35-day road trip: St.Petersburg to Vladivostok
Expose yourself to the diversity of ethnic minorities and the multitude of languages spoken in distant areas, absorb the culture, learn the history of Russia through its architecture and nature. Take the chance to feel the determination of the original Trans-Siberian pioneers.
In short, just tag along with your own rig or book one of our SUVs, and join the team for the journey of a lifetime!
Duration: 35 days / 35 nights
Driving distance: 12, 000 km
Type of tour: Self drive overland expedition
Minimum driver age: 21
Group size: from 10 to 25 pax
Accommodation: Best hotels on the way (Twin/Double occupancy) and camping sites
Meals: Full board
Best time: July - August
Part 1. Saint Petersburg - Moscow. Distance: 1700 km
We decided on St. Petersburg to be the starting point of our grand expedition. While the team members arrive one by one, we spend the day strolling around the magnificent metropolis of the imperial times on the Neva River. Founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 2003, the city is a magnificent collection of architecture masterpieces in all possible styles of 1700-1800s. Your chance to experience its sheer elegance; millions of guests fall in love with this marvel of a city every year. The participants get acquainted with each other and DTR crew. It is here the epic overland expedition across Russia starts.
In order to warm up a little and shape the team, we decided to drive north first (rather than east), and see one of the most beautiful parts of Russia, the charming Karelia. Daily runs will be moderate; we learn to drive in a convoy, understand each other's driving habits, get used to the cars and their character, and bond with each other to form a real team.
This part of the road will be the most intense in terms of the number of cities that we visit. Here, the Russians have been historically intertwined with their closest neighbours from Northern Europe. And it shows, both in the toponyms and the architecture. We will admire Veliky Novgorod, dating back to 859, one of the first Russian cities mentioned in medieval chronicles, with the age-old church domes and classic white monastery walls. We will visit the place where the Great Russian River, the Volga, starts as a modest creek, and we’ll drive past countless gorgeous lakes.
Moscow is where this segment ends. Russia’s capital is a delight, combining the hoary antiquity with the vibrance and grandeur of a modern megapolis with 12,5 mln inhabitants. Explore the medieval Kremlin and cathedrals, snap some pics for your Instagram against the background of the high-rise buildings in the business district, feel the rhythm of this magnificent city.
Day 1. St. Petersburg
The participants arrive in the ‘northern capital’ of the Russian Federation, the city of Saint Peter. Check-in to a splendid hotel in the vicinity of the Palace Square. Meet the team members and introduce yourself. Preparation and verification of vehicles.
Drive to Russia crew presents the details of the upcoming expedition. Final discussion of the route specifics.
Day 2. St.Petersburg - Sortavala. Distance: 300 km
Today we start our grandiose journey, and our first destination is Karelia. The convoy heads to Lake Ladoga, the largest in Europe! Our accommodation tonight is in the vicinity of the Ruskeala Mountain Park. We will take a guided tour along the picturesque slopes of the canyon that used to be a granite quarry.
Day 3. Sortavala - Novaya Ladoga via Mandrogi. Distance: 430 km
We will drive to the opposite (southern) shore of Ladoga Lake, and we’ll stop at the fabulous village of Upper Mandrogi on the way. The village hosts many traditional crafts and the colourful log houses are quite a view. We will spend the night in a tent camp on the shore of the Ladoga lake.
Day 4. Novaya Ladoga - Veliky Novgorod. Distance: 200 km
Our goal for today is Veliky Novgorod. One of the most ancient cities in Russia, and perfectly preserved, by the way. The main gift of the day is an incendiary folk show; enjoy the traditional Russian songs and dances along with a pleasant dinner of national cuisine.
Day 5. Veliky Novgorod - Lake Seliger. Distance: 370 km
We drive towards Lake Seliger, an enormous system of lakes linked by effluents, with lots of small islands, surrounded by pine and deciduous woods. Our cars will test the road conditions of the Valdai Upland, we will enjoy the magnificent views and also visit the source of the Volga. In several days, we will have the opportunity to admire the greatness of this tremendous 3,500 km long river - this is where it starts. In the evening, we will enjoy the fascinating sunset on the shore of the lake.
Day 6. Lake Seliger - Moscow. Distance: 390 km
Driving to Moscow. Part of the way will include a challenging dirt road,compensated by the beautiful views. We visit the Nilo-Stolobenskaya hermitage (a prominent Orthodox monastery, founded in the late 1500s) and the city of Torzhok.
In the evening, We will stay in the very center of Moscow and enjoy its eclectic architecture, wonderfully lit for the night.
Part 2. Moscow – Kazan. Distance: 1000 km
This part of the trip will lead us from one world to another; the European Russia gradually replaced by oriental motives, different customs and traditions, different ways of life, different ethnic groups. We will see the tallest skyscrapers of Moscow Сity business district and the tiny age-old wooden houses of Suzdal, visit modern churches and a mosque of 1766. We will have amazing dinners at upscale restaurants and taste pilaf cooked on fire, enjoy the luxury city life and original life of a small island, witness a giant extensive metro network and the tiny streets of small towns. You will see the Tsar Bell, the world's largest Orthodox Christian church, the longest staircase in Russia, a cable car with the largest span of 800 meters, and the powerful Volga river.
Day 7. Moscow
We are happy to offer you some ideas on sightseeing in this stunning city.
Option 1: Walking tour of Moscow city center: Red Square, followed by a short introduction to Moscow metro (1,5-2 hrs). You will see St.Basil’s cathedral (exterior), GUM mall , Kazan church, State History Museum and the Moscow metro (Revolution Square station)..
Option 2: Guided tour of the most iconic streets and architecture with a private vehicle (3-3,5 hrs). Highlights: Red Square and St.Basil's Cathedral, Bolshoi Theatre and the Alexander Garden, the State Duma and Russian Govt buildings, Lubyanka Square with KGB HQ, the Russian State Library, Sparrow Hills, Moscow-City business district, Poklonnaya Hill, Victory Park, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
Option 3: Moscow River Cruise on the amazing Radisson yacht (2,5 hrs) See the most renowned city landmarks from the water. A fine restaurant for a cocktail with a bite of something delicious is available onboard as well.
Day 8. Moscow – Suzdal. Distance: 220 km.
We say goodbye to Russia’s main city and head on to the medieval Suzdal, driving along the famous Vladimir highway, basically, the westernmost section of the road linking the Eastern Russian and Siberia to the European part.
When we arrive to Suzdal (founded in 1024), a tour of the open-air museum-city awaits; we will see the white- stone Kremlin with a ceremonial Cross chamber, the architectural ensemble of the Spaso-Evfimiev monastery with a mini-concert at the famous belfry. We’ll visit the Museum of Wooden Architecture, an interactive museum of peasant life of the XVII-XIX centuries with an impressive collection of wooden constructions preserved from the olden days.
Day 9. Suzdal-Nizhny Novgorod. Distance: 228 km
This day will lead us to Nizhny Novgorod, a city with a great historical heritage. Standing on the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers, it has been the most renowned place for trade fairs for centuries, and is also home to a great deal of Russian industry since the Soviet era. We will see the Nizhny Novgorod Fair building, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the historic pedestrian Bolshaya Pokrovskaya street, and the legendary Chkalovskaya Staircase running down to the Volga Embankment.
Day 10. Nizhny Novgorod – Sviyazhsk island. Distance: 355 km
Heading further east to Sviyazhsk, the medieval fortress built on an island on the Volga during the reign of Ivan The Terrible. We enter Tatarstan, a region with a predominant Tatar (Turcic ethnic group) population, where islam is historically widespread. We’ll see a number of architectural monuments and the Tree Archaeology Museum, exhibiting the actual preserved 3D excavation of XVII century Tatar village with various precious findings and huge animated panorama of the village everyday life, a gem of all the Sviyazhsk attractions.
Day 11. Sviyazhsk – Kazan. Distance: 65 km
This day will lead us to the 1000-year-old Kazan. A tour of the main landmarks is a must! Kazan Kremlin with its beautiful Kol Sharif mosque, the magnificent Blagoveshchensky Cathedral and Soyembika tower, the Kazan National Cultural Center, the Märcani Mosque, the Kazan University Complex and the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, famous for the Orthodox icon of Our Lady of Kazan. We will also definitely visit the Old Tatar Settlement.
Optional master class in original Tatar restaurant under the guidance of master chefs: learn how to cook legendary dishes of Tatar bakery and get acquainted with local history and gastronomic traditions.
Part 3. Kazan - Novosibirsk. Distanсe: 2650 km
We leave the Volga basin in the central part of Russia and move on to the Asian parts, crossing the incredibly beautiful Ural Mountains, and driving up and down. We will pass Yekaterinburg, the largest city of the Urals, the place where the last Emperor of the Romanovs found his end. We will enter Siberia and try to unravel its mystery. Leaving several time zones behind (!), we end up in Novosibirsk - the capital of Siberia. Long distances, amazing nature and adventures all around in the endless thick taiga, where the bears reign the wilderness.
Day 12. Kazan – Izhevsk. Distance: 400 km
Today, we are in for a 400-km journey, that will lead us to Izhevsk. On the way we will see the Elabuga settlement, located on a high cape at the confluence of the Toyma and the Kama rivers. In ancient times, this was a settlement of the Volga-Kama Bulgars, who are now only known to us from chronicles.
Day 13. Izhevsk - Kungur. Distance: 370 km
A day filled with many a beautiful road. We will drive almost along the bank of the Kama River, arriving at Kungur by evening, to see a giant mysterious cave where everything is covered with ice.
Day 14. Kungur - Yekaterinburg. Distance: 280 km
Arrival to Yekaterinburg. Yekaterinburg is not only Russia's fourth-largest city, it is like a piece of conceptual art with a fascinating historical subtext. The participants who are willing to feel the spirit of Yekaterinburg, are welcome to join the walk along the Red Line, a walking tourist route (6,5 km long) through the historical center. It includes 35 main landmarks of the city, from monuments and memorial estates to famous streets and squares.
We are going to visit Ganina Pit, a quarry, where the last Russian emperor was likely buried. Today it’s a memorial complex and a monastery.
Day 15. Yekaterinburg - Tyumen. Distance: 325 km
There is a wonderful stop on the way from Yekaterinburg to Tyumen, known as the Russian Mars, one of the most beautiful in the Middle Urals. Unusual landscapes, much like the ones you could expect on Mars or the Moon, appear on the site of clay quarries. When we arrive to Tyumen, we can hike to the main sights of the city.
Day 16. Tyumen - Omsk (Red Yar). Distance: 580 km
The road starts with an elevated terrain with many descents and ascents. On the way, we will pass the Krutinsky district, which is famous for its lakes. Pelicans come here every year, even the stele marking the entrance to the district is decorated with a figure of a well-fed pelican.
Day 17. Omsk (Red Yar) – Novosibirsk. Distance: 580 km
Today, we are in for a long trip to Novosibirsk, and we'll only reach it by evening. Novosibirsk might be Russia's third-largest city, but you would hardly notice it at first. The city center is compact and, thanks to lots of parks and tree-lined avenues, has a quiet, green-fingered air to it, which makes it an ideal city for strolling about. We will plan it for tomorrow, and just have a rest and some nice sleep after a considerable day of driving.
Day 18. Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk offers a lot to see, strolling around, we will meet a few interesting city sculptures, sometimes quite unexpected; the Business woman, a monument to the newlyweds (where we tell you about the Russian tradition of toasting at the wedding), and Koshchei the Immortal with Gorynych the Snake, the Metal Throne, and the popular Lab Mouse.
Part 4. Novosibirsk - Irkutsk. Distance: 2500 km
Another segment ahead, and the road takes us further to Eastern Siberia. On the way, we will see one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world and t power, strength, We will be impressed by the sight of the bizarre rocks of millions of years old, we will see the famous Bugrinsky Bridge, get acquainted with the most mysterious minority in Russia and, finally, pause in awe before Lake Baikal, the deepest lake on the planet, the largest natural reservoir of fresh water.
Day 19. Novosibirsk-Mariinsk. Distance: 430 km
In the morning, we drive across the Ob river on the 2091-meter long Bugrinsky Bridge. Ranking 4th in the world in terms of the length of one span, the bridge was finished in 2014 This picturesque and useful creation of a renowned StPetersburg design bureau received the prestigious FIDIC Award of Merit in 2016 We will have lunch in Kemerovo, capital of the Kuzbass region, the universally recognized center of the Russian coal mining industry.
We will stay overnight on a сamping site in Mariinsk, one of the oldest towns in Siberia (first Russian settlement founded in 1698).
Day 20. Mariinsk-Krasnoyarsk. Distance: 410 km
In the morning, we will visit The Chapel Of The Great Martyr Anastasia. The chapel is located on the territory of the memorial complex in memory of the victims of political repressions in Siblag (Siberian labour camps). Then, we embark on a long drive to Krasnoyarsk, passing Achinsk, a town that can boast being inhabited by humans as early as Late Stone Age (18-20,000 BC). We reach Krasnoyarsk, a city with over 1 mln inhabitants, the cultural, economical and industrial center of Siberia.
Day 21. Krasnoyarsk - Tulun. Distance: 660 km
Early breakfast, as we are in for one of the longest sections of our journey today. Krasnoyarsk Region is the second largest region in the country, covering the mind-boggling 2 366 797 square kilometers. The road to Tulun is going through many small villages, and one can vividly imagine what determination, skills and stamina this kind of journey required back in the day, when these parts were less developed.
Day 22. Tulun - Irkutsk. Distance: 400 km
Another 400 kilometers, and we reach Irkutsk. The capital of Eastern Siberia, the historic Irkutsk, is by far the most popular stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway between Moscow and the Far East. Irkutsk, like most Siberian cities, appeared in the middle of the 17th century and was founded as military winter quarters at the mouth of the Irkut River. The oldest buildings, dating back to the 18th century, represent a unique style; we call it the Siberian or Irkutsk baroque.
Day 23. Irkutsk – Olkhon Island. Distance: 300 km
Today, we will finally see the main beauty that Siberia gifted us, Lake Baikal. We will also visit the village of Khuzhir, which has experienced a serious tourist boom over the last few years. In the evening, you will enjoy a walking tour to Cape Burkhan, considered the symbol of the island. This place is also often called the Shamanka rock, as shamans of Siberia have conducted their rituals here since prehistoric times. For a long time, ordinary residents, women especially, were forbidden to enter these grounds.
Day 24. Olhon Island - Irkutsk. Distance: 300 km
In the morning, we will again enjoy the view of the lake and, if time allows, explore Cape Khoboy (‘fang’ in the Buryat language). This is the northernmost point of Olkhon island, a place of extraordinary energy and beauty. Here, you can see the widest part of Lake Baikal, stretching for 80 km. We visit the most attractive and picturesque spots, such as Cape Sagan-Khushun, the Sandy tract and Cape Shunte, which is also called the Cape of Love. Return to Irkutsk.
Day 25. Irkutsk
In Irkutsk, we conduct a technical inspection of our vehicles. We will get acquainted with the life of the indigenous peoples of the Baikal region: the Buryats, the Evenks, the Tophov. We see some exquisite examples of local wooden architecture, dating back to 1600-1900s, old manors, a parochial school, the Spasskaya Passage Tower and the Kazan Church of the Ilimsky Prison. In total, the collection of the renowned Taltsy Museum boasts more than 20 thousand exhibits..
Part 5. Irkutsk – Vladivostok. Distance: 3850 km
This part is probably dedicated to overcoming the huge expanses of Russia. Every day of this segment might seem a challenge, you are in for a great accomplishment. Different types and conditions of terrain, the weather may change rapidly, as well as the colours of landscapes - in short, you are now the true masters of conquering distances and surmounting obstacles.
We are approaching the Far East… the edge of the continent.
Day 26. Irkutsk – Ulan-Ude. Distance: 450 km.
Next destination is Buryatia - the land that is close to Mongolia and China, with a population quite different from what would expect in Russia.
Part of the road will be driven along Lake Baikal, and some awesome views are guaranteed. In addition, we will pass a small Baikal city, known for its famous ski resort, Mount Sobolinaya, in winter, and it delicious strawberries in summer.
We pay a visit to the Baikal Museum, where loads of information about the lake are stored.
Day 27. Ulan-Ude - Chita. Distance: 580 km
The Buryats practice Buddhism, which is rather unique for Russia. In the morning, we will go to Ivolginsky Datsan, the most renowned place of worship in these parts, and take a tour of the vicinity.y
It will take us another 9 hours to get to Chita, located deep in Siberia, surrounded by hills on the shore of a lake. It was here that the Decembrists (followed by their wives) were exiled in 1827 after the failed coup in St.Petersburg, and many places here are also associated with the legend of Genghis Khan. It is also home to Mount Pallas, which marks the watershed between the Arctic and Pacific Oceans.
Day 28. Chita - Chernyshevsk. Distance: 310 km
Today we are heading to Chernyshevsk, an ordinary Russian town with a population of only 12,000 people. This is what most cities in this area look like; small houses, questionable roads and wild surroundings… Still, they definitely have their own charm.
Day 29. Chernyshevsk - Skovorodino. Distance: 620 km
A meditative road among the picturesque hills - another long day to endure. We’ll have some decent rest in the evening.
Day 30. Skovorodino - Uglegorsk. Distance 445 km
Today, we will drive towards one of the most mysterious cities in Russia, Uglegorsk (‘city of coal’). Surprisingly, coal has never been mined here. This name was given to fool the potential enemy, covering the construction of missile silos, disguised as coal mining.
On December 30, 2015, the city was renamed Tsiolkovsky (in the name of a renowned scientist), as the new Vostochny (Eastern) spaceport was constructed nearby. The city's infrastructure is developing rapidly to become one of the most modern settlements in the Amur region, serving the needs of the spaceport personnel and their families.
Day 31. Uglegorsk – Khabarovsk. Distance: 770 km
The longest part of the road. We may call it ‘rising to the challenge’. We have to overcome about 800 km, so as we arrive to Khabarovsk, most people on the team will probably only dream about dropping in bed and sleeping it off. We are now officially in the Far East.
Day 32. Rest in Khabarovsk
We will spend the whole day walking around the city. A cruise along the Amur River is obviously a must. In general, we will enjoy the penultimate city on our long journey
Day 33. Khabarovsk –Vladivostok. Distance: 756 km
The last of the long bits we need to cover, once again driving for more than 700 km (approximately 8-10 hours). We finally reach the shore of the Pacific Ocean late in the evening. Vladivostok welcomes us with true oriental hospitality.
Day 34. Vladivostok - Russky Island - Tokorevsky lighthouse. Distance: 60 km
The complex terrain, the port, the salty sea air, all of this makes each coastal city unique and different from the rest. Vladivostok was included in the list of ten cities with the most beautiful views of the sea by the National Geographic magazine.
Vladivostok is gorgeous during the day — in sunny weather, it impresses with the bottomless blue sky and the bright sun. The bridge over the Golden Horn Bay is a definite symbol of development and progress. Vladivostok at night is fascinating, as thousands of lights are reflected in the water surface.
To mark the end of our journey, we will cross the Eastern Bosphorus strait by the marvelous bridge with a central span of 1,104 metres (3,622 feet), the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, to reach Russky Island and make sure we have reached the easternmost region in Russia that could be reached by car.
We return to the city and end our journey at the Tokarevsky Lighthouse, a landmark we chose to symbolise hope for future amazing experiences.
Days 35. Vladivostok
We are resting, sharing the emotions and wishing farewell to the members of our glorious, who depart one by one. It is also time to ship our vehicles back home*.
We wish you a safe journey home and hope to see you again on another fantastic adventure in Russia.
(*please contact us by phone/email for shipping details and procedures)