To celebrate Golden Eagle’s twentieth year of touring along the Trans-Siberian Railway, we put together a list of our top treasures waiting to be discovered on what is undoubtedly the world’s greatest railway journey.
1. Lake Baikal Where else could we begin the list than with the stunning, vast, transfixing Lake Baikal? The deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal holds 20% of the world’s freshwater. It also contains over 50 species of fish and its own unique breed of freshwater Seal.
In the winter, the lake is completely frozen and picture-perfect. As part of our Winter Wonderland departure in February and March, passengers can enjoy hovercraft rides, dog sledding and snowmobiling across this vast frozen landscape!
There is also the opportunity to watch under-ice fishing and sample the freshly caught fish, which will be smoked in a mobile smokehouse and served warm with ice-cold vodka.
In the summer months, our passengers experience being hauled by a Soviet era steam locomotive around the lake, before enjoying a delicious barbecue on our private pavilion by the shore. For the brave and courageous, there is also an opportunity to swim in the lake, which according to legend, can add years on to your life expectancy!
2. Old Believers’ Village, Ulan UdeThe ethnic and cultural diversity of Ulan Ude offers a unique insight into its heritage. Exploring the Old Believers’ Village gives an opportunity to learn about the culture and history of these religious people and during our visit we are treated to a concert of local traditions and folk singing.
3. Gandan Monestary & Nomadic Gers, Ulaan Baatar, MongoliaMongolia, once the centre of an enormous empire led by Genghis Khan, is a country rich in culture and history, with beautiful landscapes and nomadic people. One of Mongolia’s most important monasteries is Gandan, orGandantegchinlen, which translates as ‘the great place of complete joy’. The Buddhist monastery is home to over 500 monks. There is also an opportunity to see how nomadic families live by visiting a traditional Mongolian Ger (Yurt).
4. Novosibirsk This modern ‘Soviet’ city is predominated by the arts and science. It is located in the heart of Russia and situated on both banks of the River Ob. Our city tour takes us to Lenin Square where the imposing Opera House is located. An architectural marvel, it houses two permanent ballet and opera companies and is one of the largest opera houses in the world. In front of the Opera House, we visit an impressive statue of Lenin – a marvellous opportunity to have your photograph taken with this iconic political leader.
5. Visit UNESCO site Vladimir & take a horse-drawn sleigh ride in SuzdalVladimir is one of Russia’s oldest communities and was founded in 990. Suzdal is a perfectly preserved walled city, which dates back to 1024. Both have been designated UNSECO World Heritage sites and are visited on our winter tours. Visit Uspensky Cathedral in Vladimir, built between the 12th – 15th centuries and considered to be one of the most beautiful and important Russian cathedrals, where many Tsars were crowned. In Suzdal, an enchanting choral performance at St Euthymius Monastery awaits. There is also a chance to take an idyllic horse-drawn sleigh ride through the stunning city.
6. Kazan Situated on the River Volga, the picturesque and historic city of Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan. Here we have the opportunity to see its rich tapestry of history and culture. One of the highlights of this city tour is our exploration of the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the walls of this ancient citadel, we will explore its stunning mosque and picture-perfect onion-domed cathedral.
7. Suspension Bridge, Golden Horn Bay, Vladivostok Translated as ‘Ruler of the East’, Vladivostok is the most easterly city visited along the Trans-Siberian railway. It is a military port, home to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet and due to its military importance, was closed to foreigners between 1930 and 1992. Vladivostok offers visitors an interesting opportunity to explore its principal military attractions, which includes a visit to a preserved World War Two submarine. A city tour will take us to the iconic suspension bridge over Golden Horn Bay, one of the largest of its kind worldwide, which opened in 2012 for the APEC conference.
8. ‘The Great Divide’, Yekaterinburg Founded in 1723 by Peter the Great, Yekaterinburg, is the capital of the Urals. Known as the Great Divide, the Ural Mountains create the natural border between Europe and Asia so that the cultural and architectural influences of European and Asian civilisations come together in this fascinating and cosmopolitan landscape. We drive to the obelisk marking the geographical border and can drink a glass of champagne with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia.
Our city tour takes us to the poignant site where the Romanov, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was executed with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918 following 78 days of imprisonment. Now a church dedicated to their memory, this site provides us with a powerful insight into the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.
9. Irkutsk Nicknamed the ‘Paris of Siberia’, Irkutsk is famous for its unique and classic wooden architecture with its intricately carved lace-like decorations. Visit the Volkonsky House Museum, which is dedicated to the memory of the aristocrats who were exiled to this remote outpost after the failed Decembrists uprising of 1825, and recreate the atmosphere of that time with a champagne reception and private concert.
10. Khabarovsk Located 15 miles (25 kilometres) from the border with China, Khabarovsk stretches along the banks of the Amur River. Khabarovsk was founded as a military post in 1858, but the region had been populated by several indigenous peoples of the Far East for many centuries. Visit the memorial to Yerofey Pavlovich Khabarov, the Far East explorer the city is named after, and the impressive World War Two memorial to the fallen soldiers.
To uncover more hidden treasures of your own, visit our Trans-Siberian journeys page by clicking here.