Arrive in Vladivostok. Met at airport and transfer to your accommodation.
Vladivostok is one of the great harbour cities of the world and during Soviet times was closed to all foreigners.
Train #7 to Irkutsk departing Vladivostok. Surcharge applies for Train #1 (#1 operates on even days and #7 is odd days). See Timetables
The Trans Siberian route opens up great visual swathes of Siberia. You will see and thus feel, the immensity of this geographic region, passing sparsely populated village enclaves, interspersed with an occasional large city.
Day 2. The epic journey begins… the next three nights are spent aboard the train. Expect to share a vodka with your Russian fellow travellers, too!
Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world, will astound you with both its wilderness and immensity. You can enjoy the natural wonder of this gigantic lake and partake in some walking or simple relaxation.
In both Irkutsk and at the lake we often use homestay accommodation. This allows you the chance to experience contemporary Russian life, and by using homestays we gain access to a true village environment.
Day 7. Back to Irkutsk for a final night before boarding the train.
Irkutsk offers a range of sightseeing options. Perhaps a suburb with its characteristically Siberian wooden houses, or the Decembrist Museum to see how exiled nobility fared in the 19th century! For those with a technical bent there is the museum featuring the old Lake Baikal Ice Breaker.
Day 9. On board the train. Break out that large novel – War and Peace, Dr Zhivago – or travel chess set! Expect to share a vodka with your Russian fellow travellers, too.
Day 10. Arrive Yekaterinburg on the third day. Meet and transfer to homestay or central hostel – you choose. Optional excursions or free time.
Yekaterinburg is a city where one might choose to stay longer and explore the famed natural beauty of the Urals region. The city has undergone some admirable redevelopment and has many modern areas complementing its historical interest. Famed as the location of the brutal July 1918 murder of the last Czar and his family and the 1960 Soviet propaganda event which involved the shooting down of a U.S. spy plane and the subsequent show trial of the hapless pilot, Gary Powers. These two disparate events are immortalised in stunning roof mosaics at the railway station! For motorbike enthusiasts this is the home of the famed Ural motorbike and yes, you can get to ride one!
Day 11. Guided vehicle tour of Romanoff history points of interest and the Asia/Europe monument, both outside the city proper.
Day 12. Free time until check out from accommodation for train departure to Kazan. See Timetables. You can extend this stopover.
You now wind your way west through the Ural Mountains, crossing the geographic demarcation between Asia and Europe.
Day 13. Arrive in Kazan. You will be met and transferred to hotel accommodation.
Kazan is the capital of the state known as Tatarstan. After the break up of the Soviet Union it seemed possible that Tatarstan might become one of the independent ‘Stans’ of Central Asia, but it has remained within today’s Russia.
Here you will experience a different side of Russian culture, but in a city that flaunts many eras of architecture; from the giant mosque within the Kremlin walls through nineteenth-century European-style building. Then you encounter the ubiquitous Soviet-era apartment complexes topped off with a prime real estate-positioned gated community of ostentatious ‘nouveau riche’ mansions.
Russia’s self-proclaimed ‘third capital’ hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the state-of-the-art Kazan Arena.
Of note to foodies is the change in cuisine as Central Asian influences become apparent.
Day 14. Day to explore central Kazan. Late checkout from hotel. Evening departure by overnight train to Moscow.
Day 15. Arrive Moscow at 1517. Met and transfer to your accommodation.
Three hour introductory walking tour of central Moscow, next two days free for optional sightseeing in or around Moscow. The walking tour could be undertaken next day if time/daylight does not permit on arrival.
Time to experience the famed centre of Soviet-era Russia. This is where central control was wielded. Moscow is now a changed city, but its many surviving examples of architecture complement its thriving theatre and arts and for those so disposed, Moscow has museums to satisfy any interest.
Don’t miss our suggestions for optional sightseeing in Moscow!
Day 18. AM: Free time for additional sightseeing. PM depart Moscow Leningradsky Station on a late afternoon fast train to St Petersburg. Transfer from station to accommodation.
Day 19. St Petersburg . Your day starts with an introductory guided three-hour walking tour.
Don’t miss our Optional sightseeing suggestions!
St Petersburg is where modern Russia was born under the guidance of the Czar known as Peter the Great, and remained capital of the Russian empire up to the Soviet era. The city was established upon a swamp and is now rightly considered one of the gems of Europe. This is where you can see such grandiose palaces such as the Peterhof (summer palace), The Hermitage (winter palace) and the country estate and parkland of Catherine the Great – Catherine Palace. For history buffs there are many sites associated with the 1917 Revolution.
The Trans Siberian route opens up great visual swathes of Siberia. You will see and thus feel, the immensity of this geographic region, passing sparsely populated village enclaves, interspersed with an occasional large city. Eventually you will pass through the Ural Mountains and notice the changes as you are now in Europe, rather than in Asia. When you finally reach St Petersburg you will struggle to compare the experiences you now have with the what you saw in the Russian Far East!
The direction of this itinerary is Westward (East to West) Vladivostok TO St Petersburg
The itinerary detailed here uses the standard train and is for more independent travellers. If you prefer different levels of travel comfort, do consider our luxury private train options.
We have been operating a wide variety of independent programmes and tours into Russia since 1989, starting with university language study groups. As Russia opened up we introduced Trans Siberian train journeys at a real price. We were the first to introduce homestay accommodation. Others were paying high costs while our clients were paying low cost! Same bed, same cabin!
All this experience results in
You will also notice our name is referenced in most of the guidebooks relating to these areas. In fact we have helped many of the Lonely Planet guidebook authors travel around Russia.