Train advice from the Man in Seat 61...

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Train travel in europe..., train travel in asia..., train travel in africa..., train travel in america..., train travel in australasia, times, fares & tickets in russia....

The Russian rail system is one of the largest in the world, and trains serve almost every town and city in Russia.  Train travel is a safe, comfortable and inexpensive way to get around.  In fact, it can be safer to use Russian trains than internal flights!  It will certainly be cheaper and far more interesting.  This page will help you understand Russian train system, choose the right train & on-board accommodation for you, and buy your train tickets securely online from a reputable source.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The Foreign Office now advises against all travel to Russia because of the war between Russia & Ukraine, see www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/russia .  I have left this page as is, but Real Russia is no longer trading because of sanctions and the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru is currently unreachable.

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How to check russian train times & fares, booking tips, moscow to st petersburg by train :  a quick guide....

Traveller Ian Newberry reports:   "on May 19 I travelled from Moscow to St Petersburg on high-speed Sapsan train 156 leaving at 13.00.  Departure was punctual and the staff greeting passengers could not have been better - they all speak English as well as Russian.  The service on the train was extremely good and in business class a full 3 course meal was served with wines and spirits all included in the price of the ticket.  Information was supplied through screens and announcements in English as well as Russian. The train is very comfortable and arrived 5 minutes ahead of schedule at 17.40.  If one wants to avoid a night train then this is a very civilised way to travel, on a par with any equivalent TGV or ICE available in western Europe."

Moscow to St Petersburg option 1:  By Sapsan high-speed train in 3h55

All baggage is X-rayed before you board a Sapsan, so arrive in good time for your train...

Moscow to St Petersburg option 2:  By sleeper train, including the famous Krasnaya Strela (Red Arrow)

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Buy tickets online from Real Russia

You can buy tickets online in plain English from www.trains.realrussia.co.uk , with good after-sales service if you need it.  This system is good for checking Russian train times, too, even if you plan to buy tickets at the ticket office.  You can use it to buy Russian train tickets wherever you live in the world.  If you live in the UK they can also sort your Russian visa & visa support .

Which tickets can Real Russia sell?   They sell tickets for any mainline train journey within Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and the other ex-Soviet states, also for international journeys to or from those countries, for example Moscow to Berlin or St Petersburg to Helsinki, and also for Russian sleeping-car services within Europe, for example Paris-Moscow, Paris-Berlin or Budapest-Sofia. 

Reservations officially open 60 days before departure, but Real Russia allow you to request tickets up to 180 days ahead and they will contact you for payment when the price is confirmed.

Can anyone buy tickets using this system?   Yes, you can buy tickets online with a credit card whether you live in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, or wherever.

How are tickets delivered?   If your train is e-ticketable, an e-ticket will be emailed to you.  If it's not, tickets can be collected free of charge at Real Russia's offices in Moscow or St Petersburg or they can be sent to any address worldwide.  Postage to a UK or EU address costs around £12-£15.

Who run this service?   Is it reliable?   This service is provided by Real Russia, a reputable joint UK-Russian company which has got very good reports from users.  Real Russia can also sort out your Russian visa & if necessary, Belarusian visa .

Booking tips :  Look for a train marked Firm if there is one. Firmeny trains are the best 'quality' trains, with modern coaches and good on-board service.  'TBC' means the system cannot provide a price for that particular train automatically, but they'll contact you with a cost by phone or email.  Note that even babies & infants need to have a ticket booked for them, even though they travel for free.

Buy tickets online at rzd.ru

You can also now buy Russian train tickets direct from Russian Railways at www.rzd.ru which now has an English version.  It's a bit fiddly and not as user-friendly as Real Russia, but there are no fees and it does work if you persevere.  It accepts some overseas credit cards, though not all.  It may currently reject US-issued cards, though perhaps not all.

How to buy tickets at the station

Other agencies who can arrange russian train tickets, svezhy veter - www.svezhyveter.ru/sv/rutrains.htm, way to russia - www.waytorussia.net, what are the trains like , the three types of train, the three classes of accommodation, life on board russian trains.

Whichever class of travel you choose, each coach is looked after by a pair of attendants called a 'provodnik' (male) or 'provodnitsa' (female).  The provodnik will check your ticket at the door to the sleeper when you board.  Shortly after departure, the provodnik will come round to take your ticket and the small bedding fee (less than £1).  You may be asked if you would like a glass of black Russian tea ('chai') - this costs about 15p.  Bedding (two sheets, pillowcase and towel) is then handed out in sealed packs - blankets and mattresses will already be stacked in your compartment.  After a few journeys, you will become quite proficient at making up your bed!

A samovar with unlimited free hot water is available at the end of the corridor - pack some tea or coffee, sugar, cuppa soups or water-based drinking chocolate and bring your own mug.   Most long distance trains have a restaurant car serving drinks, snacks, and inexpensive full meals - reckon on less than £7 for two courses and a couple of bottles of beer.

Security.  Are Russian trains safe for families or single women?

Yes!  There is no need to worry unduly about security on Russian trains, even for families or women travelling alone. How do you think Russian families or solo women travel?  By train, of course, like everyone else!   Just use common sense as you would in a hotel, locking your door at night and not leaving valuables unattended in your compartment.  In addition to the normal lock on the compartment door, 'Spalny Wagon' and 'kupé' compartments have a security latch which stops the door opening more than an inch or two, and which cannot be released from outside.  There's also a safe place for your bags at night - if you have a bottom bunk, there is a metal box underneath the bunk which you can only get to by lifting up the bunk - in other words, for anyone to get to your bags, they will have to shift you off your bunk first..!  Your provodniks will probably also lock the access doors at each end of the corridor at night to prevent unwanted guests.  Men and women share the same compartments in Russia, but it's generally quite safe for women travelling alone.  If you're a woman and find yourself in sharing with three men that make you uncomfortable, just ask the provodniks (carriage attendants) if they can move you.

European Rail Timetable & maps

Traveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy online

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map .  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

Recommended guidebooks

Click the images to buy the book from amazon.co.uk, hotels in moscow & russia, backpacker hostels.

www.hostelworld.com :  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

Travel insurance & VPN

Always take out travel insurance.

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here .  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

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Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list .  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card!  Maya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data .

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:   1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android .  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card , they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explained .  ExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Buy from Amazon.com .

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

How to Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberia Railway in Russia crossing the steppe

I’ve always wanted to travel on the Trans-Siberian railway. It seems like an amazing adventure that literally spans the width of an entire continent. Until I make the journey myself, Katie Aune is here to share her experiences on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

In this guest post, Katie shares everything you need to know for the journey. She is a frequent traveler to Russia and knows this journey well. She’s here to share her wisdom with you to help you make the most out of your trip across Russia!

The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the most famous train journeys in the world. For me, it was the highlight of the three months I spent in Russia. I traveled in reverse, going from Vladivostok to Moscow (most people start in Moscow) and went slowly, taking nearly a month to complete the journey and stopping in five cities along the way.

In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know to plan your trip. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  • Planning Your Route
  • Booking Your Tickets
  • How Much Should You Budget?

What to Expect on the Train

Step one: planning your route.

The traditional Trans-Siberian route stretches 9,288 kilometers between Moscow and Vladivostok. Two variations are also popular: the Trans-Mongolian (between Moscow and Beijing via Mongolia) and the Trans-Manchurian (between Moscow and Beijing, bypassing Mongolia). All three routes take 6–7 days if going non-stop.

Most travelers start their journeys in Moscow and go east. If you are anxious to interact with locals or improve your Russian skills, consider starting in Vladivostok or Beijing and heading west. You will likely encounter fewer tourists and more locals who are simply taking the train as a means of transportation, not as an adventure.

Beijing is probably a more attractive bookend to the journey than Vladivostok and likely provides easier onward connections — the best options from Vladivostok are to either fly back to Moscow (about $250 USD) or take a ferry to Japan or South Korea ($400 USD and up).

Chances are you will need to get a visa to travel to Russia, Mongolia, and China , so that may factor into which route makes the most sense for you. Rules vary by nationality, so I encourage you to visit the consulate website for your home country several months in advance to learn what is required.

Where to Stop Along the Way?

Unless you love the idea of spending a week straight on a train, I recommend making a couple of stops along the way. One of the best things about the Trans-Siberian is the opportunity it affords you to see more of Russia than just Moscow and/or St. Petersburg. The most interesting people I met and the best experiences I had along the way came not on the train, but during my stops, which included the following:

One of the traditional religious buildings in Kazan, Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Kazan’s Kremlin is a UNESCO World Heritage site and in my opinion, has much more character than the Kremlin in Moscow. A large mosque dominates the scene, the main drag is lined with pine trees, and vendors gather along the Kremlin walls, selling mostly Islamic and Tatar-themed souvenirs. I spent several hours there, including a visit to the Museum of Islam, the Russian Orthodox church, and the natural history museum.

Yekaterinburg, Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Now considered holy ground, seven chapels have been constructed on the site, one for each member of the royal family. I was most touched by a photo display showing the family in their daily lives — it really personalized the tragedy of their deaths.

The green hills and rocky mountains of the Stobly Nature Reserve in Russia

My guide, Vitaly, provided sometimes inappropriate stories about the rocks, a much-needed hand as we climbed a few for incredible views, and some cognac for warmth before we started!

 The amazing Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, in Irkutsk, Russia

If you have at least 3 days, Olkhon Island, the largest island in the lake, is a must-see. Its main town, Khuzhir, takes you back decades, with sandy dirt roads and cows roaming the streets. The ride there is half the fun — I shared the six-hour marshrutka (mini-van) trip to the island with a cute Belgian couple, a couple of babushkas, and a large Russian man chugging vodka out of a bottle stashed in his jacket pocket.

Once in Khuzhir, the couple and I split the cost of hiring a van and driver to take us around the island for an afternoon. Dipping my hand in the near-frozen lake, sliding on the ice that formed on its shores, and playing in the fresh snow on the north end of the island provided some of my best memories from my entire time in Russia.

A colorful Buddhist temple in Ulan Ude, Russia

Ulan Ude is also a center of Buddhism in Russia. I hired a guide (about $12 USD/hour) to accompany me to the Buddhist monastery in Ivolga, about 40 minutes outside of the city. She taught me the basics of Buddhism and, being a Buryat, she gave me insight into their culture. It was well worth the price!  

Step Two: Booking Your Tickets

If you are on a tight schedule, it makes sense to book your tickets ahead of time. Tickets can be issued up to 45 days in advance and many travel agencies can do this for you. I used Real Russia and highly recommend them — they can also help with obtaining a letter of invitation for visa purposes. It is also possible to book online yourself at www.poezda.net if you can read a little Russian.

For more flexible travelers, you can purchase your tickets at the stations as you go along. However, be prepared for the possibility that the train you want may already be sold out, and don’t be surprised if none of the cashiers speak any English. And schedules posted at the stations will be on Moscow, not local, time.

Most trains offer three classes of sleeper service:  spalny vagon (1st class), kupe (2nd class), and platskartny (3rd class). Spalny vagon compartments have just two berths, with both beds at the lower level. Kupe are four-berth compartments consisting of two upper and two lower bunks. Finally, platskartny are open six-berth compartments with both upper and lower bunks.

Both spalny vagon and kupe have doors that lock, while platskartny compartments are open — this makes third class a little more social, but a little less secure.  

Step Three: How Much Should You Budget?

How much you spend on your train journey will depend on all of the factors mentioned above, but I would say around $1,000 for tickets, accommodations, and food is a good starting point.

For example, booking through Real Russia, a kupe ticket from Moscow to Vladivostok might run about $900, while platskartny would be less than half, at just $360. On the other hand, splurging on first-class would cost you nearly $1,800. Prices for the nonstop trip to Beijing are similar. You can save up to 33% by taking one of the lower-quality passenger trains instead of the cosmetically nicer firmenny  trains.

Note that breaking up the journey into separate legs may add some additional cost to your trip. For example, making stops in both Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk en route to Vladivostok would increase the total to $1,130 for kupe .

Price can also vary by day and time of departure, so if you are on a tight budget, be sure to play around with the schedules and note that not all types of trains are available on all routes or run on all days. Russian Railways offered a sale this fall that offered up to 50% off fares booked at least 30 days in advance but also imposed a 5% penalty on tickets purchased less than 10 days before departure. Keep an eye out for similar deals in the future.

When I boarded my first train, I felt a bit lost. Everyone around me seemed to have their routines down, from the clothes they changed into and the food they neatly set out on the small table, to the way they effortlessly made up their bed. I just tried to watch and follow their lead, and by the time I departed on my second leg, I felt like an old pro.

Toilets Each carriage has a toilet on each end, and they will be locked shortly before, during, and shortly after most station stops (and border crossings if you’re heading into China or Mongolia). The toilet doors usually have a schedule showing these closures. Despite my fears, they were kept quite clean and well stocked with toilet paper (though this is not always the case, so be prepared with your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer).

Food and water: You will find a samovar with boiling water on one end of the car, usually opposite the attendant’s compartment. If you bring your own water bottle, you can also refill it with drinkable water from the attendant. While food is available for purchase in the dining car and from vendors roaming the halls, it can be overpriced and the selection may be limited. You may be better off bringing your own provisions, especially for a multi-day journey.

Electronics: Outlets for charging cell phones and the like are available in the hallways, though some of the newer cars have their own plugs. Most carriages have fold-down seats so you can sit with your device as it charges, although it was not uncommon for people to leave theirs hanging unattended.

During my time on the train, I shared my kupe compartment with Russians ranging from businessmen and babushkas to members of a girls’ volleyball team. Some of my “roommates” boarded and went straight to sleep; others were traveling with people in other compartments and spent most of their time elsewhere. One guy stood in the hallway staring out at the passing landscape for hours at a time. Just a few really wanted to talk.

A babushka flashed her gold teeth as she rambled nonstop to anyone who would listen. An orphanage teacher was wonderfully patient as I practiced my Russian with her over our two days together, while an engineer was anxious to try out his English, paging through my dictionary and asking me carefully formulated questions. None were looking to party — the drink of choice for most was tea, not vodka, which is contrary to many of the stories you hear about the Trans-Siberian.

By the end of my journey, I was exhausted, relieved, satisfied, and immensely grateful. My fears prior to the trip were unfounded, the people I met were some of the friendliest in my three months in Russia, and the experiences were unforgettable.

And back in Moscow, sharing my stories with friends there, I began to really appreciate the fact that I had just seen more of Russia in one month than most Russians will ever see in a lifetime.

Traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway is truly a magical experience and I hope this guide helps you in your planning!

Katie Aune is a Minnesota native and former attorney who recently quit her job in nonprofit fundraising to spend a year volunteering and traveling through the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union. You can follow her adventures on Katie Aune  or on Twitter @katieaune .

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)

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Hi, I’m Nomadic Matt, the New York Times best-selling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and Ten Years a Nomad, as well as the founder of this website! And I’m here to help you save money on your next trip.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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Rail Tour Packages

Embarking on a train journey is always exciting, especially when scenic views are guaranteed! Choose from the list of carefully planned rail journeys in Russia and marvel at the spectacular surroundings while crossing authentic towns, awe-inspiring natural wonders, and other scenic sights along the way. The renowned Transsiberian train journey is an excellent choice for those who love train travel and seek unforgettable adventures. Stretching for almost one-third of the world, it takes you from Moscow to Vladivostok or even Mongolia! You can also extend your trip to Beijing or enjoy a train ride to St. Petersburg while exploring Russia.

Things To Do & Places To See on rail tours

Don't miss out on any important sights & experiences on rail tours

Enjoy one of the most unique travel experiences, rail tour, and see the most inspiring and stunning sights of your destination. Contact our destination specialists for a perfect rail journey itinerary.

Highlights of rail tours

  • Witnessing the beauty of Lake Bakal
  • Stepping foot in two continents at once
  • Exceptional activities in Mongolia
  • Bustling hubs on the Trans-Siberian
  • Crossing awe-inspiring sceneries
  • Authentic towns along the way

Rail Tours Travel Tips

Embark on the exciting rail tour and check out top-rated tips for your future adventure.

Train Travel

What to pack

Make sure to wear comfortable and warm clothing, especially on overnight or long-haul train rides.

Depending on the destination, meals might not be included. Pack some snacks and quick bites for such cases.

It is advisable to check the local currency of any country online and have some cash with you for small expenses.

When to travel

Please contact our destination specialist for more details about every season.

The weather in Russia can be unpredictable. Make sure to wear comfortable and warm clothing, especially on overnight or long-haul train rides.

It is advisable to have your tickets, ID, and other valuables on the carry-on baggage.

Linda and I enjoyed our Grand Deluxe Trans Siberian Tour

This is just a note to say how much Linda and I enjoyed our Grand Deluxe Trans Siberian Tour Rail adventure with Travel all Russia. We were especially glad to have seen the subways in Moscow which were not on the original agenda, but that our guide made sure we saw. Also, the opening ceremony at Naadaam in Mongolia was not in the schedule, but we were delighted to have a front row seat. It was an outstanding show.

Small Group Trans-Siberian Journey summer 2016

Our journey to Russia was a great one. All of the guides were wonderful and everything was so well organized.

There are just a few things I'd suggest. I think you need to warn future travelers about the Chinese train. There were not two lower berths as we were told and since neither of us was able to climb to the top bunk, we had to take turns sleeping! Also, the train was disgustingly dirty.

Other than that, the other accommodations were fine. As far as the food, there was much too much fish and borscht.

We were totally thrilled with our trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway

We were totally thrilled with our trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway!

The trains were clean, comfortable and always on time.

The hotels, though varied, were always welcoming and attractive. The restaurants, for the most part, served us well.

Our guides were knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Once a guide could not join us because of a medical problem, and the next day another guide took us to two days' sites in one day.

Many thanks for arranging a most memorable Epic Trans-Siberian Adventure journey for us!

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Russian Tours and Cruises from Express to Russia

  • Trans-Siberian Express

Our 8 Best Trans-Siberian Rail Tours of 2022

Come with us on truly... The Journey of a Lifetime along the world’s longest railway. See how the landscape and culture changes as you head West to East. See Moscow, Siberia, China and more. Our Trans-Siberian Railway tours are all customizable and can be adjusted to fit any budget. Our most popular packages are listed below. Please click on the tour details to learn more or contact us for more information about our Trans Siberian rail tours using the form on the page. Feel free to also schedule a call with one of our Russian travel specialists. Many travelers have found this to be the best way to together, create an unforgettable customized tour for you.

Trans-Siberian by Imperial Russia Train

Besides the below tours, we also offer a luxurious tour by a private train

Trans-Siberian 3 in 1

Trans-Siberian 3 in 1

This is our shortest version of our Trans Siberian railroad tours but it covers some of the most interesting cities. The trip begins in Moscow, the capital of Russia, then continues on to Yekaterinburg, located in the Ural Mountains and at the edge of Siberia. The tour ends on the shores of Lake Baikal.

  • Schedule Tour can be started on any day
  • Route Moscow - Yekaterinburg - Irkutsk
  • Languages English-speaking guide is guaranteed. Other languages are on request.
  • Accommodation The following hotel options are available: 3 stars
  • PRIVATE TOUR This is a private tour, there won't be other people in your group

Great Russia by Train

Great Russia by Train

This tour will take you along the full route of the Trans-Siberian railway to 3 of Russia's most interesting cities - Moscow with stunning Red Square, the Kremlin and Cathedrals, Irkutsk located in the heart of Siberia and home to the great Lake Baikal and Vladivostok - the King of the East with its harbor of the Golden Horn and Amursky Bay on the Pacific Ocean.

  • Route Moscow - Irkutsk - Vladivostok

Trans-Sib - four cities

Trans-Sib - four cities

On this great Eurasian journey from West to East you will cover the entire route of the Trans-Siberian Railway, visiting four major cities along the way: Russia's capital Moscow, Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, Irkutsk including incredible Lake Baikal, and finally Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, at the very edge of Russia.

  • Route Moscow - Yekaterinburg - Irkutsk - Vladivostok

Highlights on the Trans-Sib

Highlights on the Trans-Sib

This tour is a great choice for seeing the highlights of Russia, Mongolia and China. From Golden-Domed Moscow you will continue on to Irkutsk and visit beautiful Lake Baikal. Mongolia will greet you with its endless steppes and the Gobi Desert. Finally, you will reach China and visit the magnificent Great Wall, Ming Tombs and Forbidden city.

  • Schedule Tour can be started on any Monday
  • Route Moscow - Irkutsk - Ulan Bator - Beijing

The Great Journey - East to West

The Great Journey - East to West

This trip lasts for 2 weeks and passes through 6 fascinating cities. Starting in Vladivostok with its harbour of the Golden Horn and passing through the Buddhist city of Ulan-Ude, then to Irkutsk - home of magnificent Lake Baikal and onto Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg - very dynamic Siberian cities, and finally ending in golden-domed Moscow.

  • Route Vladivostok - Ulan-Ude - Irkutsk - Novosibirsk - Yekaterinburg - Moscow

5 stars - East to West

5 stars - East to West

This tour covers the highlights of the Trans-Siberian Railway - including all 5 major cities along its route. You will admire cultural masterpieces in Beijing, learn about nomadic life in Mongolia, see amazing Lake Baikal in Irkutsk, learn about the fate of the Last Tsar in Yekaterinburg, and visit Russia's energetic capital Moscow.

  • Schedule Tour can be started on any Thursday.
  • Route Beijing - Ulaanbaatar - Irkutsk - Yekaterinburg - Moscow

Trans-Sib through Russia - Mongolia - China

Trans-Sib through Russia - Mongolia - China

This exciting Trans-Siberian tour takes you to three countries - Russia, Mongolia and China. From Moscow you will proceed to the Siberian cities of Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Irkutsk, close to Lake Baikal. Then you will cross Mongolia with its endless steppes and the Goby Desert, and finally arrive in China with the Great Wall and more.

  • Schedule Tour can be started on any Saturday
  • Route Moscow - Yekaterinburg - Novosibirsk - Irkutsk - Ulaanbaatar - Beijing

Journey of a Lifetime

Journey of a Lifetime

The tour is a great opportunity to visit three countries on one trip. You will be delighted with the capital of Russia, see the border of Europe and Asia in Yekaterinburg, admire beautiful nature in Krasnoyarsk, see the world's largest lake Baikal, steppes of Mongolia and China's cultural heritage.

  • Route Moscow - Yekaterinburg - Krasnoyarsk - Irkutsk - Ulaanbaatar - Beijing

Customer

My wife & I have just completed the Journey of a Lifetime 16 day 15 night Trip as organised by Express to Russia. We also had a tour of St Petersburg & Moscow as well. The planning & execution of both trips was well above our expectations. The guides we had in all of our destinations were exceptional & the meet & greet & return to the stations went as smooth as clockwork. We had one minor hitch but that was through no fault of Express to Russia..a quick email from our Ipad had the problem resolved immediately We did have some misgivings at the start about doing the booking online ourselves but Elena was wonderful & answered all of our questions promptly & to our satisfaction. We felt comfortable with the whole process.The train trip is wonderful with Mongolia being a "special " place for us! We highly recommend Elena & her company. I am happy to answer any questions any body may wish to ask.

Thank you so very much for organizing our trip. Everything went wonderfully, and we really enjoyed our time in Russia. Moscow was beautiful, Lake Baikal was very cold, yet very fun to swim in, and the DPR Koreans that I met and made friends with in Vladivostok was beyond priceless. The guides you got for us did an exceptional job, and the drivers helped us out a lot as well. The hotels you got for us were great, and the room you got for us in the Vladivostok really made the long stay comfortable. The trains were also very enjoyable as was the Russian hospitality, although we really weren´t expecting people to be so generous or helpful. Overall, the trip was wonderful, and you arranged it magnificently. You really went out of your way to accommodate my schedule and help me with my schoolwork, so I really appreciate it; I couldn´t have done it without you. So once again, thank you for all of your efforts, and hopefully in the future you will be able to help us out again. Take care, and thank you for everything.

The Trans-Siberian Express is the longest train journey in the world. The route takes you from ancient Russian cities through deep forests and breathtaking mountains to Siberian outposts and into Asia. You will visit Buddhist temples , Lake Baikal , the Ural Mountains , Vladivostok or Beijing . Express to Russia is a specialist in travel for individuals and small groups along the route. We will make sure that you have an unforgettable journey on this incredible adventure. Choose basic packages below or contact us to arrange your own custom travel.

Our Russian tours are offered as land only where you arrange your own airfare and we meet you at the airport and handle everything else. You can easily book the discount tickets yourself through our own discount internet ticket office . Please browse our discount air tickets section to learn more.

A train on Trans-Siberian Railway

Trans-Siberian Train

The main route of the Trans-Siberian Railway begins in Moscow and heads east to Vladivostok passing through Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Ulan Ude, Chita, Blagoveshchensk and Khabarovsk. The length of the route is 9259 km or 5753 miles. The train travels through 7 time zones and takes 8 days to complete without making overnight stops. The Trans-Siberian splits off into a few other fascinating directions as well:

Trans-Mongolian Train

The Trans-Mongolian Line was built from 1940 to 1956 between Ulan-Ude at Lake Baikal’s eastern shore and the Chinese capital Beijing. From Ulan-Ude the tracks go south towards Mongolia, crossing the great Gobi Desert and finally ending up in Beijing. This route is a mere 7867 kilometers long (Moscow - Beijing).

A train on Trans-Siberian in 1916

Trans-Manchurian Train

The Trans-Manchurian Line runs on the same route as the Trans-Siberian as far as Tarskaya, which is a few hundred miles east of Baikal. From Tarskaya, the line runs southeast into China near Zabaikalsk and makes its way down to Beijing. This route is a 9001 kilometres long (Moscow - Beijing).

Click to learn more about the history of the Trans-Siberian Railway .

Frequently Asked Questions From Our Travelers

Where does the trans-siberian railway start and where does it end.

The Trans-Siberian Railway starts in Moscow and extends all the way to Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. This route connects the European part of Russia, the Ural region, Siberia and the Russian Far East.

Are Beijing and Ulan Bator stops along the Trans-Siberian railway?

Beijing and Ulan Bator are parts of Trans-Mongolian railway - an offshoot of the main Trans-Siberian Railway. There are many options to arrange your travel: to visit Ulan Bator and or follow the Trans-Siberian railway to or from Vladivostok. 

Can I use the hop-on hop-off principle when traveling by Trans-Siberian train?

Unfortunately, that is not possible. Train tickets in Russia are not open, so you will need a separate ticket with a particular date for each leg of your trip - for example, you may go all the way from Moscow to Vladivostok, but you will only be able to leave the train for short stops at the railway stations. In case if you would like to explore different cities on the way, you will need separate tickets, for example Moscow – Yekaterinburg, Yekaterinburg – Irkutsk, Irkutsk - Vladivostok. We offer carefully planned private tours that will allow you to visit several cities on your way.

Are there showers aboard Trans-Siberian trains?

Most of the Trans-Siberian trains do not have showers, and there are two WCs per each carriage. Please consider it while planning your trip. We recommend to choose shorter distances (that is, to plan more overnight stops in the cities along the way) to avoid the inconvenience of not showering. Another option is to choose the trip on board a more luxurious train which has all the on-board amenities that one might need.

Are meals included on the board of Trans-Siberian express train?

When traveling with RZD regular trains meals are not included. You can easily buy your meals in the restaurant car.  Another option is to buy local specialties from “babushkas” (grandmothers, or simply Russian old ladies) on the short train stops along the way. This is a very authentic way of getting your meals.

What is the most comfortable way to travel on the Trans-Siberian railroad?

There are luxurious trains on the Trans-Siberian railway that are quite different from regular RZD trains and can be described as 5* hotels on wheels. We offer this type of accommodation on the Imperial Russia train where you can enjoy a full board menu, a shower and a comfortable compartment.

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Local trains

travel in russia by train

The commuter trains are mostly hard-seat train cars. You don't get a designated seat number — you just find space on a bench. These trains have a notorious reputation for being overcrowded, though this has declined somewhat. The trains make very frequent stops and are rather slow. For example, a 200 km trip to Vladimir takes about 3 h 30 min . They do (!) have toilets in the first and the last cars but it is going to be an unforgettable experience (use them in "emergency" cases only). Nowadays many new trains have been bought, especially in the Moscow region, which make commuting comfortable.

Tickets for commuter trains are sold in a separate room from the long-distance trains, and are sometimes sold from stalls located outside.

A few very popular routes, mostly between Moscow and nearby cities such as Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Tula, and others have an express commuter train that is considerably more comfortable. Your ticket will have a designated seat number and the seats are reasonably comfortable. The trains travel to their destination directly and are thus considerably faster.

Since 2011, dozens of local (prigorodny) trains are canceled each year due to lack of financing, and situation worsens each year. Cancellations occur everywhere over the country, except commuter zones of largest cities, such as Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Ekaterinburg and Irkutsk. Having latest news on cancellations may be essential for trip planning. Typical cancellation traits: most cancellations occur in the start of the year, sometimes some trains are returned into timetable, if local budgets find funds to sponsor them; some trains are cut at region borders, even when there are no roads over the border to the previous train destination; other local trains got cut to 1 a day or several a week, often with timetable, not convenient for tourists.

Transportation of bicycles

Transportation of a bicycle in a carriage is permissible for one ticket under condition of being compactly folded/dismantled and clean. Usually the bike is taken off its wheels and pedals, put into a bag and stored on the upmost shelf in the Platzkart carriage. The other class carriages have less space or shelves and the bike should be more compact.

On the train

travel in russia by train

Especially when there is no dining car, the cars may be locked so that it's not possible to walk between different train cars or classes.

Smoking in the train is nowadays banned, but it's often tolerated to smoke in the area between the cars. Other than that, smokers can step out of the train at stations for a smoke.

The train toilets, if they're of the old type where the excrement is simply dropped on the tracks, are locked at stops and stations when the train stands still. Modern train toilets where the stuff goes into a tank can be used all the time.

Travel time can vary from several hours to several days. There are more types of train between the two capitals than between any other two cities in Russia. Apart from ordinary trains, there are rapid trains ( Sapsan ) that run by day only and cover the 650 km between Moscow and Saint Petersburg in 4 hours. Some of the overnight trains are quite luxurious — these include the traditional The Red Arrow service and the newer, fake-Czarist-era Nikolaevsky Express , complete with attendants in 19-century uniforms. Sheets, towels and prepacked breakfasts are included in all the better trains. Shared bathroom facilities are located at the end of the train car. There are special hatches that one may use to secure the door of the compartment from the inside during the night.

Stop duration may be vary from as quick as one minute (barely enough for passengers to leave and board the train) to as long as several hours. Check the timetable placed on door at the end of corridor. During stop you can buy various meals and drinks at platform from locals for pretty reasonable prices. Frequently, traders will walk through the cars between stops and sell everything from crockery to clothes to Lay's chips.

International connections

Due to differing rail gauge, when you cross the Russian border or even before it, you will either have to step onto another train or the train cars will have their wheels changed. Either way, expect this to take several hours. Since the mid-2010s international routes are operated by modern cars.

International tickets can be booked 60 days ahead of travel, except tickets to or from Ukraine or Moldova where the earliest time is 45 days ahead of travel. Groups of six or more persons will receive a discount of 20-30%. If you buy an international train ticket for a journey around your birthday (± 1 week), you will receive a discount of 35%.

The electronic visas introduced in 2020 are impractical for rail travel as they can be used on just two railway border crossings in the Russian Far East: Pogranichny-Suifenhe with China, and Khasan-Tumangang with North Korea.

Baltic states

Passenger cross-border services from Baltic states closed since 2020.

  • There are direct trains to Kaliningrad from the "Russian mainland" going via Vilnius without stop. The rail line from Poland to Kaliningrad is just used for freight.

Passenger cross-border services from Finland closed since spring of 2022.

North Korea

Passenger cross-border services closed since 2020.

Mongolia and China

Passenger cross-border services from Russia to Mongolia reopened at summer of 2022. Service from Russia to China planning to open at winter 2023/2024

  • The most famous routes are the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian branches of the Trans-Siberian Railway , both connecting Moscow with Beijing the former via Ulaanbaatar and the latter via Harbin. Both trains run once a week, and in addition there's one weekly train connecting the Russian and Mongolian capitals, and services between Novosibirsk and Ulaanbaatar.
  • From the Far East there are trains between Harbin and Vladivostok on one hand and Chita on the other.
  • Finally, there's no bridge between Heihe and Blagoveshchensk but a boat service connects the cities, both of which have railway stations.

Poland and Western Europe

Passenger cross-border services between Poland and Belarus closed since 2020.

Central Asia

Overall the Central Asian rail services are dominated by long-distance services between Moscow and the national capitals largely used by Central Asians working in Russia. You will encounter old Russian rolling stock. Uzbekistan is the exception with its domestic intercity high-speed network. At the other end of the spectrum is Tajikistan where the only passenger trains are the services from Moscow.

One of the east-west lines in Russia, in Soviet times used for the Trans-Siberian services, crosses into Kazakhstan. Check the itinerary of the train if your nationality requires a Kazakh visa.

Tourist trains

There's much to see in Russia for railway enthusiasts. Many railway stations have old steam locomotives on display, and there are pioneer railways and railway museums. In addition there are some interesting train experiences:

travel in russia by train

Narrow gauge railways

  • Karinskaya narrow-gauge railway in Kirov Oblast
  • Alapayevsk narrow-gauge railway in Sverdlovsk Oblast
  • Apsheronsk narrow-gauge railway in Krasnodar Oblast
  • Kudemskaya narrow-gauge railway in Arkhangelsk Oblast

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Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

EXPERIENCE AN ICON OF THE RAILS

The Golden Eagle

Formerly The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express

Your Voyages of a Lifetime Awaits…

While we no longer operate in Russia, the legendary Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, now known as the Golden Eagle, continues to offer an unparalleled travel experience. Join us on our Silk Road collection, where this iconic train takes you through the heart of majestic Central Asia.

Discover the wonders of ancient cities, breathtaking landscapes, and rich cultures, all while enjoying the refined luxury and exceptional service that Golden Eagle Luxury Trains is renowned for. Indulge in a journey that promises both adventure and elegance, reimagined for a new era of exploration.

THE GOLDEN EAGLE

The Golden Eagle private train epitomises luxury and elegance on rails, offering an unparalleled travel experience through some of the world’s most captivating landscapes. With its meticulously designed carriages, sumptuous dining, and impeccable service, the Golden Eagle ensures a journey of utmost comfort and sophistication.

Each cabin is a haven of relaxation, featuring en-suite facilities and modern amenities, while the beautifully appointed public areas provide the perfect setting for socialising and unwinding. Whether traversing the ancient Silk Road or exploring the diverse terrains of Central Asia, the Golden Eagle private train promises an unforgettable adventure steeped in history, culture, and indulgence.

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Where will the golden eagle take you, republics of the silk road.

Almaty - Tashkent (14 days)

  • Golden Eagle

Caspian Odyssey

Yerevan - Almaty (16 days)

Jewels of the Silk Road

Ashgabat - Almaty (8 days)

Treasures of Uzbekistan

Tashkent - Samarkand - Tashkent (11 days)

INTERACTIVE AND AUTHENTIC

Learn the art of silk weaving with a visit to Margilan. Once a vital, ancient caravan route for Chinese and Western trade, the city is renowned for its beautiful, handmade silk products. We will enjoy an interactive session at a craftsman’s workshop and studio.

Moreover, gain further insight into the intertwining identity of the ‘Crossroad of Culture’, Samarkand. Until the Middle Ages, Samarkand served as the main supplier of paper to the Arab world and Europe. With a visit to the Meros Paper Mill, we will learn about this ancient art with an up-close lesson of the laborious process, ancient machines, and centuries old methods.

Featured on our magical voyage:

TREASURES OF UZBEKISTAN

Stand before the “door to hell”.

Experience an awe-inspiring visit to the ‘Door to Hell’ – Darvaza’s famous burning gas crater. Located in the middle of the Kara Kum desert where the area is rich in natural gas, the 70 metre-wide crater has been burning for over 40 years.

As the Country’s Government considers way to distinguish the flames – this may be your last chance to experience this incredible phenomenon.

Featured on our magical voyages:

CASPIAN ODYSSEY

Republics of the silk road, designed for an immersive and authentic encounter, meet the team.

Our team of tour managers and guides at Golden Eagle Luxury Trains are not only exceptionally experienced but also meticulously selected for their deep knowledge and expertise in the destinations we explore.

With years of invaluable experience under their belts, they are your key to unlocking the rich tapestry of history, culture, and unique insights that each destination holds.

Looking to enhance your VIP experience? Our travel team can arrange a private guide and car, depending on availability.

Tatiana Kolesnikova

A familiar face to many of you, Tatiana Kolesnikova, joined Golden Eagle Luxury Trains in 2004 as the principal Tour Manager on the Golden Eagle train.

Over the years Tatiana has become a much loved staple of the Golden Eagle team – travelling on the Golden Eagle and the Golden Eagle Danube Express.

Anna Kochetkova

Why choose golden eagle,   as featured in.

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Trans-Siberian Railway Stops: The 10 Best Cities Across Russia

Did I ever tell you about the time I rode the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia , all by myself, stopping in dozens of cities and towns across Russia on the way?

It’s true: I crossed Russia by train as a solo female traveler on the Trans-Siberian Railway. 

Riding the Trans-Siberian Railway Across Russia to Moscow

And while it’s possible to travel from Moscow to Vladivostok on a non-stop train in as little as seven days , that just isn’t my travel style. (My butt hurts just thinking about sitting for that long!)

I decided to set out in the opposite direction, taking the train from Vladivostok to Moscow the lazy way – spending seven weeks on the road and stopping in different cities all across Russia.  I didn’t speak a word of Russian, I didn’t work with a travel agency to plan my journey and I certainly didn’t know what to expect as a solo female on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

In the end, my journey on the Tran-Siberian Express became one of my favorite travel memories.  Yes, there were some stressful moments (keep reading to hear a real hostel horror story!) but they were vastly outnumbered by new friends, new experiences and new adventures.  From Russia’s biggest cities to its smallest villages, my seven-week rail journey gave me unique insight into one of the most diverse and misunderstood countries on the planet.

There’s so much that I could say about my trip to Russia, but I wanted to start with the absolute essentials: where you should get off the train when you’re riding the Trans-Siberian Express .  I implore you to leave time in your itinerary for stops in at least five of these spectacular Trans-Siberian Railway destinations.  If you can fit in all ten, even better.  Together, they give you a true cross-section of life in modern Russia, from the fascinating Asian influence in the east to the opulent European influence in the far west… and everything in between.

While this article focuses on my favorite stops along the Trans-Siberian Express route, I have an updated article that explains exactly how to plain your own Trans-Siberian Railway trip .  It covers everything from booking tickets to obtaining visas to live on board the train, so check it out!

travel in russia by train

Trans-Siberian Express Stop #1 – Vladivostok

Trans-Siberian Express Stop - Vladivostok, Russia

Vladivostok was my introduction to Russia, and it was nothing like I expected. A cosmopolitan port city, Vladivostok was a fascinating mix of European and Asian cultures, with a little bit of beach vibes for good measure .  The city was pleasantly walkable (if a little hilly) and local businesses seemed accustomed to interacting with foreign visitors.

Things To Do in Vladivostok

It’s easy to spend a few hours wandering around Vladivostok’s city center, where you can explore little shops and cafes, walk along the waterfront or visit one of the city’s small museums.  I paid for admission to the S-56 submarine , and enjoyed spending about thirty minutes inside the ship, imagining what life must have been like on board the boat.  On my second day in the city I jumped on a bus out to the sprawling Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island.   It appeared to be the university’s orientation day for new students, so my presence wasn’t questioned, but I’ve heard that they don’t typically like foreigners wandering around their (truly stunning) campus… which obviously makes a visit that much more appealing!

In general, outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, there aren’t a lot of traditional “things to do” in Russia .  However, the lack of tourist attractions doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a boring trip on the Trans-Siberian Express.  Actually, it means that the most often you stop, the more you’ll be able to experience typical daily life in Russia.  Whether it’s buying fresh milk from a kiosk in the town square or viewing glorious monuments to the days of yore, every day brings new travel adventures in Russia… even if they’re not traditional “things to do”.

Hotels in Vladivostok

When I was in Vladivostok, I stayed at Barbados Hostel .  This is a typical Russian-style hostel, which means it is located in a large apartment that has been converted into a hostel, and which also means that it is often occupied by many Russians who are temporarily working in the city.  You can expect this of all Russian hostels I will write about, unless I explicitly note otherwise.

Barbados Hostel is a great option for backpackers taking the Trans-Siberian Express, as it’s only about three blocks up the street from the train station (it’s uphill to the hostel, and downhill to the station).  Other interesting hostels in Vladivostok include Tiger Hostel , a backpacker hostel situated atop a hill that offers views of the city and ocean below, and Capsule Hotel Zodiac , a capsule hotel with small private sleeping areas and shared bathrooms.  If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, Boutique Hotel One Sea is a comfortable, affordable option that is also located on the hill between the train station and the beach.

Restaurants in Vladivostok

Vladivostok offers diners a very unique restaurant experience: the opportunity to eat at a state-owned North Korean restaurant .  Pyongyang Restaurant (sometimes written “Pkhen’yan”) is a thirty-minute walk (or five-minute taxi ride) from the city center.  I visited with people from my hostel, and we were seated in a private dining area behind a red curtain.  Every time we pushed the red button at our table, our red-dressed waitress, who was from North Korea, would come to provide service (under the watchful eye of her stern male boss).  Using my broken Russian I was able to explain that I was a vegetarian, and she had the kitchen prepare a special meatless bowl of bibimbap for me.  Of course, choosing whether or not to support a state-owned North Korean restaurant is a personal and ethical choice.  Personally, I was hopeful that when our waitress returned to North Korea, she would be well-equipped to dispel some myths about the West.

Trans-Siberian Railway Stop #2 – Khabarovsk

Trans-Siberian Express Stop - Khabarovsk, Russia

My second stop on the Trans-Siberian Express was Khabarovsk.  Most backpackers pass right through this city without stopping, but I enjoyed a pleasant, two-night stay in this riverfront gem.  Khabarovsk had one of the prettiest, and most photogenic, train stations along the Trans-Siberian route, and it seemed like every time I passed by the station I was tempted to stop and take another photo of its pink and green facade.

Things To Do in Khabarovsk

I rode the tram from the train station to my hostel, and along the way I noticed some interesting shopping centers (including a perfectly Soviet wig shop!) and a pleasant public park with a typical local market set up around its perimeter.  So, after I dropped off my bags I actually backtracked to explore that area a bit more.  That’s where I stumbled across the colorful statue of a pipa and balalaika , two typical Russian musical instruments.

The next day, I explored the city center and jumped on board a two-hour Amur river cruise .  My afternoon boat was relatively calm (despite the ear-shattering Russian pop music they were playing on board!), but I’ve heard the evening tours can get a little rowdy!

Hotels in Khabarovsk

In Khabarovsk, I stayed at Kakadu Hostel .  I was really impressed with this hostel, as it was clean, well-maintained and staffed by super-friendly receptionists.  There was a tram stop right in front of the hostel , so you could hop on a tram to the center in about ten minutes, or walk the same route in twenty minutes.

If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel in the very center, Hotel Verba and Boutique Hotel Khabarovsk City are two great mid-range options right downtown, midway between the main square and the riverfront promenade.

Restaurants in Khabarovsk

The culinary scene in Khabarovsk wasn’t amazing, but I was able to find several different vegetarian meals during my time in the city.  Stolovaya Lozhka is a cafeteria-style restaurant (“ stolovaya” ) in the city center that had vegetarian soup and salad options (assuming you’re willing to overlook possible chicken stock).

Trans-Siberian Express Stop #3 – Ulan-Ude

Trans-Siberian Train Stops - Ulan-Ude, Russia

It’s a full two days by train from Khabarovsk to Ulan-Ude, so make sure you’ve got a good book, strong tea (with sugar cubes… trust me on this!) and lots of instant noodles for the next leg of your Trans-Siberian railway trip.  All that travel time will be worth it when you arrive in Ulan-Ude, one of my favorite Russian cities and a multicultural mix of Russian and Mongolian ways of life.

Things To Do in Ulan-Ude

Obviously, you can’t visit Ulan-Ude without checking out the world’s largest Lenin head !  The huge head statue in the city center weighs forty-two tonnes and towers 7.7 meters over the public square below.  Nearby, there is a beautiful Opera & Ballet Theatre building, plus some museums about local Buryat culture and ethnography.

If you’ve got time, take a half-day trip from Ulan-Ude to the nearby Ivolginsky Datsan , which was built with Stalin’s permission after World War II.  Here, local Buddhist monks practice their faith, and worshippers come from all over the country to see the miraculously-preserved remains of one of the datsan’s monks, who passed away more than seventy years ago.  Although they don’t typically allow foreign tourists to view the monk’s body, you may be able to find a kind local who can advocate on your behalf.

Hotels in Ulan-Ude

Ulan-Ude was the first city I visited in Russia that had a proper backpacker hostel full of foreign travelers.  As soon as I stepped off the Trans-Siberian Express (at the ungodly hour of 4:00 am!) I checked into Ulan-Ude Traveler’s House , a converted apartment located just beside the city’s massive Lenin head statue.  It was really refreshing to spend time with other backpackers and to hear more about what to see and do as I traveled further west on the train.

There are also lots of hotels and apartment rentals in Ulan-Ude , but I can’t recommend any of them since I had such a positive experience at Ulan-Ude Traveler’s House.  Wherever you stay, try to find accommodation that is close to the Lenin head statue.

Restaurants in Ulan-Ude

Appetite is a typical Russian stolovaya right across from the Lenin head.  Again, I was able to find vegetarian soup and salad here, although service was notably frosty.  I think Ulan-Ude was also the first city where I found a Traveler’s Coffee , a national chain of coffee shops with great wifi and (expensive) espresso-based drinks that rival those of Starbucks.

Trans-Siberian Railway Stop #4 – Irkutsk

Trans-Siberian Train Stops in Russia - Irkutsk

Irkutsk looks and feels significantly more European than the cities I’d visited up to this point in my Trans-Siberian Express journey, so I was happy to settle down here for a couple of nights while enjoying the efficient infrastructure and tourist-friendly services (such as the well-marked walking routes through the city center, and the ubiquitous street signs providing actual directions to the city’s top attractions).

Things To Do in Irkutsk

Irkutsk is world-famous for its well-preserved wooden architecture , and I could have happily spent my entire visit walking around the city and photographing doors, windows and walls.  If you’d like to imagine the buildings in their original state, check out 130 Kvartal, a small district in the city center featuring renovated, reconstructed and restored wooden buildings that have been converted into trendy shops, cafes and entertainment.

I also visited both of the city’s Decembrist museums , although due to their limited English signage I left both museums as clueless about the Decembrists as I had been when I started (hint: the Decembrists were upper-class Russians and members of the military who revolted against Nicholas I in 1825, and were then exiled to Siberia).

Hotels in Irkutsk

Irkutsk has a decently-sized backpacker scene, and a number of good hoods.  I stayed at Baikaler Hostel , which is the original backpacker hostel in Irkutsk.  The owner is highly involved in backpacking and promoting Siberia is a tourist destination for budget travelers.

However, if I were to return to Irkutsk today, I would definitely stay at Rolling Stone Hostel .  It is operated by the same team as Baikaler, but it is organized into a small dorm and a number of small, budget-friendly private rooms (including an “eco-friendly capsule room” built into the hostel’s common room – could someone please book this and report back?!).  Again, it’s got a great central location and the owner can help you organize all of your travel to Olkhon Island.

If you’d rather stay in a hotel in Irktusk, look for something located close to Ulitsa Karla Marxa (Karl Marx Street), the main street through the city.

Restaurants in Irkutsk

I had two great lunches at Govinda , a 100% vegetarian restaurant with a staff-served buffet, and where your food is priced by weight.  They had a good selection of curries, grilled vegetables, mock meat products, drinks and desserts.  For one dinner, I stopped at Lapsha Bar My Way , a stir-fry and noodle restaurant with a few vegetarian options, and the next night I loaded up on a grilled vegetable salad from Mamochka , another stolovaya.  Overall, Irkutsk had a fantastic selection of restaurants and easily catered to both local and tourist tastes.

Trans-Siberian Express Stop #5 – Olkhon Island

Trans-Siberian Express Stops - Olkhon Island, Russia

Olkhon Island isn’t technically on the Trans-Siberian Express Railway (… it is an island, after all!), but it can be easily visited as a side trip from Irkutsk, and stands out in my memory as my second-favorite stop on the Trans-Siberian Express (after Moscow).

Every hotel and hostel in Irkutsk can organize your transportation to Olkhon Island – their preferred minivan service will pick you up at your door in Irkutsk, drive you to the ferry terminal (where you will walk on board the boat while the driver brings the van behind you) and then drive you all the way to the door of your Olkhon Island hotel or guesthouse.  It’s all very efficient and unexciting, although I do suggest trying to make your crossings between Monday afternoon and Friday morning , as weekend ferry traffic can be absolutely crazy and you may get stuck waiting several hours for a boat with space available.

Things To Do on Olkhon Island

My top suggestion for Olkhon Island?  Take an hour to sit by the water and do absolutely nothing.  I swear, everything is different on Olkhon Island .  The air is different.  The water is different.  The peace and quiet, the sky, the earth, the trees, the light… they are all different.  It’s immediately apparent why this is a sacred space to the local Buryat people, whose ribbon-adorned prayer poles have been erected across the island.

Although you could easily spend a day just enjoying Khuzhir (the main town on Olkhon Island) and it’s nearby cliffs and beaches, the true beauty of Olkhon Island is further afield.  All reputable hotels and guesthouses can organize excursions around the island and even to the opposite shores of the lake.  I spent one full day on the island, traveling to the very north tip of the island for some hiking and sightseeing, and the next day I took a boat tour to the opposite side of the lake , where we did two easy hikes (including one through the “magical forest”) and even spotted an elusive Baikal seal (the only species of freshwater seal on the planet).

Hotels on Olkhon Island

I stayed at Nikita’s Homestead on Olkhon Island .  This remains one of my favorite guesthouses ever : it had an absolutely beautiful garden setting, there were excellent vegetarian options available from the upgraded buffet restaurant and they were able to organize excursions all over the island.  I also really liked their accommodation model, where you were able to book private rooms and have the option of sharing the second or third beds, dorm-style, rather than sleeping in huge dorms full of bunk beds.  Again – highly recommended!

If Nikita’s is full, there is an increasing number of accommodation options available in Khuzhir.  Check out the full list of guesthouses, B&Bs and hostels in Khuzhir – I heard very good things about Guest House Natalia from other travelers (it’s a great budget option for backpackers and travelers on a shoestring budget) and Villa Malina is a solid option for travelers who prefer a traditional hotel rather than a guesthouse.

Restaurants on Olkhon Island

I didn’t eat at any restaurants on Olkhon Island because my hotel offered half board, including a delicious breakfast and dinner daily (seriously, I am still reminiscing about the cornmeal-based porridge they served one morning!).  My lunches were included in my excursions.

Trans-Siberian Railway Stop #6 – Ekaterinburg

Trans-Siberian Express Train Stops - Ekaterinburg, Russia

It’s another two-day journey from Irkustk to Yekaterinburg (which I broke up with a stop in Krasnoyarsk , which unfortunately didn’t make the cut for this list – although my hotel there, Hotel Dom Neo – was fantastic and definitely had the best breakfast of any Russian hotel I’ve visited!).  Coincidentally, my visit to Ekaterinburg (you can spell it either way in English) fell on one of the city’s biggest holidays, so the streets were packed with friendly revelers, there were boat races on the river and it was almost impossible to get a seat at any of the restaurants in the city center.

Things To Do in Ekaterinburg

Most Russians visit Yekaterinburg to reflect at the Church Upon the Blood , which marks the site where Bolsheviks murdered Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and their children in 1918.

Because I visited during a festival, I spent most of my time taking in the special event.  However, Yekaterinburg also has lots of museums , including museums highlighting the city’s cultural history, its military past and its natural environment.

Yekaterinburg also has some good day trip opportunities, including summer homestays in Byngi , a nearby village occupied by Russians who follow the traditions of the Old Believers.  It’s also possible to organize excursions to the Don River, which is considered the official divide between Europe and Asia (and has several Soviet monuments emphasizing that honor).

Hotels in Ekaterinburg

In Ekaterinburg, I had an awesome stay at the Novotel Ekaterinburg Center .  It is very close to the city center and has convenient connections to the train station for the Trans-Siberian Express.  My room was very modern and comfortable, and the staff here were very helpful. Highly recommended.

I know that I call myself a “fearless” female traveler, but I also had an experience in a Ekaterinburg hostel was so scary that I literally ran away.  I pulled out my travel journal (the relevant page opens with “HOSTEL CATASTROPHE” ) and my email records to describe what happened to me:

Basically, I made a reservation at a place called “Art Hostel Gold” that was located at Bankovskij Pereulok, 10, in the city center.  They sent me an email that said, “We can’t provide you number in hotel Gold. We will place you in the Loft hotel to the address of Lenin St. 62/3, a code 1.”  This new ( second ) hotel was three kilometers outside the city center, on the opposite side of the river, but I figured that I could just hop on a tram to get into the center… and it’s not easy to search for a new hotel when you’re riding the Trans-Siberian Express through the middle of the Siberian taiga!

Of course, getting to Loft Hotel turned out to be more difficult than I’d imagined – I hailed a taxi who couldn’t find it, and who warned me against staying there due to the isolated location.  Nobody could find the building, and some locals had to use their phones to call the hostel, who sent someone out to the street to meet me… and then took me to an entirely different address (yes, the third hostel!) a few blocks away!

When I got inside, they then tried to move me to another hostel!  The girl didn’t speak English, so she had someone send me this email: “Sorry that it turned out that you had to go to another hotel. Address per. Universitetsky 11, 1 staircase, 3rd floor, a pink door intercom code # 423.”  This fourth hostel was actually three kilometers back in the original direction plus two kilometers further way!

There was something very, very, very wrong with this situation, and since these people seem to operate a large number of hostels and “hotels” in Ekaterinburg, I encourage you to be very careful when booking hostels in Yekaterinburg .  I think this group opens, closes and renames “hostels” very quickly, so please be cautious when booking to avoid the hostel names and addresses I’ve noted above.

Restaurants in Ekaterinburg

Once I checked in Novotel Ekaterinburg Center I was in a great location to explore the city’s restaurants.  I found a great vegetarian cafeteria and ate all my meals there… but unfortunately it has since closed.  If you’re looking for a good mix of vegetarian and meat-based dishes, consider checking out Khmeli Suneli , a popular Georgian restaurant, or Stolle , a cafe that specialized in perogies (and other stuffed dumplings) with all sorts of sweet and savory fillings.

Trans-Siberian Express Stop #7 – Perm

Trans-Siberian Railway Stops - Perm, Russia

All of my memories of Perm, Russia are… wet.  Even though I visited in the middle of summer, it was pouring rain for the entire two days that I spent in the city.  The weather, combined some unfortunate tourist attraction closures, put a damper on my time in the city.  However, I still recommend Perm as a great stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  It hardly sees any tourists, it’s full of stunning Soviet architecture, and there’s a restaurant so crazy that you have to see it to believe it.  That being said, you only need one night in Perm.

Things To Do in Perm

You’re looking at the #1 tourist attraction in Perm (according to TripAdvisor at the time of my visit) – a statue of a guy taking a photo.  Woo-hoo!

I was actually really excited about visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art PERMM , which my guidebook said was great, but I found it to be closed (and quite… ramshackle…) when I visited Perm.  I checked today and the website appears to be updated, with information about current exhibits, so it would be worth a visit if you’re in town.

The other thing that I really wanted to do in Perm was visit Perm-36 , which is the only gulag (Soviet work camp) in Russia that wasn’t destroyed after the fall of the USSR.  Because it’s about 125 kilometers from Perm, it’s easier to visit as part of an organized tour.  For a while, there was a museum at Perm-36, but it was closed when I visited and since it was absolutely pouring rain, I wasn’t interested in a visit that only included the exterior of the site.  It’s hard to find accurate information about whether or not the site and/or museum are currently open, but the tourist information office inside the Hotel Ural can connect you with an English-speaking guide.

There are other things to do in Perm, including some art galleries and small regional museums.

Hotels in Perm

In Perm, I stayed at Hostel 7 Rooms .  It was a little bit difficult to find at the time, but I provided them with clear English directions that they can share with guests – I hope they’re using them, because this was a lovely hostel.  Very clean, cozy and comfortable, and the owners were among the kindest I met along the Trans-Siberian Railway.

If you’re wanting to splurge on an (inexpensive) hotel room, Hotel Ural is a massive landmark in the center of Perm.  It feels a bit like City Hall or something, as the lobby is full of the city’s most important business offices, banks and tourist services.  The hotel has three restaurants, a (retro) fitness center and a sauna that offers quite possibly my favorite discount of all time:

There is a “Birthday man” offer in the “Stroganovskaya” sauna: All birthday man get a 10% discount on “Stroganovskaya” sauna for a period of 10 days before and 10 days after the date of birth.

Guys, what are you waiting for?

Restaurants in Perm

Stop the presses!  Perm, Russia has an entire “Friends”-themed cafe called Central Perk!  Designed to look exactly like the interior of the cafe from the American television show, and featuring huge murals of the “friends” themselves on the exterior walls, this cafe is so unexpected and bizarre that it’s almost worth stopping in the city just for a cup of coffee!

Another highly-recommended restaurant is Vkus Stranstvy , a stolovaya in the city center.  They had several different vegetarian choices, and I opted for a simple plate of grilled vegetables and fried potatoes.

Trans-Siberian Railway Stop #8 – Suzdal

Trans-Siberian Train Railway Stops - Suzdal, Russia

Much like Olkhon Island, Suzdal is another non-stop on the Trans-Siberian Express: technically, the train doesn’t actually stop here, but it’s easily accessible from the nearby station at Vladimir, which is less than forty kilometers away.  Buses from Vladimir to Suzdal “technically” stop at the Suzdal bus station that is five kilometers from the city center, but if a few passengers are willing to pay a gratuity, most drivers will continue to the historic center.

When I think about my journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Suzdal stands out as one of my absolute favorite stops .  After several weeks of concrete plazas, block-like buildings and sitting on trains, Suzdal’s quite countryside setting, full of little cottages, wooden footbridges and domed Orthodox churches, was wonderfully refreshing.  I spent three full days here and could have stayed longer.

Things To Do in Suzdal

Within an hour of two of arriving in Suzdal I noticed a trend among the Russian women who were also visiting: most arrived in Suzdal in their city clothes, but quickly visited one of the local dress shops and changed into a traditional, floor-length floral dress .  Jumping on the bandwagon, the first thing I did in Suzdal was go shopping for a new dress.  I found one that suited me perfectly, and while I didn’t wear it around Suzdal, one year later I still love wearing it when I’m back home on a hot summer day.  A handmade floral dress made from natural fibers (not polyester!) is my #1 souvenir recommendation for all of Russia , and Suzdal is a great place to buy one.

With shopping complete (and possibly adorned in a brand-new outfit), it’s time to explore the amazing heritage sites that make Suzdal famous.  You probably passed the historic trading arcades on your way into town (don’t miss the mead tasting room on the back side of the building, facing the river!) and immediately noticed the many churches that dot the village landscape.  On the opposite side of the river, the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life is an open-air ethnographic museum showing the traditional architecture, lifestyle and culture of the region.

When you’re ready to explore the heart of Suzdal by foot, you can start in the north side of town, at the flowery Holy Intercession Convent and Saviour Monastery of St Euthymius (modest dress is required to enter both religious complexes), or you can begin at the south end of town at Suzdal’s riverfront Kremlin (a fortified citadel built in the twelfth century).  It’s a comfortable, and picturesque, walk between both sights.

Hotels in Suzdal

When I visited Suzdal, one of Moscow’s most famous backpacker hostels also had a location in Suzdal.  I stayed there and enjoyed my stay, but it seems they’ve closed their doors.

Suzdal is an ideal place to choose an intimate guesthouse over a typical hotel.  If you’re using Booking’s map view to choose your guesthouse, look for something around the widest, bendiest part of the river – this is the quaint, picturesque village part of Suzdal, away from the busy modern district.

If I was returning, my top contenders would be Guesthouse Dacha Beliy Bereg ( White Beach Cottage Guesthouse ), Viktoria Guesthouse or Na Kremlevskom Beregu ( O n the Kremlin Beach) .

Restaurants in Suzdal

Every time I ate a meal in Suzdal I felt like the waitress had taken my order and then a babushka had gone back into the field behind the restaurant and picked a fresh potato, mushroom or onion for my meal.  The flavors of the fruits and vegetables popped in every dish, and every meal had a rustic, homestyle quality that I didn’t find anywhere else in Russia.  Unless you’re eating in locals’ homes, Russian food can sometimes feel a bit utilitarian, but in Suzdal, every dish felt like it was cooked with love.

My two most memorable meals in Suzdal were from Chanaya (a homey cafe right beside the Kremlin) and Kvasnaya Izba , on the opposite side of the river, where they brew their own kvass (lightly-fermented rye bread soda) in a historic building.  Both restaurants had lots of hearty meat dishes and several delicious vegetarian choices.  I can also recommend breakfast at Kharchevnya , where I was served an omelette in a pot!  In a pot!   My mind was blown!

Trans-Siberian Express Stop #9 – Moscow

Trans-Siberian Express - Stop in Moscow, Russia

I fell in love with Mosow very quickly, and made the spontaneous decision to stay in the city for a full week rather than continue onward to Saint Petersburg.  I definitely think that I made the right choice for my travel style and my travel interests, and I have no regrets about ending my Trans-Siberian Railway journey in the Russian capital. 

There were so many things that I loved about Moscow.  First, the city is absolutely huge, and I loved how I could emerge from a spectacular underground metro station and find myself face-to-face with buildings that seemed bigger than anything I’d ever seen before … how could I not have spotted these monoliths from my earlier vantage points?

Second, as someone who is fascinated by Soviet architecture, Moscow didn’t disappoint.  I used Architectuul to plan several walking routes around the city , each leading me to buildings more fantastical than the last.  Moscow is very pedestrian-friendly – although it’s huge, you can use the metro system to reach a starting point and then easily walk for hours on clean, wide sidewalks, through picturesque parks and underneath shady trees.

Finally, after spending almost seven weeks crossing Russia by train on the Trans-Siberian Railway, I was more than ready for a little comfort.  Moscow is a truly international capital city , with excellent shopping (at all price points), restaurants to satisfy every taste and every budget, and actual tourist attractions (beyond just “statue of man taking photo”!).

Things To Do in Moscow

There are too many great things to do in Moscow to fit them all here!  Click through to my Moscow guide for detailed information about what to do in the city (including the best metro stop for each attraction).

Check your “good tourist” boxes and start your visit to Moscow in the area around the Red Square .  Here, you’ve got the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the GUM Department Store.

If that doesn’t take a full day, I would suggest that you spend your afternoon on one of the luxury river cruises offered by the Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow (which itself is located inside one of the famous Seven Sisters skyscrapers).  This gives you a better orientation to the layout of the city, and you’ll get a preview of other attractions that might be of interest, including the Novodevichy Convent , Luzhniki Stadium , Gorky Park and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior .

I also visited the Sanduny Banya while I was in Moscow.  At first, I was slightly put off by the fact that the beautiful front doors were only for male visitors, while women had to enter through a side door that was probably first installed for servants or something, but once I was inside my anger over the sexist door situation quickly melted away.  I love spas (and have written about day spas in Baden-Baden and Milan ) but had never experienced anything quite as scorching as the Sanduny Banya… I was amazed that my eyebrows didn’t burn off!

On my last day in Moscow I visited the Izmaylovo Market , which you can see in my second photo above.  The Izmaylovo Market is sort of half flea market, half crazy, Russian-Disney-esque souvenir shopping center.  I picked up a full set of shirtless Vladmir Putin mugs (miraculously they all survived the journey back to Canada, but I feel really uncomfortable every time I try drinking out of them, so they’re mostly decorative today…) along with some Soviet space program memorabilia for my brother.  I was even able to order a vegetarian lunch from the guys grilling meat in the middle of the market, and my veggie kebab with pita bread was memorably good.

Hotels in Moscow

I stayed at two hotels and one hostel in Moscow.  In my opinion, the most important thing to consider when choosing a Moscow hotel is the location .  Ideally, you want to be within two or three blocks of a metro station and relatively close to the attractions that interest you the most.

I can’t personally recommend any Moscow hostels , as I didn’t really like the one I had reserved (I checked out early) and, at the time, it had the best reviews of any hostel in the city.  However, I’ve heard that the 2018 World Cup was motivation for local hostels to up their game, so I’m sure that you’ll be able to find a great hostel in Moscow today – that link will take you to an updated list of the city’s highest-rated hostels.

The first hotel that I stayed at in Moscow was Pushkin Hotel . I chose it because of its proximity to three metro stations: Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya and Chekovskaya.  It was also pretty easy to navigate from here, as it was a straight walk (downhill!) from Hotel Pushkin to the Red Square and the Kremlin.  However, my room didn’t have the advertised air conditioning, which was a disappointment during hot summer nights.

Next, I stayed at the Godunov Hotel .  I actually ended up here when I was unhappy at a neighboring hostel (I won’t say the name, but you can easily use Google Maps to find very nearby hostels…).  I was very happy with the location of the Godunov Hotel, which is close to the Trubnaya metro station, the world-famous Sanduny Banya Russian baths and some of the city’s luxury shopping districts (in which I looked, but didn’t shop!).  However, the wifi didn’t work for  my entire stay and the staff were really rude to all of the travelers who asked them to find a solution.

Restaurants in Moscow

My first meal in Moscow was at one of the city’s four Khachapuri resturants.  Khachapuri is a type of Georgian flatbread, and its also the name of this local chain of Georgian restaurants.  This was my first time trying Georgian food, and it turned into the inspiration for my visit to Georgia shortly thereafter!  Khachapuri has amazing food with lots of vegetarian options, including budget-friendly lunch specials.  They have a convenient location one block away from the Pushkinskaya metro station, while their restaurant on Ukrainskiy Bul’var has a lovely terrace in the park.  

I also visited a few of the city’s vegan and vegetarian restaurants, including the trendy Fresh (where I had a salad with breaded oyster mushrooms that was insanely good… and I think I might have been the only non-supermodel in the restaurant) and Avocado Cafe , which has a convenient location near the end of Tverskaya Street and the Red Square.

If you’ve run out of money at the end of your Trans-Siberian Express journey, you can have a great meal on a low budget at Grabli , a chain of stolovayas with locations across the city.  These restaurants are quite large (similar to Lido in Latvia, or Puzata Hata in Kiev ) and have excellent meat-based and vegetarian choices such as soup, salad, buckwheat, grilled vegetables and pancakes (both sweet and savory).  There’s a large Grabli location beside the Pushkinskaya metro station.

Trans-Siberian Railway Stop #10 – Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Full Disclosure: I didn’t go to Saint Petersburg!

It was on my itinerary, but I liked Moscow so much that I decided to stay there for a full week rather than continuing all the way northwest to Saint Petersburg.  However, it is obviously an iconic travel destination in Russia and a popular addition to the Trans-Siberian Railway journey (since technically it’s not on the formal Trans-Siberian rail line).

Compared to Moscow, Saint Petersburg is known for being more affordable, with more beautiful classic architecture and a warmer attitude towards visitors.  So, it’s an ideal multi-day stop for budget travelers who feel overwhelmed in Moscow’s bustling metropolis.

Creative commons photo via Alejandro on Flickr.

Things To Do in Saint Petersburg

Literally every Saint Petersburg travel expert suggests that you devote an entire day to The Hermitage , the massive state-owned museum featuring more than three million works of art, selectively displayed in 360 rooms across five buildings.  The permanent exhibits include masterpieces like da Vinci’s Madonna and Child , Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son and Caravaggio’s The Lute Player .  Book your one- or two-day tickets online at the official Hermitage website to skip the queue – there’s a surcharge, but there’s too much to see to waste your time in line.

Other highlights in Saint Petersburg depend on your interests.  There are many beautiful Orthodox churches to visit and  stunning palaces to explore, while lots of visitors like to take in a ballet or opera at the opulent Mariinsky Theatre .  The Faberge Museum has the world’s largest collection of Russia’s famous decorative eggs, while the Kunstakamera showscases eggs of a very different variety (I’m gonna let you Google that yourself).  If you didn’t visit a banya in Moscow, don’t leave Russia without donning a felt hat and sweating it out while receiving a strong (but optional!) birch branch lashing at one of the city’s historic saunas.  This two-day Saint Petersburg tour plan hits many of the city’s top attractions, and you can replicate the routes independently.

Hotels in Saint Petersburg

Since I haven’t been to Saint Petersburg, I will refer you to Booking’s list of hot deals in the city.

Restaurants in Saint Petersburg

Again, not having visited Saint Petersburg, I can’t speak to its restaurant scene.  However, I noticed the city has several Georgian Khachapuri i Vino restaurants, which I tried in Kiev and can confirm have a good selection of vegetarian options.

I generally trust the restaurant listings from In Your Pocket and Like a Local (scroll down a bit as they’re heavily pushing food tours at the top) , so click through to see their recommended restaurants in Saint Petersburg.

Russia Guidebooks for the Trans-Siberian Railway

I don’t think I would have survived my Trans-Siberian Express journey without the Lonely Planet Russia guidebook .  I loved having a paper copy of the book to read on the train between destinations, and it really helped me decide which cities warranted a stop (and how long to spend in each place).  My personal copy is well-worn, with notes on many of the pages, highlighting throughout and even a few pages shoved back inside the book after I cut them out and carried them around in my purse!

travel in russia by train

Do you have questions about solo travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway?  Check out my post about planning a Trans-Siberian Railway trip , and let me know in the comments if you still have any questions!

If you want to experience some authentic Eastern European travel without the hassle of obtaining a Russian visa, consider visiting Belarus , which has just opened its borders for up to thirty days of visa free travel (for travelers from many countries), or Ukraine, where you can explore the Chernobyl Nuclear Exclusion Zone on an overnight excursion. 

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What’s a worthy alternative to the Trans-Siberian railway?

Tom Hall

Jul 3, 2023 • 3 min read

travel in russia by train

Turkey’s Dogu Express (or Eastern Express) crosses most of Anatolia, providing epic scenery over the 26-hour journey © Ozan Kose / AFP via Getty Images

Lonely Planet’s team of writers and editors answers your travel problems and provides tips and hacks to help you plan a hassle-free trip. Whenever we get a train-related query, we call on our in-house rail guru, Tom Hall.

Question: I had planned to take a Trans-Siberian train journey late in 2023, but I don’t anticipate that can happen now. Could you recommend some other epic European routes?

Tom Hall: Though Europe does have some very long trains, nothing compares to the cross-continental odyssey of traveling east from Moscow for a week or more. As you note, that’s not an option right now. However, there are plenty of other amazing routes to consider to keep you rolling for a long time.

SJ night train at border village, Riksgransen, Sweden

Several thin fingers of railways connect up distant corners of the European continent. The longest by distance is the Snälltåget train from Malmö , Sweden to Innsbruck , Austria , which exists primarily to ferry Swedish skiers to the Alps then back again a week later. It covers the 1075-mile (1720km) route each week in about 22 hours, with stops at several key Austrian towns offering connections to ski resorts.

Given Sweden’s size and location, you’ll find two more long-distance heavyweights departing, in different directions, from Stockholm . The mighty daily service between Stockholm and Narvik in Norway – 137 miles inside the Arctic Circle – covers 916 miles (1467km) in 18 hours. At least one one and sometimes two sleeper services connect Stockholm with Berlin , taking between 15 and 17-and-a-half hours to cross southern Sweden, Denmark and northern Germany . 

The longest train in the UK is the outwardly unassuming Cross Country service connecting Aberdeen in Scotland to Penzance in Cornwall . The 13-hour trip covers a huge swathe of Britain , traversing almost 800 miles (1280km). It also needn’t be the end of the journey. From Penzance, the Scillonian ferry plies the waters over to the idyllic Isles of Scilly .

Great Western Railway train under a stone overpass at Teignmouth, Devon, England, UK

The spirit of the Trans-Siberian – and perhaps the experience you’re looking for – is a rolling adventure where you might share a very unusual journey (and train picnic!) with your fellow passengers as the landscape becomes ever-more unfamiliar. For that, consider heading to Turkey .

Starting in Istanbul – perhaps reached by a rail odyssey of your own from elsewhere in Europe ( Sofia, anyone ?) – Anatolia awaits. Istanbul’s Marmaray train speeds under the Bosphorus and on to Söğütlüçeşme station on the city’s Asian side, from where a high-speed train heads east to Ankara . Once in the Turkish capital, the Dogu Express (Doğu Ekspresi) takes 26 hours to wend its way 818 miles (1310km) to Kars in the north-east of the country, via superb Anatolian mountain and river scenery. There’s a version of this train aimed at tourists that makes several stops over a 30-hour journey – but the regular train is the classic experience.

Incidentally, the longest train I could find in Europe by duration is the irregularly scheduled and privately run train from Villach in Austria to Edirne in Turkey. Clocking in at 34 hours – perhaps more allowing for border controls – it is a car-carrying service aimed at Turkish expats traveling with their vehicles. This is one of the last remnants of what was once a much more extensive auto-train network in Europe, a fact you’d have plenty of time to appreciate as you and your car trundle across the continent’s southeastern corner.

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Why You Should Consider Train Travel in Europe

Elina Geller

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Train system in Europe

Europe train map, booking train travel in europe, 3 ways to make your european train fare cheaper, smart money move: earn points on train travel, train travel in europe recapped.

If you’ve been dreaming about visiting Europe this summer and eating gelato in Italy or visiting the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia in Spain, good news: Airfare is down 8% compared to this time last year, according to Hopper’s 2024 Summer Travel Outlook.

And once you’re in Europe, you may be able to save money if you travel by train. Traveling by train in Europe is convenient and sustainable. Plus, some trains, like the Glacier Express in Switzerland, are designed to travel through scenic destinations so you can sightsee while you relax.

If you’re considering incorporating train travel into your European itinerary , here’s what you need to know about getting around and how to save money on tickets.

There are several train companies in Europe. Some only offer regional train service, while others offer trains between countries. As you plan your trip, familiarize yourself with the train companies that serve your intended destination so you can determine if traveling by train makes sense for you.

Here are some train companies that serve different countries in Europe:

Eurostar trains travel between the U.K., France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. (Although the U.K. is not in Europe, it's a popular destination on its own and often coupled with a European itinerary.) 

NS is the leading train company in the Netherlands. 

Renfe is the national train company in Spain. 

Deutsche Bahn (DB) offers long-distance and regional trains in Germany.

SNCF Connect offers high-speed train travel in France.

Trenitalia is the state-run train company in Italy.

Glacier Express offers scenic trains within Switzerland.

Some of these train companies have partnerships with each other to offer convenient connection options. For example, DB-SNCF is a joint venture between DB and SNCF that links travel between Germany and France.

If you Google search “Europe train map,” you’ll find many different maps based on regions, countries, or travel throughout the continent. Here’s a European train map offered by Trainline, which shows different destinations accessible by train.

travel in russia by train

The interactive map on Trainline’s website highlights popular routes across the country. If the country you’re looking for isn’t featured or you want to see regional trains instead, make your search more specific to check availability.

Buying train tickets in Europe is fairly straightforward. You can purchase your tickets through:

An online travel agency (OTA): Several OTAs that sell train tickets in Europe include Trainline, Rail Europe, Eurail and Omio.

The train company: If you know which train company serves your destinations, consider booking directly on the train company's website in case you need make any changes, since booking travel through an OTA adds an extra layer of complexity . 

At the train station: If you don’t know (or plan) your schedule in advance, you can purchase a ticket at the train station. Keep in mind purchasing at the train station is running a risk that the train time you want might be sold out, or more expensive, since it’s a last-minute purchase. 

Depending on when and where you buy your tickets, there are a few ways to save money on train travel within Europe.

1. Comparison shop

If the train company and an OTA offer tickets, compare prices to see where those seats are cheaper. We searched for a train from Paris to Amsterdam in August 2024 on the Eurostar site and on Trainline to see which option is cheaper.

Booking directly with Eurostar (price in U.S. dollars and euros)

travel in russia by train

Booking a Eurostar train on Trainline (price in U.S. dollars and euros)

travel in russia by train

If you pay in euros, tickets on Eurostar and Trainline are the same price (60 euros). But if you pay in U.S. dollars, the fare is slightly cheaper on Trainline ($68.30 versus $70). If you don’t have a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees, you’d want to book the ticket from Trainline in U.S. dollars.

Generally though, if you’re going to Europe — or really anywhere outside of the U.S. — consider using a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees , because these pesky fees are usually between 1% to 3% and can quickly add up.

2. Take advantage of discounts

There are often discounts available for students, seniors and families.

For example:

Spanish train operator Renfe, offers up to a 30% discount on tickets for those ages 14 to 25.

Eurail offers a family discount, a 10% senior discount and up to 25% off for travelers age 27 or below. 

Eurostar offers discounted rates for those under age 26 and 60 and up. 

Other discounts or sales may be available, so be sure to shop around. Booking early can also score you a deal. For comparison purposes, we searched for a ticket from Rome to Milan on Trenitalia one week and three months out. Most of the available tickets a week out were priced at $108, while the tickets three months in advance hovered around $48.

3. Consider travel insurance

According to NerdWallet’s annual summer travel survey , an impressive 84% of Americans plan on vacationing in 2024, with 45% of Americans going on a summer trip (June-August). Summer travelers plan to spend $3,594, on average, for their flights and hotel stays.

When considering an expensive vacation, travel insurance can be a good option, particularly if your trip plans are nonrefundable and you want overseas medical coverage. Even if you have a credit card that offers complimentary travel insurance , most U.S.-based medical plans don’t protect you for medical care abroad.

In addition to travel medical coverage, a comprehensive travel insurance plan includes benefits such as trip cancellation , trip interruption , baggage delay and lost luggage coverage . If you don’t need travel medical insurance, and the coverage provided by your travel credit card is sufficient, you may not need to purchase a standalone travel insurance policy.

» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance

If you have a credit card that earns extra points for travel, using it to buy train tickets makes sense since trains are part of the travel category. Here are some popular cards that earn additional rewards for travel and don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

• 2 points per $1 spent on travel, including train travel.

• 3 points per $1 spent on travel, including train travel.

• 2 miles per $1 on every purchase.

• 3 points per $1 on transit, including train travel.

Terms apply.

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

» Learn more: Best travel credit cards

Traveling around Europe by train can be a great way to explore one or several countries, all while avoiding the hassle of the airport or renting a car. There are many options for finding train tickets, but generally, purchasing tickets in advance and directly from the train company can save money.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024 :

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

On a similar note...

travel in russia by train

Russia to Build High-Speed Railway Between Moscow and St. Petersburg

Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A view shows train carriages of the Russian Railways on a frosty day in Moscow, Russia November 17, 2023. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has approved a project to build the first high-speed passenger railway between its two biggest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, to be funded with billions of dollars from the state budget, a government directive showed on Thursday.

The government approved the construction of the 679 km railroad, which should allow Russian-made trains travelling at 360 km/hour per hour to get from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 2-2.5 hours instead of the current 4-5 hours, on the first business day of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The railway, which will cost more than 2.3 trillion roubles ($25.97 billion), will be built by a Russian company, VSM Two Capitals, on concession terms using state and private money.

The Russian government plans to allocate at least 300 billion roubles of loans from the National Welfare Fund at 1% in 2025, and subsidies amounting to about 328 billion roubles between 2024 and 2038, the directive showed.

More than 580 billion roubles is needed for the project from the National Welfare Fund, with other funding coming from sources including Russian state-owned banks VTB, Sberbank and Gazprombank, the former minister of transport Vitaly Savelyev said in February.

The head of Russia's Sberbank German Gref said on Thursday it will participate in financing the project.

Russia has proposed to raise taxes for companies and the wealthy, which may add an extra $30 billion to next year's budget revenues and allow Moscow to increase spending, including on its war in Ukraine.

($1 = 88.5750 roubles)

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Jan Harvey)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters .

Photos You Should See - June 2024

A participant takes part in the Pride Parade in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, June 1, 2024. Thailand kicked off its celebration of the LGBTQ+ community's Pride Month with a parade on Saturday, as the country is on the course to become the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize marriage equality. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

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travel in russia by train

Russia, Belarus launch a second stage of drills to train troops in tactical nuclear weapons

Associated press.

travel in russia by train

MOSCOW, JUNE 11

Russia and its ally Belarus on Tuesday launched a second stage of drills intended to train their troops in tactical nuclear weapons, part of the Kremlin's efforts to discourage the West from ramping up support for Ukraine.

Related Articles

France's macron urges a green light for ukraine to strike targets inside russia with western weapons, russia begins nuclear drills in an apparent warning to west over ukraine.

In announcing the nuclear maneuvers last month, the Russian Defense Ministry said they were in response to "provocative statements and threats of certain Western officials regarding the Russian Federation."

The Kremlin has expressed outrage after French President Emmanuel Macron said he doesn't exclude deploying troops to Ukraine, and the U.S. and some other NATO allies allowed Kyiv to use the weapons supplied by them for striking targets on the Russian territory.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that such drills and maintaining combat readiness are important in view of the "hostile decisions and actions" by the U.S. and its allies in Europe and their "daily provocations."

Sergei Shoigu, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, said in remarks published Tuesday that the maneuvers were a due response to "Western support of the Kyiv regime, active involvement of NATO's troops in combat operations in Ukraine and an effective permission for Kyiv to launch missile strikes on Russian civilian facilities." He added that the drills were also part of Moscow's reaction to NATO allies beefing up their military potential near Russia's borders.

During the second stage of the drills that began Tuesday, Russian and Belarusian troops will undergo joint training in non-strategic nuclear weapons used in combat, the Defense Ministry said. It noted that the exercise is aimed at maintaining readiness of personnel and equipment to ensure "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the alliance of Russia and Belarus.

The first stage of the exercise last month envisaged a preparation for nuclear missions and deployment for launches, according to the Defense Ministry. The Russian military had trained separately during the initial stage of the maneuvers before joint drills with Belarusian forces.

Last year, Russia moved some of its tactical nuclear weapons into neighboring Belarus, which also borders Ukraine and NATO members Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has relied on close ties with Russia and provided his country as a staging ground for the war in Ukraine.

Tactical nuclear weapons include air bombs, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery munitions and are meant for use on a battlefield. Usually they are less powerful than the strategic weapons - massive warheads that arm intercontinental ballistic missiles and are intended to obliterate entire cities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted, however, that even Russia's battlefield nuclear weapons are much more powerful than the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan at the end of World War II.

Last week, Putin declared that the West is wrong to proceed from the assumption that Russia will never use its atomic arsenal.

Putin pointed at the country's nuclear doctrine that envisages the use of nuclear weapons in case of a threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. At the same time, he said he sees no current threat to Russia's sovereignty that would warrant the use of nuclear weapons and emphasized that Moscow doesn't need them to defeat Ukraine.

The Russian leader has repeatedly reminded the West about the country's nuclear might since he sent troops into Ukraine in 2022.

Speaking last week, Putin warned that Russia could revise its nuclear doctrine if the situation changes. The current doctrine states that atomic weapons could be used in response to a nuclear strike or an attack with conventional forces that threaten "the very existence" of the Russian state.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday that the latest moves by the U.S. and its allies have raised the need for modifying the doctrine.

"There is a trend for further exacerbation of the situation, and the multiplying challenges resulting from unacceptable escalatory actions by the U.S. and its NATO allies raise the issue of how basic documents in the sphere of nuclear deterrence could be brought in closer conformity with the current needs," Ryabkov said, according to Russian news agencies. He didn't say how the nuclear doctrine could be changed.

The US lifts a ban on sending weapons to a controversial Ukrainian military unit

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Russian warships headed to Caribbean for drills as tensions rise over Ukraine, US officials say

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to senior news leaders of international news agencies on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the Lakhta Center skyscraper, the headquarters of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. The Russian leader has used the annual forum as a showcase for touting Russia's development and seeking investors. (Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to senior news leaders of international news agencies on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the Lakhta Center skyscraper, the headquarters of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. The Russian leader has used the annual forum as a showcase for touting Russia’s development and seeking investors. (Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a journalist’s question as he meets with senior news leaders of international news agencies on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the Lakhta Center skyscraper, the headquarters of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

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travel in russia by train

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has been tracking Russian warships and aircraft that are expected to arrive in the Caribbean for a military exercise in the coming weeks, in a Russian show of force as tensions rise over Western military support for Ukraine, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The ships also are expected possibly to make port calls in Venezuela and Cuba, as Russia establishes a Western Hemisphere military presence that the senior Biden administration officials said was notable but not concerning. The exercise, which will be monitored by the U.S. military, will involve a “handful” of Russian ships and support vessels, the two officials said.

It’s not the first time Russia has sent its ships to the Caribbean. This exercise, however, is taking place as Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that Moscow could take “asymmetrical steps” elsewhere in the world in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to allow Ukraine to use U.S.-provided weapons to strike inside Russia to protect Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

The officials, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity to provide details that had not been announced publicly, said the exercise is “certainly” part of a broader Russian response to the U.S. support for Ukraine, but it also is an effort by Putin to show his navy is still capable of global power projection after losing several ships to Ukrainian strikes.

FILE - A Patriot missile mobile launcher is displayed outside the Fort Sill Army Post near Lawton, Okla., on March 21, 2023. Two U.S. officials say the United States will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system. It answers Kyiv's desperate calls for more air defenses as it battles against an intense Russian assault on the northeastern Kharkiv region. (AP Photo/Sean Murphy, File)

Ukrainian military officials said in March that Russia had lost one-third of its Black Sea fleet to Ukrainian strikes during the past two years of war.

Russia did not notify the U.S. of the pending exercise, but the ships’ movements have been tracked by the U.S. Navy, the officials said.

Despite Russia not notifying the U.S. — which countries often do to avoid miscalculation — the officials said militaries all over the globe have the right to conduct exercises in international waters and do so regularly. For example, on Friday about 20 NATO countries including the U.S. will begin BALTOPS 24, a major naval and air exercise in the Baltic region near Russia.

The officials said they expect the Russian ships will remain in the region through the summer and will likely conduct similar, follow-up exercises in the Caribbean after this one concludes.

The officials said Congress was notified of the upcoming Russian exercises on Wednesday.

TARA COPP

travel in russia by train

Sean Connery and Robert Shaws Train Fight Was the Ultimate James Bond Moment

  • Robert Shaw's role as Red Grant is a standout in From Russia with Love , as he poses a true threat to Agent 007.
  • The film grew the James Bond franchise by introducing darker espionage elements and tension.
  • Bond and Red Grant's tense stand-off on a train showcases an intellectual battle in the climax.

James Bond has tangled with a lot of tough foes in his long career as an iconic movie character, but one of the greatest opponents he ever faced was a ruthless Russian assassin played by Robert Shaw . Shaw is certainly best known for his legendary role as the shark hunter Quint in Jaws , but he is virtually unrecognizable in the second-ever Bond movie, From Russia with Love , starring Sean Connery . Being unrecognizable is the name of the game for any great spy, so it's fitting that the character of Red Grant that Shaw plays is a true threat to Agent 007.

From Russia with Love really doesn't get enough credit for how it helped the James Bond franchise evolve. While the first film, Dr. No , is a fun, goofy trip to Jamaica, From Russia with Love is a slower, darker, and much more tense espionage tale that introduces some of James Bond's hallmarks not long before the fan-favorite entry of Goldfinger . Bond's relationship and rivalry with Red Grant is easily one of the film's biggest highlights, which is impressive given that the two only meet once in the whole film. When the two spies do end up meeting on that fateful train ride, the result is a remarkably tense game of cat and mouse that races audiences toward the film's conclusion.

From Russia With Love

Release Date October 10, 1963

Director Terence Young

Cast Bernard Lee, Lotte Lenya, Pedro Armendriz, Daniela Bianchi, Robert Shaw, Sean Connery

Main Genre Action

Writers Johanna Harwood, Richard Maibaum, Ian Fleming

What Is 'From Russia with Love' About?

From Russia with Love was released right in the middle of the Cold War, so it's fitting that the main antagonists of the spy film are Russian. However, that's really only partially true, as both sides of the Cold War are being aided and manipulated by James Bond and MI6's arch nemesis, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. The first feature film appearance of one of the few recurring antagonists in the Bond series, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and it's leader Dr. Blofeld ( Anthony Dawson ) make a daring play in the war by stealing a remarkably valuable Russian codex.

Of course, MI6 can't allow S.P.E.C.T.R.E. to have posession of such a device, and so they dispatch Bond to retrieve the device by any means necessary. This is foreseen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and Blofeld S.P.E.C.T.R.E. operative and Russian Colonel Rosa Klebb ( Lotte Lenya ) keeping the encryption device out of MI6's hands. Klebb has two people in mind to keep Bond out of their way. The first is a beautiful KGB agent named Tatiana Romanova ( Daniela Bianchi ), who has no idea that Rosa Klebb is secretly working with S.P.E.C.T.R.E. While Klebb hopes Tatiana will be able to successfully seduce the famously promiscuous Bond, she also has been training someone to be the true superior to Bond in every way: Donald "Red" Grant.

Red Grant Is James Bond's Physical and Intellectual Equal

The very first scene we see in From Russia with Love is Red Grant killing a soldier wearing a James Bond mask . If that's not a clear indication that Grant is being tailor-made to become the ultimate Bond-killing machine, we don't know what is. Grant has spent who knows how long training his mind and body to the highest possible peak to take down MI6's best operative. He is so determined to achieve this goal that Grant does not utter a single word for most of the film's runtime, patiently observing and waiting for his prey for the perfect time to strike.

In regard to how exactly Red Grant does battle with James Bond , he's actually something of an outlier compared to other Bond henchmen like Jaws ( Richard Kiel ) from The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker (which is fairly ironic given the Robert Shaw of it all). Most, if not all, of the traditional henchmen from the subsequent Bond films all represent a purely physical threat to Bond, typically being utilized as obstacles in the form of a quick fight. Grant's a little bit different, as he doesn't engage with Bond directly until the very end of the film . Instead, Grant sticks to the shadows, making Bond's mission much more difficult without ever laying a hand on him. In a way, his ability to stay off of others' radar doesn't just make him just as good a spy as Bond, but he might actually be even better.

James Bond and Red Grant Have an Epic Train Showdown

James Bond and Red Grant finally come face to face in the epic climax of From Russia with Love , all while on a train from Belgrade. Does Bond immediately get into fisticuffs with the silent villain? Well, no. Instead, Grant speaks for the very first time in the film , and is impersonating a fellow MI6 agent that he killed earlier in the movie. Grant manages to convince Bond and Tatiana that he is a companion, but it isn't long before Bond begins to suspect Grant is not the man he says he is .

Grant eventually reveals his true intentions and identity to Bond, also revealing to the MI6 agent that S.P.E.C.T.R.E. has been pulling the strings all along. This sequence between Bond and Grant in the train cabin is nothing short of riveting. Much like classic villain dynamics between two equals, such as Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty , for example, Bond and Grant treat a stand-off at gunpoint as if it were a gentlemanly intellectual affair. They're constantly monitoring each other's words, facial expressions, and movements to decipher who really is going to come out on top here.

Before His Last Bond Movie, Sean Connery Was a True King in This Fun Time Travel Fantasy

Agamemnon. King Agamemnon.

Of course, this gentlemanly bravado can only last so long, and soon Grant and Bond are in a heated wrestling match. It's a close match, and even Bond struggles to take down his S.P.E.C.T.R.E. counterpart. In the end, though, Bond successfully strangles Grant with his own fiber wire — the very same weapon that Grant used to kill the Bond training doppelgänger at the start of the film. He might not have known him long, but it's likely Bond left the encounter thinking this mysterious shadow operative was one of the greatest enemies he'd ever faced.

Sean Connery and Robert Shaws Train Fight Was the Ultimate James Bond Moment

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COMMENTS

  1. A beginner's guide to train travel in Russia

    The Russian rail system is one of the largest in the world, and trains serve almost every town and city in Russia. Train travel is a safe, comfortable and inexpensive way to get around. In fact, it can be safer to use Russian trains than internal flights! It will certainly be cheaper and far more interesting.

  2. Russian Trains: The Ultimate Guide

    The Russian Train Journey - a Genuine Russian Experience. A train journey is a must-do in Russia, like going on a gondola in Venice - except that for the price of a half hour on a Venetian gondola, you get seven time-zones of Russian train travel. The train is the cheapest, safest and most comfortable way to travel through Russia.

  3. Russian trains: how to buy e-tickets and which compartment to choose

    3.2. Steps to buy tickets online. Below I will explain step by step how to buy a one-way ticket between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, on the Red Arrow classic train. The purchase process is the same for any journey you are going to make by train in Russia. Nowadays, most trains allow you to buy electronic tickets.

  4. How to Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway (Updated 2024)

    Step One: Planning Your Route. The traditional Trans-Siberian route stretches 9,288 kilometers between Moscow and Vladivostok. Two variations are also popular: the Trans-Mongolian (between Moscow and Beijing via Mongolia) and the Trans-Manchurian (between Moscow and Beijing, bypassing Mongolia). All three routes take 6-7 days if going non-stop.

  5. Trans-Siberian Railway Trips & Tours

    Trans-Siberian Railway Tours. Being the longest railway in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the best ways to explore Russia and Asia. Our Russian train tours will surely become your once-in-a-lifetime experience! Get a taste of Russian, Mongolian and Chinese culture, heritage, and spirit, see the imposing Urals, breathtaking Lake ...

  6. The 8 Best Trans-Siberian Railway Tours of 2022

    Trans-Siberian Train. The main route of the Trans-Siberian Railway begins in Moscow and heads east to Vladivostok passing through Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Ulan Ude, Chita, Blagoveshchensk and Khabarovsk. The length of the route is 9259 km or 5753 miles. The train travels through 7 time zones and takes 8 days to ...

  7. Russian Railways

    Buy Russian train tickets online Check timetables, maps, fares and discounts Best customer service Low prices, Fast booking & Safe payment ... (for some international trains - 4 years, for the trains between Finland and Russia - 6 years) may travel free of charge without a separate seat if accompanied by an adult. All Questions. Tickets are ...

  8. Train routes of Russia, Europe and Asia

    The most popular in Russia is, of course, the Moscow-Petersburg railway route, on which dozens of trains run daily, including high-speed Sapsans and comfortable night sleeping trains. Besides, tourists from Moscow most often travel by train to Kazan, and travelers from St. Petersburg most often take a train to ancient Veliky Novgorod.

  9. Rossiya Trans-Siberian Train

    The Rossiya train is recognized as a tourist train with English-speaking car attendants, meals included in the tickets price (1st and 2nd class), clean restrooms with new fixtures. Covering 9259 kilometres and connecting 2 continents, the train runs through 14 regions, 90 cities, and 2 time zones. This regular overnight train has 3 car classes ...

  10. Rail travel in Russia

    Russia's sole high-speed rail line is the Sapsan (Сапсан) between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, taking just under 4 hours to complete the journey on the fastest trains (compared to over 8 hours of driving). There are plans to upgrade the Sapsan line by 2026, further reducing the time to under 3 hours.

  11. What are Russian trains like?

    Train types by speed: High-speed train travel between Russia's two capitals is perfect for business travellers. Express trains comprise the majority of Russia's long-distance routes, and regular trains are best for those on a relaxed time schedule who want to enjoy the view. Train types by distance covered: Long-distance services cover ...

  12. Rossiya train: tickets, timetable and prices online

    Since the 30th of September 1966 Rossiya train passes through the whole country, connecting Moscow and Vladivostok. The train departs from Yaroslavsky station in Moscow, passes through the territory of 8 railways of Russia, changes time zones six times and completes its journey in Vladivostok. The route runs through 18 regions and crosses 16 ...

  13. Trans Siberian Express

    Take an exciting journey on the Gornergrat Railway on the Glacier Pullman Express attached to a Rack electric train. We travel to a height of 3,135 metres (10,285 feet) for the most incredible view of the Matterhorn. The Gornergrat is located between the Gornergletscher and Findelgletscher and offers a view of more than twenty peaks over 4,000 ...

  14. Russian Railway Map

    To make the process of planning your travel and booking Russian train tickets simpler, we've put together an easy-to-use interactive Russian rail map. Select the city of your choice on the map below and you'll see all the possible routes which are available from it. When choosing a second point on the Russian train map, you'll see the linked ...

  15. Train travel in Russia: how to travel safely during the pandemic

    General safety advice for train travel in Russia. When travelling by Russian short-distance train: Travel in first class at off-peak times. Avoid booking a table seat unless you are travelling in a group of four. Choose a row in the center of the carriage, away from the toilets and luggage racks. Bring your own refreshments or purchase tickets ...

  16. Preparing for a train journey in Russia.

    Packing for a Train Trip in Russia. For most people, packing is by far the most difficult part of travelling by train in Russia. Russian train-travel is mostly a stress-free, seamless experience. The over-all ease and nation-wide coverage means that longer-journeys by rail are much more common in Russia vs. other parts of the world, which is great!

  17. Russia Train Vacations

    Steam Train Tours. Fall Tours. Spring Tours. Summer Tours. Winter Tours. Escorted Tours. Independent Tours. Locally Hosted. Discover Russian history and culture on a Russia vacation to the country's most important destinations including Moscow and St. Petersburg.

  18. Trans-Siberian Railway Stops: The 10 Best Cities Across Russia

    Trans-Siberian Express Stop #1 - Vladivostok. Vladivostok was my introduction to Russia, and it was nothing like I expected. A cosmopolitan port city, Vladivostok was a fascinating mix of European and Asian cultures, with a little bit of beach vibes for good measure . The city was pleasantly walkable (if a little hilly) and local businesses ...

  19. Russian train tickets

    Russian electronic tickets are delivered to your email address. When you receive your E-ticket, print it and exchange for a boarding pass at the Russian train station. Find the trains of Russian railway easy and fast through the search form of Russian train tickets reservation. Book tickets now and travel across Russia by train.

  20. Russian Trains

    This website allows you to book Russian rail tickets on any trains in Russia, Baltics and Eastern Europe. You can book the newest high-speed Sapsan trains, classic luxury trains from Moscow to St. Petersburg and the traditional overnight trains. The convenience and reliability of our train ticket service can be attested by tens of thousands of ...

  21. The longest train journeys in Europe

    The longest by distance is the Snälltåget train from Malmö, Sweden to Innsbruck, Austria, which exists primarily to ferry Swedish skiers to the Alps then back again a week later. It covers the 1075-mile (1720km) route each week in about 22 hours, with stops at several key Austrian towns offering connections to ski resorts.

  22. Bus and Train Travel

    From affordable transit options to the latest luxury trains and scenic rail routes, find information and inspiration for bus and train travel around the world.

  23. Train Travel in Europe: What to Know

    Renfe is the national train company in Spain. Deutsche Bahn (DB) offers long-distance and regional trains in Germany. SNCF Connect offers high-speed train travel in France. Trenitalia is the state ...

  24. Russia to Build High-Speed Railway Between Moscow and St. Petersburg

    The government approved the construction of the 679 km railroad, which should allow Russian-made trains travelling at 360 km/hour per hour to get from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 2-2.5 hours ...

  25. Moscow-Sochi Train

    In autumn 2014 the first double-decker train in Russia was introduced by Russian Railways to run between Moscow and Sochi. These Russian trains are the fastest and the cheapest trains on the route. Each train consists of 15 carriages: 12 compartment coaches, 1 sleeping coach, 1 train staff coach and 1 dining car.

  26. Russia, Belarus launch a second stage of drills to train troops in

    MOSCOW, JUNE 11. Russia and its ally Belarus on Tuesday launched a second stage of drills intended to train their troops in tactical nuclear weapons, part of the Kremlin's efforts to discourage ...

  27. Russian warships headed to Caribbean for drills as tensions rise over

    Russia did not notify the U.S. of the pending exercise, but the ships' movements have been tracked by the U.S. Navy, the officials said. Despite Russia not notifying the U.S. — which countries often do to avoid miscalculation — the officials said militaries all over the globe have the right to conduct exercises in international waters and ...

  28. Sean Connery and Robert Shaws Train Fight Was the Ultimate James ...

    Sean Connery and Robert Shaws Train Fight Was the Ultimate James Bond Moment. Robert Shaw's role as Red Grant is a standout in From Russia with Love, as he poses a true threat to Agent 007. The ...