Any metro can be a scary and confusing place for novices, but the Moscow metro seems particularly daunting with it’s signs completely in Cyrillic.
Therefore I have compiled the most important 6 lessons I have learned in my first few weeks:
1) Knowing the Russian letters helps. If you don’t have the time to memorize the letters, then memorize the names of the stations you want to find, and the colour of the lines they are on.
Be aware that announcers usually tell you what the next station will be when the doors close at the previous station, but not always when you arrive.
2)The doors on many trains close after the announcement with pretty much no other warning, and only on a few lines do they open partially to free their victims. Any belongings or fingers can be violently crushed, and the process of wrenching them free is less than enjoyable. Personal experience.
3)The Moscow metro has a super intelligent way of letting travellers know which way they are travelling: if you are travelling into the city, the announcer’s voice is male, when you are travelling out, the voice is female.
On the brown, ‘circle line’ which is actually a circle, unlike in London, travellers going clockwise hear a male voice and counter-clockwise hear a female voice.
4) On the train, you can usually figure out on which side the next exit is because all or most Russians departing the train will assemble by the doors, facing the correct side.
5)If you are blocking the doors before an exit, you will likely be asked ‘вы ходите?’ [Vweh hodiite], meaning ‘are you going’? If the answer is no, you are expected to make space so they can exit more easily.
6) On elevators, stand on the right, walk on the left. In general, there is always a large backlog of people trying to get on the elevators- don’t be afraid to join in the pushing and jostling, or walk around the site to jump the queue if you are in a hurry. Be aware that if you push in from the left, you might end up walking up the elevator stairs…
Other than these good things to bear in mind, remember your common sense. Taking a map on your phone or printed it can be helpful. And if you get stuck, ours probably better to ask a young person for help, they tend to speak more languages, generally English and German.