From Vladivostok to Moscow aboard the luxury Golden Eagle private train
Russia’s iconic Trans-Siberian rail line is nearly 6,000 miles of track laid through cities, villages, taiga, mountains, and tundra. It rolls across a third of the globe. This epic 22-day winter rail adventure is hauled entirely by steam locomotives.
Discover the Pacific Rim port city of Vladivostok before boarding the luxury Golden Eagle private train towards magnificent Moscow, making stops at classic highlights like Ulaanbaatar, UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, Ekaterinburg, Kazan’s UNESCO-listed Kremlin, and the ancient Golden Ring cities of Vladimir and Suzdal as well as smaller, rarely-visited towns along the way. Get a feel for the vastness and variety of Russia and enjoy winter fun as you roll west to the business and political capital of this fascinating country.
- There is also a shorter eastbound Trans-Siberian Winter Wonderland route that is not hauled by steam locomotives.
Photos and details: Discover what life is like aboard the Golden Eagle.
Days 1-3: Vladivostok (Russia), Khabarovsk
Arrive in the Pacific Rim naval port of Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian line’s eastern terminus and once off limits to foreign visitors, and transfer to a four-star hotel for a one-night stay before meeting your fellow travelers during a welcome reception and dinner. The next day, tour the city before boarding the Golden Eagle to begin your Trans-Siberian journey by steam locomotives. Relax and enjoy the onboard amenities as the train passes directly north of Seoul, Darwin, and Osaka. Make a short stop in Khabarovsk, the easternmost point of the rail line, before continuing west.
- 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 restored Soviet submarine that saw extensive action in WWII, at the Pacific Navy Military History Museum
- Champagne reception at Vladivostok’s 1912 train station, built in classic Russian style that resembles the station in Moscow
- Khabarovsk Regional Museum, offering a vast collection of more than 400,000 eclectic items
Days 4-6: Aboard Train, Sretensk
Spend a relaxing day onboard the private train as it barrels through vast, unfathomable eastern Siberia, sometimes tracing the Chinese border. Make a stop at the little blue railway station in Sretensk before spending another day onboard the train rolling through the changing Russian landscape.
- The vast and mysterious eastern Siberian taiga, a subarctic region of permafrost made up largely of dense coniferous forests
- On-board activities, including lectures and Russian language lessons
- Opportunity to see how rural families live, isolated from larger Siberian towns, in Sretensk
Day 7: Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)
Today your train adventure brings you to Mongolia for a daylong visit to the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Here you’ll learn about nomadic life at the National History Museum, tour the Gandan Monastery, and experience Mongolian cuisine. Because of unpredictable winter rail schedules, travel to and from Ulaanbaatar may be by private charter flight.
- The National History Museum’s extensive collection, ranging from petroglyphs to traditional costumes to correspondence between the pope and Genghis Khan
- The main temple of the Gandan Monastery, which houses an 85-foot-tall, 20-ton, gold-gilded statue of Migjid Janraisig, a Buddhist bodhisattva
Days 8: Ulan Ude (Russia)
Cross back into Russia and stop in Ulan Ude, the capital of Russia’s Buryat Republic, for an 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.
- A home-cooked lunch with a group of Old Believers, followed by a performance of traditional choral music – chants, lyric songs, and folk prayers passed down over hundreds of years
Days 9-10: Lake Baikal
The next two days are spent at Lake Baikal. Enjoy a spectacular stretch of track, winding through tunnels and along cliffs above UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. Being here in winter is a special experience: a hovercraft takes you across the transparent ice to a spot where you can join locals in ice-fishing, riding snowmobiles, and running dogsleds.
- The rail line along the water, one of the most scenic stretches of the Trans-Siberian trip
- Taking a banya,one of Russia’s classic winter experiences
- Winter sports on the vast, beautiful Lake Baikal
Days 11-12: Irkutsk, Aboard Train
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, the preserved home of one family from a group of failed 19th century pro-democracy revolutionaries who settled here after completing their terms in Siberian labor camps. Return to the train and spend the next day rolling through the snow-covered Sayan Mountains and vast Siberian taiga.
- Irkutsk’s ornate 19th century wooden buildings, many decorated with lace-like wooden fretwork
- A private classical music concert at the Decembrist House Museum, one of the best maintained historic homes in Irkutsk
- A relaxing day aboard the Golden Eagleas it passes through the isolated Sayan Mountains, where residents have been herding reindeer for more than a millennium
Days 13-14: Abakan, Novokuznestsk, Barnaul
The next few days will offer more opportunities to experience Russia’s diverse cultures and republics. Stop in Abakan, the capital of the small republic of Khakassia in southwest Siberia and the most important city in a region rich in natural resources and beauty. Spend some time in Novokuznetsk, one of the oldest cities in Siberia that now has a large plant specializing in the production of rails, and in Barnaul, the administrative center of Altai Krai.
- A tour of the Regional Museum in Abakan with a private folk concert
- Visit to the Museum of Steel Production in Novokuznetsk
- Views of the Ob River in Barnaul
Days 15-16: Omsk, Ekaterinburg
After spending another morning on the train, stop in Omsk for a few hours to stretch your legs and explore. The next day, cross from Asia into Europe and pay a visit to Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city. Visit the Church on the Blood, built on the spot where the last czar, Nicholas II, and his family met their demise in July of 1918, and the working narrow gauge Children’s Railway.
- The Neoclassical architecture of Omsk
- Ekaterinburg’s Church on the Blood, consecrated in 2003 on the site where Bolsheviks executed Czar Nicholas II and his family
Days 17-19: Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Nizhny Novgorod
Make a stop along the Volga in Kazan, the beautiful capital of Tatarstan (a Russian autonomous region,) and in Uylanovsk, best known for being the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin. The next day, arrive in Nizhny Novgorod and spend the day exploring this once strategic city and trace center. The city is particularly well-known for its 16th-century Kremlin and its traditional crafts such as khokloma, hand-painted wooden dishware.
- The UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin, considered the only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia
- Private concert of Feodor Chaliapin’s music
- Lenin Memorial Complex in Ulyanovsk
- 16th century Kremlin and Cathedral of the Archangel Micheal in Nizhny Novgorod
Days 20-22: Vladimir, Suzdal, Moscow
Visit two cities in Russia’s Golden Ring, which loops north and east of Moscow. Stop first in Vladimir, founded in 1108 by the last great Kievan prince, Grand Duke Vladimir Monomakh. The gilded domes of its 12th century Cathedral of the Assumption were an indication of the city’s exalted status at the time. From there it’s on to Suzdal, a town distinguished by its exceptionally well-preserved architecture dating back to the 12th century. The historic buildings of the area are collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the title “White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal.” Then it’s on to Moscow, where the Golden Eagle journey ends but the touring continues. Visit the heart of the city, Red Square, and enjoy a visit to the Podmoskovnaya Train Station and Locomotive Depot.
- The blue-and-gold gilded domes of Vladimir’s Cathedral of the Assumption
- Suzdal’s UNESCO-listed Savior Monastery of St. Euthymius
- Moscow’s 850-year-old Kremlin and Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The colorful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral
- Podmoskovnaya Train Station and Locomotive Depot – part museum, part working station for steam locomotives.
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, and will feature cold weather and icy and/or wet walking surfaces. Walking during touring days will be on a variety of base surfaces as well, 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 weather will be cold and likely wet and icy when off the train. 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.