Description & Itinerary
The Trans-Siberian isn’t just a train journey – it’s an iconic voyage into some of the world’s most amazing wilderness. For just over 100 years trains have been shuttling visitors and locals alike across its 8000km of track, crossing 5 time zones from Moscow all the way to Beijing. Whether you begin your journey in one of Russia’s great cities – St Petersburg or Moscow – or travel right from your doorstep in London, you’re guaranteed a once in a lifetime adventure.
Overview of the Trip
Choose to begin in Russia, where you’ll start by admiring the grand baroque buildings of St Petersburg . If you take your journey in early summer, why not make the most of the city’s White Nights, when St Petersburg celebrates its midnight sun with a series of outdoor concerts and festivities. Next head onto Russia’s capital and largest city. Moscow’s main sights centre around its stunning Red Square, where you’ll find the world famous St Basil’s Cathedral as well as the nearby Kremlin. Both are open to the public for visits year-round. Made the most of the sights? Then it’s time to let your hair down – just as well Moscow’s nightlife is world renowned.
Once you’ve had your fill of beautiful Russian history and culture, you’ll board the trans-siberian express – in winter passing on through snow covered forests, icy pools and breathtaking wilderness. In summer, drink in the luscious forest landscape of Siberia as you make your way around Lake Baikal near Irkutsk. Take a refreshing dip in the world’s largest freshwater lake, and pick up some of its famous smoked fish from traditional sellers on the shores. Eat, sleep and relax on board the train as it delivers you from the cathedrals of Europe to the plains of Mongolia.
Here, discover the traditional way of life led by nomadic people across the region – as well as the stark contrast with Ulaanbaatar – Mongolia’s capital and home to 1.3m people. Take an optional tour to Terelj National Park and stay with a local family in a yurt, and go horseriding across the Mongolian steppe through breathtaking scenery.
Next it’s on to Beijing, an overnight journey passing through hundreds of miles of scenery – you’ll notice the landscape change from rolling green hills and yurts, to the dry plains of the Gobi desert, to lush green mountains and lakes, until finally passing into the outskirts of Beijing – China’s capital and the country’s largest metropolis.
Explore Beijing’s palaces and gardens, or take a trip out to the Great Wall to discover one of the world’s most awesome feats of engineering. From here, fly home from Beijing’s capital airport (not included). Alternatively why not continue your adventure across Asia and beyond…
Whether this is the end of your journey or just the beginning, the Trans Siberian is an experience you’ll never forget.
Routes from London to Russia
You can get to Russia quickly from London by train to Amsterdam, then a connection in Lubeck, Germany to board you straight onto a 2-night ferry to Helsinki, from where you can travel easily on to St Petersburg or Moscow to begin your adventure. We have packaged this option into the 4-week trip. Alternatively, you can forego the ferry and travel up through Berlin, Warsaw, and the Baltics – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, for a real sample of some of the former Soviet Union. This is the 5-week trip, but remember that everything is customisable so just let us know what suits your travel plans and we will be happy to make a route just for you at no extra cost. You can also travel there taking a southerly route via Kiev, Ukraine.
More Practical Info
Read our Trans-Siberian FAQ for more information on the trains, visas, and general questions.
London (0 Nights)
London may be huge, but Central London can be walked all over, from the quirky pop-up stalls of the south bank to the glitz of the West End and out to Hyde Park. The buzzing cosmopolitan nature of the city probably makes it the most culturally diverse in the world.
- See some world-famous landmarks
- Watch a show at one of many West End Theatres
- Experience the quirky nightlife of Soho
Amsterdam (1 Nights)
Despite being credited with certain recreational pastimes, there is actually a lot more to the city than the stereotypical picture, with its abundance of engaging museums, beautiful townhouses and canals. Find out what makes Amsterdam the beating heart of the Netherlands.
- Visit the Van Gogh Museum
- Discover Europe’s biggest historic centre by pedal
- Take a tour of the red light district
Berlin (2 Nights)
Berlin is the alternative, cool kid of Europe and a pro at being edgy. It’s how people dress, their liberal attitudes, the graffiti, the skaters and BMXers, the art, the clubs and the food. Berlin is also crammed full of fascinating WWII history around every corner.
- See a section of the old Berlin Wall
- Climb the dome of the renovated Reichstag
- Discover the nightlife of Schoneberg and Kreuzberg
Warsaw (1 Nights)
Known as the ‘Phoenix City’ after having risen from the ashes of so many ruinous wars, Warsaw is home to an abundance of Polish art, vibrant nightlife and wholesome cuisine. A plate of delicious dumplings and soup will keep you nourished around the stunning rebuilt Old Town.
- See the imposing Soviet Palace of Culture
- Visit the entirely reconstructed Royal Palace
- Have a drink at the fashionable old town bars
Vilnius (1 Nights)
Riga is home to one of Europe’s largest Baroque old towns. The spires and coloured facades have a distinctly continental feel – not surprising since you’re only a few hours away from the North of Poland. Enjoy exploring the hub of Lithuania’s culture and arts scene – and don’t forget the hearty local cuisine once the sun sets.
- Take a sobering tour of the former headquarters of the KGB and learn about Vilnius’ important role in WW2.
- Explore Gedinimas Castle on the hill, which overlooks the beautiful old town
- Take a trip up the TV tower for awesome views – there’s even a revolving restaurant!
Riga (1 Nights)
Riga may be austere and gracious on the surface but dig deeper and you’ll discover awesome nightlife and a wealth of Baltic culture. Wind your way around the cobbled streets by day, come evening go underground to seek out some of the Baltic region’s best music venues.
- Learn about the varied and fascinating history of Latvia in a walking tour of the old town.
- Dance the night away, Latvian style, at Folksklub Ala Pagrabs
- Marvel at the Art Nouveau style buildings – like famous building at 2a, Alberta Iela
Tallinn (2 Nights)
Tallinn looked set to become the next cheap stag party destination but the city has shunned this in favour of presering the fairy-tale medieval charm of its streets and spires, and whilst is still has its fair share of watering holes, Estonians have not forgotten their rich heritage.
- Visit the museum of (both) occupations
- See the sumptuous Aleksander Nevsky cathedral
- Drink at numerous pubs with local Estonians
Helsinki (2 Nights)
For an important harbour town it only seems right that you should take a ferry to or from Helisnki. In summer Finnish people enjoy their open parks, relaxed atmosphere and quirky cafes before they all disappear indoors for winter as temperatures plummet.
- Visit the Finnish folk museum with live actors
- Stroll through the magnificent Sibelius Park
- Take a boozy sightseeing tour on the red pub-tram
St Petersburg (3 Nights)
Saint Petersburg is the city of the Tsars. From glorious opera houses to underground music scenes, classical masterpieces to street art – immerse yourself in kaleidoscopes of Russian colour and culture. When you’re done, make the most of the city’s famous White Nights to party into the early hours – you can sleep when you’re dead.
- Marvel at the incredibly ornate “Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood”, Pushkin and Catherine Palaces.
- Join local residents for all night parties in June – during Summer’s “White Nights”, the sun barely sets.
- Discover authentic bargains at Udelka flea market on the weekend
Moscow (3 Nights)
Russia’s Capital, home to the grand treasures of the Tzars, Russia’s modern political hub (The Kremlin) and more cultural heritage than you can shake a stick at; it’s clear that any trip to Russia starts with Moscow. For this particular journey, it’s also your gateway to Siberia. Here is the starting point of the Trans Siberian Express – one of the World’s most iconic trains journeys.
- Check out Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedrals – arguably Russia’s most famous sight
- Eat your way through delightfully stodgy cuisine – potatoes, Borscht, any kind of meat you can imagine and plenty of local beers (and maybe vodka) to wash it down.
- Sweat out all the toxins you’ve acquired in a classic Russian Banya, or bath house.
Irkutsk (3 Nights)
Irkutsk is the capital of Siberia itself, and a welcome spot to stretch your legs after a few nights socialising and relaxing on the train. The city lies close to the world-famous Lake Baikal, which legend has it will give you an extra 5 years of life if you just paddle near the shore, or an amazing 25 years longer if you go for a swim! In winter, the lake freezes over people are known to actually drive on the thick ice! If you go in the summer, the lake is frequented by local fishermen who sell their amazing catch on the shore, smoked and hung and ready for eating!
- Take a trip to Lake Baikal, about an hour’s drive from the city
- Visit the stunning cathedrals and churches
- Use the opportunity to wash your clothes ready, stock up on food and supplies ready for your next adventure to Mongolia!
Ulaanbaatar (3 Nights)
The capital of Mongolia, a quirky future-meets-the-past city with skyscrapers mixed in with traditional yurts, Ulaanbaatar will keep you interested just wondering about and discovering. Learn about one of the world’s most famous empires lead by Genghis Khan, and visit his statue at the main square. Whilst you’re in the city, be sure not to miss the opportunity to take a tour of nearby Terelj National Park, where you will be able to experience a slice of nomadic life yourself.
- Visit Genghis Khan Square and see the giant statue dedicated to the former warrior
- See the Buddhist Gandantegchenling Monastery
- Go horseriding in Terelj National Park and stay overnight in a yurt
Beijing (3 Nights)
Beijing is China’s capital and the country’s biggest metropolis. A treasure trove of cultural and historical interest, start your exploration at the Forbidden City – the Royal palace closed off to visitors until recently. Check out the Olympic Park as well as the world famous Tiannemen Square. For food, don’t miss the hutongs of the old town – famous for their traditional courtyards and street vendors. In the temperate north, filling wheat-based dishes like noodles and pancakes are the speciality. Eat real Peking Duck, feast on dumplings fit for a king – even sample some street Scorpions or snake meat if you dare…
- Visit the Great Wall – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Stick to the maintained sections close to Beijing, or head out to the more rural sections for something a little more adventurous.
- Try Beijing’s famous local specialities – from noodles and dumplings to deliciously savoury Hot Pot.
- Beat your way through the crowds in the Forbidden city and discover this breathtaking palace.