There are journeys that can change you forever, and we believe this is one of them! The Trans – Siberian railway runs all the way from St. Petersburg / Moscow to Vladivostok, on the eastern tip of Russia and some 6,100 miles apart.
Exactly how long does the Trans – Siberian take?
Well, you are literally travelling halfway across the world. If you were to get on a train in Moscow and not get off it at all, you would take around 6 days to complete the Trans – Siberian Express.
However, locals and travellers usually make stops on the way, making it a more enriching experience. That way, you get to explore remote regions you would never get to see otherwise. The total duration of your trip depends on you, but 10-12 days could be an average estimate.
Cheapest way to do the Trans – Siberian
The cheapest way to do the Trans – Siberian is to book directly through Russian Railways. Just by doing that you are saving almost 40% vs. purchasing through an agency. You have to book each leg separately. So if you plan on dividing the journey based on our suggestions below, it could look something like this:
Moscow ➡️ Nizhny Novgorod ➡️ Yekaterinburg ➡️ Novosibirsk ➡️ Irkutsk ➡️ Ulan-Ude ➡️ Vladivostok
Our advice is to only go First Class (private sleeper) on the long legs of the trip, and booking Second Class, or even just a seat, for the shorter legs. If you do that, you can save drastically: the whole journey should end up costing £500, depending on the season you travel.
Best stops & Hotels
There is definitely some beauty in stopping over for the night in some cold, unpronounceable Russian town in the middle of Siberia. But just in case, we have rounded up a selection of worthwhile stops & hotels:
- Nizhny Novgorod: Sitting by the Volga River, it is famous for its hilltop Kremlin. We recommend staying in the Upper City, which is the nicest, historical part of Nizhny. Find time for a cable car trip over the Volga to add the finishing touch to your stopover.
The Nikitin Hotel has to be our recommendation for this one. Excellent location, modern, clean and spacious rooms and a distinct Russian feel to it. A 4-star must. Rates from £44 per night.
- Yekaterinburg: Crossroads of Europe and Asia, it is an architectural delight and a metallurgical beacon: The Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower are two examples of landmarks built with Yekaterinburg’s metal. The border landmark between Europe and Asia is easily reachable from the city.
We love the 5* Vysotsky Hotel‘s panoramic views over the city, impeccably decorated rooms and spa. Judge for yourselves, though. Rates from £75 per night.
- Novosibirsk: Our first Siberian stop. Parks and tree-lined avenues give Russia’s third largest city a relaxing feel to it, perfect to maybe do some exercise before heading back onto the train the next day. Siberian dishes are another good reason to stop here; to this end we particularly recommend “Puppen Haus“.
The AZIMUT Hotel Siberia is centrally located, ideal for when arriving after a long train journey. It has a 24-hour reception and bar, so you can stay flexible. Rates from £25 per night.
- Irkutsk: Discover the oldest steam ice-breaker ship in the world, marvel at the ice sculptures in Central Park in winter or head out to Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Hotel Rus is located in the town centre. It features a sauna, 24 hour reception and is near to a 24-hour supermarket, handy if your train arrives during the night. Rates from £30 per night.
- Ulan-Ude: Just 7 hours from Irkutsk on the Trans – Siberian Express, Ulan-Ude is the place for discovering old Cossack houses and wooden Yurts at the Etnographic Museum. Day trips to Buddhist temples are also on the menu here; as you’ll find out, Ulan-Ude will be the most “exotic” of your stops.
Guest House Khutorok’s decoration is what first catches the eye, but its central location and elegance is what really makes it feature on this list, along with ultra-low prices. Rates from £20 per night.
From Ulan-Ude to your final destination, Vladivostok, there are still 3 full days of train journey left. Feel free to plan a pit stop at any of the Eastern Siberian towns the train visits. Belogorsk or Khabarovsk are two of them.
On arrival at Vladivostok, and after resting long enough to recover from an epic train journey, it’s time to decide what’s next: Japan, Thailand… Or maybe a flight back home? It’s up to you! 😄