Russia is a huge country spanning 17,125,200 square miles and consisting of approximately 1/8 of the earth’s inhabited land. From vast freshwater lakes to huge rocky mountain ranges, Russia’s unprecedented size and dramatic landscapes cannot be understated. So, how do we even begin to think about exploring a country that is almost twice the size of the rest of Europe combined? Well, by train of course!
Travelling by train in Russia is not without its problems. For one, train stations, especially in larger cities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, are notoriously crowded and deal with both domestic and international passengers. In rural areas, navigating trains can be difficult since timings, place names and information is mostly in Russian with very little English available. Aside from this, train travel across Russia will take you hours which is understandable for a country of its size.
Despite these difficulties, travelling Russia by train is an enriching and albeit rewarding experience for any traveller that wants to really see what Russia is about. While planes may take you across Russia in a fraction of the time, trains allow you plenty of opportunity to really immerse yourself in Russian culture from your seat. What’s more, travelling by train has less impact on the environment than other forms of transport, so what’s not to love?
Around 2680 miles long, the Baikal-Amur mainline was built as an alternative to the Trans-Siberian railway, officially starting from Tayshet (although western travellers often join at Irkutsk) and travelling east towards the Pacific Ocean. Much of the BAM is constructed over permafrost so highly durable materials that can withstand severe terrain and weather conditions have been used as part of the track design.
Lake Baikal – One of the most popular tourist spots in Russia, Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world with a maximum depth of 1,632m and measuring 23,000 cubic km in size. Aside from spectacular views, the lake is home to the only freshwater seal in the world.
The Kirov railway is a Russian rail network linking Murmansk with St. Petersburg. Although a relatively short railway journey (around 900 miles) compared with the Trans-Siberian, the Kirov is still a popular journey for tourists wanting to explore The Northern-most parts of Russia. The line was originally known as the Murman railway and has been of strategic military importance since Murmansk is one of the few ice-free ports on the Arctic Sea.
The route (ARKTIKA):
Mumansk – Murmansk is a port city located in the northwestern part of Russia close to the Norweigian border, now home to numerous naval monuments and even a museum ship, Lenin. Aside from the city’s impressive military history, Mumansk and the Kola peninsula is one of the best destinations in Russia to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) with over 40 days of clear night skies.
As the longest railway in the world at around 5772 miles, the Trans-Siberian is without question one of the most extraordinary engineering achievements of recent times. Renowned for its ability to connect Western and Eastern Russia (Moscow to Vladivostok), the Trans-Siberian is an icon for train enthusiasts and travellers alike. This major route works as an artery for traversing Asia and splits into three main routes, the first, official route leading to Vladivostok, the second starting from Moscow and heading to Bejing, China (Trans-Manchurian), and the third starting from Moscow and heading to Bejing via Ulaan-Baatar (Trans-Mongolian).
The route (Trans-Siberian)
Kazan – A major tourist destination located on the banks of the Volga River, Kazan is known for its multi-ethnic history and was the capital of the Tatarstan Republic. This city boasts a multitude of cultural delights including the only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia, the Kazan Kremlin and the Qol Sharif Mosque.
Ulan Ude – Ulan Ude is a vibrant city close to the border of Mongolia, and home to the Buryats an indigenous people with a proud heritage spanning many generations. Today, the city is known for being the centre of Buddhism in Russia.
At Real Russia, we pride ourselves on being able to deliver a fast, stress-free service to our customers. Our live train schedules highlight any days that trains are departing between your selected cities and the scheduled trains section will list all trains running for your chosen month. We also offer a secure order tracking process so you can double-check your train tickets before you travel. Need help planning your journey? Our destinations page will go through some of the most popular Russian cities to visit. For more information on how to understand and book your Russian train tickets, please visit our dedicated Russian trains page or contact us directly.
If you are interested in booking any supplementary tours along the way, why not take a look at the Russian tours we have on offer? We have a range of excursions to suit any budget.
Travel writer Jamie Tinkepaugh, and his father Peter Davies, decided to take the Trans-Siberian as countless travellers have before them. However, their trip was slightly different to the majority of travel experiences as Jamie is a wheelchair user.
We sat down with him to discuss his book about his Trans-Siberian adventure Wheeling East, his travel inspiration and advice for fellow travellers looking to see the world's grandest rail journey.
What inspired you to take the Tran-Siberian?
Here at Real Russia we pride ourselves on being experts in travel specialising in Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway, with our knowledgeable and experienced travel team always on hand to provide assistance, travel advice and recommendations to travellers.
We do this by travelling extensively ourselves, as well as listening to feedback from fellow travellers, and checking out new research and travel trends.
We know that one of the most popular activities for travellers when visiting a European country such as Russia is checking out the vast array of museums the continent offers; covering everything from art to history, science to music, and everything in-between! And, of course, Russia is renowned for having some of the best museums in the world!
On this basis, we decided to research the most ‘Instagrammed’ museums in Europe, to find out which museums are the most popular, and maybe even get a better understanding of what travellers are looking for when trying to find that perfect trip.
As Instagram is one of the most popular ways to document travel experiences in the current age, this platform offered us an excellent and in-depth insight into the most popular European museums.
Having brought together a list of over 100 major European museums from various sources (see ‘Methodology’ below), we tracked all Instagram posts tagged at each of them. From this we were able to create our ranking of the most popular museums in Europe.
We had a feeling that Russia, with its incredible number of world-famous museums would feature highly, and we were right.
The Louvre took the number one spot with an astonishing 4.3 million posts, taking the crown as Europe’s most Instagrammed museum by a substantial amount.
Coming in at second place is the equally iconic Vatican Museum in Italy, which has been tagged an impressive 1.8 million times on Instagram.
We were thrilled to see one of Russia’s best museums taking the third position, with the Moscow Kremlin proving to be one of the top three most popular museums in Europe with a massive 920k posts.
It was interesting to look at the spread of cities and countries which appeared most commonly within the top 50 results.
It was no surprise to us was the fact that Russia was a repeat performer with four Russian museums featured in the top 50; split evenly between Moscow and St Petersburg. As well as the Moscow Kremlin, the other Russian museums featured are the State Hermitage Museum ranking ninth with 490k posts, The Tretyakov Gallery with 59k posts and the Kunstkamera with 36k posts.
Other countries coming out on top for museum-goers include Germany with eight museums in the top 50, France with seven museums featured, and Italy who also feature eight times. The UK also appears to have a great reputation for museums with eight museums included within the top 50.
?? Le musée du Louvre est ouvert aujourd'hui ! Venez nous rendre visite pour bien commencer la semaine ? – ? The Louvre museum is open today! Come and visit us to start a new week! ? #MondayMotivation #lundidepentecote #jourferie #louvre #museedulouvre #louvremuseum #courcarree #courcarreedulouvre #bonlundi
EN:We're kicking off a new hashtag, #VaticaninFocus, to share the best glimpses of this sacred place that's so full of history. Use it as well when you share your own pics of the Vatican! We'll publish the best on our @VaticanNews account. ES: Hemos pensando este nuevo hashtag para compartir con ustedes imágenes de lugares bellos y significativos del Vaticano: #VaticanInFocus. Úsenlo también ustedes para compartir sus fotos del Vaticano; publicaremos las mejores en nuestra cuenta @VaticanNews. PT: Pensamos numa nova hashtag, #VaticanInFocus, para contar os ângulos mais belos e densos de história e sacralidade do Vaticano. Use você também para compartilhar suas fotos do Vaticano, publicaremos as melhores na conta do @VaticanNews IT: Abbiamo pensato a un nuovo hashtag, #VaticanInFocus, per raccontare gli scorci più belli e densi di storia e sacralità di questi luoghi. Usatelo anche voi per condividere i vostri scatti in Vaticano, pubblicheremo i migliori sull'account di @VaticanNews
To compile our research, we first looked at a number of resources including visitor numbers, TripAdvisor reviews, museum size, and trusted expert travel recommendations, to compile a list of over 100 of Europe’s major museums.
We then used the Instagram location function to track all posts tagged at each museum’s location, before crawling this data to find how many posts were tagged per location.
Using this information, we ranked our list by popularity and cut the results down to the final top 50 most popular museums in Europe.
If you are interested in visiting some of Russia’s most Instagrammed museums you can find out more about each of the museums featured, below.
The Moscow Kremlin is one of the most recognised museum complexes not only in Russia or in Europe, but in the entire world.
The fortified complex in the heart of Moscow is an iconic symbol of Russia, and along with the adjacent Red Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As stated by UNESCO themselves, the Kremlin is, “inextricably linked to all the most important historical and political events in Russia since the 13th century”.
The Kremlin itself actually contains a number of different museums and cathedrals that together offer a fantastic overview of Russia and Russian history. From the Diamond Fund to the Armoury Chamber, and from the Patriarchs Palace to the Museum of History of the Kremlin Architectural Ensemble, there is an exhibit for every interest.
Simply put, the Kremlin is one of the most important social, historical and cultural experiences to enjoy when visiting Moscow.
The State Hermitage Museum located in St Petersburg is the second largest art museum in the world (based on gallery space) but claims to hold the largest collection of paintings, and we don’t doubt it.
The Hermitage itself comprises a number of historic buildings, with the most famous being the Winter Palace, the former residence of the Russian monarchs. All the buildings fall within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg’, and are as beautiful on the outside, as the artwork is on the inside.
Although it was founded it 1764 by Catherine the Great in what is now known as the ‘Small Hermitage’, it was not opened to the public until 1852, and has gone from strength to strength ever since, with more than 3 million pieces in its collection. In fact, it is said that if you spent one minute looking at each piece, for eight hours per day, it would take 15 years to see everything!
The Tretyakov Gallery is among the the most iconic art museums in the world and is, in fact, known as home to the best collection of Russian fine art in the world.
The layout of the museum is unique in that you are led through the evolution of Russian art from the 11th to the 20th century, with each painting acting as a window to a specific time and place. We would highly recommend booking an expert guide for this journey through Russian history to really help understand and appreciate how Russia has grown, changed and been shaped over the last 1000 years.
The Kunstkamera (derived from the German for ‘art chamber’) was the first museum opened in Russia; born of the innate curiosity of Peter the Great.
Created as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, the better description for its modern incarnation also happens to be its full name, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.
With exhibitions covering North and Latin America, as well as much of Asia and the Middle East, there is sure to be something of interest to everyone. Be warned, though, as many of the items within its ‘First Scientific Collection’ are not for the squeamish, containing as they do a number of natural ‘oddities’ related to Peter the Great’s interest in human anatomy.
For more inspiration, follow us on Instagram for some incredible images of Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway.
Javier Sinay travelled 5,793km across the iconic Trans-Siberian route (the whole thing measures 9,288km!), seeing unrivalled natural beauty, and finding himself equally entranced by the locals and travellers the route attracts. Here are a few excerpts from an article he originally published in La Nacion, telling the tale of his Trans-Siberian adventure.
The Tran-Siberian Train, sometimes called The Tran-Sib, isn’t a single journey. Its central route is 9,288km from East to West Russia, ending in Vladivostok, the great Russian port of the Pacific Ocean. The route is a collection of unforgettable images showing the changing and varied cultures of Russia. Moscow, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, home to the awe-inspiring Lake Baikal, and Ulan-Ude are some of the most memorable stops on the train. Ulan-Bator and Beijing appear beyond, like two intense epilogues.
The train was created at the end of the 19th Century, under the government of Tsar Alexander |||, to unite St. Petersburg and Moscow with Sibera, a giant region rich in resources, and the Pacific Coast. In 1891, some 90,000 workers, soldiers and prisoners, began the work of cutting roads, cutting down trees, digging tunnels and building bridges. It took 25 years to complete.
The rail foundations to Vladivostok cost around 330 million rubles, equivalent to 7,000 million dollars today. It was too much for a disappearing empire but China was expanding in the South, and though half the Russian territory was almost empty, the Tsar could not idly stand by. The train was inaugurated in 1916 and by then a war with Japan, in 1904 and 1905 had served as an early trial for rail utility.
With the passage of time, some 4 million people arrived in Siberia from the West to work in the new stations and in the budding infrastructure of a new steppe. Russia built the Trans-Siberian railway, and in return, the Trans-Siberian railway helped build Russia.
I’m travelling in a Platskartny car, the third class. The wagon has 54 bunks, without doors or divisions, a single plug to share, and no WiFi. There are almost no foreigners, instead local families, workers and soldiers travel. I carry a Russian to Spanish phrase-book and when I say “Ya iz Argentiny”, there are surprisingly long talks.
Zina is my travelling companion for the 900km journey between Yekaterinburg and Omsk. She’s a quiet, shy girl who studies Geography and lives in Omsk, near the Kazakhstan border. She was, in fact, raised in Petropayl, a city in Kazhakstan. I ask about Petropayl and her face lights up, she tells me it’s quiet with lots of trees.
We have the simple, nostalgic melody of the train as accompaniment while we talk, play chess and share sandwiches. Although one of the most repeated tips I heard was, “Do not accept Vodka from strangers on the train”, I do. On the last leg of my Trans-Siberian journey, I am the one with homemade vodka, a gift from a muzhik from Irkutsk, and offer it to strangers.
Anton, another neighbor, cannot believe I’m Argentinian and travelling on the Trans-Siberian train; Zina acts as our interpreter. It’s past 10PM and the train lights have gone out. We use our cell phones for light, and the sudden intimacy makes it seem like we’re huddled around a fireplace. Anton works in a river port processing fish. He tells me about his village, Ust-Ilimsk, where a hydroelectric dam operates. The nearest large city, Irkutsk, is 650km away. “Only a few hours’ journey”, he says, accustomed to the enormous Russian dimensions.
The forests we see occupy almost half of Russian soil, and here, in the middle of Siberia, they appear like an incessant image through the windows. We watch the spectacle of nature, hypnotized. The sights merge with the clank of the train in a small fragment of our lives that, with the reddish colours of the morning, look like a movie. I have learned to say, ‘Krasiva Siberia’.
The trains run along the Trans-Siberian railway all year round, as well as the Trans-Manchurian and Trans-Mongolian railways. Whether you want to experience Ulan-Bator on the way to Beijing, or take in the immense natural beauty of Lake Baikal before heading to Vladivostok, Real Russia will be able to help. Who knows what friends you might make on the way?
We are delighted to say that with your incredible support, we have been named Russia’s Leading Travel Agency 2017. This is the fifth year in succession we have had the honour of being voted ‘Russia’s Leading Travel Agency’, which is unprecedented. Impressive? Indeed!
Considering that the World Travel Awards are the travel industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, winning an award at the World Travel Awards means so much to everyone here at Real Russia. It provides international recognition for our team of dedicated specialists, without whom Real Russia would not be where it is today. And winning this prestigious award for the fifth time in a row demonstrates that our team are consistently, year on year, exceeding our customers' expectations.
Now the glare of the splendid ceremony has faded, we would like to send huge thanks to our fantastic customers for taking the time to vote for us; also to our partners and affiliates for spreading the word about the nomination and encouraging their customers to speak up. We are privileged to have had your support for the last five years, and we feel it is a big responsibility keeping our services to the highest standard.
In celebration, Real Russia are delighted to make a contribution to our chosen charity, The Life Route. The donation will help the charity to continue their excellent work.
Talking about the award ceremony, our team, including the Operations Director Eugene Kharisov, Sales Supervisor Alla Menshikova and our Account Manager Natasha Zhukova, attended the prestigious ceremony in St Petersburg on 30th September 2017, with hundreds of giants from the travel industry from across the region in attendance.
The venue was absolutely gorgeous – the Marble Hall of the Russian Museum of Ethnography situated in the neighbourhood of the Mikhailovsky Palace. The Marble Hall is one of the most remarkable rooms of this museum, made in the Greco-Roman peristyle. The cladding is completely made of Karelian pink marble. The inner room is enclosed in numerous columns supporting the ceiling vaults.
The Marble Hall- the venue of the Gala ceremony
The official after party was held in the ballroom at the luxurious five-star Hotel Astoria, one of the most attractive venues, where the national Russian character matches with the luxury of the high-class hotel. The Astoria was where Hitler planned to hold a victory ball after taking Leningrad, as the city was called during World War Two. Needless to say, this never happened.
The guests enjoing the performance on the stage
We asked Alla about the highlights of the event, ‘The venue impressed me the most. The Marble Hall and the lighting that they created looked fabulous. We all enjoyed a terrific performance of the professional artists (musicians, singers), who were very warmly and sincerely taken by the guests.’
The artists in the traditional Russian costumes
As Eugene Kharisov explained to us, ‘This event was attended by the most successful tourism industry leaders who, through their dedication, got this longed-for reward. Attending there was a good opportunity for us to acquire new contacts and meet the existing partners. The event was organized at the highest level with the participation of local authorities. Guests were invited to a magnificent show with Russian artists and a sumptuous dinner. We hope that our participation in this event will be permanent.’
The interview with Eugene Kharisov
We are especially pleased that the event took place in Russia, for the first time in World Travel Awards history, and that the host city, St Petersburg, in the centenary of the October Revolution, received the award for Europe’s Leading Destination. Famed for its endless canals, baroque palaces and legendary historical figures who called the city home, this eternal city of luxury palaces and fountains, has been the quintessence of Russian history and culture over the last three centuries.
As World Travel Awards Founder and President Graham Cooke said, ‘St Petersburg proved a wonderful host for our Europe Gala Ceremony, and I am sure the city will go on to take its rightful place as a top ranking tourism destination.’
The State Hermitage and St. Isaak Cathedral
If you would like spend a few days exploring the stunning city of St. Petersburg, the imperial and cultural capital of Russia with a rich and dramatic history, let us assist you. Famed around the world as a city of museums and galleries, this 'Venice of the North' can boast over 100 museums, ranging from the State Hermitage, one of the world's most famous galleries, to small museums honoring some of Russia's greatest writers. Step back in time with our St.Petersburg excursions or tours to discover the world-famous sights, including the Peter and Paul Fortress, Church of the Savior on the Blood and other stunning cathedrals, many magnificent palaces around St.Petersburg, or enjoy a boat tour with incredible views of this unique city.
Once again we are proud to be a World Travel Awards winner and would like to thank you all who sent us congratulations on the victory.
Our colleagues, Alla, Eugene and Natasha with the 2017 trophy
Late last summer Real Russia had the pleasure of working with travel writer Jessica, Collector of Countries (over 50 so far!), of the website How Dare She, as she embarked on the greatest rail journey in the world, the Trans-Siberian railway; well, technically a bit each of the Trans-Mongolian and the Trans-Siberian!
While taking in a hundred new experiences, she found the time to write a few new guides for Real Russia; guides that should hopefully help you, “make the most of the Trans-Siberian railway”, and most importantly, give confidence to solo female travellers that the Trans-Siberian is eminently doable while flying solo.
In addition to this, Jessica has written four blogs exclusively for Real Russia, taking in topics such as what it is like to mingle with the locals, and what it is like on-board the Trans-Siberians famous trains! These will be posted over the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled to our social media channels.
For now, we thought we would ask Jessica a few questions, to get a better idea of why she travels, and what inspires her.
1. What is it about travel that inspires you?
I love learning and creating the opportunity for every day to be different.
2. What is it about rail travel that intrigues you?
In the United States, we don’t travel much by train; so it has always seemed like a fancy mode of transportation from the past, but I know it’s very modern and common today.
3. What do you aim to achieve from your travel blog and Instagram, and what inspired you to start them?
I share my travels because I want people along with me, and I want them to see that the world isn’t so scary. That people are as kind as you let them be. And this is best told through stories.
A view of Nevsky Prospect and famous Zinger House in St.Petersburg, Russia. Photo by Jessica.
4. What advice would you give to people who would like to become travel writers themselves?
I have a degree in journalism, so I felt confident as a writer, I just needed to add in the travel. But the advice I give to anyone who wants to write – whatever the topic – is to read more. Read veraciously and you will find the styles you like and don’t like, and it will help you find your voice.
5. What was your favourite travel experience, and what makes it different from the rest?
I ended up going to a Kazakh wedding because I was eating mashed potatoes with my toothbrush. I was on a train in Kazakhstan and had made a cup of mashed potatoes (like a cup of noodles, where you just add hot water), when I realized I didn’t have a spoon. The closest I had was my toothbrush, so I used the handle to stir and started eating. One of my cabin mates was laughing watching me do this and offered a spoon. That started a conversation that lasted the rest of the train ride, and weekend, ending in me going with him and his friends to their high school friend’s wedding because they thought it would be a neat thing for me to experience. It was!
6. What are some of your most memorable experiences travelling on the Trans-Siberian railway?
The first morning on an overnight train, I was up before the sun. I walked from car to car as the sun rose and delighted in the beautiful sunrise that I had all to myself. A few legs later, I was in third class and ended up playing a Russian card game with my new friends for hours. On another leg, I had the cabin to myself and enjoyed the ride to myself, staring out the window and reading.
7. What was the first experience you had that made you realise your passion for travelling?
The first that I remember is that when I was little, my dad travelled a lot for work. He would come back from cities I’d never heard of, usually with a small toy for me. I didn’t care about the work stuff, but I always thought it was so cool that he went so many places (plus the gifts didn’t hurt).
8. Based on your experiences, what do you get from rail travel that you can’t experience with other mode of transportation?
I think that rail travel is the most social form of transportation. Because you have space to get up and around, and a dining car with beer, there’s no reason not to chat with the people traveling with you.
9. What is the one place you haven’t travelled but would like to go?
Very high on my list is Antarctica. When I get back to South America, I’ll have to go.
10. What is the best piece of travel advice you have ever been given?
Always bring a scarf!
11. For someone who has never travelled the Trans-Siberian, what would you say to them about the experience and the adventure?
It’s infamous for a reason. Several days by train, several countries; there’s nothing in my travel past that I can compare it to. But to best experience it, be sure to stop along the way. I met too many travellers who were stopping in Irkutsk and Moscow only, but there is a huge country between those two cities!
Thanks Jessica for your fantastic answers.
Don’t forget to check out her guides to making the most of the Trans-Siberian, and travelling solo on the Trans-Siberian, and come back soon to read her exclusive blog about her incredible adventure!
Oh, and remember, if you want to keep up with Jessica’s ongoing travels, head over to her website, How Dare She, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at jess_ismore.
Russia is a country with a rich cultural and historical heritage, as well as being home to extraordinary natural diversity.
From Moscow’s iconic views to the wilderness of Siberia and Kamchatka, here are 12 Instagram accounts to explore the world’s most fascinating country. Some of them are not translated into English, but a language barrier should not stop you from being able to admire the beauty on display!
While we are very proud of our own Instagram page, we have chosen to focus on the efforts of others on this list. Also, if we included ourselves the list would number 13, and 13 is considered unlucky in Russia.
However, we encourage you to follow realrussiatravel to check out images taken by our team on their travels through Russia and along the Trans-Siberian railway! From time to time we also share the photos others have taken; if you would like us to share your own stunning images from Russia, the Trans-Siberian railway, or the neighbouring counties, use the hashtag #realrussiantravel!
Based in Perm, Polina is a true explorer. Among her collection, there are the breath-taking photos of the Ural Mountains, as well as Georgian, Crimean and Nepalese mountains, among many other beautiful landscapes.
This account consolidates many travel photographers who are inspired by Russian nature. Expect many incredible views of snow-capped mountains, idyllic scenery, wild animals, arctic wonders and dreamy lakes.
A Siberian photographer who takes utterly captivating architectural shots while travelling in Russia. Hit up her Instagram account to find some hidden gems and wonderful examples of provincial buildings, and structures, in Russia.
A landscape photographer, whose images of the turquoise rivers of the Altai region, arctic landscapes, starry Caucasus nights, Crimean coastlines and misty mountains near Sochi will make you want to book your next trip immediately!
It seems that Alexey Matveev, an enthusiastic Baikal fan, never gets tired of shooting the fascinating Lake Baikal and its fantastic scenery. Comments in Russian should not deter you from following this account, as on these spectacular photos, nature speaks for itself.
Planning a trip to Moscow? Then you must follow this incredible photographer’s account with ‘futuristic’, and sometimes dreamy, photos that will give you a look at one of the world's best cities from every angle. And as a bonus – you will find photos of other curious places in Russia, including a frozen Lake Baikal, the ‘Winter Wonderland’ of Kazan, and the wide-open spaces of the Altai Republic, all in one place!
Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, capturing fields and forests, endless lakes and rivers, Malkov asks us to appreciate the wonder of everyday life. Minimal and simplistic, yet charming, Malkov’s images are mesmerising and beautiful.
The Russian Prime Minister travels a lot across Russia, and apparently his camera never leaves his hands. Beautiful landscapes and urban photos will give you a glimpse of Russia, and the main Russian events.
The winner of Best of Russia 2016 photography, Elena captures Moscow in many different angles and places. From underground to the sky, from metro stations to the fireworks over the Kremlin, and everything in between, this photographer tells us a wonderful fairy tale about Moscow.
This wonderful project is dedicated to traditions, way of life and nature of the Russian countryside and province.
Mikhail Rozanov is a Moscow-based photographer whose journeys all over the world, including untouched and distant spaces, have resulted in a collection of gorgeous images, from black and white photos of architectural forms and landscapes to minimalistic and refined photography. He goes even further, capturing stunning sculptures and industrial objects in Russia and abroad.
This Russian-speaking account led by National Tourism Portal of Russia is an online guide that encourages people to open their eyes to all of Russia, with no exceptions; including its unrevealed corners and small towns, as well as its culinary masterpieces. There are endless photos of natural and man-made wonders found in various places across Russia. The English version of their website is a true treasure-cave for those with wanderlust – https://eng.russia.travel/.
If you think that there are other Instagram accounts worthy of being mentioned on this list, please feel free to comment below, or share them with us on social media!
And don't forget to check our the Real Russia Instagram page!
Feel inspired? Contact our travel experts to book your dream adventure!
The Trans-Siberian railway is the greatest rail journey in the world, and to celebrate this fact, along with its centenary, over the coming weeks Real Russia shall be exploring what the Trans-Siberian, along with the Trans-Mongolian railway, has to offer!
Over the coming months you will find mountains of new content, including new blogs, guides and FAQ’s, covering every aspect of Trans-Siberian travel. And that is without even mentioning the new photos and videos across the website, social media and YouTube.
‘Where will you be visiting?’, you ask. Well…
Real Russia’s Trans-Siberian itinerary
Day one – Moscow
The first excursion of this incredible trip is a tour of the historic Kolomeskoe park, home to many Tsars and GrandPrinces over the years, including Peter the Great himself; in fact, this particular excursion should take Real Russia to Peters former residence!
Following this fascinating start to the trip is a walking tour of Old Arbat, the old bohemian quarter of Moscow, home to artists and writers throughout the years, and a visit to the Moscow Metro, one of the deepest, and most beautiful, metro systems in the world.
Day two – Moscow
When in Moscow, it is essential that you take a walking tour of central Moscow, and so that is exactly what Real Russia will be doing, taking in some of Russia’s most famous, and historic, sights including the Kremlin, Red Square and the GUM shopping centre.
An action packed second day in Russia will continue with the home of over 170,000 pieces of Russian art, the world famous State Tretyakov Gallery.
After such a busy day of sightseeing, there is only one thing to do, relax on a cruise on a leisurely cruise down the Moskva River, passing beautiful scenery like Sparrow Hills.
That evening Real Russia will board its first train at Kazansky railway station, heading east on the Trans-Siberian railway.
Day three – Kazan
Real Russia will barely scratch the surface during a full day exploring Kazan and the breath-taking surrounding area, taking in the Kazan Kremlin, the old town of Kazan, a traditional Tartar village, and the many houses of worship; including orthodox, Catholic and Islamic.
Day four – Yekaterinburg
After an afternoon arrival in Yekaterinburg, Real Russia will take a short journey out to the Eurasian border, for some great photo opportunities and have a foot on two continents at the same time!
Day five – Yekaterinbug
History is the theme for a fantastic day in Yekaterinburg, learning all about the Romanov dynasty and their last days by visiting the scene of their murder, as well as sights like the Saviour on the Blood Cathedral.
Day six – Novosibirsk
After a morning on the rails, a relaxing afternoon will be rounded off with a Pelmeni masterclass, as Real Russia learns how to cook this classic Russian dish.
Day seven – Novosibirsk
One of the busiest days of Real Russia’s tour begins with a visit to the Trans-Siberian railway museum, Akemagorodoc – the home of much of Novosibirsk educational and technological expertise, the old city of Novosibirsk and the home of Novosibirsk’s culture, its opera and ballet theatre!
The end of the day sees Real Russia preparing for a 32-hour train journey though the centre of Siberia to Irkutsk.
Day eight – on-board train 70
A full day relaxing on-board train 70; plenty of time to relax and let the incredible experiences of the previous few days’ sink in.
Day nine – Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Lake Baikal
Following an early arrival in Irkutsk, and a short tour of the city, Real Russia will travel onwards to Listvyanka on the shores of Lake Baikal via the Tsaltsy ethnographic open air museum.
Once in Listvyanka, a tour of the town will follow before visiting Chersky Rock viewpoint and enjoying a relaxing evening in a traditional Russian banya.
Day ten – Lake Baikal and Listvyanka
After a short cruise on the Lake Baikal itself, a peaceful day on-board a steam train on the Circum-Baikal railway, following the shoreline of Lake Baikal, will be the perfect way to soak up the beauty of the area.
Day eleven – Ulan-Ude
After the shortest rail journey of the trip (just six hours!) from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude, there will be little time for much other than a traditional Buryat meal.
Day twelve – Ulan-Ude
There is plenty to see in Ulan-Ude, and Real Russia will be taking in some of the best of these sights by visiting the Buddhist Ivolginsky Datsan and the strictly orthodox Old Believers village, followed by an evening tour of the city of Ulan-Ude itself.
Day thirteen – on-board train 362
Another full day on the rails, watching the world go by as the border with Mongolia comes and goes.
Day fourteen – Ulan Bator
Following breakfast, and some free time to explore Ulan Bator, Real Russia will be transferred to Terelj National Park, where an afternoon stroll through the incredible surroundings will be followed by an overnight stay in a Ger under the stars.
Day fifteen – Ulan Bator
After more time to take in the surrounds of Terlj National Park, and a visit to a local nomadic family, Real Russia will head back to Ulan Bator, but not before taking a detour to the Genghis Kahn Monument.
Day sixteen – Ulan Bator
Another busy day as Real Russia visits some of the finest sights in Ulan Bator, from the Gandan Monastery to the National History Museum and everything in-between.
Day seventeen – on-board train 004
The last full day on the rails, across the huge Gobi Desert and into northern China, heading towards Beijing, will offer time to relax and prepare for one of the greatest cities in the world, Beijing.
Day eighteen – Beijing
The first day in Beijing is a short one, with Real Russia indulging in an early evening rickshaw ride through Beijing, before a local family host a traditional dinner of Chinese dumplings.
Day nineteen – Beijing
The city of Beijing will be Real Russia’s today, as an early start will allow time to visit all that Beijing has to offer, from the Forbidden City to Tianamen Square, before finishing the day at the Chaoyang Theatre watching the skills of China’s famed acrobats.
Day twenty – Beijing
Arguably the best has been left for last, as an early morning start takes Real Russia to one of the highlights of the tour, the Great Wall of China.
Day twenty-one – Home
And so the tour comes to an end as Real Russia heads home, full of memories, and ready to share the many experiences with the world.
Follow Real Russia on our travels through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, with daily updates (internet connection allowing!) sharing the incredible Trans-Siberian railway. Not forgetting to like, comment and share of course!
If there is anything you particularly want to see, let us know and we shall see what we can do!
And don’t forget, over the next few months Real Russia shall be rolling out new content across realrussia.co.uk, social media and YouTube; including new guides, expanded FAQ’s, images, excursions, interviews, blogs and videos. So keep your eyes peeled to everything Real Russia!
Part two of this ‘Customer Tale’ takes place as our intrepid customers leave Moscow and head east into Siberia, visiting the beautiful Lake Baikal and the city of Irkutsk.
If you didn’t, let’s continue this tale!
By the time our departure day arrived we had begun to feel a part of Russian life in that area, and knew we would miss it. However we were excited for the next leg which was on the train of course. We were impressed and grateful for Rita getting us to the station and even onto the train with our luggage before leaving us. We would not have managed this alone. A big thanks to her. I have emailed her in the meantime, as well.
Dining car aboard train number four
I had an idea what to expect from the train from pics you had sent me, so was not surprised to find the compartment quite small, but the wooden panelling was nice and we had our own shower hand basin attached and a flask in our cupboard to fill at the samovar. A disappointment that the water came out at a trickle in the hand basin which also meant we could not shower either. I was not too fazed about this, but I think Charles was! We brought along a big supply of wipes and found we did not really get dirty on the train, I liked the fact it was not exactly as we expected and found it added to the adventure, but I think for some that would have been a problem. I needed to unwind from the time before we left on the trip and catch up on some daily notes and just feel all pressures fall away. I loved the movements and sound of the train, which incidentally reminded me of my school days when I attended a boarding school far from my home. We used to catch the train to school each term. I was interested to note that we travelled on both electric and steam trains. The dining car on our first train was nice, and we had a taste of Russian matriarchal dominance, but once Natalia had gotten used to us I think she quite liked us! I was able to take a few pictures on the train through a partially open passage window and was grateful for that. Managed to capture a few nice ones that will forever remind us of this train trip. I enjoyed our neighbours in the other compartments of our carriage, all of them going straight through to Beijing without a break in-between as we were doing. I imagine they may have been a little envious when we got off after 3 days. I think 6/7 days at a stretch without a break could have become tedious.
Our driver was waiting for us with a sign saying MRS ALLEN & 1! And we were whisked away for an hours’ drive through Irkutsk to Listvyanka. I had visualized being right alongside Lake Baikal in what I consider to be a chalet, but equally nice was Nikolay’s Cabin, which is actually a part of his house, and about a kilometre from the Lake. We were well looked after, meal wise, and Erene even did two big laundry washes for us. A lovely setting in a small valley with forests on either side. The front to Lake Baikal and the small town was not terribly interesting except for the Lake itself and the boats.
A walk along the shores of Lake Baikal
Little did we know we were to experience some beautiful views of Lake Baikal and endless birch forests on our ‘Easy Hike around Listvyanka’ – a complete surprise as it was not an easy walk at all, but quite a strenuous hike. Alex was very professional and accommodating and went the extra mile by carrying with him the food and utensils he would need to provide for us what we would consider a 5 course picnic, with typical Russian fare, including soup and tea! We were astounded. And, I was so hot after the 5km hike through the forest that I decided then and there, as we got to the beach that I was going to swim in Lake Baikal, no matter how cold it was. What an absolute highlight for me. How many people can claim to have swum in Lake Baikal! We were very tired when we got back and Alex had said good-bye, almost too late to catch the bus back to Irkutsk. And then that night we experienced Banya – my word! We assumed it would be a regular sauna the way we know it from our gyms over here. Not at all, Nikolay led us through the whole process in great detail. Without resisting we followed through and were quite alarmed to know the temperature was over 90 degrees in the Banya, unheard of in our part of the world. How wonderful to experience something truly, uniquely Russian. Never to be forgotten! I was covered in bright red blotches overnight but did not feel worried, and in the morning it had cleared!
Ivan drove us back to Irkutsk and launched straight into our tour of the city. Once again very intense and informative, luckily I can look up names and dates on the internet of cathedrals and statues which were pointed out, as we could never have absorbed all the facts given out. Different architecture and feel to the city compared to Moscow, and we learnt of the importance of Irkutsk in Russian history.
Our hotel was well situated too Alla, thank you. We did a lot of walking in Irkutsk and almost got lost once. Luckily we had a map and Charles was good at getting us to where we wanted to be. Very interesting was the statue of Alexander III who commissioned the building of the Trans Siberian Railway, that was pertinent to me. And the Angara River, deep and faster flowing that the Moskva, was interesting to know that it linked with the Yenetsei, which we crossed while on the train, and then on to the Arctic Sea.
And part two comes to a close. If this has inspired you, why not take a look at the tour that Helen and Charles took through Russia, our Discovery Range Siberian Eye tour.
Check back soon for part three, as the train draws ever closer to China’s incredible capital, Beijing!
Another week and another great story from one of our customers of life on the Trans-Siberian! So without further ado …
Hoping you are all well down there at the bottom of the world. This is going to be a very incomplete account of things (as far as we are concerned anyway) as it has been basically a month since I sent the last “brag” and there is just too much to tell.
Anyway, as briefly as I can, we are basically winding up the Russian leg of our travels and it has been absolutely amazing.
The ship trip down the Chukotka/Kamchatka coast was quite fantastic. As a reminder – we were on the same Russian ex-research ship (Prof. Krohmov/Spirit of Enderby) as we were on over last Xmas/New Year down in the Sub-Antarctic islands so I won’t explain the boat life in any detail except that this time we only had 35 paying passengers as opposed to 48 last time and were only about 4 that some of us thought we’d like to throw overboard so a good time was had socially as well as the activities. Had great weather, mainly cool but only one bad day that was wet and really rough and couldn’t get out in the zodiacs, which was pretty good in a region that has a reputation of much mist and few views. We certainly got the views and couldn’t have been better for all the beautiful volcanos of Kamchatka.
Saw many animals – walruses, bears, arctic foxes (I want one!), a red fox, dolphins, 7 species of whales including apparently a rarely sighted Baird’s Beaked whale, sea otters, seals (yea well), Steller’s sea eagles, puffins, kittywakes and many more birds.
A bear enjoying a swim
The title of this image was 'Arctic fox – I want one!' … who wouldn't!
Whale watching near Kamchatka
And visiting some of the villages that Rodney (owner of the expedition company and leader of the arctic expeditions) has built up a trust and rapport with was pretty special and gave us a good feel of how life is way out in eastern Siberia – man it would be harsh in winter!!!
Really was a fantastic couple of weeks but pretty full on getting changed about 4 times a day, on and off the zodiacs once if not twice daily, lectures, debriefings – man we were busy!!
And the trip across Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway has been quite something. Disembarked the Prof. Krohmov at Petrapavlosk Kamchastky and flew to Vladivostok where we had a couple of nights to stop the lurching and loved it. Think we have both decided it is our favourite Russian city. From there we commenced our/the Trans-Siberian railway journey, getting off at Irkutsk and taking a trip down to Lake Baikal on a small hydrofoil which was pretty cool apart from it running aground, the hatch above our heads blowing off and then completely konking out in what seemed like the middle of the lake – we did a lot of bonding with our fellow Russian passengers that day!
Provodnista's gathering outside the train
The trains have been something else really. Our little compartment (admittedly we were traveling first class) with our seats folding into two beds, TV, towels and wee cubbyholes to put things, big windows with views both sides meticulous (shared) bathrooms that are regularly cleaned, a diner with really good food (contrary to what the Lonely Planet says). And then there are the Providnistas, the women that look after your carriage – VERY important people! Can’t talk more highly of the railway system here and although I know it is Russia’s life line, it leaves us for dead with the services! On time to the minute every time.
The scenery Russian past the train window (rushing, Russian, get it?)
Stopped again for a night in Krasnoyarsk wandering and getting a feel for things, a day stop in Novosibirsk, the only wet day so far so sploshed around the town for the day and back on the train for Moscow. I had been to Moscow and St Petersburg back in 1978 and couldn’t believe the difference – quite beautiful now, modern, clean and the buildings are something. Went to the Bolshoi Ballet one night (Giselle) as you do when in Moscow! And although we were probably the most underdressed in the audience (some people use it as an excuse to dress up and were certainly some Fab sights) and not thinking we were really “ballet people” we actually loved it and the atmosphere. Did the usual Red Square/Kremlin thing but also we had to experience another aspect of life in Moscow – a trip to the doctor. I had a bit of a tendonitis problem in my foot, compounded by a sprained ankle, and it finally got the better of me. An amazing experience it was as my Dr Denis was fantastic, spoke good English, X-rayed it and found the problem which unfortunately can’t be completely rectified just now a needs a little op but he gave a good diagnosis, instructions and gave me what seem to be wonderful Russian drugs & ointments and voila I am off bounding again!
The magnificent St Basil's in Moscow
Now in St Petersburg and wandered around doing the usual touristy things. Staying in a really neat boutique hotel (Rachmaninov Antique Hotel) which is very quirky with stark traces back to the Soviet era. And yes Rachmaninov used to board here once upon a time. And tomorrow we are off on the train to Helsinki, Finland.
We are both quite sad to be leaving Russia although it has been constant so are quite tired. Have been so lucky with the weather, the time of year that we are visiting is perfect coz the autumn colours really enhances the scenery in the countryside and most importantly the people just keep blowing us away with their friendliness, generosity of time to help us overcome the language barrier, and also in giving us little gifts, just all over the place is quite extraordinarily great and quite the contrary to what a lot of westerners would have us believe. When we were at the airport in Nome, Alaska an American who was assisting our ship group commented “beware over there [Russia] they are paranoid”. Well he couldn’t have been more wrong and are inclined to think it is America that is paranoid! We have had a very special time and love the country!
Well that is enough as have shed a tear for Russia and are now in Helsinki. Are about to hire a motorhome and spend 2 weeks motoring around Finland, Norway and Sweden.
So “dasvidanya” and my hearty congratulations to those that have gotten to the end of this epistle!!!
Me & He (Sarah & Barrie)
I am hugely jealous of this incredible trip, particularly the trip to Kamchatka. Did you know that there are no roads connecting the Kamchatka Peninsula’s main city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and the rest of Russia, making it one of the most isolated and remote large cities in the world!