The Trans-Siberian Express is a route that connects the western cities of Moscow and St Petersburg with the far east of Russia, along with branches that also travel through Mongolia and into China. As you would expect with such journeys that cover several thousand miles, it can often be quite a tiring experience to remain on a train for several days, even when you have a bunk or a sleeping cabin. While the direct trains usually run around once a week, there are several other trains that also run along these routes, so it is possible to break up your Trans-Siberian journey by stopping in cities across Russia, and also in Mongolia and China before picking up another route heading in the right direction. Here are seven stops along the route that are interesting places to break up the journey.
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One of the first major cities that you reach after leaving Moscow, Nizhny as it is known by the locals is the capital of the Volga region, and is home to plenty of historic sights and buildings, while the home of writer Maxim Gorky is one of many cultural sights in the city too. With nice views over the river, taking a walk around the walls of the Kremlin is one of the great experiences of a visit to Nizhny, which is rumored to have had some input into the design by Leonardo da Vinci, while another great way to see the city is to take a trip on the cable car.
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As the capital of western Siberia, Omsk has long held an important position within Russian culture, and the busy city is home to some pleasant nineteenth-century districts that are well preserved, including the house which was the home of Fyodor Dostoyevsky for a period. One of the architectural highlights of the area is the St Nicholas Cossack Cathedral, which dates from the mid-nineteenth century, and has a wonderful green dome and a lovely interior.
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Another important city in Siberia, Irkutsk has a stark contrast between the historic buildings in the old town and the stark Communist apartment blocks. This is a particularly good place to visit during the winter when there is an ice castle and sculptures built in the park in the city, while Irkutsk also has a huge number of different churches and religious buildings to visit, and the oldest steam ice-breaker ship in the world.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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For those who are traveling on the branch that passes through Mongolia, the city of Ulan Bator is an interesting place to stop, although it may not be the most beautiful of cities along the way. The grand Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum is one of the highlights of a visit to the city, with some wonderful artworks and religious works on display, while you can also take a short trip out of the city and stay a night in a ger, one of the traditional yurt-type tents favored by the Mongolian nomads.
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This city is one of the coldest cities in China, and as such it is home to plenty of wonderful winter sports and activities, including a great winter festival. The city is also very cosmopolitan, with several religions living side by side, with the St Sophia Cathedral and the Harbin Jewish New Synagogue among the places worth visiting. The Siberian Tiger Park is one of the main attractions of the city, with a good collection of tigers which you can explore and even feed.
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Just a short distance before you finally arrive at Vladivostok, Khabarovsk is often overlooked by visitors but it is a wonderful place to visit, particularly during the summer when the beach is beautiful and vibrant with plenty of people to enjoy the good weather. There is an excellent collection of museums to visit in the city, with the impressive Far East Regional Museum worth a visit, while the golden domes of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration is one of the most dramatic sights in the city.