It is not a secret that Trans-Siberian is one of the most popular holiday choices when it comes to Russia. An amazing adventure starting in one of the most visited Russian cities, Moscow, going on through the local towns oozing with traditional culture and lifestyle, further east to the pure waters of the biggest fresh water lake, Baikal continuing to the port of Vladivostok rich in delicious seafood and splendid views. If you do not know where to make a stop on your way – here is the list of our favourite places.
Most people would start their journey here in the lively and energetic Russian capital. Moscow changed a lot to host FIFA 2018 and welcome thousands of football fans and the change is definitely a success. Apart from the main attractions such as Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral (which definitely deserve a visit), we recommend to explore the new great attractions. Zaradye park opened in September 2017 is one of them. In fact, Time magazine puts it on their list of World’s Greatest Places 2018. The park is comprised of four climatic zones: forest, steppe, tundra and the floodplains and offers wonderful views of the Moskva River. It’s beautiful floating bridge is another thing to see in the park. Read here about more hidden gems of Moscow.
Not many travelers know, but Yaroslavl is the city depicted on the 1000-rub banknote. Do not forget to make a stop here to see the city with your own eyes. Founded in 1010 the city is one of the oldest and historically rich places. It is one of the eight Golden Ring cities which are famous for their role in preserving the memory of the significant cultural, religious and historic events and their traditionally looking Kremlins and onion domed churches and cathedrals. Do not forget to visit Strelka (Arrow), a lovely park with gardens, fountains and statues.
Known to many as the place where the last Romanov tsars spent their final days, Ekaterinburg is full of history. If you want to know more about Nicholas II and his family, The Church on Blood Cathedral is a must. Built on the place where Nicholas II and his family were shot it commemorates the memory of all the good that the royal family brought to the country. Travel a bit away from Ekaterinburg and you will find yourself by the sign indicating the Europa-Asia border. Stand with one leg in each continent. Bring the camera!
Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and the sixth populated city. It is one of the most unique cultural places which proves that a peaceful co-existence of religions does exist. Almost half of the population of Kazan are Tatars whose primary religion is Islam. It is reflected in the architecture of the city itself. The Kul Sharif Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Europe outside of Istanbul, is the signature building of the city. Kazan is a perfect stop for those interested in cultural and religious history.
As can be guessed from the name, Novosibirsk is a city in Siberia. It is actually the third largest city in Russia but unlike Moscow and St Petersburg it is not as busy and hectic at times. The city is a very picturesque place bisected by the Ob river and full of greenery and beautiful views. Culture vultures will be pleasantly surprised too! The city is home to more than dozen affordable theatres, including The Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. More than that, Novosibirsk has their own metro system – the only city in Siberia which can boast this feature! So it is really easy to move around and explore the city independently.
One of the largest business and cultural centres of Russia, Krasnoyarsk definitely deserves a visit if you want to learn more about Russia. The city is a very special combination of urban and natural. For example, one of the main Krasnoyarsk landmarks is the Stolby Nature Sanctuary only 10 km south of the city. A perfect place if you enjoy hiking or climbing. The famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov used to say that Krasnoyarsk is the most beautiful city in Siberia.
2019 is a very special year for Krasnoyarsk too as it will host the 2019 Winter Universiade, an international student and youth competition.
Irkutsk is a must for any Trans-Siberian traveler because it is not just an amazing city but also the stop to see lake Baikal! Irkutsk itself boasts beautiful wooden architecture, cozy local museums and kamusi boots made out of deer, elk, or other fur to help you keep warm in winter.
If you decide to travel to Baikal from Irkutsk, take a day trip to Listvyanka. The best way to get there is by bus or marshrutka (a Russian type of a mini-bus). They circulate from 7 am until 8-9 in the evening and you will have a whole day to enjoy the largest fresh water lake in the world!
Ulan Ude is a very special place due to its closeness to Mongolia not just location – wise but also culturally. It’s Mongol-Buddhist appearance and traditions will surprise a traveler who is not very aware about the region. One of the things that will pleasantly surprise you is the traditional food. Tucked-away restaurants called posnaya are the best plases to do so. They serve the delicious Burytat dumplings called posy steamed in salted water and stuffed with savory ground meat. Another thing you have to experience in Ulan-Ude is throat-singing where a single signer produces two or even three distinct tones, or overtones, simultaneously, creating a spooky buzzing sound overlapping with whistling tones.
Last but not least, the largest Russian port of the Pacific, Vladivostok. It is a great place to dive into Russian history as well as enjoy the views such as the Zoloty cable-stayed bridge. Do not forget to visit Russky Island. A military base for a long part of its history, it has now changed its appearance and is a great place to see. It is also home to a massive Oceanarium opened in 2016. Another great thing about Vladivostok is certainly the sea! Go fishing or enjoy traditional fish dishes in local restaurants…and do not forget to take a boat ride!