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, finishes 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.
From the Ural Mountains, past the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal, and onwards through the Gobi Desert, you can be sure that you will never be far away from amazing views, experiences and memories.
Day 1 - Arrival in Moscow
On our first day in Moscow you will be collected from the airport before being taken direct to your, centrally located, 5* hotel in order to check in. To start your tour, you will visit Red Square and St Basil's Cathedral before having the rest of the day to explore the Russian capital at your leisure, or relax in preparation for the adventure ahead.
Day 2 – 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 steets 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 boarding the Imperial Russia train where you will be treated to welcome drinks before departing on your epic adventure.
Day 3 – 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 featues 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 your next port of call.
Day 4 – 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 Othodox 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 can place one foot on each continent at the same time.
The train will depart Yekaterinburg that evening to head further east.
Day 5 – 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 ats.
You will be guided around the most Soviet of all the cities you will see on our journey, including visits to the Railway Museum, the Ballet and Opera House as well as the embankments of the mighty Ob River.
Day 6 – 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, accompanied by champagne, during the afternoon.
Day 7 – 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 the 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 Ethnogrpahical 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 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 to 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 10 – Excursions in Ulan Bator
Ulan Bator is the capital of Mongolia, surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery you will see on your tour.
Today, you will explore the picturesque Gorkhi-Terlj National Park and sleep under the stars. On arrival at the park, you will head to a remote Ger camp where you will be spending the evening before embarking on a hike to a nearby Buddhist temple. Your day will end with a traditional Monglian dinner before spending an evening beneath the stars, sleeping in an authentic Mongolian Ger.
Day 11 – Excursions in Ulan Bator
Upon your return to Ulan Bator you will be taken to the famous, Tibetan-style, Gandan Monastery, one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the whole of Mongolia, as well as the Museum of National History and the Bogd Khan Winter Palace, the residence of the last Mongolian emperor, built around the turn of the century. Enjoy a traditional Mongolian cultural performance with throat singing before heading back on board the Imperial Russia train yo your next destination.
That lunch time you will be treated to a traditional Mongolian BBQ before a unique folk show is put on for you.
Day 12 – On-board the Imperial Russia
You will cross a large portion of the Gobi Desert today, before reaching Erlian on the border with China. Because of the different rail track standards used in China, you will be transferred onto a waiting train for the remainder of the journey to Beijing.
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 13 – 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.
Upon arriving you will be met by a tour guide who will take you around the legendary city's most famous locations, including the Forbidden City, and its many temples and palaces as well as Tianamen Square, where you will find the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the House of Peoples Meetings and the National Museum of China.
That evening you will enjoy a dinner of local favourite, Beijing Duck.
Day 14 – Excursions in 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 your tour will start today.
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 15 – Depart Beijing
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’ Beijing extensions?