Although not ideal for longer journeys, buses in Russia can offer a great option for intercity travel. They are cost effective, offer more connection options and can even be quicker than the train; however, you will need to sacrifice a little on comfort.
Russia boasts the second largest rail network in the world and connects almost all towns and cities in the country. Russian Railways is state owned and continues to develop its network; in recent years high speed trains have come into operation connecting Moscow and St Petersburg.
Tickets cannot be bought online without going through companies charging commission, but you can check the Russian Railways website for up to date fares, timetables and availability. When purchasing tickets at a station it is advisable to take along a Russian map if you do not speak Russian. Longer journeys will need to be booked at least 24 hours in advance and you will need your passport or a photocopy in order to purchase tickets.
Fares vary by season, as do the timetables, so forward planning is a must.
Trans Siberian Railway
The Trans Siberian Railway is the longest single railway in the world, connecting Moscow in the west to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. There are also lines that connect the capital to Beijing via Siberia and Manchuria and via Mongolia. There are also weekly services connecting to Pyongyang, North Korea.
It is an experience of a lifetime, but it doesn’t come cheap. A one way ticket from Moscow to Beijing is around £470 (€560) travelling in a 4 bunk cabin. For a little extra privacy a 2 bed cabin will set you back more like £700 (€840) This isn’t taking into consideration your return journey, the cost of visas or a hotel on either side of your trip.
Preparation is key on this epic adventure. The journey takes more than 6 days, so pack accordingly. Food served on board the train is overpriced, so take advantage of the short stops in the journey and purchase food from sellers just outside the stations. Your passport or ID and appropriate visas are essential.
Thanks to the vast size of Russia, air travel is often the most suitable way of getting around. Fortunately, it’s also reasonably affordable, and going by plane can be similar in price to a second class train ticket for the same route. The main Russian airline is Aeroflot, which serves a diverse array of destinations around the country. Another carrier, notable for its cheap prices is SkyExpress.