Experience the View from a Train Window on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Experience the View from a Train Window on the Trans-Siberian Railway

December 28, 2021 Off By Helen Olsson

Riding on the Trans-Siberian railway is a once-in-a-lifetime experience—but travelers can experience very diverse trips. Many people infuse variety into their trips by stopping and touring cities along the way. However, others simply ride the train across the world’s largest country, taking in the views. The Trans-Siberian is different than what Euro-pass holders experience when they fly between metropolises in just a few hours. Breaching the distance between Russian cities can take days, with extensive stretches of forest in view. Some experience the views as repetitive, while others enjoy meditating on the vastness of Russia and our planet.

Once your couchette has the pillows arranged, the map handy and a cup of tea with hot water from your carriage’s samovar, you’ll need to know what to expect. On which stretches should you look out the window and what will you see between Trans-Siberian Railroad stops?

Forests

The first batch of scenery heading east from Moscow will feature deciduous woodlands. Central Russia is known for its birch trees. Later, the trees will change to spruces and then to mountainous pines around the Urals. The terrain also grows more mountainous. Then you’ll cross the steppe. Between the Ural Mountains and the Yenisei River, evergreen taiga forests will appear in what is called the Central Siberian Plateau. This will continue until the Far East region. These forests hold large and carnivorous beasts. However, you’d be lucky to see a bear, wolf, moose, Amur leopard or Siberian tiger from the train.

Mountains

Several impressive mountain ranges harbor Trans-Siberian train tracks. You can gaze at peaks through your window and enjoy passing through tunnels that were beyond challenging to construct. The Ural Mountains serve as the natural border between Europe and Asia. They run from the Arctic Ocean all the way down to Kazakhstan. The northern part of the mountain range holds rugged, snow-capped peaks. However, the Urals are calmer, undulating hills where the Trans-Siberian breaches them.

As you move eastward, you’ll enjoy wilder, steeper mountains. While approaching the south-western shore of Lake Baikal in Eastern Russia, the train passes through the Khamar-Daban mountains. Next, it breaches the Yablonovy Range between Ulan-Ude and Chita. Those delighted by tunnels will enjoy the Lesser Khingan mountain range with its seven tunnels. The final part of the journey to Vladivostok holds views of the Sikhote-Alin range.

Rivers and Lakes

The Trans-Siberian railway crosses Russia’s major rivers. It will run over the Volga, Irtysh, Kama, Ob, Yenisei and Amur rivers. There are incredible views of the Volga in Yaroslavl, the Kama in Perm and the Amur in Khabarovsk. In all, by the time you reach the final stop, you will have crossed almost 4,000 bridges! That’s because it also crosses too many small streams to name, for a total of 100 kilometers of bridge-based tracks. The mountain creeks are gorgeous.

The “Pearl of Siberia” is the enormous Lake Baikal. The section of the railway passing on Lake Baikal’s shore is called the Circum-Baikal Railway. This two-and-a-half-hour leg is not to be slept through. It holds picturesque views of the lake and tunnels through the mountainous terrain. Pauses in tiny villages are delightful. Note that the Rossiya train traverses this section at night when traveling eastbound or westbound. The #061/062 does so during the day.

Steppe

After passing through the Ural Mountains, the woods thin out and become the Steppe. It continues through Western Siberia to Central Asia. In all, it’s about 1,000 kilometers of treeless grassy plains. Since the temperature is moderate and the sun shines, the open steppes display the abundant wildlife better than other regions.

Architecture

Landscapes shaped by humans will also please your eyes on the Trans-Siberian. Small villages are peppered throughout. Some feature colorful wooden houses and churches. Other villages are abandoned. Urban views in Siberian and Far Eastern cities don’t disappoint. The train stations themselves are also interesting. Novosibirsk’s station is turquoise and large. Sludyanka holds the title as the world’s only marble station.

Seasons

The seasons will affect the views on your Trans-Siberian railroad journey. The massive birch forests turn to burnished gold in the fall, and this is a great time to go. Snow dancing on the limbs of trees in the boreal forest is gorgeous. In late spring, the Transbaikal and Primorsky sections showcase blooming wild rosemary.

Final thoughts about scheduling stops

Although you can disembark for a half hour or more in major cities, it can be disheartening to travel straight through without truly experiencing the landscape and culture along the Trans-Siberian. Several stops can puncture the long stretches in a cabin. Siberia and the Far East have exhilarating experiences that round out the sometimes repetitive landscapes. Scheduling specific Trans-Siberian Railway tours can ensure the highlights of your trip occur closer together in time.

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