Sights on the Moscow to Irkutsk Train Route
Traveling from Moscow to Irkutsk by train is a great way to hop between Russian cultural sights in just a few days. Nearly all of the main sights of the Trans-Siberian, save for Vladivostok and Ulan-Ude, lie on this line. The trip on the Moscow to Irkutsk train lasts three and a half days. Two routes are available, with the less common passing through Kazan. If Turkic cultures tickle your fancy, visiting the capital of Tatarstan and the other stops is worth it. The more popular route with tourists touches Nizhny Novgorod and Perm. These more Slavic cities have a bit more to see.
No matter which route you choose, be sure to buy separate tickets that give you stops to feed your mind, stretch your legs and try the cuisine. The most well-known stops are detailed below, along with our suggestions for what to see on each stop. These are only highlights, if you want to stay longer, go for it.
Perm: The Russian classic Dr. Zhivago was set in this city, and you can still visit the large historic houses that Boris Pasternak describes. Once you pass Perm, there’s not much civilization to follow before the Russian tundra. PERMM is a progressive contemporary art gallery that is anything but boring. Avant-guard and eccentric, PERMM is worth the ticket for all but the most averse to art. You can also visit Perm 36, which is the only visitable gulag in Russia.
Yekaterinburg: Yekaterinburg’s main church has a belltower that tilts to one side, making it a good time for the creatively photogenic. A military museum in Yekaterinburg is one of the largest in Russia.
Omsk: Dostoevsky aficionados will recognize Omsk as the location he was exiled to for four years. The historical literary museum is also worth a visit, although it won’t take up much time.
Novosibirsk: With a rich and surprising history, Novosibirsk is hard to pass up. During the period of the USSR, scientists enjoyed their own clandestine city within its borders. The city’s buildings were futuristic. A scientist created a museum about only the sun, which is still open. Laboratory mice had their own statue to commemorate them. The biggest opera house in the country is here, and the ballets are first-rate.
Irkutsk: Despite the fact that it’s technically a city, Irkutsk has a quaint and earthy feel due to the splendid wooden houses in the city center. The gigantic and beautiful Lake Baikal is only a bus ride away. Many tourists beeline for it, resulting in less tourist traffic in this “city.”