Top five spots to explore along the Trans-Siberian Railway
By Martha Hales
One of the world’s most iconic train journeys connects Moscow with Vladivostok, traversing more than 9,000 kilometres and taking in the huge variety that Russia has to offer. The route was inaugurated in 1916, and since then the trip has become famous for its wilderness views, onboard culture and friendly passengers. The full journey takes eight days, and many travellers like to break the trip at various points in order to get to know some of the places along the route. We’ve picked five of our favourite stopovers to inspire you when you are planning where to visit on your Trans-Siberian adventure.
One of the towns on the famous ‘Golden Ring’ circuit of historical destinations a couple of hours outside of Moscow, Vladimir was once the capital of the territory. During its heyday in the 12th and 13th centuries, many of the most celebrated monuments of the area were constructed and a lot of them are now listed among the UNESCO recognised ‘White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal.’ The town enjoys a picturesque location on the Klyazma River, and its location makes it a great jumping off point for visits to other towns on the ‘Golden Ring’, especially delightful Suzdal which is just a short hop away.
This friendly city is the cultural hub of Tatar Russia, with convivial pedestrianised streets, impressive churches, mosques and a distinctive cuisine. The charming Tatar architecture of the old town is still painted in traditional bright colours and the focus of the cityscape is still the river. Sample influences from all over Asia when you dine out, tasting Tatar favourites alongside Uzbek dishes and tea from China. The unmissable sight of Kazan is the Kremlin, which some people consider to be more impressive and beautiful than the more famous equivalent in Moscow. It dates from the 16th century and contains a stunning blue-roofed mosque.
Russia’s third city is the major metropolis in Siberia, home to 1.5 million people and characterised by its youthful, modern and industrious outlook. There are a host of academic institutions in Novosibirsk which means the younger demographic is very visible, giving the city a real vibrancy and keeping the cultural scene on its toes. There are several museums and galleries worth exploring, a pedestrian friendly central zone and some good dining options. If you plan to take a side trip to the Altai mountains, this is the stop to get off at.
This is a popular stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway, in part because of its attractive architecture and easygoing feel, but also because it’s the best jumping off point for trips to Lake Baikal.
There is a good level of tourist infrastructure in Irkutsk, and as it’s such a likeable and strollable city - just the right size for a day or two’s exploration - it makes the perfect place to break your trip across Siberia. Head for the 130 Kvartal district to see some typical (and some modern) Siberian timber buildings, a brilliant place to seek out cafes and restaurants.
Not far from Russia’s borders with North Korea and China, Vladivostok is the end point (or start point) of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Set among hills with the Golden Horn Bay of the Pacific spread in front, this impressive port city wows with its views in the daytime and its sparkling skyline at night.
As well as absorbing the current buzz which the city enjoys, there are plentiful options for drinks, dinner and dancing in the city. Hike to one of the hilltop viewpoints to get a wonderful view over the city, the bay, the bridges and the islands out in the bay.
Make it happen
There is much more to see on the Trans-Siberian Railway than the inside of a carriage. Our local experts can plan your bespoke Trans-Siberian experience based on your particular preferences, putting their specialist knowledge to use when arranging your trip. Send a few details and they will start planning your Russian adventure today. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.