Probably the world’s most famous stretch of railway, the Trans-Siberian runs from European Russia, through Siberia and deep into Asia. In use now for nearly 100 years, it is one of history’s greatest industrial achievements, opening up some of the most remote, and beautiful, scenery the wold has to offer.
The Imperial Russia, in fact, begins its journey on a slightly newer stretch of this famous line, the Trans-Mongolian railway, which was opened to traffic in the mid 1940’s, connecting two of the world’s most historic, and powerful, capital cities; Moscow and Beijing.
Passing the Ural Mountains and the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal, and travelling through the vast Gobi Desert, you can be sure that you will never be far away from amazing views, experiences and memories.
Day 1 – Arrival in Beijing
On your first day in Beijing you will be collected from the airport before being taken direct to your hotel in order to check in. The rest of the day will then be yours to explore the Chinese capital at your leisure, or relax in preparation for the adventure ahead.
Day 2 – Excursions in Beijing
Beijing is one of the great cities, and, as one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the world, having been inhabited for 3000 years, is full of history and culture just waiting to be explored.
UNESCO states that the Summer Palace is, ‘a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.’ It is here that you will spend your afternoon.
Day 3 – Excursions and Depart from Beijing
To many, the Great Wall of China is the eighth wonder of the world, stretching, as it does, 6000km through the Chinese countryside, and it is here where you will spend you morning today. While you will not have time to explore all of it, you will have ample opportunities to learn more about it, and grab photos of this incredible structure.
The afternoon will be yours to do with as you please, so explore to your heart’s content or relax and soak up the unique atmosphere of the Chinese capital before boarding the Imperial Russia train where you will be treated to welcome drinks before departing on your epic adventure.
Day 4 - On-board the Imperial Russia
You will cross a large portion of China and the Gobi Desert today, along with a brief stop in Erlian (Erenhot) on the border with Mongolia. Because of the different rail track standards used in China, it is here that you will be transferred onto the Imperial Russia private luxury train.
With stunning views it is the perfect day to relax and just enjoy the view, while socialising with your travelling companions and talking about your experience so far.
Day 5 – Excursions in Ulan Bator
Ulan Bator is the capital of Mongolia, and is surrounded by some of the most breath-taking scenery you will see on your tour.
Your first day in Ulan Bator will begin with a transfer to the Gorkhi-Terlj National Park, where you will be given time to freshen up before lunch.
After lunch you will be guided to Turtle Rock, with a marvellous view of the park, before visiting a nomadic family to be introduced to their lifestyle, including getting a taste for some of their traditional food.
There will then be the option to go horse riding for an hour.
This evening will be spent beneath the stars, sleeping in a traditional Mongolian Ger.
Day 6 – Excursions in Ulan Bator
After a short transfer back to the city centre, you will be taken to Sukhbaatar Square, home to several important Mongolian monuments depicting heroes from throughout history, including Ghengis and Kublai Khan. Next up on your morning tour will be a visit to the famous, Tibetan-style, Gandan Monastery, one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the whole of Mongolia, home to around 500 monks.
Hollowing a traditional Mongolian BBQ, you will be taken to visit the Museum of National History and the Zaisan Memorial, a place dedicated to the war victories throughout the early 20th century and peacetime achievements such as the Soviet space flights.
The day will be capped off with a traditional Mongolian folk show, before departing for the Russian border.
Day 7 – Excursions in Ulan-Ude
Ulan-Ude is a unique place, with a unique heritage; it is the capital of the Buryat Republic and home to the native Buryat people.
You will be taken on a tour of the most famous of its many religious buildings upon arrival, including the Buddhist Ivolginsky Datsan, and the Russian Orthodox Odigitria Cathedral and Holy trinity Church.
Following this you will be welcomed by a local Buryat family to experience several Buryat traditions, including cooking the Buryat dish Pozy, playing dice, using a bow, trying on traditional tradition Buryat clothing as well as assembling, and dismantling, a yurt.
Day 8 – Excursions around Lake Baikal
Few sights you will see on this trip come close to the beauty of Lake Baikal. The lake is the largest freshwater lake in the world, accounting for over 20% of all the freshwater on the planet. With many endemic species of flora and fauna, you are sure to see sights here that you will find nowhere else in the world.
The programme for today includes a short boat trip to Listvyanka, time for photos at Chersky Stone observation point, a location with stunning panoramic views of Lake Baikal and a visit to Baikal Museum to find out more about the local flora and fauna found around the lake and the local region.
The tour will finish with a picnic on the shores of the lake.
Day 9 – Excursions in Irkutsk
Irkutsk is one of the largest cities in Siberia, and today you will be guided around some of the best sights the city has to offer.
Taking in visits to places such as the Decembrists House, a house dedicated to the aristocrats who were exiled to this, at the time, far flung, corner of Siberia after the failed Decembrists uprising of 1825, Karl Marx Street and the beautiful cottages adorned with beautiful wooden ‘lace-like’ designs, you will find plenty of beauty in his corner of Siberia.
Later in the day you will be taken to the open-air Taltsy Ethnographical Museum along the right bank of the Angara River, chronicling the history of Siberia from the 17th century onwards.
You will round out the day with free time to explore the ‘130 Quarter’ and view the reconstructed 19th and 20th century buildings.
Day 10 - On-board the Imperial Russia
You will cross a large portion of Siberia today, crossing over the Yenisei River along the way. With stunning views of verdant forests and crystal-clear lakes and rivers it is the perfect day to relax and just enjoy the view while socialising with your travelling companions and talking about your experience so far.
Alternatively, during the morning you could attend one of the lectures on Russian and Trans-Siberian history before listening to a live musical performance, with champagne, during the afternoon.
Day 11 - Excursions in Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk is in the heart of Siberia and is, in fact, the most populous city in Asian Russia and a bastion of science and the arts.
You will be guided around the most Soviet of all the cities you will see on our journey, including visits to the Railway Museum, containing a fascinating selection of steam, diesel and electric trains, the Ballet and Opera House as well as the embankments of the mighty Ob River, the world’s seventh longest river, that flows into the Arctic Ocean.
Day 12 - Excursions in Yekaterinburg
After breakfast your train will stop in Yekaterinburg, the historical capital of the Urals. The city is most (in)famously known for being where the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were murdered in 1918.
The city tour will be based around this, with visits to the cathedral built specifically to commemorate this event, the Cathedral of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood and a local Russian Orthodox Monastery that is considered to be a fantastic example of Russian construction.
Following lunch in Yekaterinburg, the tour will move to the Europe/Asia border, where you will be able to place one foot on each continent at the same time.
The train will depart Yekaterinburg that evening to head further east.
Day 13 - Excursions in Kazan
Sitting on the banks of the Volga River, Kazan is the capital of the Tatarstan Republic and is the self-styled ‘Third Capital’ of Russia.
The highlight of the tour here is a visit to the Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, alongside a grand city tour taking in the best features of this religiously, and ethnically, diverse city.
You will be treated to a very special lunch that includes a master class on Tartar Cuisine.
The day will finish with dinner aboard the train while heading off towards our next port of call.
Day 14 - Excursions in Moscow
Following breakfast, you will be taken on a guided tour of the city, covering many of the best landmarks throughout the city. The tour includes visits to the Moscow Kremlin, a treasure-trove of magnificent relics and fine art, Arbat Street, one of the oldest streets in Moscow and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
Following this you will also be taken on a tour of the Moscow Metro and its ornately decorated stations before checking into your, centrally located, 5* hotel ahead of your last night in Russia.
Day 15 – Depart Moscow
This will be your last day on tour. After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to begin your journey home. If you are not yet ready to journey home, why not try one of Real Russia’s ‘Dragon City’ Moscow or St Petersburg extensions?