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Traveling Around Russia by Train

June 20, 2018 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

The biggest country on Earth undoubtedly offers plenty to discover. Traveling the vast expanses of Russia on train is one of the options which has recently been gaining popularity among travelers as it gives the opportunity to not only cover the main Russian landmarks during land tours but to also enjoy the real authentic side of Russia.

In this overview, get an insight into train travel in Russia and what destinations can be seen on such trips.

From Moscow to St. Petersburg in 3.5 hours

It’s no surprise that the top-visited city in Russia is its capital, Moscow. The huge metropolis is a bustling mix of the old and the new, home to many must-visits and must-trys. Far and away, the Red Square is always on a traveler’s agenda and a perfect starting point for exploring the country. The gorgeous onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the GUM department store and the adjacent red walls of the Kremlin are all located there.

To see the artistic side of Moscow tourists head to the Old Arbat Street, the Bolshoi Opera Theater, and the iconic Tretyakov Art Gallery; for outstanding city views to the Sparrow Hills or the largest Orthodox Christian cathedral as of today, the Christ the Savior; for a touch of literature to the Leo Tolstoy House Museum as well as stroll the Patriarch Ponds park, featured in Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita novel.

In many cases travelers prefer to continue their Russia journey and head on from Moscow to St. Petersburg, the alluring northern Russian city famous for its picture-perfect architecture, white nights and many canals. This way people get to combine both most-traveled cities in Russia: several days in Moscow, an easy train connection from city center to city center, and afterward a couple of days in St. Petersburg.

The easiest way to travel to St. Petersburg from Moscow is on a high-speed Sapsan train that takes a little over three and a half hours. Plus the schedule has 10+ daily departures, simplifying the process of planning a travel itinerary and buying Sapsan train tickets for the time of the day that suits best. Modern Sapsan trains offer everything a traveler needs for a comfortable trip, including spacious seats and luggage areas, air-conditioning, free WiFi, power sockets, screens with films for entertainment, a bistro car with snacks and drinks, thus making it a very smart travel alternative instead of a flight.

What’s for St. Petersburg which is often referred to as the cultural capital, it shows a different side of Russia. Formerly called Leningrad, it’s only 315 years old and was built on the order of Tsar Peter the Great. Most of central St. Petersburg is an example of fine architecture: the legendary Hermitage Museum, housed in what was once a royal palace, the Peter and Paul Fortress complex, Yusupov Palace, the Faberge Museum, Mariinsky Theater, are all just the top of the extensive list. Religious masterpieces such as St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Cathedral of the Savior on Blood, and the Kazan Cathedral are unmissable places as well.

Apart from that, city-guests make sure to save some time for going to the outskirts of St. Petersburg to visit the legendary Catherine’s Palace located in Tsarskoye Selo in Pushkin as well as for a day trip to the royal Peterhof Palace Complex, renown for its luscious parks and fountains.

⅓ of the planet on train

Nevertheless, the train journey in Russia that surely cannot be left unmentioned is that on the longest railroad in the world, the Trans-Siberian. This highly favored bucket-list route from Moscow to Vladivostok crosses almost one-third of our planet! Depending on the preferred travel mode and budget, people choose to take either luxury or regular branded trains. The basic difference is in how well-equipped the cars are, in the included services and meals, and the cabin amenities, for example, whether a cabin has a private bathroom and shower or not. The fancier the train is and the more inclusions there are, the more costly the trip will be.

The Trans-Siberian adventure takes over a week just to travel from one end of Russia to another, and the train makes stops in major towns along the way. To make the most of the experience some well-tailored Russia tour packages break down the long train ride and offer to spend a day or two in some of the major towns in between.

The best part about such a hop-on-hop-off way to explore the Trans-Siberian is that many Russian off-the-beaten-track destinations can be reached. As such, the capital of Tatarstan, Kazan, is definitely a highlight city enroute. Its Kul Sharif Mosque, white-walled Kremlin and church of all religions are just the tip of the sights iceberg, moreover, Kazan is the perfect place to get acquainted with Tatar cuisine and culture.

Those interested in Russian history shouldn’t miss out on Ekaterinburg, the city which is closely connected to the exile and last days of the Russian Imperial Romanov family. One more curious destination right there in Ural’s heart is the monument called “Europe-Asia” that marks the place that divides these two continents.

Of course, the ultimate culmination of any Trans-Siberian journey is reaching the deepest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal. Travelers often enjoy going on a boat ride along the lake, visiting the nearby village museum called Taltsy, and simply enjoying the atmosphere of untouched nature. Apart from that, the closely located Siberian city of Irkutsk is worth touring as well.

The Eastern Russian city gem, Vladivostok, that can be the first or last stop of the Trans-Siberian is inquisitive too. It’s actually closer to the borders of the USA than it is to Moscow and displays some of Russia’s most interesting marine facilities like submarines and ships.

The rich variety of places to tour in Russia introduces the many different types of discovering it. And if you’re among those travelers who wish to combine active sightseeing with an adventure, during which you’ll have your time to peacefully enjoy the views of the passing by Russian countryside through large windows, then trains are surely your way to go to Russia.

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