket machines for a set amount of money or a set number of unlimited days of travel (1 to 10 days)

» Top Tips for Navigating St. Petersburg’s Metro

Metro maps can be found in every train car and always have station names in the Latin alphabet. The station names on the platforms are also in the Latin alphabet, and many other signs are in English. Station announcements on the train are only in Russian, but if you listen carefully you will hear the conductor announce the current station name and the next station as the doors are closing.

  • METRO MAPS: There are maps found in every train car; otherwise, using Google Maps works just fine (I used it during my stay in the city and I never got lost!)
  • RIDES: Station names are often in the Latin alphabet (aside from Russian); sometimes there are signs in English but it’s rare. If you need help deciphering these, just use translation apps.
    • Announcements for the next stations are only in Russian.
  • TRANSFERS: Time your itinerary well because transferring trains or stations may involve long walks that can take up to 10 minutes due to the deep underground construction of the stations.
  • ESCALATORS: Be prepared for some escalators to be faster and steeper — especially the one in Admiralteyskaya station because it is the deepest platform in all of the lines!
    • Stand on the right and walk on the left.
  • RUSH HOURS: Usually from 8AM to 10AM in the morning, and 5PM to 7PM in the afternoon. The trains will run almost every 30 seconds and it will get crowded fast; so, it’s best to avoid these times if you want to do some sightseeing at St Petersburg Metro stations. Sunday will usually be a quiet day, or if you can come as early as 6AM in the morning, the better.

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10 Top St Petersburg Metro Stations

Most often than not, people regard Russia’s Metro stations as some sort of underground museum — and it’s easy to see why as you go through the photos below!

» Admiralteyskaya (Line 5, Violet)

Admiralteyskaya: St Petersburg Metro Stations

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Адмиралте́йская: Frunzensko-Primorskaya Line) This station’s theme is focused on sailing as it pays homage to Russian admirals and naval leaders.

As the deepest metro station in Saint Petersburg and the 4th deepest in the whole world (at 86 meters underground), you will find that going down to the platform will be a bit daunting experience given that the first escalator that reaches the intermediate level is super long — at 125 meters!

When I first set foot on the elevator, there was no one in front of me so I had a clear view of the bottom… and I gotta admit, it made me really anxious because it felt like I was going to fall! (End result: I didn’t). After this first long ride, there is a 2nd shorter elevator at 25 meters only that finally leads to the station.

– – –

» Avtovo (Line 1, Red)

Avtovo (Line 1, Red)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(А́втово: Kirovsko–Vyborgskaya Line) Found on Line 1, this is one of the first stations opened to the public (back when it was still named Leningrad Metro).

And as a visitor, I’m sure you’ll be enamored by its highly ornate designs that are contrasted against massive white marbles — at least for me, it felt like I was walking through a grand palace’s hallway! In fact, it has even been named as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations by the Guardian.

The theme of Avtovo commemorates the Leningrad Blockade during World War II, as seen from the mosaic that is displayed at the end of the platform.

TIP: Don’t forget to check out the entrance vestibule of Avtovo station because it is a grand Neoclassical building with a domed cupola.

– – –

» Kirovsky Zavod (Line 1, Red)

Kirovsky Zavod (Line 1, Red)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Ки́ровский заво́д: Kirovsko–Vyborgskaya Line) Found close to Komsomolskaya Square, this is one of St Petersburg Metro stations that exemplify USSR designs, and its name was derived from the nearby Kirov plant which is one of the oldest and largest engineering enterprises.

As a result, the theme of this platform that is predominantly clad in grey marble is the development of socialist industries that are not limited to coal, electricity, oil, and mining among many others.

TRIVIA: Kirovsky Zavod is the first to use lighting that mimics daylight (but later on this was replaced by electric lighting).

– – –

» Mezhdunarodnaya (Line 5, Violet)

Mezhdunarodnaya (Line 5, Violet)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Международная: Frunzensko-Primorskaya Line) This was opened just last December 28, 2012, and its name in English means “international”, originating from the fact that many of the surrounding streets are named after Eastern European places and politicians.

Meanwhile, Mezhdunarodnaya’s theme revolves around the birth of nations and you will find an amazing mosaic mural of Atlantis at the end of the hall.

– – –

» Narvskaya (Line 1, Red)

Narvskaya (Line 1, Red)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(На́рвская: Kirovsko–Vyborgskaya Line) At the start, Narvskaya was named after Ploschad Stachek (a prominent square in the city), but then it was changed to “Stalinskaya” after Joseph Stalin. When the Soviet leader died, it was renamed to its current name today as part of the nation’s de-Stalinization movement.

The name Narvskaya is actually from the Narva Triumphal Gate which is found just opposite the station’s entrance.

TRIVIA: Despite the de-Stalinization, you will still see a lot of decorative elements related to Stalin’s Soviet culture as they celebrate Soviet Union professions. (Back then, there was also a large mosaic panel of Stalin but it was covered up with a false wall in 1961.)

– – –

» Obvodny Kanal (Line 5, Violet)

Obvodny Kanal (Line 5, Violet)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Обводный канал: Frunzensko-Primorskaya Line) Completed in 2010, this station is an amazing example of modern design amongst all the St Petersburg Metro stations!

If you frame your photo just about right, you’ll get to achieve this amazing shot that makes the platform look like a massive spaceship.

– – –

» Ploshchad Vosstaniya (Line 1, Red)

Ploshchad Vosstaniya (Line 1, Red)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Плóщадь Восстáния: Kirovsko–Vyborgskaya Line) The platform is located under the Vosstaniya Square (‘Square of the Revolt’) — hence the station’s name. As it is a central area, Ploshchad Vosstaniya is actually one of the busiest stations in the city!

True to its name, you will find that the running theme of the place is centered on the October Revolution of 1917, as seen from the four bas-reliefs in the station that depict Vladimir Lenin.

– – –

» Pushkinskaya (Line 1, Red)

Pushkinskaya Train Station

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Пу́шкинская: Kirovsko–Vyborgskaya Line) Alexander Pushkin is a famous Russian poet — so famous that both Moscow and St. Petersburg have each set up a train station that is named after him.

TRIVIA: This is the 1st USSR metro station that has a memorial found underground.

Sculpted by Mikhail Anikushin, you will find a wonderful monument of Pushkin at the end of the station.

– – –

» Sportivnaya (Line 5, Violet)

Sportivnaya (Line 5, Violet, Russia Train Station)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Спорти́вная: Frunzensko-Primorskaya Line) With a clean, wide, and modern look, Sportivnaya centers around sports; which is no surprise given that it is found near Petrovsky Stadium (the former home stadium of Saint Petersburg’s home football team) and Yubileyny Sports Palace (sports arena for ice hockey and baseball).

– – –

» Zvenigorodskaya (Line 5, Violet)

Zvenigorodskaya Train Station (Russia)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Международная: Frunzensko-Primorskaya Line) This is one of the luxuriously decorated St Petersburg Metro stations that seemingly appear like an art museum!

Opened in 2008, Zvenigorodskaya is brightly lit and featuring several golden framing, a couple of chandeliers on the halls, a photo wall and a lovely mosaic panel that shows imagery of the first soldiers of the Semyonovsky regiment during the reign of Peter the Great.

– – –

» BONUS: Other Noteworthy St Petersburg Metro Stations

  • Line 1, Red: Prospekt Veteranov, Pushkinskaya, Vladimirskaya
  • Line 2, Blue: Tekhnologichesky Institut
  • Line 3, Green: Begovaya
  • Line 4, Orange: Ligovsky Prospekt
  • Line 5, Violet: Komendantsky Prospekt, Krestovsky Ostrov

• • •

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is it allowed to take pictures in the St Petersburg Metro stations?

Yes, amateur photography (without a tripod, etc) is generally allowed — and naturally, any professional photography is prohibited in all of the stations.

How many days should I allot for visiting the St Petersburg metro stations?

Even if the trains run every 30 seconds or so, you will still need quite some time for transfers, especially because the tunnels of St Petersburg Metro stations can go quite deep. Even so, it is possible to enjoy the 10 metro stations stated in the list above for a whole day; but, if you don’t want to spend so much time underground, you can just take note of these stations and insert some of them in your day-to-day Saint Petersburg itinerary as you please.

If I can only explore one St Petersburg metro line, what should it be?

I would highly recommend exploring Line 1 (Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya) because they hold the most number of beautifully designed train stations. (Line 5 or Frunzensko-Primorskaya comes as a close second especially because it has Admiralteyskaya, the deepest station in Russia).

Are the St Petersburg Metro stations subway safe?

In general, Russia is a safe country. Just take note though that since St. Petersburg is a major city with a massive number of people, petty theft can still happen especially when you’re in a tight space such as in a train car — so just stay street smart and use your common sense at all times and you’ll definitely be fine. Rest assured, there are security staff in every train station, so if you ever need assistance, they are pretty easy to spot.

• • •

» Compare All St Petersburg Hotels & Rentals «

• • •

10 Most Beautiful St Petersburg Metro Stations to Visit (Tips & Travel Guide - Russia)

Overall

I hope this underground guide will help make your Saint Petersburg Metro exploration a rewarding and hassle-free experience!

Let me know in the comments section below if you happen to find any other interesting subway station that I might have missed.

• • •

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2 Comments

  1. ANUKRATI DOSI

    Incredible photos. Narvskaya stole my heart.

    Reply
    • Aileen Adalid

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post! I hope you get to see them in the future!

      Reply

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