When you think of Russia, images of Red Square, the Kremlin or the canals of St. Petersburg spring to mind. But far to the east is a land as infamous as it is untouched: Siberia.
Occupying roughly 10% of the earth’s land mass, Siberia stretches from the Ural Mountains in eastern Europe to the edge of the Pacific Ocean in East Asia.
Vast distances and untouched, rugged wilderness are blanketed by a powerful winter’s chill, and all waiting to be explored.
There's no better way to experience the landscapes of Siberia than as a passenger on board The Trans-Siberian Railway.
Covering more than 5,500mi (9,000km), this legendary train can cover that distance in just one week. Outside the window, you’ll see Taiga forests rippling over the mountains and valleys, and many military equipment graveyards, home to hundreds of dormant tanks, helicopters, and big guns.
To break up the journey, hop off the train to explore local villages. Tatarskaya is the medieval home of the Tatars and iconic wooden houses. In Tyumen, visit the Fine Arts Museum and walk along the Tura River, once the entry point to Siberia. Omsk is a snowy wonderland and the home of the coveted Faberge egg.
On board the train you'll become
In Irkutsk, the beating heart of Siberia, you’ll find glorious 18th-century Orthodox churches, military palaces, and a strikingly Soviet skyline.
Irkutsk serves as a kind of north Asian nexus and is a dizzying blend of Asian and Slav cuisine. Irkutsk is best experienced during the powerful Russian winter, when the rich diet of Kievan meat, vegetable stews, and refreshing borscht soup will keep you warm. Be prepared for substantial offerings of sour cream and dill with almost every meal you eat, as well as a few nips of vodka "for your health".
It’s easy to rent a vehicle in the city or join a nature group for an adventure outside of the city. Most of the towns have tourism offices to assist in organizing accommodation when heading into the wild.
Here, learning the Cyrillic alphabet and mastering a few key phrases will make your life easier. Tourism in Siberia is rather uncommon, and while you’ll be welcomed, there’s very little information in English and adequate translators are few and far between the further you from Moscow.
The deepest and oldest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal is nestled between ancient forests, snow-capped mountains, and quaint lakeside villages. Here, which season you choose will drastically alter your experience: for a relaxing lakeside retreat alive with water sports and eco-tourism, choose summer.
However, Siberia is famous for its freezing cold winters, and the architecture, culture, and food are designed to maximize enjoyment in low temperatures. Enjoy the evenings relaxing in a sweltering banya (Russian sauna) and listen to the howling wolves in the evening.
The largest lakeside village is Listvyanka, comprising warm wooden chalets and fish markets selling the local delicacy of
Planning a trip to Russia and not sure what to expect? Maddison Clarey tells us five things she wish she knew before going to Russia for the first time.
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