Image by Kyle Taylor via Flickr
Synopsis: Want to tour Russia, Mongolia, and China by a reliable railway while experiencing some of the top tourist attractions?
Instead of the traditional holiday, I recently took a journey on the Trans-Siberian railway, allowing me to choose my tour, and stop and extra destinations to further explore the area’s scenic treasures. The tours encompass the scenic forests of Russia, the open desert in Mongolia, and the great allure of China. You’ll find so many options from tours from only two weeks to month-long holiday journeys. Many travellers like me prefer to begin their express tour in St. Petersburg because then they can spend at least three or four days there to explore the full magic of the city.
Throughout St. Petersburg, I saw so many stunning attractions, from Russian cathedrals to art museums to stunning mansions and palaces. I even experienced an authentic Russian meal with a local family.
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress features a rich Russian history, and while most visitors usually only visit the stunning cathedral, there is so much more to explore within these walls. You’ll find so many buildings and landmarks of varied architecture that served different purposes from the Grand Ducal Mausoleum, which houses the remains of the Romanov family to the detention centers and prison cells of Trubetskoy Bastion. The St. Petersburg Museum of History manages the fortress and offers several exhibits detailing its history.
The State Hermitage
This Russian treasure houses over 3 million pieces of artwork highlighting different cultures and times, including an impressive ancient and medieval collection, consisting of around 2 million pieces of stone and bone figurines and painted pottery. One of my favorite exhibits was the Treasure Gallery, consisting of the Gold Room, with jewels from 7th century B.C. to the 19th century and the Diamond room with pieces, dating from the third millennium through the early 20th century. In addition, the museum houses prints and watercolors representing Peter the Great’s reign, as well as a showcase of the Winter Palace of Peter the First. We were able to see the restoration of the courtyard, the gala carriage, and several inside rooms. You will get to see al these once you’ve booked yourself on one of the Trans-Siberian express tours. The sites are really impressive.
Tour Pavlovsk & Pushkin
Our next stop was Pavel’s estate park. Named after Catherine the Great’s youngest son Pavel, the estate and the gardens feature a charming English-style architecture. While it would an entire day to tour both, make sure to experience the elegant ruins by Cameron’s Apollo Column, and some innovative monuments like Pavel’s Mausoleum and the Rose Pavilion for outdoor events. Inside the palace, you’ll find an ornate decor with a military theme running throughout.
We then travelled on to Pushkin, where we toured the Catherine Palace, associated with Catherine the Great. When she became in power, she had the Russian architect Charles Cameron redo the palace in more of a Neo-Classical style, as well as adding many more appropriate structures like the Marble Bridge and the Dutch Admiralty to the adjoining park.
Cooking with a Russian family
For a truly unique experience, consider spending some time with a local family. My hostess taught me how to prepare traditional Russian dishes like borshch, otherwise known as beet soup, pirozhki, pastries with cabbage and cheese, and Pelmeni, meatball-filled dumplings. As we savored this dishes, I was able to hear all about the culture from their own perspective.
These are a just a few of the attractions that I experienced on my tour. You, too an find more attractions on your very own express tours. You’ll find many more attractions to experience the magic of St. Petersburg and al the glory that was aristocratic Russia.