One could say that riding the Trans-Siberian railway is the ultimate traveler’s dream. It’s the one trip that seems to top the list, largely because of the wondrous adventures and opportunities that can be had on the 9 thousand kilometers long journey. Spanning across 7 time zones and taking up to 7 days long to arrive at your destination, it’s hard to decide which stops you want to make along the way.
Here are 10 cities besides Moscow you must check out if you are going to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia.
Featured Image by Boccaccio1.
The capital city of the Kirov Oblast is a little off the beaten path but definitely worth popping into for a day or two. The city also has historical significance dating back as far as 1374. It’s a small city with a population of roughly half a million which makes it a bit more accessible for travelers who are just passing by for a short visit. Make sure you check out the Vyatka Museum of Art which is famous for being one of the oldest museums in Russia. The Alexander Garden is a gorgeous park for those who want to escape the train and take in some fresh air in a relaxing and open atmosphere.
9. Ulan Ude
Ulan Ude is a unique city in that it is the capital of Russian Buddhism but it is also home to the largest bust of Lenin. It’s a highly accessible city to visit as the local Buryat people are known for being charming, welcoming and extremely friendly. This is a place for tourists who value culture in travel. While the city itself is worth visiting, the biggest highlight is the Ivolginsky Datsan, a Buddhist monastery which sits 35 kilometers outside the city center. The monastery is a great place to visit if you want to learn about the history of Buddhism in Russian since the fall of the Soviet Union and you will also be charmed by the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
8. Nizhniy Novgorod
Colloquially known as just Nizhny, this center of European Russian is one of the largest cities in the country. It’s a fantastic city to visit as you will find an interesting blend of culture, economic and political forces at play. It is believed that Nizhny is the third city only after Moscow and St. Petersburg and every year it seems to climb higher on the tourist list of places to see in Russia. It even boasts its own Kremlin which is perfectly situated where Volga and Oka rivers intersect where you will enjoy some amazing views of the city. There is also a plethora of historical museums and pieces of architecture that will pique the interest of any visitor. A perfect stop to enjoy along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Image by Алексей Трефилов.
Tyumen holds its place in history as the first Russian settlement in Siberia. It was founded over four centuries ago but today the city is a thriving business capital of the Tyumen Oblast, an area rich with oil. There are plenty of public spaces to visit to keep you busy so make sure you bring your walking shoes. For starters, there is the Riverside promenade which runs northwest starting at the city center. There you will enjoy awesome views of the Voznesensko Georgievskiy Church which reflects off the Tura River. For the thirsty tourist, a visit to the Yermolaev beer hall is a must. Not only will you get a unique experience of what it’s like in a Soviet beer hall but you will also be able to sample up to 8 different types of unfiltered Russian homebrew. There are also a host of local food on the menu for those who want to try out the local cuisine.
Founded in 1010, Yaroslavl holds its place in history as the oldest city on the Volga. The beauty of the historical city center was highlighted when it was named one of the few UNESCO World Heritage sites in Russia. It is a city rich with classic architecture that will blow your mind at the turn of every corner. Don’t be surprised to find your finger sore from all the pictures you’ll be taking.
The highlights of Yaroslavl include Religious establishments such as the incredible domes of the Church of Elijah the Prophet as well as the gorgeous 15-dome silhouette of the Church of St. John the Baptist.
Image by Emil .
This is the last stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway and it’s not a bad place to end either. The city’s central rail station is marvelous in and of itself and the city will surprise you with its unique multicultural blend. As Vladivostok is a port city situated on the Japanese sea, you will find a strange mix of Japanese cars and Asian food blended together in the Russian language. A good way to take in the city is to walk along the waterfront promenade and follow that up with a trip on the funicular railway. For nature lovers, you could even go beyond city limits and into more rural parts of the Primorye region.
Krasnoyarsk sits on the Yenisei River and draws its beauty from the gorgeous mountains overlook the city from the south as well as the north. It may not have the rich history of say Yaroslavl or St. Petersburg but the city is always warm to new visitors. This is a great place to dive into some nature. For those that want a great view, a hike up Mount Krasnoyarsk to the south is a great option. Once there, you can pop into the “Stolby” Nature reserve (it is one of the most popular natural landmarks in Russia) or check out the national park to see the famous Zapovednik volcanic pillars.
Image by Alexxx Malev.
Vladimir is the capital of the larger region of Vladimir Oblast located east of Moscow. It is the most popular city in what’s known as the ‘Golden Ring’, a collection of small ancient towns. Upon entry, Vladimir may not appear to be anything different from its other Soviet counterparts but once you go past the Golden Gate and see the extensive network of cathedrals and churches, you will begin to appreciate the deep breadth of history and culture on offer. Do enjoy the stunning views of the Oka Valley before heading into the city center. There, it’s worth checking out highlights including the stone walls of St. Demetrius Cathedral and the 15th-century frescoes at Assumption Cathedral.
This is one of the most popular stops on the Trans-Siberian Railway because of its location nearby the world-famous Lake Baikal. Irkutsk was once known as the Paris of Siberia and is a great place to soak in Siberian culture as it is the capital of the region. There are dozens of wooden and stone buildings that will wow you with their impressive architecture. This is a place to relax, explore and simply soak in the local culture.
Seeing as its one of the largest cities in Russia, it’s no surprise that Kazan is an important industrial and cultural hub, well placed at the junction of the Volga and Kazanka rivers. It’s a particularly interesting city to visit as it is the capital for the Volga Tatars, a Turkish-ethnic group that is from the region. While it is still authentically Russian, Volga does stand out from its Russian counterparts, particularly in its architectural style. The main reason that will make you hop off and check this place out is the Kazan Kremlin Fortress, a massive UNESCO World Heritage Site which features a sublime Kul Sharif mosque and a gorgeous Annunciation Cathedral. Argueably the top stop along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Daniil Timin is an author of the travel blog about Russia – Russianblogger.me. He is an experienced traveler who has been to 30 countries in Asia, Europe, South and North America as well as many places all over Russia. Visit his blog to learn more about traveling to Russia and its most beautiful destinations. Thanks for sharing these stops along the Trans-Siberian Railway.