Being the largest nation in the world, each region of Russia offers quite a different travel experience, with landscapes ranging from snow-capped peaks to sub-tropical beaches. For this reason, if you really want to experience the authentic heart and soul of Russia, touring multiple spots in the country is always going to be worthwhile. While train travel may not give you as much flexibility as driving, it is extremely more convenient, and will enable you to see some of the very best that Russia has to offer.
The Trans-Siberian Railroad is a historic one, having been built between 1890 and 1916, and holds the record for being the longest railway in the world. It takes passengers from one end of Russia to the other, with the total journey taking a week, and that is not including time for stopping off and exploring each destination along the way. Crossing seven different time zones, this is truly the best way to tour Russia by train, and while you may not have the time to thoroughly explore each stop, there are some that you definitely should not miss.
Vladimir and Suzdal
Vladimir and Suzdal are both easily accessible by the Trans-Siberian Railway, and are two towns that are a part of Russia’s Golden Ring. Steeped in history and culture, these two towns are a must-see if you are going to be touring Russia.
Tomsk is a quaint university town, packed with gorgeous wooden architecture, and makes for a refreshing change from the larger cities that the Trans-Siberian Railway stops at. Its intellectual but laid-back atmosphere sets it apart from other Siberian destinations, and, if you decide to stay the night, you will be pleasantly surprised at the range of classy restaurants, bars and clubs that you will find here.
The capital of the Buryatia Republic, Ulan-Ude is home to the famous Ivolginsky Datsan Monastery, which is the centre of Russian Buddhism. Due to this, it is quite different from other parts of Russia, which are mostly Christian or atheist, and has a strong sense of spirituality and calmness.
Set within some of the most beautiful countryside in the world is Lake Baikal, which, having been formed around 50 million years ago, is the oldest lake in the world. Being 1637 metres deep, Lake Baikal holds about 20% of the world’s non-frozen fresh water, and, due to the natural filtering processes that occur within the lake, it is completely clear and safe to drink. This area is filled with so much natural beauty that it is often a stop that people stay for a couple of days to explore, making the most of the outdoor activities available, from trekking to boating to diving.
Many people that visit Russia for the first time tend to stick to the larger, well-known cities, such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, and while these destinations are no doubt exciting, you need to experience more of the country in order to gain a well-rounded insight into Russia. From the spirituality of Ulan-Ude to the stunning natural beauty of Lake Baikal, taking the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia will expose you to some extraordinary parts of the country that you may have otherwise missed.