19 Mar Essential guide for Trans-Siberian Railway tour
Travel planning can be breathtaking, and takes considerable time, but if you want to explore the largest country on Earth by train even more so.
If you are dreaming of making one of the most scenic railway rides in the world, then Trans-Siberian Railway tour must be on your bucket list trips.
Are you ready to know the thrilling information that will inspire you to become a total train-traveler and travel-around-Russia expert? From this article, you will know the best reasons to visit Russia, how it’s like traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, what some longest rail route within 1 country is, the truth about Russian trains and what Russian diversity is.
We are pleased to share the facts about the Trans-Siberian Railway tour and unique experiences not to miss in Russia.
Q: What is the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway route in Russia?
Literally, in Russia everything is huge. We are the biggest country by territory in the world and everything here is scaled. So no surprise the longest railway in the world operating within one country is located in Russia and it is the Trans-Siberian Railway.
The length of the classic Trans-Siberian Railway route is 9,289 km, it connects the Russian capital Moscow with the Far-East city of Vladivostok. Definitely, you will get some practical example that shows how big Russia is.
There’s a romantic dash about watching thousands of kilometers passing by and observing ever-changing landscapes through the window of your train. In case you are a map-lover please look through the Trans-Siberian Railway map.
Q: How many Time-zones does the Trans-Siberian Railway cover?
One more amazing fact is that during the Trans-Siberian Railway tour you cross 2 Continents Europe and Asia and 7 Time-Zones.
A non-stop 7 days journey on the train can be boring. But it is turning into an adventure when you go out of the train and explore the country.
To create priceless memories you should have time. A lot of time to make this epic trip. We believe that to have an experience which will remain with you for years you would need to devote 20 days to this holiday.
Why does it take so long? You would need actually hop off the train, explore areas and cities, then again hop on the train and move towards the next destination. Depending on what you like more: discovering urban sights or nature you may stay shorter or longer at some stops.
Q: What should I know about Russian trains?
It is not a secret that traveling by train can be incredibly impressive. Despite the charming and old-school atmosphere, this is clearly the greenest choice for traveling. Unless you walk or ride your bike, train remains the most eco-friendly transport due to their energy-efficiency per passenger mile. Yes, we do care about our Planet and if possible travel by train too.
A train will be your home for the whole trip. Many people wonder if there is a special “Transsib train” which operates on the whole way or a special “Transsib ticket” which you buy and go from Moscow to Vladivostok. Actually, there is no such a train, and there is no such a ticket.
If you search google, you will find few touristic trains with partly foreign partly Russian ownership. It is more like travelling on cruise ship, when for the whole trip you have a single compartment, your suitcase is there, you have multiple stops on the way and when taking off the train everything is arranged and “staged” like folklore groups singing nearby the train and all-inclusive touring cities with usual tourist traps. The main thing that will be missed is going by real local Russian train and exploring the country from the local perspective.
We say the great way to make the Trans-Siberian Railway tour is taking local trains, which will connect cities of your itinerary. You will need to buy separate tickets for each train from one destination to another. Keep in mind that all the trains in Russia operate according to Moscow time. Moscow time will be mentioned in train tickets too (not local time of the cities). Bear in mind that there are 11 time zones in Russia. Moscow and Vladivostok have 7 hours difference.
Russian trains have different classes, generally, we recommend going not lower than 2nd class, when there are 4 berths in 1 compartment. There is a possibility to book 1st class accommodation when there are only 2 people staying in the compartment. Learn more about How to Travel by Russian Trains and FAQs about Russian trains.
Q: What is the main experience of exploring Russia by train?
This adventure is long (as it was mentioned above), and it’s going to be diverse!
Start in Moscow, which is so cosmopolitan, dynamic, monumental and is always ON. Moscow never sleeps. Supermarkets, shops, restaurants, and hairdressers are open 24/7. Something is happening every day: cultural events, business meetings, cool parties. This rhythm and growing labor market attract people, that’s why the population of capital is always growing.
Be ready for the diversity of cultures. Kazan, only 12 hours by train from Moscow will show you the Muslim side of Russia. Mosques stand side by side with Orthodox churches and all signs in streets are both in Russian and Tatar language, which is native to this area.
Experience off-the-beaten-path and spend a weekend in the village of Ural Tatars called Maly Turysh. Visit the honey apiaries, learn about bees, nectar, honey popsicles, willow herbs – in short, countryside life and social entrepreneurship in modern Russia.
Enjoy calm and charming pace of Siberian cities. Meet people who survive in -30C, who live further from Moscow than any EU citizen. Discover how full of ideas they are, how extremely hospitable they are and at the same time modern and creative.
It is always great for nature-lovers to stop in Krasnoyarsk and explore Stolby Nature reserve, which is an immersive forest area with rock outcrops. Treks are available for beginners and for experienced adventure seekers too. Easy to spend the whole day or two there. When planning Trans-Siberian Journey for our tourists we try to suggest them something remarkable they can do in every city. In Krasnoyarsk we offer to visit summer country house “dacha” of our local guide and to see the local lifestyle, to get to know real people, their opinions and views.
Lake Baikal the largest lake in the world by volume is another natural wonder and is worth at least 3 days trip or even the whole week. City Irkutsk is the closest one to Lake Baikal from the western side and Ulan Ude from Eastern side. Buryat people who live in Ulan Ude are Buddhists. They have Asian look and historically used to have many connections with Mongolia.
Russian Far East is increasingly Asia-centric: Vladivostok or Khabarovsk inhabitants fly for the weekend break to South Korea and South Korean bands perform on Vladivostok rock festivals. There is an annual “Far East Summit” hosted by Vladivostok, which unites many areas and representatives from different countries of the region to find more connections and mutual interests.
Have an insight into 5 absolute must-stops along the Trans-Siberian Railway and 5 wonders of nature along the Trans-Siberian Railway for inspiration.
Q: What food should I try during the trip?
When speaking about diversity it is hard not to mention about Russian cuisine.
Russian cuisine is very comprehensive and different. It was formed over many centuries, enriched by borrowings from the culinary traditions of other peoples. Beef Stroganoff, cabbage soup called Schshi, beetroot soup Borsch, Rye bread, Russian cottage cheese pancakes – Syrniki, сooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings called Golubtsy and herring under a fur coat salad called Shuba all these are some quintessential Russian dishes that we advise you to try.
The Trans-Siberian Railway trip provides the opportunity not only to taste local food of various regions starting from honey and ending with smoked fish, salted meat and homemade pickled cabbage, cucumbers, and mushrooms on the way but also to cook it.
While in Moscow you may have a cooking class with a local family and become a Russian food expert. Have you ever cooked Borsch or Shuba salad yourself? You will have a chance to do it and you will definitely love it.
One of the unique activities we offer during the Trans-Siberian Railway tour is the visit to Buryat family during the trip to Ulan Ude. Tumun and his family invite guests to their house to spend time with family to share the traditions and to get new friends. Elena, Tumun’s wife, cooks delicious local (Buryat) food. The menu may include nourishing beef broth with home-made noodles; traditional buzy (mince in dough cooked on steam, similar to Georgian khinkali or Uzbek manty); salamat – a mixture from fried sour cream and dough; yogurt from cream with bird cherries. Anyway, each visit is special and never the same.
There are so many things to be mentioned about the Trans-Siberian Railway, this is for sure the minor part. But we hope that we highlighted interesting facts you might not have known and inspiration to take this intriguing trip is already there!
Plan your Trans-Siberian Adventure in Winter. Winter is the best time to travel to Russia.