A Travel Guide For The Trans-Siberian Railway

The journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway is probably one of the most famous railway travel adventures in the world, and for many people, a dream come true. The journey begins in western Russia and runs right across the country to the eastern side of the continent.

The train passes unique cities, impressive landscapes, and is used by people from all over the world. A trip with the Trans-Siberian Railway is on the bucket list of many and now it is time to finally check it off.



There are three different routes. The most popular is the route from Moscow to Beijing, which not only brings you from Russia to China but it also crosses Mongolia. Part of the route is taken by all trains until the Trans-Mongolian Railway crosses Mongolia and enters China, the Trans-Manchurian Railway ends in China and the Trans-Siberian Railway runs exclusively through Russia. During the journey, you can leave the train and visit the cities on the route (and stay for a few nights). With many travel agencies, you can also book guided tours and excursions. Of course, you could also spend your trip exclusively on the train and enjoy the view. We recommend leaving the train in between because there are real highlights along the route that you do not want to miss.

Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway line in the world with over 9000 km and runs from Moscow in the west of Russia to Vladivostok in the east. The line runs only in Russia and passes through famous places like Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and passes the Lake Baikal to Vladivostok, which is almost on the border to North Korea.

transsiberian railway map
Trans-Mongolian Railway
Russia – Mongolia – China

Unlike the Trans-Siberian Railway, the route of the Trans-Mongolian Railway runs through Ulaanbaatar (the capital of Mongolia) and ends in Beijing, China. The train runs on the same route as the Trans-Siberian Railway to Irkutsk. It crosses the border into Mongolia and through the Gobi Desert to Beijing.

trans-mongolian railway map
Trans-Manchurian Railway
Russia – China

The route of the Trans-Manchurian Railway connects Russia and China. It runs on the same route as the Trans-Siberian Railway. The city of Zabaykalsk is the last stop in Russia before crossing the border to China. The journey then continues through the steppes of Manchuria via Harbin to Beijing.

trans-manchurian railway map

Popular Routes of the Transsib

Trans-Mongolian Railway From Moscow To Beijing

Trans-Mongolian Railway From Moscow To Beijing

Transsib: Moscow To Lake Baikal

Transsib: Moscow To Lake Baikal

Trains, categories & Amenities

To travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway, you can choose between regular line trains and special luxury trains, which have different classes and different equipment. You can travel either in an open sleeping car, in a 4-berth compartment, or in a private compartment.

Line trains

Once you have chosen the regularly scheduled line train, you can customize your journey and choose the train that suits you best. This may be a bit more complicated to organize, but it also gives you more freedom. Locals usually use the regularly scheduled trains.

So, if you are interested in getting to know the country and its people, a regularly scheduled train would be the best choice for you. There are always three different classes and a restaurant car on the trains (although the choice of food is quite limited); there are toilets and a washbasin at the end of every car.


This equipment is standard on all trains:


A thin mattress with fresh bedding. Toilets and washbasins are located in each car. Showers are available depending on the train and car class.


A hot water boiler with drinkable water around the clock (for tea or soups).


Located only in the corridor in the 2nd and 3rd classes. However, in the better trains, No.1 Rossaja, there are also sockets at the seats and in the compartments.

Dining Car

Each train has its own dining car. Snacks and drinks can also be purchased from the train staff.


1st Class, 2nd Class, 3rd Class

In each of these train classes, passengers will receive fresh bed linen and a towel. Many people report that one of the highlights of their journey was to connect with the people on the train. If you are interested in new encounters, 3rd, and 2nd class are good options for you and if you prefer to have more privacy, you should book 1st class.

3rd Class


The 3rd class is the cheapest way to travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Here you get to connect with other travelers and meet new people. In the 3rd class there are no separate compartments, only a large open sleeping car with 52 beds.

There are always two beds one above the other and opposite each other. Parallel to the corridor are two more bunk beds. The lower beds also serve as seats and are separated by a table. The upper beds can be folded up. Above and below the beds there is space to stow away luggage.


There is no 3rd class on the trains used on the route from Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar and also no 3rd class on the Chinese trains.

2nd Class


This class is used more by tourists than by locals. The 2nd class is a compartment with 4 beds, of which two beds are arranged opposite and one above the other. Under the beds and above the door is space for your luggage.

1st Class


The 1st class offers the most comfort and privacy. In 1st class, you have your own lockable compartment with 2 beds opposite each other. In addition, on some trains, there are showers available.

3rd Class

Trans Siberian Railway:  3rd Class Tour

2nd Class

The Trans-Siberian Railway! Second Class

1st Class

Trans-Siberian Train: First Class Wagon Tour

Special & Luxury Trains

Tsar Gold, The Golden Eagle, Imperial Russia

The special trains are luxury trains, which resemble high-class 5-star hotels. Reservations usually include pre-arranged excursions, food service in the luxury restaurant car, etc. Trips on these special trains are only offered as a complete package.

zarengold-Kat III Nostalgie-Komfort
Tsar’s Gold
Moscow – Vladivostok

This is a train of the German company Lernidee. It is discreet but beautifully decorated with reclining areas in nostalgic red plush on which you can comfortably lie down. This train has room for 200 people across a wide range of cabin classes from 4-berth cabins to a 2-berth en-suite. Onboard entertainment such as lectures, vodka and caviar tastings, as well as group activities are offered, making it easy to make new acquaintances.

The Golden Eagle
Moscow – Vladivostok

The Golden Eagle, belonging to Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, is one of the most luxurious trains in the world and is limited to 120 passengers. This train only runs the lines of the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railway. The price includes accommodation on board, drinks, and a special caviar dinner. You can choose between three categories of cabins equipped with modern conveniences.

Imperial Russia

Moscow – Beijing

A trip on the Imperial Russia train is organized by RZD Tour Co Ltd, in which local guides conduct the excursions according to the program offered. Here you get full board plus tea and coffee. Four categories of cabins are offered. The Imperial Russia special train is a comfortable train but offers a less extravagant onboard experience if compared to the Tsar’s Gold or Golden Eagle.

Price & Tickets

Buy Tickets At The Station

If you want to travel flexibly and spontaneously, you can buy train tickets as single one way tickets at the station. These tickets are usually cheaper. However, there is no guarantee that tickets are available for the desired travel day and category online.

There are several providers where you can book tickets for the Transsib. You get your tickets by mail and can print them out yourself or they will be sent to you by mail.

Buy Tickets Online From Russian Railway

You can buy tickets for the Trans-Siberian Railway directly online from the Russian railway company. The tickets can be booked 90 days in advance. However, you can only buy tickets there for the route in Russia, not for the trip to Mongolia and China.

Buy Tickets Online From RealRussia

Real Russia offers you with the Transsib Travel Planner a great way to plan your trip. Here you get information about trains, departure times and you can easily plan your route and book tickets for all routes.

Tour Operator

If you don’t want to plan your trip by yourself or you would like to travel with one of the luxury trains, you can book a tour with an agency. This way you won’t need to worry about anything! You will receive your ticket and all information about the trip directly from the tour operator. Lernidee Erlebnisreisen is a well-known tour operator for traveling on the Transsib and with them you can book a tour for the Zarengold luxury train.

The Stops

To travel with the Trans-Siberian Railway, you have the choice of a final destination but you also have the choice to jump off and stay a night… or a couple! Check out out the stops below for an overview of where you can hop off along your journey.


Russia is a very special destination and a country that enchants its visitors with its hospitality, culinary, scenic, and cultural characteristics.


is the starting point of your journey on the Transsib and the capital of Russia. Famous sights include the Red Square, Lenin’s mausoleum, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the Moscow Kremlin in the historic city center which reminds of the past tsarist era.


is the country’s third largest city and is the capital of the Tatarstan region. Locals speak not only Russian but Tatar, and one of Europe’s largest mosques is an attraction to see as well as the Kazan Kremlin.


is located east of the Ural Mountains and is the fourth largest city in Russia. One of the most famous sights of the city is the Church on the Blood with golden domes.


is a simple city and the second-largest city in Siberia. One of the main sights is the Assumption Cathedral – a beautiful colorful cathedral.


is the largest city in Siberia and the third-largest city in Russia. For a big city there is relatively little to see; however, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in Byzantine style, is worth a visit.


is located near the large protected area of Stolby which has mountains and forests which are perfect for hiking. It is also very popular with tourists to explore the city on a sightseeing tour and to make excursions in the surroundings.


is located near Lake Baikal. The city itself is not very impressive but from here there are countless trips to the lake for swimming, fishing, dog sledding, and much more.


is a large port city on the Pacific Ocean in Russia and the final stop of the journey with the Trans-Siberian Railway. Cozy cafes, pedestrian zones, the harbor promenade, and the Eagles Nest viewpoint are among the highlights of the city.


Mongolia, the least populated country in the world, is located between China and Russia. The country is especially known for its vast landscapes and its nomadic culture. Over 60% of the population still live in yurts – which makes this country pretty unique.


is the capital of Mongolia and may not be worth seeing in itself but a good starting point for excursions in the surrounding areas. It is definitely worthwhile to take a tour through the Gobi Desert.


China is known for the Great Wall, ancient imperial cities, towering skyscrapers, hiking, and unique flora and fauna. China is one of the oldest civilizations and advanced civilizations of mankind, which makes the country so culturally unique.


is not a typical Chinese city, since the cityscape is dominated by Russian architecture. St. Sophia Cathedral is a perfect example of this with its large green dome. At the riverside you can find Sun Island Park, which is famous for ice sculptures that can be visited all year round.


is the capital of Mongolia and may not be worth seeing in itself but a good starting point for excursions in the surrounding areas. It is definitely worthwhile to take a tour through the Gobi Desert.


is the terminus of the Trans-Mongolian Railway and the capital of China where you will encounter impressive buildings as you walk through the city. Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace of the Emperor, and the Great Wall of China are all probably the most famous sights of the city.

Travel OrganiZation

If you are planning a journey on the Transsib, there are some things to consider:

Before the Trip

→ Depending on whether you have booked online, through a tour operator or a travel agency, it is important to inform yourself about the entry regulations of the respective countries and to apply for a visa if necessary.

→ Decide which travel time and how long you want to travel. Accordingly, you can book the appropriate hotels and excursions in advance. Especially in summer, it is important to book ahead of time. Book your hotel here.

→ Book your flights as soon as possible. Book your flight here.

→ Buy your train ticket well in advance so you have time to take care of things like visas, flights, international health insurance, and hotel bookings.

During the Trip

→ The trains stop frequently during the journey. During these stops you can hop off, get some fresh air, and stretch your legs. But don’t go too far away to avoid missing the train!

Best time to travel

You can travel on the Trans-Siberian train year-round; however, the season you choose will have a significant impact on your trip, as it is a completely different experience in winter than in summer. If you have the opportunity, it is best to travel twice to see both. If not, then both seasons still have their advantages. We recommend travel between May and July.


Temperatures reaching -30°C are not uncommon along the route in winter and therefore it’s important to pack the right clothes. This can be quite a challenge since you are traveling through different areas, covering long distances, and the temperature often fluctuates.

But have no fear! The trains are heated inside and nobody has to freeze. You will be able to see fabulous snowy landscapes with frozen lakes all in the comfort of a heated cabin. It is part of the journey to experience such low temperatures, hence the “real Siberia” – as everyone imagines it. A big plus for the winter trip is that you will have the opportunity to cross the frozen Lake Baikal with sled dogs.


Sunny and 30°C is standard during your trip through Siberia in summer. While sitting on the air-conditioned train you will be able to watch the diverse landscapes pass by. Please make sure to book all trains well in advance, as these trips are most popular in the summer and are therefore booked out and fuller faster.

Usually, the tickets and hotels are a bit more expensive in summer, but the blooming landscapes, sunny weather and long days make it worth the price. A big plus for the trip in summer is that you can swim in the beautiful Lake Baikal.

Good to Know

Guidebooks For The Trans-Siberian Railway

Travel with a guidebook ease your journey to find best sights and things to do. Buy it on Amazon.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend not to travel without insurance. Don’t fret! World Nomads offers many different travel insurance coverage plans to suit your trip best. > BUY HERE

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