Getting to and from Kazan
The Kazan train station is nothing special but it does the job. ItÕs easy enough to reach Kazan from any major city in European Russia and it is possible to go through Kazan on the Trans-Siberian route.
From Moscow the best train to take is the direct link between the two cities, train 002, which takes 10.5 hours and costs about 700 R ($26) 3rd class, 1800 R ($67) 2nd class and 3600 R ($135) 1st class. The 050 takes 12 hours but is equally acceptable and the prices are about the same. (For the return journey these trains are numbered 001 and 049 respectively). The trains from Moscow that continue on to places like Ekaterinburg, Omsk or Tumen are usually a little bit cheaper but are slower and not as nice.
Train 104 runs from St Petersburg ø Kazan on even dates (the 103 does the return route) and takes about 1 day and 3 hours. Other destinations that are easy to reach from Kazan include Samara, Volgograd, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kirov, Perm, Ufa and Ulan Ude. Train timetable can be found here: http://www.evening-kazan.ru/handbook.asp.
Buses are the cheapest (and nastiest) way of getting to and from Kazan. For fans of Soviet history, Kazan is probably the best place from which to travel to Ulyanovsk,
birthplace of Lenin. There are buses to Ulyanovsk almost hourly between 7:30am and 5:50 pm. The journey takes 5 hours 50 minutes and costs 265 rubles ($10). Buses leave to Samara daily at 10am (406 rubles/$15, 7 hours) and also at 7am on even dates. Yoshkar-Ola is quite a quick and cheap journey, taking 4 hours 15 minutes and costing 165 rubles ($6.10). Buses to Yoshkar Ola leave at 15:30 daily. Otherwise there are two buses daily to Ufa at 6:20am and 9:45am (620 rubles/$23, 14h 20min). And, for the really adventurous, the bus to Astrakhan, which leaves every Monday at 9am (1425 rubles/$53, 31h 30mins) would be guaranteed to produce some top quality travel stories. The bus station also services the small towns surrounding Kazan and around Tatarstan.
Bus No. 321 leaves from the bus station to the airport five times daily (5:00, 7:30, 11:05, 14:10, 17:45) and takes between 60-90 minutes depending on traffic. Tickets cost 20 R. A taxi from the center will cost $20-$30, again depending on traffic. The airport is fairly basic but does boast a hotel and decent waiting areas.
There are four regular daily flights from Moscow to Kazan and a host of less regular ones. Airlines that service Kazan include Aeroflot, Siberia Airlines and Utair. Siberia is by far the cheapest offering flights for as little as 1500 R ($55) one way or 3000 R ($110) return. The only direct flight from Western Europe to Kazan is run by Lufthanza from Frankfurt. There are four flights a week in each direction between these destinations. Turkish Airlines also runs a couple of flights a week from Istanbul direct to Kazan which can be bought for as little as $200 return during sales but are usually closer to $350-$400. Central Asian and Caucasian locations are also serviced directly. Full flight schedules can be found on the Kazan AirportÕs website: http://airport.kazan.ru.
Unfortunately there are no real ferry services connecting towns along the Volga.
Instead the river port mainly services small towns close to Kazan. But in summer you can take cruises on the Volga from here fairly cheaply. There are daily return cruises to nearby places like Sviyazhsk Island (120 rubles/$4.50, 6 hours) and Velikiye Bolgary (300 rubles/$11, 10 hours). There are also two hour day and evening cruises to nowhere in particular for 100 rubles ($4.80).
Comfortable, long distance, return cruises go to places like Samara (2 days 6h), Nizhny Novgorod (2 days 6h), Yaroslavl (5 days 6h) and Moscow (10 days 5h). The trip to Astrakhan (10 days 9h) would be an unforgettable one. These cruises are operated in Kazan by a company called Tatflot (Tel: 247-3684). You can visit their office at the river port, at berth no. 7 on the boat Volzhanka-4.
Getting around Kazan.
KazanÕs city center is small enough to walk between most places of interest. But you will need to take public transport to get across the river to the north side of town or when youÕre tired after spending all day on your feet. Buses, trams, trolleybuses and taxi vans are the cheapest and most efficient modes of transport but there is also a small metro and taxis are fairly cheap.
The metro currently has only five stops and only
services the center and south-east of the city. But there are plans to extend it to 11 stops, going under the river to the north-west of the city and one stop further south-east. At the moment its best use is to take you from the far end of Baumana Ulitsa (where it meets Pushkina Ulitsa ø Metro Ploshchad Tukaya) to the Kremlin end of this street (Metro Kremlevskaya). One trip costs 7 rubles ($0.25). It is worth taking a ride on the metro just to see the modern stations with beautiful murals. The trains look new even though theyÕre not and are almost empty which is a strange sight in Russia. They come every 5-7 minutes during peak time. There are also ATMs in the metro stations. You can see the Kazan Metro Scheme here (http://kazantransport.by.ru/metro/map05o~fr.htm).
Buses, Trolleybuses, Trams, Marshrutkas (Taxi Vans).
ItÕs always easiest to take trams when you donÕt know your way around too well since they have the least chance of veering off in strange directions. Tickets on all Kazan transport cost 7 R and can be bought onboard.
Tram No. 2 runs between the train station and Ploshchad Tukaya (where Baumana Ul. Joins the start of Pushkina Ul.). Tram No. 5 runs between the bus station and Ploshchad Tukaya while Tram No. 18 runs between the river port and Ploshchad Tukaya. Tram No. 7 connects the train station, bus station and river port. The circle line trams (Nos. 20 and 21) go to a lot of useful areas including Ploshchad Tukaya, Ul. Gogolya and Tolstogo, Ploschad Svobody, the circus, Dekabristov Ul. (to the north of the Kazanka River ø where the beaches and the Hotel Safar are) and to Victory Park. A trip on one of these trams is a good way to see the city. A somewhat useful map of the tram routes can be found here: http://kazantransport.by.ru/maptm02.htm.
Some other useful routes are Marshrutka 115, which takes a circular route and is basically an abbreviated version of trams 18 and 21 that still covers all the useful destinations. You can get on Marshrutka 96 at Ploshchad Svobody or on the east side of the Kremlin to take you across the Kazanka River to the north. Marshrutkas 157 and 58 go to the train station from Ploshchad Tukaya. Bus No. 46 goes from Ploshchad Tukaya up to Ploshchad Svobody. Bus No. 321 leaves from the bus station to the airport five times daily (5:00, 7:30, 11:05, 14:10, 17:45) and takes between 60-90 minutes depending on traffic. Tickets cost 20 R. Other transport maps are available at: http://kazantransport.by.ru.
In Kazan you can hail any car as a taxi but itÕs not as easy as in Moscow. Often you will find that the cars that stop will have more than one passenger. Use your discretion to decide whether itÕs safe to ride with them or not. By this form of taxi you can get anywhere worth going in the greater central area for a maximum of 100 R ($3.70).
Some legitimate taxi companies (operators speak Russian only) include Taxi Maksimum (Tel: 571-1111), Super Taxi (Tel: 515-3030), Continental Taxi (Tel: 269-4040) and Tvoye Lyubimoye Taxi (Tel: 272-1721).