Russia on Rails

Seven time zones. Two continents. Nearly six thousand miles on the main line with branches to China, Mongolia, Manchuria, North Korea, and the Sea of Japan. The Trans-Siberian Railroad is the pride of the former Soviet Union and the longest railroad in the world. The main line begins in Moscow and ends in Vladivostok. The Trans-Siberian Railroad stops at numerous towns and villages that have breathtaking scenery, magnificent cathedrals, fascinating historical sights, and unforgettable experiences.

 

Train on the Trans-Siberian Railroad

The Trans-Siberian Express mixes historic and native decor with modern amenities. Travelers can unboard the train at any stop they please. Photo by Dick Barnatt

 

Moscow

Main route begins

The journey begins in Moscow. In addition to the more famous attractions, like Red Square and the Kremlin, visit the unforgettable Park Pobedy, a war memorial erected in honor of the 50-year anniversary of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany.

www.moscowcity.com

Nizhniy Novgorod

Six and a half hours from Moscow’s Main Station

Located along the Volga River, the longest river in Russia, Nizhniy Novgorod is home to the former Kremlin (Russian capitol building) that was constructed in the thirteenth century.  When visiting Nizhniy Novgorod, you will especially enjoy Stroganov Cathedral, a tent-like cathedral situated on the old Kremlin grounds in close quarters with two historical abbeys. There are more than six hundred unique historic and cultural monuments in the city, and artwork is displayed in approximately two hundred art and cultural institutions scattered throughout the Novgorod region.

www.nizhniynovgorod.com

 

Ice Sculpture in Perm

Each year in February Perm holds an annual ice sculpting festival, the reason this impressive ice arch was made. Photo by Bryan McCall

 

Perm

21 hours

Way more than an eighties hairstyle, Perm is a magnificent city known for its variety of sculptures prominently displayed in Komsomolsky Prospekt, one of Perm’s main streets.

From the Prospekt, you can also see fascinating cathedrals and temples, including Perm’s aptly named Great Church, one of the few cathedrals where you are free to walk in, ask questions, and sometimes even take photographs. Perm is also home to a unique boardwalk that houses numerous booths showing off some of Russia’s finest cuisine and native handicraft.

www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Russia/Permskaya_Oblast

Yekaterinburg

26 hours

Named after Catherine I (Yekaterina), the wife of Tsar Peter the Great, this city is home to recently exhumed remains believed to be Peter the Great’s children. Yekaterinburg has a number of odd and original museums and cathedrals. A must-see destination is Cathedral on the Blood, a prominent cathedral on the site of the executions of Tsar Nicholas II and members of the Romanov family. Yekaterinburg is also home to the QWERTY Monument, a monument where large, white stones are engraved with characters like “Q” and “SHIFT” to resemble a keyboard.

www.ekaterinburg.tv

Novosibirsk

48 hours

The bustling city of Novosibirsk is home to the enormous Novosibirsk Zoo. It houses over four thousand animals and 32 breeding programs for endangered species. After exploring the zoo, visit the Novosibirsk Regional Studies Museum, which contains 170,000 artifacts depicting Siberian history, including carvings and primitive weapons.

www.allsiberia.com/novosibirsk

Krasnoyarsk

60 hours

Originally constructed on the confluence of the Kacha and Yenisei rivers as a fortress against nomads, Krasnoyarsk boasts not only the remains of past bastions, but also the Krasnoyarsk meteorite. Weighing 1,540 pounds, the meteorite is one of the largest in the world and has fostered numerous science centers that the public can tour. Stolbys, a type of rock formation adored by mountain climbers, are also abundant in Krasnoyarsk.

www.waytorussia.net/Siberia/Krasnoyarsk/Guide.html

Irkutsk

77 hours

You won’t want to miss Irkutsk and a tour of nearby Lake Baikal. The world’s oldest lake (at least twenty-five million years old), Lake Baikal is also the deepest, with an average depth of 2,442 feet. Lake Baikal holds more than one-fifth of the world’s unfrozen surface freshwater and is so clear that it looks like you can see all the way to the bottom. Olkhon Island rises like a massive fortress from Lake Baikal and offers unsurpassed views of the stunning scenery. The island’s pine forests are filled with colorful prayer flags that are part of the unique Shamanic traditions still practiced by natives of the area. Irkutsk also offers arguably the best fishing in Russia, and you must be sure to try omul, a gourmet fish native to Russia.

www.irkutsk.org/baikal

Additional StopsChita

96 hours

Located near the Chinese border, Chita offers an oriental feel. When you visit Chita, you will have a chance to enjoy oriental food and an abundance of Chinese goods and crafts. You can also take a short bus ride to see the dachas, or villages of summer homes, that are an unforgettable part of Russian culture.

www.tripadvisor.com (Enter in Chita, Russia)

Vladivostok

160 hours

Seven times zones and about a week later (depending on the number of stops you make), the mainline of the Trans-Siberian Railroad comes to an end in the charming city of Vladivostok. When you arrive in Vladivostok, you might be surprised to see the Pacific Ocean. The longest cable-stayed bridge in the world connects Vladivostok to the picturesque Russky Island. Other top attractions include the S-56 Submarine Museum, Vladivostok Fortress, and Golden Horn Bay. You can also take ferries to Japan or South Korea from Vladivostok Bay.

www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Russia/Primorskiy_Kray/Vladivostok

From Moscow to Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian Railroad has breathtaking sights that you will never forget.

Matthew Garrett

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