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Saint Petersburg has an extensive public transportation network of metros, trams, buses, trolleybuses and more recent water taxis. The most efficient is the metro with trains every few minutes during the day and only slightly slowed service during off peak hours. Stations, some of them architecturally stunning, open just before 6 am usually and close around midnight, leaving passenger to find a taxi or walk the pedestrian city.

There's not real reason to drive in or around Saint Petersburg given road conditions, aggressive drivers, Cyrillic traffic signs, documentation requirements, questionable police fining and high accident rates. If you do decide to rent a car, major rental companies are available at the Pulkovo airport or the city center, or better yet, hire a driver with car.

Saint Petersburg and its drivers are not yet quite bike-friendly, but as a flat and compact city, it has potential, at least during the summer and fall. First timers are advised to travel with a guide or someone familiar with the city on two wheels since cycling lanes are non-existent and traffic can be a mess. Bikes can be rented in the city center, and cost will vary by company, by day or by the hour. The safest place to ride is in the city parks or along the Neva River.

The Saint Petersburg's underground railway system is one of the most beautiful and intricately decorated in the world. It is also the deepest since many of the stations were built to double as bomb shelters during the Cold War. Delayed several times by world war, it was finally completed in 1955 and today serves nearly two million passengers a day, which means it can be rather crowded. Rides may be purchased by single use token, monthly pass or by card with a set number of journeys. Extra charges for luggage apply. Note that night service is only offered during special holidays or celebrations, and otherwise stations close at night. Check the metro stations' working schedules for times.

The bus system is extensive but can be confusing for first timers or non-Russian speakers. Bus stops are marked by the letter A, and all signs are in Cyrillic. There are three types of buses: regular buses that take metro passes or cash payment; privately operated K-buses and the marshrutka shared minibuses.

Although faster and cheaper to take the metro, trains do stop running late night, and cab is the easiest way to get to and from the airport. It's best to call a reputable company, which will calculate the fare ahead of time based on a flat fee for the first 3 miles (5 km) plus extra distance, but you'll need to have a working phone number. Although ill advised to hail on the street, ask for the fare ahead of time and bargain, although many drivers may only speak Russian. Avoid any car or gypsy cab with a passenger already on board.