There aren’t too many places where public transport counts as a tourist attraction when you travel in Europe, so it may sound strange to single it out in a travel Europe guide. However in Russia I think the underground train systems qualify for two reasons. First of all, many underground metro stations in both Moscow and St Petersburg are like art galleries – you can see communist-era mosaics in one, stained glass installations in another and bronze statue decorations in another.
The second reason why I recommend checking out Russian train stations thoroughly is that they are home to some of the longest escalators in the world. It’s truly a unique experience to hop on an escalator that seems to go down forever and ever. Last time I was there my homestay accommodation was next to the Park Pobedy station and getting down to the platform from ground level there took an escalator 410 feet or 740 steps in length, with a ride time of almost three minutes – Wikipedia claims this as one of the longest in the world. Other escalators in both of Russia’s major cities are almost as long.
If you ride these escalators you’ll notice that people make good use of that two or three minutes. I learnt that it was enough time to get out my guidebook to check something, or to put a coat away in my bag, and also saw a few young couples using the time for something a little more than hand-holding.