Photo by RZD
The culinary experience is one of the most exciting bits of a holiday, and while travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway may not provide you with Michelin-starred cuisine, the food is all part of the adventure. From sampling the delicious smoked fish of Lake Baikal at a Siberian station, to fine dining when departing Moscow on a two-week luxury train tour, to crossing the Gobi Desert while sipping a Mongolian beer – what can you eat and drink on the Trans-Siberian Railway?
Photo by RZD
The food served on board the Trans-Siberian Railway depends on the train and route you are taking. It is important to remember that the Trans-Siberian was not designed with tourists in mind, and is run by the state railway company (RZD) as the main way for Russians to navigate their enormous homeland. So, you won’t find anything fancy on the menu but you should not be deterred from visiting the on-board restaurant.
Photo by RZD
All Trans-Siberian trains have a restaurant wagon serving simple Russian cuisine – meat and fish dishes, salads, soups and snacks to eat with drinks. Once you cross the border into Mongolia or China, a restaurant car serving the local cuisine is added to the train. Alcoholic drinks are served and this can be a good introduction to the local beer and wine! The menus normally have English translations, but you can always try and translate using a phrasebook or offline translation app. If you have any dietary requirements, make sure to write them down in the local language beforehand. As well as dining in the restaurant car, you can also arrange for meals to be delivered to your compartment.
When booking a Trans-Siberian ticket on an RZD train you will have the option to book ‘with services’ or ‘without services’, aka with or without a meal included in your ticket price. Please take note that this is one meal per ticket, and not per mealtime/per day – whether your journey is 7 days or 7 hours, only one meal is included. The majority of our customers spend no longer than one day on board the train as they disembark at various cities along the way, so one complimentary meal is usually enough (plus refreshments purchased before boarding or at stations along the way).
On special tourist trains full-board is included in the ticket price. As well as its regular trains RZD also runs the Trans-Siberian tourist train ‘Imperial Russia’, which travels between Moscow – Vladivostok and Moscow – Beijing via Mongolia. On board is an opulent restaurant car with an upmarket menu of Russian dishes and a separate bar/lounge car where passengers can enjoy Russian champagne and listen to live piano music.
When the train stops, passengers either head to the station kiosks or visit local people selling a range of food on the platform. From these platform traders you can pick up local delicacies like dried or smoked fish (such as the famous omul of Lake Baikal), honey, freshly baked pies and pastries, or balance your holiday diet with vegetables grown at people’s dachas or berries foraged from the woods. Do bear in mind that the food may have been sitting on the platform for a while – pay attention to where the Russians go and avoid eating anything that you’re not sure about. You will need cash if you wish to purchase food from the platform vendors.
Even if your ticket has a meal included, it is always a good idea to bring some of your own refreshments. Quick and easy snacks include:
Free hot water is available from the samovar (traditional Russian kettle) in each carriage, although no cold drinking water is available free of charge, so you should bring plenty with you. Don’t forget to pack a plate, set of cutlery, thermos flask and cup for all your self-catering needs.
Photo by RZD
If you’d like to make friends and even practice some Russian, bring food to share with your fellow passengers – even better if it’s a snack or sweet from back home. If you have Russian neighbours, they may welcome you to share their food in a great introduction to Russian hospitality!
You can book two types of Trans-Siberian adventure with Express to Russia: tours or individual tickets.
Take the Imperial Russia group tour on RZD’s luxurious tourist train. This 15-day 14-night journey transports you across two continents, with stop-offs along the way in Moscow, Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan Ude, Ulan Bator, Erlian and Beijing. Your trip will be led by English-speaking guides and tour managers and all transfers, hotels, meals, tea and coffee are included (except for meals on day of arrival and departure). This is a fixed-date and fixed-itinerary tour, prices start from $6,155.
We offer several private tours on regular RZD trains. In each city you will be accompanied by a private bilingual guide and all transfers, accommodation, excursions and museum tickets are included. Meals on the train are included. Our private tours include:
Alternatively, you can plan each leg of your Trans-Siberian adventure independently by booking tickets through Trans-Siberian Express, who have been selling discount tickets on the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian train routes for 10 years. We can also arrange hotel accommodation for you in several major Russian cities along the Trans-Siberian route.
Get ready to be whisked along on a smooth and magical ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway.