Real Russia Blog

Eurasian City-Breaks: A Guide to St. Petersburg, Russia
5
September
2019

Eurasian City-Breaks: A Guide to St. Petersburg, Russia

Part 1 of our 6 part spectacular Eurasian city-break series takes us to the enigmatic St. Petersburg, Russia`s second largest city.

Eurasia is a vast continent with a rich and vibrant history, a melting pot of cultures woven together by a system of arterial routes both old and new.

In this 6-part series, we share our thoughts on what makes the perfect Eurasian city-break from the places you stay and food you eat, to the things you experience. Our journey will take you through some of the most enigmatic cities across Northern Europe, Siberia and the northernmost parts of Asia, spanning the cultural capital of the Tsars, the land of blue skies, and the home of imperial China, Beijing. Today, we shall scratch the surface of Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg.

Why visit St. Petersburg?

'I've been there about 20 times and it's never enough.' – Eugene, Operations Director
‘The overall experience is great; I can recommend it to all who wish to see Russia. It's a former capital of the country and there are many places to visit that are different from those you can see in Western and Eastern Europe.’ – Uliana, Bookkeeper

St. Petersburg is the former capital of the Russian federation and has stood as Russia’s cultural center for over a century. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, the city has enjoyed a tumultuous history as a rival capital to Moscow and has seen many name changes from Petrograd (during World War 1) to Leningrad (after the death of Lenin), and back to its original name of St. Petersburg. Aside from its rich history, the city has a vibrant energy and truly caters to all with its own architectural marvels, huge open markets, traditional local cuisine and thriving art scene.

Where to stay in St. Petersburg

‘Plan a minimum of three full days if you can and to stay in central hotels no more than 600m to the Palace Square as it is so nice to walk there, you get to see all the little bridges, people-watch and shop.’ – Natasha, Business Account Manager

Riverside with View of the Church Saviour

Choosing the right hotel is an essential part of any city-break whether you are there for 2 weeks or two days, and we always recommend sitting down and weighing up your options before you begin your journey. St. Petersburg offers plenty of choice from functional hostels to 5-star luxury hotels, we have compiled a list of some of our top recommended places to stay St. Petersburg below – For a full list of hotels in St. Petersburg, please see our hotels and accomodations page.

Pushka Inn Hotel

Conveniently located on the bank of the Moyka River, the Pushka Inn is one of the best hotels in St. Petersburg if you plan to visit the many museums and art galleries the city has to offer. The hotel itself is housed in a mansion built in 1860 by the Pushchins, and old noble family dating back to the 15th century. While the hotel has evolved over the years to accommodate a more modern clientele, the property retains many of the period features within its décor.

Cuba Hostel

A great value hostel situated in the very heart of St. Petersburg’s cultural district; the Cuba hostel is the perfect place to stay when travelling on a budget. The hostel offers a range of utilities and services including storage lockers, luggage stores, laundry areas, kitchen and common room. The front desk is open 24-hours 7 days a week.

Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg

Four Seasons Lion Palace St. Petersburg

A luxury 5-star hotel located within the prestigious Admiralteysky district, The Four Seasons Lion Palace is the epitome of Russian decadence and is well positioned to take in all St. Petersburg has to offer. The hotel rests within the walls of a 19th century royal palace and really brings the opulence of imperial Russia to the forefront. Aside from its enviable location in the heart of the city, the Lions Palace goes all out with an exceptional variety of features including several bars and lounges, a fitness centre and spa facilities.

What to do in St. Petersburg

‘The Peterhof is a must between May and October, Saint Isaac's Cathedral, during summer – opening bridges during white nights, the Winter Palace, Voronts’ – Uliana, Bookkeeper

When it comes to things to do, the Venice of the North never fails to disappoint. While St. Petersburg’s many canals and vibrant streets embellished with architectural flair are enough to charm most visitors, the city’s prominence as a place of rich history and artistic endeavour cannot be overstated. See our brief list of must-see attractions when visiting St. Petersburg below – To see all the tours we offer in St. Petersburg, please take a look at our St. Petersburg excursions for more information.

Peterhof

Ideal for Russian royal history buffs

The Peterhof Palace St. Petersburg

The crown jewel of St. Petersburg, the Peterhof is an 18th century complex commissioned by Peter the Great with astounding gardens and a royal palace built in the Petrine Baroque style. The palace is heavily influenced by Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles and is often referred to as ‘The Russian Versailles’. No trip to St. Petersburg is complete without a tour of this splendid household. Ideal for those wanting to know more about the history of Russian royalty.

Absorb the astonishing architectural visions of Peter the Great with one of our guided Peterhof tours.

Mirinski Theatre

Unmissable for lovers of ballet, opera and the arts

The centre of the arts in St. Petersburg, the 18th century Mirinski theatre has unveiled some of the world's top performers ranging from professional ballet dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nureyev and Matilda Kshesinskaya to outstanding singers including the likes of Fedor Chaliapin, Ivan Ershov and Medea. Sit back, relax and take in the ambience of this magnificent concert hall with its opulent interior and outstanding acoustics.

White Nights Festival

All-encompassing experience for music lovers, families and more!

White Nights Festival Scarlet Sails St Petersburg
Courtesy of Spbkinoforum CC BY 3.0

The White Nights Festival is an annual event that takes place in St. Petersburg to mark its near-midnight sun phenomena. Each year between the 21st April and 21st August, the skies above St. Petersburg only ever reach twilight and never go completely dark. To celebrate this natural phenomena, St. Petersburg erupts into a series of festivities starting with the ‘Stars of the White Nights’ ballet and opera performance, and the famous ‘Scarlet Sails’ (known as Alye Parusa in Russian).

Over the past few decades, this festival has evolved to include international music performances from The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and more as well as renowned carnivals; the best of which is in the Peterhof suburb where actors dressed in period costumes from the time of Peter and Catherine the Great give performances that reproduce past historic events. You can even take a ride in a period carriage around Catherine park.

Kronshtadt

The go-to place for Russian naval history

Kronshtadt is a Russian naval base located on Kotlin island, west of St. Petersburg. This little-visited location is teeming with military marvels including the offshore man-made island, Fort Alexander, Anchor Square with its numerous war memorials and the Kronstadt History Museum which houses a selection of regional artefacts. Most notably, the island is home to a 20th Byzantine-style orthodox naval cathedral, with its spectacular ornate interior. Boat trips run regularly to and from the Island and are a great way to get around.

Erarta Contemporary Art Museum

Perfect for modern art enthusiasts

Erarta Modern Art Museum St. Petersburg
Courtesy of Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art CC BY 3.0

Constructed in 2010, the Erarta museum is the first modern art museum in St. Petersburg and boasts that largest collection of private modern art in the whole of Russia. The museum’s aim is to locate, collect and popularise the work of talented modern artists in Russia and currently houses 2800 storage units of paintings, graphics, sculptures and installations.

Where to eat in St. Petersburg

It is no exaggeration when we say that you can get just about anything you want to eat in St. Petersburg. Its bustling streets are filled with tavernas where you can experience local cuisine as intended. While for more modern tastes, there is a plethora of Japanese restaurants, Pizzerias and innovative chefs experimenting with a new take on traditional Russian cuisine. We have cherry-picked a few restaurants we feel you simply must try:

Mamaliga

Explore an authentic Caucasus cuisine in St. Petersburg

Mamaliga’s main aim is to introduce its guests to the wonders of authentic Caucasian cuisine, harmoniously blending Georgian, Imereti, Armenian, Svan, Adjarian, Gurian and Megrelian culinary traditions. The restaurant offers a regular menu where you can find dishes including phali, basturma, satsivi, dolma and more. House specials include stewed Canahi, chocolate Zgapari and spicy kuchmachi. Of course, no Caucasian restaurant would be complete without a barbecue!

Betkizer

Discover St. Petersburg’s finest Israeli and Mediterranean street food

Betkizer is well known in St. Petersburg as the go-to place for Israeli and Mediterranean street food. The bar area has been paired down to create a cosy and contemporary space for travellers that want to escape the tourist-packed areas and try something a bit different. Betkizer regularly hosts live music and offers an in-expensive alternative that is ideal for backpackers.

Tsar

Experience the best of traditional Russian cuisine

Tsar is considered the epitome of traditional Russian cuisine in St. Petersburg. This high-class restaurant was designed by Sergei Tretyak with the intent of ‘reviving forgotten traditions’ and is host to an extensive collection of antiques and a royal throne. Aside from offering some of the best seafood and several varieties of caviar, the restaurant also compliments their main dishes with an extensive vodka menu.

KoKoKo

Enjoy the best of contemporary Russian cuisine

KoKoKo has gained international acclaim as the brainchild of ballet patron and celebrity style icon, Matilda Shnurova. The restaurant offers a contemporary twist to classic Russian favourites experimenting with flavour and presentation to create bright, bold and exciting dishes that always tell a story.

Top tips from our team when visiting St. Petersburg:

‘Plan your time more realistically, it is like any major city, even if you are there for a week you can't see it all; use a city tour for your first day to orientate yourself then concentrate on two or three central experiences – you can always go back!’ – Chris, Managing Director
‘My advice is to bear in mind that from Dec to March it may be extremely cold there – so May-Oct season would be the best time to visit’ – Uliana, Bookkeeper
‘Take a city tour with an overview and by car as the city is very big’ – Natasha, Business Account Manager
‘Take a jacket whatever the season’ – Nastya, Travel Administrator

Share your experiences!

Actress in Russian Period CostumePeriod Carriage Outside the Hermitage

We really hope you enjoyed the first instalment of our Eurasian city-break series! If you have been to St. Petersburg and have any experiences of your own we would love to hear about them in the comments below. Alternatively, if you are yet to visit St. Petersburg and this post has inspired you, why not look at some of the tours we have to offer?

We separate our tours based on the level of involvement we would have with you, ranging from DIY to self-exploration to a fully guided, immersive experience with one of our expert tour guides. We can also create custom tours on request if there is something you wish to see that is not covered in one of our tour packages. Click the button below to learn more about our St. Petersburg excursions!

Real Russia Blog

Customer Tales: The Ultimate Trans-Siberian Adventure
2
January
2018

Customer Tales: The Ultimate Trans-Siberian Adventure

Unforgettable 5-weeks journey along the Trans-Siberian railway and beyond

Read how our customer Linda fulfilled a lifelong dream, with her daughter, taking a tailored Trans-Siberian tour with Real Russia. She spent 5-weeks experiencing as much of the diverse cultures as she could along the way and taking in the unrivalled sights.

So, what did she experience on the world’s most famous rail journey?

The Rossiya train

We booked on the Rossiya, the flagship of the Trans-Siberian. Interestingly, for staff benefit, no matter how many time-zones we passed the train kept to Moscow time – this is crucial to understand when using the restaurant car!

The Rossiya was home for four days, we travelled hundreds of miles with ever-changing scenery. From the riches of central Moscow we noticed changes in housing immediately, memorably an estate of pink houses with marshmallow like roofs.

As we made a stop at its grand station, I concluded in hindsight I would have liked to have stopped at Yekaterinburg, famously where the massacre of the Romanov Royal family took place. Now memorialised in a little church a little way out of the city.

Irkutsk and Lake Baikal

We arrived at Irkutsk, the capital of Siberia, to see Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake. We booked a day trip to Lake Baikal from Irkutsk by taxi. As it came into view the site was immediately breath taking, on one side of the lake was a seaside complex and on the other majestic mountains loomed large.

​ Serene Lake Baikal – a jewel of the Trans-Siberian

Ulan-Bator

Ulan-Bator, Mongolia’s capital, the land of Genghis Khan. We arrived at 5.45am to the most glorious sunrise. 1.5 million people live in Mongolia, and 1 million of them live right in the capital. A huge golden god oversees the capital and is worth a morning trek. Mongolia is known as the ‘land of sky’, nothing but miles and miles of horizon. We found four more travel companions and hired a jeep and driver, who would also be our chef for the next six days to head into the Gobi. At the time, there were no roads to the Gobi; only well used scrubland tracks with flocks of sheep, goats and camels that scattered when our jeep appeared. We stayed in local yurts along the way and our meals were rice with goat meat, only horse milk was available.

Beijing

Our train was now the Trans-Mongolian, a proud engine with 16 coaches. As night descended the train pulled into a huge factory-type complex. My daughter said, ‘I feel like I’m going up’; we drew back the curtain to find ourselves 10ft in the air, supported by hawsers, as the men below changed the wheels from 8’ to 6’. Foreign trains could not use China’s tracks without this change.

We arrived in Beijing and stayed in the Old City. We explored Tiananmen Square, with the huge photo of Chairman Mao being the meeting place for all tours and taxis. We visited the Forbidden City, home of China’s emperors for 500 years. We climbed part of the Great Wall whose route we had already followed along the train journey from Mongolia. We experienced a cultural evening of song, dance and food. We visited a silk factory and finally, a jade factory.

Xian

We left Beijing after 4 days and travelled to Xian, home of the Terra Cotta army. It was impressive, each face unique, the detailing intricate. Our guide pointed out though sometimes described as life-size, being made around 2,200 years ago they would have been huge compared to the population, therefore formidable guardians to protect the emperor in the afterlife.

We visited a Rescue Centre for pandas, after an hour of waiting Bam Bam appeared right in front of us. He put on a tree climbing display for half an hour before shuffling back into the undergrowth.

Hong Kong via Shanghai

Shanghai was a beautiful modern city where we stopped for 3 days before Hong Kong, our final destination.

Hong Kong

We climbed to Victoria Park on the funicular railway revealing a stunning harbour view; and visited the oldest Taoist temple in the world where a local shaman will put a curse on the head of your enemies at £4 a head. You will also find the third largest Marks and Spencer in the world, constructed in adherence to Feng Shui naturally.

We did a whole island tour by coach and sampan, Hong Kong was beautiful, the temperature is never lower than 15 degrees throughout the year.

We flew back to Heathrow, my dream holiday over. We had physically traversed over a third of the planet by train.
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Where would you go?

The Trans-Siberian route offers a completely unique experience that can be tailored to suit your dream journey. Thanks to our dedicated and knowledgeable customer service we can work together to make sure you won’t miss a thing.

​If this personal experience has inspired you, why not to take a look at the Trans-Siberian routes and start planning your adventure?

Real Russia Blog

Meet the team: Igor Skorodumov
19
July
2017

Meet the team: Igor Skorodumov

Our Travel Expert in Volzhsky, Russia

Introducing our team.

We have a well-established team of highly experienced travel specialists, who are happy to assist with your travel needs, or find your perfect destination within Russia and the surrounding countries. These are the people who make our company so special. Today let us introduce Igor, a Tour Operations Supervisor.

Igor, a Tour Operations Supervisor at Real Russia

Igor Skorodumov joined Real Russia team in 2007. Igor has a Specialist’s Degree in Economics and, in addition to his native Russian, speaks three foreign languages, English, French and German. Whenever he has free time, he reads books, works in his country house (dacha), makes crafts at home, practices sports, takes photos etc.

He likes to travel and often travels with his family within Volgograd and Astrakhan regions of Russia, as well as further afield.

As Igor is a well-known enthusiast of travel within Russia, a fan of history and simply a ‘human encyclopaedia’, we decided to get straight to the point.

Igor's favourite destinations in Russia

Which city in Russia is the most appealing for you ?

It’s a difficult question, because each city has its own authentic beauty, history, population, dialect etc. The further one goes away from Moscow, the more vivid the local character of the city becomes.

Apart from well-loved Moscow and St.-Petersburg, I would like to accent here four cities along the Trans-Siberian railways: Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Ulan-Ude.

Kazan

Kazan is a mixture of past and present, Muslim and Christianity, with many stunning monuments on the Volga River. It is surprising to see how the different cultures, religions can coexist peacefully for several centuries. I think this is one of the “must-see” cities in Russia for those who want to dig deeper and see the 'real' Russia.

​Against the Kazan Kremlin wall

Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg is one of the cities that played the most important role in the history of the country. It is the city where the last tsar’s family was executed putting an end to Imperial Russia; it is the city where the first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin was born; he was the one who put an end to the Soviet Union; there is a border line between Europe and Asia; it is the city that culturally can challenge St. Petersburg in the number of rock bands, musicians, composers and actors it has produced. The city is beautifully located South of the Ural Mountains. If you are making a stopover in this city, don’t miss a chance to taste Ural dumplings and walk along the streets that have preserved the style of the former Soviet Union.

Novosibirsk

Nestled along the Ob river, Novosibirsk depicts the grandeur of the Russian Empire: the biggest buildings being the railway station and the Opera House. Nowadays it is the scientific and intellectual centre of Russia. Siberian culture shows itself through the authentic meals, the way they are served and the way people communicate. There are lots of places to visit, for example, the Trans-Siberian railway museum, an Open-air Museum of locomotives and carriages, and the beautiful embankment of the Tsar Alexander III.

Ulan Ude

Ulan-Ude is the capital of Buryatia, and is striking to its visitors, with its colourful Buddhist buildings and traditional clothes. People here are very hospitable and friendly. The city has lots of featured buildings that absorbed both the local, and the Russian, cultures.

Where did you spend your last holiday?

My family and I went to the Russian analogue of the Dead Sea, the lake Baskunchak. We had a tour at Bogdo Mountain, a sacred mountain for people who believe in Buddhism (Kalmyks, Buryats, Mongols etc.).

The Trans-Siberian: A taste for the ‘real’ Russia, Mongolia and China

Last year you embarked on the Trans-Siberian railway with other members of the Real Russia team. How could you describe your experience on the Trans-Siberian in three words?

Contrasts, knowledge and history.

What was the most impressive in your trip?

We had a chance to witness the contrasts between two continents- Europe and Asia, between three countries along the Trans-Siberian – Russia, Mongolia and China, and observe a variety of cultures and lifestyles, as every place we visited has its own character and story to tell. After an intense and history laden two weeks in Russia, Mongolia was very quiet and sparsely-inhabited. And then, just one night away by train, we were in heavily-populated China; another incredible change again.

Why do you think Mongolia captured you?

I expected it to be a totally new experience for me, however, it is there, in Mongolia, where I felt more like at home than anywhere in Russia. This feeling was intensified when we came to Terelj National Park. I enjoyed this authentic atmosphere of simplicity, hospitability and friendliness. This country has the authentic values and is developing at its own pace, thoroughly keeping its character.


Igor in Terelj National Park, Mongolia

What advice would you give to customers that are planning on travelling to Mongolia for the first time?

Well, I would suggest they be prepared for lots of walking (take comfortable sport clothes, sneakers etc.), exchange their currency for the local one to be able to give tips or buy some sweets to share (for example, when visiting Nomads).

For vegetarians, I suggest searching in advance for the restaurants or check with Real Russia travel specialists about places serving vegetarian food or, if tour is booked, then it should be noted beforehand, because meat is the main food in the country.

Why do you think the Trans-Siberian route is so popular among foreign travellers?

It is the longest railway in the world stretching through two continents, several time zones and different landscapes. It is the best way one can experience Russia, Mongolia and China, admiring through the window, sitting in a comfortable compartment on a train.

What don’t we know about Igor

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I like to listen to Rock music at a high volume when I am alone at home.

What are your favourite books?

Les Misérables’ by Victor Hugo, ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky, ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, and ‘The Adventures of Werner Holtv’ Dieter Noll.

What do you love the most about Real Russia?

I love the most about Real Russia that it is a real team. Many of team members are from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries, and, nevertheless, we have the mutual supportiveness and dedication that make every day at work great. For me, we have a team of professionals that have been awarded the World Travel Award for being Russian’s Leading Travel Agent for last four years not by chance, but by hard work.
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We thank Igor for squeezing us in, and look forward to introducing you to another member of our amazing team soon. Click here to find more series of our interviews!

Let us help you with your next adventure, contact our travel specialists.

Real Russia Blog

Win a copy of Matthew Woodward`s new book ‘Trans-Siberian Adventures’!
20
June
2017

Win a copy of Matthew Woodward`s new book ‘Trans-Siberian Adventures’!

We have three copies of Matthew Woodward`s incredible book to give away!

As many of you are rail enthusiasts, we are very excited to introduce to you a new book, ‘Trans-Siberian Adventures: Life on and off the rails from the UK to Asia’, masterfully written by our long-standing customer and friend, Matthew Woodward, a rail adventurer and seasoned Trans-Siberian traveller.

A life-long adventure

Matthew has completed four long-distance rail journeys through Russia; in his own words, “Overland adventure has given me a wonderfully different perspective on the size of the world, and the diversity of its people.” With that said, his new book is the perfect companion for anyone thinking about conquering the Trans-Siberian railway; in its pages you will find entertainment, guidance and inspiration! Or, if prefer to set off on an adventure without leaving the comfort of your home, the book will immerse you into life on-board the train, and beyond it – it will be your window on contemporary, and vivid, Russian, Mongolian and Chinese cultures.

Travelling across the world’s largest country is a challenge, and once you overcome it, you want more. “I was really missing the crazy people, the strange places and the mad weather. I wanted more. Colder? Yes! Harder? Yes! Longer? Yes please!” exclaims Matthew at the end of his book. And, “Yes, please!”, exclaim we in hope that Matthew Woodward’s stories will continue.

Real Russia is delighted to have been involved in his adventures, and to have several members of the team, namely, Igor, Natasha, Yury, Tanya and Anastasia, acknowledged in the book. We will be introducing them and many other members of Real Russia's family to you through blogs and social media over the coming months. Would you like to know more about our special team, click here.

We value your opinion, and we mean it!

Have you travelled with Real Russia before? Was it the Trans-Siberian journey, a tour to Saint Petersburg, or one of a thousand other experiences? Share your thoughts on TripAdvisor to be in with a chance to win one of three signed copies of ‘Trans-Siberian Adventures: Life on and off the rails from the UK to Asia’ by Matthew Woodward. Simply tell us about your experience with Real Russia on Trip Advisor between 23 June and 30 September 2017. After this date three winners will be chosen at random to receive this incredible book! And if you want to increase your chance of winning, if you share some photos of your incredible trip along with your review, you will be entered into the prize draw not once, but twice!

Click here to share your experience now!

Matthew Woodward’s book ‘Trans-Siberian Adventures: Life on and off the rails from the UK to Asia’ available in Kindle and paperback editions at Amazon.co.uk.



For more information about Matthew Woodward and his adventures, visit his website www.matthew-woodward.com. Alternatively, take a look at our interview with Matthew from last year, as part of the launch of our Trans-Siberian Guides, and find out what his funniest Trans-Siberian experience was!

If you are planning a visit to Russia, China, Mongolia, along the Trans-Siberian railway, or beyond, and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

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About Real Russia

Real Russia supports thousands of people travelling through Russia and along the Trans-Siberian railway, with a range of travel services, including:
Planning unique Trans-Siberian rail tours
Booking accommodation
Transfers from airport to accommodation, to railway station (and more!)
Russian, and international. rail tickets
Moscow and St Petersburg short tours
Visa services for Russia, China, Mongolia and more

Would you like to know what our customers say? Check out our TripAdvisor page.

Real Russia Blog

Top 10 Most Desired Winter Journeys – Part 2
19
September
2014

Top 10 Most Desired Winter Journeys – Part 2

In our latest blog, we began the countdown for the top 10 routes our customers were interested in last winter, in order to give you some ideas of where you could go this year!

If you missed this, head over to the Top 10 Most Desired Winter Journeys – Part 1now and then come back when you are finished, to enjoy… the final Top 5….

5 Beijing to Moscow

St Basils Cathedral In Winter

St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

What to see along the way?

Starting in the Far East and ending in Europe, you will have the opportunity to see culture, scenery and architecture change before your eyes, between Beijing and Moscow, from the pagoda’s of China to the Orthodox Churches and Kremlins of European Russia.

What to do upon arrival?

  • You could take a city tour by day or even a city tour by night, each excursion will give you an entirely different experience and perspective. Uncover the glimmering buildings as twinkling lights illuminate the water of the Moskva River or simply walk along the beautiful river by daylight, absorbing the architectural wonders of Moscow; Red Square, Moscow’s classic St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, as well as the intricately decorated Triumphal Arch, which is steeped in history!

  • Kuskovo Park and Estate offers the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the beautiful Russian gardens of this country house set on the edge of Moscow. Art and history lovers will be offered the opportunity to learn about its origins dating back to the 18th century, while those looking for a time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can simply appreciate the peace and tranquillity that the grounds possess.

4 Moscow to Vladivostok

Vladivostok

Coastline in Winter, Vladivostok

What to see along the way?

Ending in Vladivostok, the only route on our list to find its way past the city of Chita, the most famous of the Trans-Siberian routes will eventually bring you to Khabarovsk and the Amur River. The Amur River marks the border between eastern Russia and northern China and will give you the opportunity to travel across the longest bridge on the Trans-Siberian.

What to do upon arrival?

  • While vodka may be the drink Russia is known for, they also make very good beer, so a beer factory tour in Vladivostok is an experience beer lovers will not want to miss. You will learn about how the beer is manufactured and even enjoy a sample of the local brew.

  • Following seven days on the rails, why not spend some time on the waves with a cruise tour with time for fishing. A local guide can take you out along the Vladivostok coastline, taking in the view that is Peter the Great Bay, and they will even help you to reel in a fish or two!

3 Saint Petersburg to Moscow

Kremlin In Winter

Kremlin on the river, Moscow

What to see along the way?

If you travel to St Petersburg on the Sapsan you will not see all that much along the way, as you will make the journey in just four hours – ideal for travelling by overland railway, with a time constraint, and you will certainly maximize your time exploring each city!

Though, if a more sedate journey is to your liking then you can choose another train to ensure you see the northern reaches of the Volga; the largest river in Europe and a river considered by many to be the national river of Russia.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Those with an eye for precious rocks and metals will enjoy visiting the Kremlin, Moscow Cathedrals and Diamond Fund. Among other items, you will be able to see the crown of the Russian Empire, Russian and foreign medals, the biggest gold and platinum bars found in the country as well as giant diamonds and numerous pieces of jewellery.

  • Away from the bustling atmosphere of Moscow’s centre, why not visit Suzdal and Sergiev Posad. With historic riverside convents, monasteries and fortresses, it is the perfect way to see into Russia’s past away from the traditional tourist areas.

2 Moscow to Beijing

Chinese Statue

Forbidden city, Beijing

What to see along the way?

Just after you pass Irkutsk and start to round Lake Baikal you will find the train stopping briefly at Slyudyanka station; the only train station in the world to be built entirely from marble! Be sure to have your camera at the ready for this one of a kind sight.

What to do upon arrival?

  • A favourite attraction among many visitors to Beijing is The Gongfu (Kung-Fu) Show. Astonishing martial arts displays are woven into the story of a young boy seeking to fulfil his dream of becoming a Kung Fu Master. Your jaw will be well and truly dropped as you leave.

  • Xingshan Park, also known as Fragrant Hills Park, is a beautifully tranquil Jin Dynasty-era park covered with lakes, hills and a forest made up of maple, persimmon, pine and cypress trees. The park is named for the highest peak in the park, Xianglu Feng; a peak that reaches an impressive 557m. It can be found close to the Forbidden City, so it is a great excursion to tie in together on one short stay to see the most of Beijing.

1 Moscow to Saint Petersburg

St Petersburg Hermitage

The State Hermitage, Saint Petersburg

What to see along the way?

As the best trains (such as the Grand Express) along this route all travel at night (leaving around 11.30pm and arriving around 7am) why not enjoy your luxurious surroundings, get a good night’s sleep, and prepare for a day of exploring what Saint Petersburg has to offer.

What to do upon arrival?

  • If you take a city tour through Saint Petersburg you will have the opportunity to visit, among many other wonderful places, the Peter and Paul Fortress; learning all about the history of the city formerly known as Leningrad.

  • The State Hermitage is one of the largest museums in the world. It stretches across six buildings and houses over three million pieces; ranging from pre-historic artwork through to medieval weapons and armour. While you are there, why not take a short walk along the Neva River.

If any of these journeys have inspired you to take a journey of a lifetime, visit our ticket booking page, our live schedules page or get in contact with one of our travel specialists.

Alternatively, select your own journey, and try it your own way. There are thousands of routes throughout Europe, Russia, Mongolia and China that you could travel along; let your imagination guide you to Explore, Discover and Experience Eurasia!

Real Russia Blog

Top 10 Most Desired Winter Journeys – Part 1
8
September
2014

Top 10 Most Desired Winter Journeys – Part 1

As the summer comes to a close, and the long nights draw in, it is only natural to think of travel; visiting more exotic, or unusual, places to take a break from it all. Why not journey along the thousands of miles of rail track throughout Russia and beyond? From the comfort of a sleeper cabin, or the catered luxury of a dining car, travelling by train gives you the opportunity to see landscapes that you could never dream of seeing by air or road.

At this point, you may be asking, ‘…with so many wonderful journeys to choose from, where should I go first?’ In order to give you some ideas, we have looked into the journeys our Real Russia customers were interested in taking last winter, and have created a ‘'Top 10'’ for the most popular routes; highlighting points of interest along the way, and upon arrival.

10 Moscow to Ulan Bator

Ger Camps in Ulan Bator

What to see along the way?

Where to start? On a long journey such as this there are countless sights to take in. Look out for the boundary between Europe and Asia, marked by a monument, 1,777km east of Moscow, take in the awesome sight of the Ob River in Novosibirsk and relax as you watch the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal, pass by between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Take a trip to visit a nomadic family for the day. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in how a nomadic family lives in, and around, Ulan-Bator, experiencing their culture as you dine with them and spend your day as one of the family.

  • Take a walking tour of the city. You can spend a full day discovering the delights of the city by traveling on foot, including the Choijin Lama Buddhist Monastery, which dates back to the 18th century, or the National History Museum with hundreds of Mongolian artefacts. If the full day seems a touch too long, why not just go for the morning.

9 Moscow to Berlin

Grunewald Forest

What to see along the way?

Of the four countries that you will pass through, the four capital cities, are the highlights of this journey; Moscow , Minsk (Belarus), Warsaw (Poland) and finally Berlin.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Take a stroll in the Grunewald Forest to see the man-made hill that offers an astonishing view of Berlin amongst the charming fields, trees and flowers.

  • Shop in Mauer Park, a real favourite among the locals. With market stalls and a flea market, you will have a great chance to really get to know the locals in Berlin in a natural and thrilling environment.

8 Ulan Bator to Beijing

Houhai Lake, Beijing

What to see along the way?

Your journey between Ulan Bator and Beijing will encompass many incredible vistas, chief among these is the Gobi desert, home to the Gobi Bear, the Bactrian Camel and the Gold Eagle. Before pulling into Beijing do not forget to look out for one of history’s greatest architectural achievements, the Great Wall of China.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Join the ShiChaHai Lake Bike Tour at Houhai Lake, where you can enjoy the traditional Chinese stone lions that overlook the bridge of the lake, and see the willow trees that rest between the edge of the water and a traditional Chinese house.

  • Pay a visit to an Evening Acrobatic Show that features the extraordinary balance and agility of Chinese acrobats. Their skills showcase a mixture of gymnastic skills, circus acts, martial arts and ballet; this show offers something for everyone to enjoy.

7 Moscow to Irkutsk

Frozen over Lake Baikal, Irkutsk

What to see along the way?

Passing through much of Siberia, the list of things to see is endless. One city to take note of, though, is Tyumen, built on the banks of the Tura River; the first city to be built in Siberia.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Get on board the Circum-Baikal Railway, a charming Russian railway that transports you around the shoreline of Lake Baikal; the world’s largest natural fresh water resource. Lake Baikal contains 20% of the earth's freshwater, and is teeming with an array of endemic life, such as Baikal seals, also known as nerpa. In the winter, Lake Baikal entirely freezes over making it a popular tourist destination for ice fishing and ice skating.

  • Visit a local Buryat Shaman and take the opportunity to learn about the inspiring Buryat culture that carry out fascinating rituals and serve traditional authentic food to their guests; helping you to become fully immersed in the community.

6 Berlin to Moscow

Christ our Saviour Cathedral, Moscow

What to see along the way?

Between Berlin and Moscow you will cross four separate countries across Eastern Europe. This will give you the chance to take in a great many sights, such as the Vistula River, the longest and largest river in Poland, while travelling through Warsaw.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Why not enjoy a city tour encompassing sights such as Novodevichy Covent & St Basil’s Cathedral. Visit two of Moscow’s essential classics, as well as other memorable sights such as the Kremlin, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and Moscow State University, taking a stroll up Sparrow Hills in the process for an astonishing panoramic view of Moscow.

  • There are many different ways to view the city, including Moscow’s Metro, Arbat Street, the Kremlin and the Armoury uncovering the depths of Moscow’s heritage. Visit the 19th century armoury that holds Russia’s state treasures and finery, absorb the beauty of Moscow’s delightful Metro (with stations that would not look out of place hosting ballet recitals or opera performances!), as well as indulge in shopping at traditional Russia craft stalls on Arbat Steet.

… Please click to see the final Top 5 routes on part 2 of our blog!…

It is important to remember that these are not the only routes available and, as we have customers who book with us, a wide variety of journeys; travelling all the way from Paris to Beijing and down into South East Asia.

If any of these journeys pique your interest, visit our live train schedules or our ticket booking page to take your first step towards a winter adventure!

Alternatively, create your own adventure, the possibilities are endless!

Real Russia Blog

Real Russia Tours Brochures!
21
May
2014

Real Russia Tours Brochures!

Over the past 11 year’s we have provided dedicated support and specialist advice, assisting customers with visas, accommodation, train tickets and transfers for Russia, China, Mongolia as well as many other major cities throughout Europe. As a result, we have built up strong connections and understand the importance of care and attention when making travel arrangements. Today this means we are able to offer you a one stop all encompassing experience for tours as well!

We have released four online brochures that detail our full tours range. These brochures include travel advice, itinerarys and prices describing the highlights of destinations throughout Russia, Mongolia and China. Have you ever wanted to visit Shaman Rock and stand on the edge of Lake Baikal, or enjoy a lunch in a Ger Camp? All of these and many more are excursions we offer as part of our Trans-Siberian Rail Tours.

Our Trans-Siberian brochure gives an overview of the tours we offer and recommends how to choose the right tour for you!

From this Trans-Siberian brochure, you will see, our tours range can be divided into three routes: Trans-Mongolian, Trans-Russian and Trans-Manchurian.

Each of these brochures give detailed explanations of the excursions and destinations en-route. These brochures also give a price list at the back for quick reference, or you can go direct to our tours page on our website to explore our ranges online. As we have a tri-fold range of 'explore', 'discover' and 'experience', we are able to accommodate all ages, travel preferences and budgets. Also, as our staff are situated across offices in Russia, Europe and the UK, we understand the bespoke regions, and importance of getting travel arrangements right – We work hard to make your dream a reality!

If you would like to arrange a tour, or simply to enquire about train tickets, visas, accommodation or transfers then contact one of our Real Russia team who will be happy to answer your queries and make any arrangements too.

Real Russia Blog

World Travel Awards 2014: Nomination!
24
April
2014

World Travel Awards 2014: Nomination!

For over ten years Real Russia has been devoted to offering the most dedicated travel service and we are pleased to announce that we are once again in the running for: ‘Russia’s Leading Travel Agency” at the World Travel Awards for 2014.

www.realrussia.co.uk/info/worldtravelawards

(Click for info on ‘How to vote’!)

Though we won the 2013 World Travel Award, as voted by our customers, this 2014 nomination g

ives us the opportunity to once again prove our service, and retain the title of “Russia’s Leading Travel Agency”, as well as extend support to our dedicated charity!

This year our charity of choice as Go Help, which improves healthcare to 3rd world countries. Its' volunteers work tirelessly to enhance the ambulance services available in countries such as Mongolia, and the stan-regions. See our March blog outlining the Go Helps charity rallies and the ways in which our support can help. For each vote we receive, we will make donation to Go Help!

We feel proud to have this opportunity to win two years in a row, and so if you, a friend, or someone you know, has received outstanding customer service, been happy with our visa process, used our helpful forum or website, or experienced the trip of a life time arranged through us; and think that our commitment should be acknowledged and rewarded, then our whole team at Real Russia would appreciate your support by voting for us as “Russia’s Leading Travel Agency 2014”.

It is an easy process to vote – click to see ‘How to Vote!’.

And, if you would like to get to know our online community, keep in touch with us via our Facebook, Twitter, or Linked in too.

Thank you for taking part!

from everyone at Real Russia

Real Russia Blog

Four New Train Stations Planned for Moscow
29
May
2013

Four New Train Stations Planned for Moscow

Russia's capital could be on track to receive four new train stations, providing better links within the city and further. Following an announcement from Russian Railways, plans have been submitted to the city authorities for two new stations providing high-speed rail links; connecting Moscow with St Petersburg in the North West, Yekaterinburg in the east and Adler in the south. According to Russia’s major newspaper, Izvestia, the other two stations are destined for a province of Moscow that was added to the city in 2011.

With new modern facilities, the project is reported to need an investment of around $2.7 billion (85 billion Rubles), but will improve journey times making the trip to St Petersburg twice as fast as the current Sapsan trains. The link between Moscow and Adler will also make travel to Sochi, the location of the 2014 Winter Olympics, more accessible.

If you are planning a rail tour around Russia the new links could provide greater access to this dynamic country. However, with a wide range of Trans-Siberian rail tours available to you, why not start planning your amazing trip right now?

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of travel experts. If you require visa services, train tickets, accommodation, a professional local guide or internal transfers then look no further.

To discuss any aspect of a trip to Russia or to plan and book an epic tour, simply contact our travel team who are happy to help.

Real Russia Blog

New Tour Ranges Now Available
10
April
2013

New Tour Ranges Now Available

Allow us to introduce our improved tour ranges, inspired and designed around you. Now with unbeatable choice and flexibility, you’re free to customise your trip exactly how you want. Combining our years of practice and unparalleled expertise, it’s time to book your truly life-changing experience.

With a choice of Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian or Trans-Manchurian routes, you’ll have the opportunity to witness some of the World’s most breathtaking scenery. Depending on your choice, you might pass amazing destinations such as Moscow, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan-Bator, Yekaterinburg and Beijing.

The Trans-Continental tour routes are arranged into three exciting options taking into account your individual needs:

The Explore Range is ideal for independent travellers who love getting off the beaten track. You can explore what you want, and when, without losing time booking complicated routes and transfers; accommodation is also arranged.

The Discover Range works well if you like the best of both worlds. You will be taken straight to the heart of the action with introductions to destinations in the comfort of professional guides, but also enjoying the flexibility of your own time to explore. The Discover tours are structured with routes and transfers, again with accommodation provided.

The Experience Range is the premium choice. If you always wanted a life-changing experience but didn’t know where to start, you can explore in comfort with quality transport and the finest accommodation. You will receive a truly unique and in-depth adventure with as little planning as possible. Relax safe in the knowledge that your entire trip is taken care of for you.

For everything you need to make your trip as easy and enjoyable as possible, look no further. We can also arrange all visas, train tickets, upgrades and extensions to suit your individual tour requirements.

Through multiple time zones and nations, your adventure will bring memories that you will never forget. We hope the new product ranges will encourage you to explore, discover and experience the real Russia.

To see our Trans-Siberian tours click here