Great Russia by Train
Duration: 12 Days - 11 Nights
Destination : Moscow – Irkutsk - Vladivostok
Destination : Moscow – Irkutsk - Vladivostok
Day 1 MoscowMoscow, the capital of Russian Federation, is the starting point of your great Trans Siberian journey. On arrival in Moscow you will be met by our friendly representative who will escort you by car or mini bus to your hotel. On the way to the hotel, you will have the opportunity to get your first glimpse of this truly unique city.
Moscow is the capital and the largest city in Russia as well as the largest metropolitan area in Europe with a population well over 10 million. This amazing city has served as the capital of the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Moscow has had a tumultuous history dating back to medieval times when it was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruki (Yuri of the Long Arms, known for the length of his arms!) in the early 12th century. It has seen numerous invasions and sieges from the Mongols to the Poles and Lithuanians to the Crimean Tatars to Napoleon and finally the Nazi’s but it has persevered and today is a thriving metropolis. The city is filled with unique architecture from the Kremlin and Red Square to giant Stalin skyscrapers to new office blocks built during the economic boom of recent years and it contains a strikingly beautiful metro system. The city is the center of political as well as economic power in Russia and visitors can feel the energy in the streets. There is always something going on in Moscow and there is so much to see.
Day 2After breakfast at the hotel you will have some free time to become oriented. In the afternoon, you will check out of the hotel and meet with your guide. Your excursion program starts with a city tour by car or minibus.
Panoramic City Tour. This tour is a great start to your trip and the best way to get acquainted with many of the city´s major highlights. Our professional guide will escort you on a route that includes Vorobyevi Hills where you will get an incredible view of the city from an observation point, you will proceed to Moscow State University which is an example of architecture from the time of Stalin and one of Russia’s leading schools of higher education, then on to Novodevichiy Convent, the Diplomatic Village, Victory Park, the Triumphal Arch, Kutuzovsky Prospect and much more.
Day 3-5Most of the cities along the way date back to the 11-13th century. The train’s first stop will be Vladimir, one of the cities of the famous “Golden Ring”, known for its history and beautiful gold-domed churches. The train then heads towards Nizhny Novgorod - settled on the bank of the majestic Volga River. At night you will also pass the Vyatka River, the towns of Kotelnich, Vyatka and Balyezino and then arrive at the foot of the Ural Mountains. In the morning, the train will stop in Perm, an old, Russian city known as a center of ballet and literature. It will then take about 6 hours to travel to Yekaterinburg. Stops is 40 minutes.
On this part of your journey, you will pass through Siberia with its mighty taiga and rivers. The route to Novosibirsk is rich in many stops in small and large towns. Tyumen, Russia’s oil capital, is the first. The next large city is Omsk – another major industrial center. Leaving behind the river Irtysh, you will continue passing through amazing natural surroundings. After crossing the bridge across the Ob River, you will soon arrive in Novosibirsk. Stop is 22 minutes.
This part of Trans Siberian route is considered by many to be the most beautiful. You will understand why just by looking at a map of the region. You will spend almost a whole day on the train, passing the Kam, Chuna, Lya, Oka, Angara rivers. You will also pass the famous Yenisey river with the city of Krasnoyarsk settled on its picturesque banks. Stop is 20 minutes
Day 6 IrkutskYour train arrives in the morning in Irkutsk where our representatives will meet and take you to Lake Baikal, the largest body of fresh water in the world. On the way from Irkutsk, we will make a stop at the Ethnographical museum “Taltsy” consisting of examples of Siberian wooden houses from the past centuries.
We will also make a stop to see the lake from the “Cherskiy Peak” observation point. On arrival to a hotel we will have lunch (optional). This is not the end of the day; we will also visit the Limnological museum, where exhibits of the unique fauna and flora that surround the lake are displayed. There is also an aquarium where you can see different species of local fish and the Baikal nerpa – the earth’s only fresh water seal. And we will visit the functioning St. Nicolas the Miracle-Worker Orthodox Church.
Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world with an average depth of 744.4 m (2,442 ft) and contains roughly 20 percent of the world´s surface fresh water. The body of water is also known as the “Baikal Sea” and the "Pearl of Siberia". At 1,642 meters (5,390 ft) Lake Baikal is the deepest, and among the clearest lakes in the world. At more than 25 million years old, Baikal is also the world´s oldest lake. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is also home to the Buryat people who follow the Tibetan Buddhist religion and reside on the eastern side of the lake rearing goat, camel, cattle and sheep.
Day 7After breakfast you will travel by comfortable car or mini bus to Irkutsk where you will drop off your luggage in the luggage room of a hotel and continue on with your tour.
After this you will be taken on a city tour. The tour includes a visit to the Cathedral of the Holy Sign (Znamensky Cathedral). Apart from ornate and rich iconostasis, the cathedral is famous for its graveyard where you will see the graves of the Decembrists Mukhanov, Beschasnov, Trubetskaya and the Russian Columbus Shelekhov. We will then proceed to the Museum of the Decembrists. The museum is housed in a mansion belonging to one of the leaders of Decembrist Revolt. The Decembrists were Russian aristocracy who were banished to Siberia after their ill-fated attempt in December 1825 to overthrow the Russian Tsar in favor of a Constitutional regime. The museum evokes the period of 18th century Russia.
Irkutsk began as a small settlement in the mid 17th century for gold-trading and for the collection of the fur tax from the Buryats. The settlement officially became a town in 1686 and the first road between Moscow and the new city was built in 1760. With the road construction, many new products, often imported from China, were widely available in Irkutsk for the first time including gold, diamonds, furs, wood, silk and tea. In 1821, Irkutsk became the seat of the Governor-General of East Siberia. In the early 19th century, many Russian officers and nobles were sent into exile in Irkutsk for their part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. Due to this influx of individuals from St. Petersburg, Irkutsk became the Siberian center of intellectual and cultural life. By 1900, the city had earned the nickname “The Paris of Siberia.” Today Irkutsk has become a college town with many young people studying at the university and other institutes of higher education in the city.
Day 8-10After breakfast you will be taken to the train station to continue your journey. Train leaves at 02:56 (+5 hours). The journey from Irkutsk to Khabarovsk will be longer than the other legs of your trip, more than 2 days. So, make yourself at home in your compartment. The scenery outside your window is quite repetitive - the endless Siberian taiga, rivers and lakes but this intense nature is now very close – you honestly will really begin to feel it. The 20-25 minute station stops are a good time to replenish your supplies.
This is the last leg of your journey and lasts approximately 13 hours as you head towards Vladivostok - the Lord of the East. The route will take you very near the Chinese border and the Ussuri River. On the left side of the train, you can admire the Pacific as it appears from time to time and feel the fresh and salty wind as you get closer to Vladivostok.
Day 11 VladivostokOn arrival in the Pacific Coast city of Vladivostok, you will be met on the train station by our representative and will be taken by car or mini bus to your hotel. The expedition to discover the "Lord of the East" now begins.
Vladivostok is Russia’s largest port city on the Pacific Ocean situated at the head of the Golden Horn Bay and near the border of China and North Korea. The city is home to the Russian Pacific Fleet. The territory on which modern Vladivostok is located had been part of many nations, including the Mongol Empire and China and in the past was populated by many Chinese, Manchu and Koreans. Russia acquired the region in 1858 at the end of China’s Opium War with Britain. The naval outpost was founded in 1859 by Count Nikolay Muravyov Amursky who named it Vladivostok which is translated as “Lord of the East.” An elaborate system of fortifications was erected between the 1870s and 1890s and a telegraph line from Vladivostok to Shanghai and Nagasaki was opened in 1871. The city´s economy was given a boost in 1903, with the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The city was fiercely fought over during the Russian Civil War but finally taken by the Red Army in October of 1922. This battle marked the end of the Russian Civil War and consolidation of power by the Soviets. Since that time, Vladivostok has been Russia’s main cultural, trade and militarily important city on the Pacific Coast.
Day 12After the breakfast, get ready for the city tour. During the panoramic tour of Vladivostok, you will see all the main attractions and highlights of the city: the Vladivostok Railway Station – terminus of the Trans-Siberian railroad, the S-56 submarine on the harbor embankment and the area on which the city was founded 142 years ago. You will also visit the highly regarded Arseniev Museum to view exhibits of the region’s rich treasures of flora and fauna as well as the culture and history of the Vladivostok area (3 hours). After the city tour you will enjoy the Golden Horn Bay cruise (by public boat). This excursion will give you the opportunity to have a close up view of the world renowned and beautiful harbor of the Golden Horn, Russia’s largest seaport on the Pacific Ocean. You actually get three harbors in one tour; the fishing harbor, the naval base and the commercial harbor. You will see numerous ships waiting to unload their cargo and then you will travel out into Amursky Bay for panoramic views of the city
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