The most famous railway journey of them all, the Trans-Siberian railway is a historic line that firmly connects Europe, the remote, and stunning, Siberia, and Asia. It has proven to be a steel lifeline for the Russian people since its completion a century ago. Travelling through the cities of the Golden Ring, across the Ural Mountains, around the famous Lake Baikal and alongside the stunning Amur River, you can experience new cultures and new ways of looking at the world every day you are travelling.
The Golden Eagle tour will take you along the traditional route of the Trans-Siberian, with the added bonus of a slight detour along the, newer, Trans-Mongolian railway, as the adventure takes in northern Mongolia and its capital city, Ulan Bator. By the time you have completed his epic journey, you will have travelled a staggering 6,500 miles (11,000km), visiting ten cities (nine if you travel eastbound) and crossing two continents.
Winston Churchill famously said that Russia was a ‘riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’. This is your opportunity to solve it … or at the very least explore the possible answers!
Day 1 - Arrival in Vladivostok
Once you arrive in Vladivostok, you will be met, and driven to the centrally located, and very modern, five-star Lotte Hotel. A welcome reception dinner will be held, offering you the chance to get yourself acquainted with your travelling companions for the next 15 days.
Day 2 – Excursions in Vladivostok
Vladivostok (literally translated as ‘Ruler of the East’) is a military port that was once off limit to foreigners, only reopening in 1992. Located on the western shores of the Sea of Japan, it is home to Russia’s Pacific Navy Fleet.
You will have the opportunity to visit its principal military attractions, including a visit to a preserved Wold War Two submarine. You will also be taken to one of the largest suspension bridges in the world over the Golden Horn Bay, which opened in 2012 for the APEC conference in the city.
Following a champagne reception at Vladivostok Railway Station you will board the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. After settling into your cabins we enjoy dinner in the restaurant car as our rail adventure westwards begins.
Day 3 – Excursions in Khabarovsk
Located just 15 miles from the border of China, Khabarovsk’s defining feature is that it stretches along the banks of the huge Amur River, the tenth-longest river in the world. Founded as a military outpost in 1858, the Trans-Siberian railway has helped it grow to become a modern, bustling city.
During your time here, you visit the memorial to Yerofey Pavlovich Khabarov, the Far East explorer after whom the city is named, as well as the impressive World War Two memorial to fallen soldiers.
In addition to this, time will be spent at the Regional Museum where you will have the opportunity to learn about the indigenous culture and natural history of Khabarovsk and the surrounding region through a rich collection of well-preserved artefacts.
Day 4 – On board
You can take a day to unwind and recharge your batteries after several jam-packed days. Watch the breath-taking scenery go by as our journey today follows the Shilka and Amur rivers, close to the Chinese border. Enjoy Russia at its most beautiful and remote, as the landscape unfolds outside your window. Or you may like to attend one of the absorbing lectures or Russian language lessons
Day 5 – On board
Today offers the perfect opportunity to practice your Russian or enjoy a DVD as you watch the world pass by. For those who like to socialise, the Bar Lounge Car is the perfect place to enjoy a chat with your fellow passengers as you listen to our resident musician.
Day 6 – Excursions in Ulan Bator
Our detour along the Trans-Mongolian railway takes us to the Mongolian capital of Ulan-Bator (literally meaning Red Hero). Once the centre of one of history’s largest empires (second only to the British Empire) led by Genghis Khan, Mongolia is a country of stunning landscapes and nomadic people, rich in culture and history. Mongolia is famous for its endless green steppes, the Gobi desert, its grazing livestock and the iconic white Gers that are dotted across the landscape.
Your time in Ulan Bator will begin at the Tibetan-style Gandan Monastery, one of the most important Buddhist Monasteries in Mongolia, home to a community of over 500 monks. The full name, Gandantegchinlen, translates as 'the great place of complete joy'.
Visiting Chinggis Square (formerly Sukhbaatar Square) you will have the opportunity to gaze upon the central monument to Genghis Khan, probably the most famous, and certainly the most feared and revered, Mongol.
Once you have had time in the square, you will be driven out of the city to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park to enjoy the breath-taking scenery, visit a traditional Ger and meet a nomadic family to see how they live, or try your hand at horse riding; an intrinsic part of Mongolian life across the steppe.
Ulan Bator’s ‘Freedom of Choice’ option allows you to stay in the city, giving you the option to follow up Chinggis Square up with a trip to the National Museum to learn about the tumultuous, fascinating and eye-opening history of Mongolia. There will also be time to visit the Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum, the residence of the last Mongolian emperor built around the turn of the century. Any time remaining will be free to explore the city some more, or purchase souvenirs.
To cap it all off, you will be performed for by contortionists and traditional Mongolian throat singers. A truly unique vocal style.
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 Old Believers' Village, and have the opportunity to learn more about the culture and history of these deeply religious people. Following this you will be treated to a concert featuring local traditions and folk singing.
Day 8 – Travelling by Lake Baikal
One of the major highlights of any journey along the Trans-Siberian, is the time spent alongside the majesty that is Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world, holding around 20% of the world’s freshwater. Building the railway around Lake Baikal was one of the toughest challenges faced by the original architects, and you will see why as the train spends around five hours following the shoreline, across bridges and through tunnels. Try to look out for Baikal’s most unique residents, the Baikal seal, the only, exclusively, freshwater seal in the world. To top the experience off, the train will be pulled by a Soviet-era steam locomotive along this incredible section of the line.
Weather permitting, the train will stop in an extremely picturesque part of the coastline for some fantastic photo opportunities. For those brave enough, there will also be the opportunity to take a quick swim in the crystal clear waters.
Towards the end of the Trans-Baikal line, the tour will board a boat towards Listvyanka, a small Baikal settlement, in order to visit the Lake Baikal Museum and Aquarium, giving you the opportunity to get acquainted with the flora and fauna of the Baikal region.
Before leaving, everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious barbeque by the lake, including freshly smoked omul fish, a species endemic to Lake Baikal and a local specialty.
As part of Golden Eagle's Freedom of Choice excursion programme you can choose to go hiking up Chersky Mount or you can choose to take the chair lift, which offers spectacular and panoramic hillside views of the lake below.
Day 9 – Excursions in Irkutsk
Irkutsk is often called the ‘Paris of Siberia’ due to its wide streets and ornate architecture, and we are sure you will see why as you take the city tour upon arrival. Exploring the city, you will have the opportunity to take in the beauty of the intricate, lace-like, decorations carved into the classical wooden architecture, that make the regions buildings so distinctive and unique. There will also be time to visit the Volkonsky House Museum, which is dedicated to the aristocrats who were exiled to this, at the time, far flung, corner of Siberia after the failed Decembrists uprising of 1825. We recreate the atmosphere of that time with a champagne reception and private concert.
You could learn to cook some traditional Russian dishes with a local chef and prepare your own lunch with our Freedom of Choice option. If you would rather gain an insight into the day to day lives of an average Russian family, you might wish to visit to a traditional Russian Dacha (summer house).
Day 10 – On board
You can take a day to unwind and recharge your batteries after several jam-packed days. Watch the breath-taking scenery go by, share your experiences with your fellow travellers or, perhaps, learn a few words of Russian.
Day 11 – Excursions in Novosibirsk
The most populous city in Asian Russia (at the time that it hit 1 million inhabitants, it was the youngest city ever to do so), located on the banks of the Ob River, Novosibirsk is a thoroughly modern ‘Soviet’ city. Art and science are prominent in the city and it is on this basis that your tour options have been created.
You could take a city tour, taking in Lenin Square and its Soviet-era statue of this iconic political leader, where you will find the imposing, and beautiful, Opera House. It is one of the largest opera houses in the world, and hosts two permanent opera and ballet companies.
Time permitting, south of the city we will visit Novosibirsk’s excellent Railway Museum. Here you will find a collection of locomotives and rolling stock from the 1800’s up until the present day. Of particular interest are the collection of carriages that were in use by the Tsars themselves. Alternatively, as part of our Freedom of Choice programme choose to visit the Mineralogical Centre with its fine display of Siberian minerals.
Day 12 – Excursions in Yekaterinburg
Founded nearly 300 years ago by Peter the Great, Yekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia and holds a very important place in the history of Russia, as it is here that, in 1918, the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were executed.
Our primary tour will take you to the site of the execution, now the Church on Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land. The tour will offer an insight into the turmoil that surrounded the Russian Revolution. You get to visit the obelisk marking the geographical border, where celebrations take place with a glass of campaign, while standing with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia.
Time permitting, our Freedom of Choice programme features either a visit to the recently opened Museum of Military Machinery. The museum houses an amazing collection of different types of military hardware including tanks, aircraft, boats and even armoured trains. Alternatively, we will make a short stop at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre, recently opened in Yekaterinburg, which is dedicated to the contemporary political history of Russia and its first president.
Day 13 – Excursions in Kazan
Situated on the Volga River, the picturesque and historic city of Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. You will have the opportunity to experience its unique history and culture, with free time to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city, as well as a tour of the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the walls of this ancient citadel are a stunning mosque as well as a picture-perfect onion-domed cathedral.
To top off your day, in memory of one of Russia’s most famous opera singers, born in Kazan, Feodor Chaliapin, you will be invited to a private concert of some of his music. You will also have time to wander through the main pedestrian area of Kazan and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city.
Day 14 – Excursions in Moscow
While in Moscow, the tours primary destination will be the centre of Moscow itself, including the iconic Red Square, an evocative symbol of Russia’s political and military might throughout the 20th Century. You can marvel at the incredible architecture surrounding the square, including St Basils Cathedral, with its gorgeously ornate onion domes, and the famous, and historic, GUM department store. Not only will you visit Red Square, you will also have the opportunity to step inside the Kremlin, the seat of Russia’s government, while visiting the Armoury Chamber.
If you have been to Moscow before we offer included Freedom of Choice touring where we show you other sights of Moscow such as the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art) or the Space Museum.
Lunch will be served in Café Pushkin, a legendary Moscow restaurant serving traditional Russian cuisine with décor reminiscent of an early 19th century mansion. An essential part of any visit to Moscow is a tour of the opulent and unique Moscow metro stations. Here, you will find showpieces of Socialist art furnished with statues, frescoes and mosaics, unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
Your final night will be spent at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel Moscow. Located in the heart of Moscow, it is a short five minute walk to Red Square or the Bolshoi Theatre.
Day 15 – Departure from Moscow
Following breakfast, any free time can be spent exploring Moscow at your leisure. Following this you will be transferred to Moscow Airport to begin your journey home. If you are not yet ready to journey home, why not try one of Real Russia’s Moscow or Saint Petersburg extensions?
This tour includes:
Experienced tour managers: Golden Eagle tour managers are selected for their linguistic and organisational capability, allowing you to sit back and relax on your Trans-Siberian adventure.
Hotel and on-board accommodation: Although you will spend much of your time sightseeing or socialising in the trains public areas, you will find your hotel room or cabin a welcome retreat at the end of the day. All hotels are 5*, or the best available.
Welcome and farewell dinners: Golden Eagle welcome dinners offer all travellers the opportunity to make friends with one another before the adventure ahead. The farewell dinner offers the chance to share stories of your time on the Trans-Siberian and look ahead to future tours.
Route guide, itinerary and information pack: Once you have boarded the train, a brochure will be available in your cabin outlining the journey ahead. Each evening the Golden Eagle tour manager will offer a briefing and a programme for the next day’s activities.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner, daily: All departures feature Golden Eagles uniquely designed restaurant cars, it is here you will be served your meals. On occasion the tour will also provide meals in that day’s destination in order to sample the finest local cuisine.
Drinks with meals and from the Bar Lounge Car: A generous drinks allowance is included with lunch and dinner. For those travelling Gold Class, all drinks on the Standard Drinks List are included. For those who have chosen Imperial Suite, all drinks from both the Standard and Premium Drinks Lists are included.
On-board service: You can expect service that is attentive, friendly and unobtrusive. Your car attendants provide 24-hour housekeeping and bedding turndown services. Complimentary tea, coffee and bottled water are available in your cabin 24 hours a day.
Guided Excursions: Imperial Suite travellers will have the added benefit of the option of a private car and guide in many of the places visited en-route.
‘Freedom of Choice’ touring: In many of the places that you visit, Golden Eagle guides will offer you a selection of different tours to take, to best suit your interests. Please note, though, that ‘Freedom of Choice’ options may be subject to variations depending on finalised train timings ad local charges. Touring options that are available will, typically, be advertised the evening prior to the days tour.
Personal headsets: On all excursions, a lightweight headset will be provided to ensure that you hear your guide clearly, and do not miss out on any of the fascinating information them are imparting.
On-board doctor and medical facilities: For your peace of mind, Golden Eagle tours are always accompanied by a doctor for the whole journey. They will be on call 24 hours a day, and are generally English speaking, registered with the General Medical Council in the UK.
All gratuities: You will not have to worry about tipping while travel with the Golden Eagle as any, and all, gratuities are covered in the tour price.
A Golden Eagle embroidered backpack for use during excursions (one per cabin): A handy way to ensure that you never leave anything behind on your day to day excursions and to carry any souvenirs that you may pick up.
Souvenir DVD upon finishing the tour, containing photos, itineraries, distances travelled and menus: The perfect way to remember your adventure along the most famous railway in the world.
Lectures on Russian history, life under Communism vs today and the Trans-Siberian Railway: Golden Eagles’ local experts will insure that you will come away from your adventure with a deeper understanding of Russia, Mongolia and their people.
After-dinner live musical entertainment on-board: A variety of traditional and popular music to keep you entertained into the night.
Russian language courses:
Golden Eagle will ensure that you need not worry about travelling from, or to, your Trans-Siberian adventure once you are in Russia.
Porterage: While you will stay on the train for the duration of your journey, when you do arrive at, and the leave, the train, you can be assured all of your bags will be in safe hands.
- Any flights or travel costs not covered in the itinerary.
- Visa costs. See the Real Russia Trans-Siberian Visa’s page
- Insurance. See Real Russia’s advice on travel insurance.
- Drinks from the Bar Lounge Car not included in your travel class. For more information visit ‘About the Golden Eagle’.
- Any laundry services not included in your travel class. For more information visit ‘About the Golden Eagle’.
- Personal expenses such as souvenir shopping or extra food and drink not included in the itinerary.
- Excess baggage charges.