The Best Train Routes to Russia with Timetables, Prices, and a Map

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 28 Feb 2015)
There's a daily direct train from Paris through Berlin to Moscow, which passes through Strasburg and Warsaw along the way. There are also many other direct train routes mainly from Warsaw. So if you decide to make a train journey from Europe to Russia – the best (and the cheapest) way is to take a train to Berlin or Warsaw first and then onward to Moscow or St. Petersburg. A direct train journey from Berlin to Moscow usually takes about 24 hours, depending on the trains you choose, and costs about 150€ one way. Of course, there are also trains from Helsinki, which take only 5 hours to St. Petersburg (11 hours to Moscow) and cost much less. 
 
Direct train from Berlin to Moscow / Photo by JimForest@FlickR

 

The problem with the direct trains from Berlin and Warsaw is that they all go through Belarus, and that means you'd need to get a Belarus transit visa(which you have to apply for in the consulate with a copy of your purchased train tickets for a 20€ fee). The best solution to avoid getting the transit visa in this case is to take a train to Warsaw and then switch to one of the trains to Riga (Latvia) or Tallinn (Estonia) from where you can get to Moscow or St. Petersburg directly bypassing Belarus. Both Latvia and Estonia are EU countries, so you won't need to get a visa. Another possible route is through Kiev in Ukraine (which doesn't require visas for EU and US citizens), but that would be much longer and is only worth it if you want to stop in Kiev along the way.
 

 

 

Here's a map of the main train routes from Europe to Russia. As you can see, there are direct trains from Riga, Tallin, and Helsinki to St. Petersburg and Moscow. If you take a train from Warsaw or Vilnius, you will most likely have to cross Belarus.
 
A Map of Europe: the best overland routes to and from Russia
 
 

 

 

Trains from Berlin and Warsaw to Moscow (through Belarus)

 

Direct Daily Train N24 / N453
Berlin Hauptbahnhof [daily 21:49] –– Moscow Belorusskaya [day after next 0:04]. 
Travels from Paris through Berlin (Germany), Warsaw (Poland), Brest and Minsk (Belarus).
Total travel time: 24 hours, Price: ~ €150 2nd class, €250 1st class.
Note: as the train tracks width in Europe and Russia are different, there will be a change of locomotive in Brest (Belarus) at about 12.20 after the first 15 hours of journey 

Online Reservation

 
or
Daily Train EC43 
Berlin Hauptbahnhof [daily 9:37] -- Warsaw Wschodnia [15:27]
Travel time: 6 hours, Price: €50-€70 (2nd class)
 
change to Daily Train D10
Warsaw Wschodnia [15:59] -- Moscow Belorusskaya [next day 11:45]
Travel time: ~17 hours, Price: €100-€150 (2nd class)
Note: as the train tracks width is different in Europe and Russia, there'll be a short changeover of locomotive at Brest ~ 23.30 - about 12 hours before arrival.

Online Reservation
  

 

 

 

Trains from Berlin and Warsaw to St. Petersburg (avoiding Belarus)

To travel to St. Petersburg from Berlin or Warsaw you need to first go to Vilnius (Lithuania) and then on to St. Petersburg. There are also direct trains from Berlin and Warsaw, but they all go through Belarus. The whole trip from Berlin to St. Petersburg will take you about 2 days  (25 hours total journey time) as you'll have to spend a night in Warsaw. The price should be from 125 € to 180 €.
 
Daily Train EC41 
Berlin Hauptbahnhof [daily 6:29] -- Warsaw Wschodnia [12:18]
Travel time: 6 hours, Price: from 30€ (promotion prices) to 50€ (full price, 2nd class)
 
overnight in Warsaw, change to Daily Train D10011
Warsaw Centralna [daily 7:25]  ––  Sestokai [same day 14.48]
Travel time: around 7h, price: ~ 25€. If you take a direct train from Warsaw to Vilnius, it might go through Minsk (Belarus), so check beforehand the exact route.
 
change to Daily Train 394
Sestokai [daily 15:03] -- Vilnius [17:50].
Travel time: 2h, price: ~ 10€. 
 
change to Daily Train 92
Vilnius [daily 18:20] -- St. Petersburg Vitebsky [next day 08:21]
Travel time: 10 hours, price: ~90€ 2nd class, 60€ 3rd class
 

 

Trains from Berlin and Warsaw to Moscow (avoiding Belarus)

If you want to go from Berlin or Warsaw to Moscow avoiding Belarus there are basically two ways. One is through Riga (Latvia) and the other one is through Kiev (Ukraine). The fastest one is through Kiev, because the train connections are all good: you can spend a few hours in each city and hop on the overnight train to the next destination. This route from Berlin to Moscow will take you about 2 days (journey time - 36 hours) and cost ~ 190€ to 260 €. The route through Riga may be cheaper, but you'll have to make lots of changes and take regional trains. 
 

Daily Train EC41
Berlin Hauptbahnhof [daily 6:29] -- Warsaw Wschodnia [12:18]
Travel time: 6 hours, Price: from 30€ (promotion prices) to 50€ (full price, 2nd class)

Online Reservation

 
 

change to Daily Train 68
Warsaw Wschodnia [daily 16:30] -- Kiev Passazhirsky [next day 10:27]
Travel time: 20 hours, Price: ~ 100€ - 120€
 


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change to Daily Train 2
Kiev Passazhirsky [daily 20:09] -- Moscow Kievsky [next day 06:39]
Travel time: 10 hours, Price: ~ 60€ - 90€

Online Reservation

 

   

Trains from Helsinki (Finland) to St. Petersburg or Moscow (avoiding Belarus)

This is a great route, because it only takes 6 hours from Helsinki to St. Petersburg and further 8 hours to Moscow (there are also fast trains between Moscow and St. Petersburg, which take 4 hours). You don't need to care about transit visas and there are a lot of cheap flights to Helsinki if you start your journey to Russia elsewhere.

There are 3 trains a day from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. The first two depart at 7.23 and 15.23 respectively and arrive to St. Petersburg Finlyandsky station, the last one departs at 18.23 and arrives to St. Petersburg Ladozhsky station. The price is about €80 one way.

A cheaper way is to take a bus. It takes the same time and costs €30-€50. There are many bus companies, for example, Eurolines has 5 buses a day to St. Petersburg.

 

 

Train from Paris to Moscow

Direct Daily Train N24 / N453
Paris Ouest [daily 08:04] –– Moscow Belorusskaya [day after next 0:04]. 
Travels from Paris with stops at Nancy, Strasbourg (FR) / Kehl (DE, near Stuttgart), Mannheim, Hannover, through Berlin (Germany), Warsaw (Poland), Brest and Minsk (Belarus).
Total travel time: 36 hours, Price: ~ €270-€330 2nd class, €350 1st class.
Note: as the train tracks width in Europe and Russia are different, there will be a change of locomotive in Brest (Belarus) at about 12.20 after the first 15 hours of journey 

Online Reservation
 

Train from Strasburg to Moscow

Direct Daily Train N24 / N453

Strasbourg[daily 13:09] –– Moscow Belorusskaya [day after next 0:04]. 

Travels from Paris with stops at Nancy, Strasbourg / Kehl (near Stuttgart), Mannheim, Hannover, through Berlin (Germany), Warsaw (Poland), Brest and Minsk (Belarus).
Total travel time: 36 hours, Price: ~ €220-€270 2nd class, €330-€370 1st class.
Note: as the train tracks width in Europe and Russia are different, there will be a change of locomotive in Brest (Belarus) at about 12.20 after the first 15 hours of journey 

Online Reservation

 

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