The Trans-Siberian Classic Route: Eastbound
Photo credit: Helge Pedersen
Moscow to Vladivostok Aboard the Golden Eagle
The Trans-Siberian Classic Route is a 6,000-mile rail journey spanning the breadth of Russia. On the eastbound departure, you’ll depart Moscow and, from the comfort of the luxury Golden Eagle private train, watch as the cities and industrial centers give way to little villages and miles of wilderness. The trip takes you to multiethnic Kazan; Ekaterinburg, where the last czar was killed; the Siberian towns of Novosibirsk and Irkutsk; the shores of UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake; Ulan Ude, capital of the Buryat Republic; the open steppe of Mongolia; and, ultimately, the Pacific Rim city of Vladivostok.
Also available are:
- Westbound departures from Vladivostok to Moscow
- A winter departure from Moscow to Vladivostok
- An eastbound and westbound Mongolian Route program between Moscow and Ulaanbaatar that features the Naadam Festival
- A shorter Baikal Express Route from Moscow to Irkutsk
- A shorter Ulaanbaatar Express Route from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar
Travels to: Mongolia, Russia, Trans-Siberian Railway
Photos and details: Discover what life is like aboard the Golden Eagle.
Days 1-2: Moscow (Russia)
After arrival and a night in a five-star hotel, start the day with a visit to Moscow’s Red Square, taking in iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral and the massive Kremlin, where you can tour the Armory Museum, a storehouse of national treasures. If you’re intrigued by art, you may opt instead to tour the Tretyakov Gallery, which has a collection spanning a millennium of Russian works. In the afternoon depart Moscow aboard the luxury Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express private train.
- Red Square, the heart of Moscow and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The treasures of the Armory Museum, from Faberge eggs to the ivory throne of Ivan the Terrible
- The Tretyakov Gallery, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Russian art
Days 3-4: Kazan, Ekaterinburg
Make a stop along the Volga in Kazan, the beautiful capital of Tatarstan, a Russian autonomous region. The city is noted for its centuries of religious harmony – here mosques, minarets, and Orthodox church domes share the skyline. The next stop marks the transition from Europe into Asia, on the eastern side of the Ural mountains in Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city. Visit the Church of the Blood, built on the spot where the last czar, Nicholas II, and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in July of 1918.
- The UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin, considered the only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia
- Ekaterinburg’s Church on the Blood, consecrated in 2003 on the site where Bolsheviks executed Czar Nicholas II and his family
Day 5: Novosibirsk
Stop in Novosibirsk, which thanks to the influence of the Trans-Siberian railway grew into Siberia’s biggest city. Its opera house on Lenin Square is the largest in Russia. The town sits on the Ob River, 2,300 miles from its mouth in the Arctic.
- The daunting scale of Lenin Square, with its domed opera house – nicknamed the Siberian Colosseum – and giant Soviet-era statues
Days 6-7: Aboard Train, Irkutsk
Arrive in Irkutsk, the cultural capital of eastern Siberia. A tour of this surprisingly sophisticated little city includes examples of the area’s classic wooden architecture and a visit to the Decembrist House Museum, honoring failed 19th century revolutionaries who settled here after completing their terms in Siberian labor camps.
- Irkutsk’s ornate 19th century wooden buildings, many decorated with lacy wooden fretwork
- A private classical music concert at Decembrist House Museum, one of the best preserved of Irkutsk’s historic houses
Day 8: Lake Baikal
Today the Golden Eagle hits a spectacular stretch of track, winding through tunnels and along cliffs above UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. Stop en route for a barbecue along the shore and continue to the lakeside village of Listvyanka, where you can dip your toes in the water and learn about what makes the lake special at the Baikal Museum.
- The rail line along the water, arguably the most scenic stretch of the Trans-Siberian trip
- Little Listvyanka village and its Baikal Museum, which includes aquariums displaying the lake’s unique marine life
Day 9: Ulan Ude
A stop in Ulan Ude, capital of Russia’s Buryat Republic, provides the opportunity to visit a village of Old Believers – a religious group that rebelled against changes to the Orthodox liturgy in 1652 and, as a result, were exiled to Siberia. In their isolated enclaves, they’ve preserved 17th century styles of clothing, architecture, and music. UNESCO includes this unique community on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
- Lunch with a group of Old Believers, followed by a performance of their traditional choral music
Day 10: Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)
Crossing the border onto the steppe of Mongolia, the train makes a stop in Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital. Tour the Gandan Monastery and experience Mongolian cuisine in a nomadic ger (a traditional yurt).
- Migjid Janraisig Sum, the main temple of the Gandan Monastery, which houses an 85-foot-tall, 20-ton, gold-gilded statue of Migjid Janraisig, a Buddhist bodhisattva
- A Mongolian-style lunch served in a ger
Days 11-13: Aboard Train
Siberia at its most remote and mysterious unfolds before you as the train follows the Shilka and Amur rivers, eventually passing through the city of Khabarovsk.
- The vast eastern Siberian taiga, a subarctic region of permafrost made up largely of dense coniferous forests.
Days 14-15: Vladivostok (Russia)
Disembark in Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian line’s eastern terminus, and tour the city, which was once off limits to outside visitors. Transfer to a four-star hotel for a one-night stay and a farewell dinner.
- Vladivostok’s 1912 train station, built in classic Russian style that closely resembles the station in Moscow, 5,771 miles away, where the Trans-Siberian journey began
- The observation platform on Eagle’s Nest Hill, which provides an expansive view of Vladivostok and Golden Horn Bay
- A tour of the S-56, a Soviet submarine that saw extensive action in WWII, at the Pacific Navy Military History Museum
Dates & Prices
Minimum group size: Minimums vary – call for confirmation status
Land Tour Price, Per Person.
Call for dates and prices
- Accommodations, as noted in the itinerary.
- All meals, from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on final tour day, including a generous allowance of wine, local beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner.
- Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
- All guided off-train tours, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Services of an experienced Train Tour Manager as well as local guides for scheduled off-train tours.
- Complimentary tea, coffee, and mineral water from your car attendant at all times while on board the train.
- All gratuities.
- Baggage handling.
- Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost.)
- International airfare, including taxes/fuel surcharges, and surface transport to the point of joining/leaving the tour. MIR is able to assist with arrangements, as detailed in the itinerary.
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement (difference between double rate and single occupancy rate) if requested or required.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Visa fees, excess baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
- Travel insurance, including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Items of a personal nature, such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
Level 2: Moderate
This rail journey by private train features significant touring on foot, throughout which travelers are expected to keep up with other group members. Walking during touring days will be on a variety of surfaces, with many streets and sidewalks being uneven and elevators generally not available during touring excursions, leading to some stair climbing. Challenges on board the train include long onboard distances with heavy doors, as well as steep steps and gaps to navigate while embarking and disembarking. Only those willing to accept local standards of amenities and services should consider joining this program.
Travelers must be able to walk a mile per day keeping up with other group members. Streets and sidewalks can be uneven or unexpected surfaces, and handrails are not always present. Steps, which may be required due to lack of elevators, may be steep and/or uneven, and may also lack handrails. The distance on board the train between sleeping and dining carriages may be significant, and there are many heavy doors to navigate when moving throughout the train. Getting on and off the train involves navigating steep steps, low platforms, and possible gaps between the train and the platform. Navigating rail stations may also involve traveling up and over steep steps/footbridges to cross tracks, or steep steps and dark tunnels to cross under to/from the train station. Although porterage is provided where possible, you may have to carry your baggage for short distances.
General shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure may include problems with bureaucratic service, and availability and quality of public restrooms when not on board the train.