When I was born and raised in Russia, I always wanted to explore this huge country and wondered how long it would take to cross Russia from one side to the other.

I know a lot of people would like to make a trip to Russia, but when you look at the route on the map, it seems impossible to measure how long it actually takes.

A trip to Russia from St. Petersburg or Moscow to Vladivostok takes at least 11 days. The length of the route is about 9,700 km and the travel time has been significantly reduced since the roads have been significantly improved in recent years.

Read on to find out what may affect the length of your trip to Russia, as the time difference depends on the route you take.

Time to travel throughout Russia

First of all, it is important to point out that driving a car in Russia can mean many different things to most people.

When one thinks of driving through the country, one usually thinks of the route from the Russian capital Moscow to Vladivostok. Moscow lies quite far to the west, and Vladivostok is the most famous city in the Far East and is located in the natural harbor of the Sea of Japan.

The journey through Russia, from Moscow to Vladivostok, will take at least 11 days. The route is almost 9000 km accurate and even if you drive at the speed limit all day (usually 90-110 km/h), you won’t be able to go much faster. I have seen reports of people doing this in just 7 days, but I suspect it meant changing drivers, driving literally 24 hours a day, sleeping in the car and that hygiene on arrival was very questionable.

Starting or ending the trip in St. Petersburg extends the duration of the trip through Russia by one day, as the route is extended by another 700 km – it is necessary to go directly through Moscow on the way.

If you want to make the most extreme trip in Russia, you can start at the Latvian border (Ubylinka checkpoint, border crossing) and drive to Magadan.

Magadan lies further east than Vladivostok, and to get there you have to go through Yakutsk via the less developed regions of Eastern Siberia.

Magadan, in the Russian Far East, is the furthest city of Russia that can be reached by car.
Magadan is as far east as you can go through Russia.

Andrei Stepanov/Shutterstock.com

Two Russian regions are even further east: Chukotka and Kamchatka. Despite the fact that some expeditions have gone this far, you can’t do it with a normal car. Think of the thousands of kilometers of wildlife, volcanoes, lack of gas stations and the fact that your car has to swim across rivers.

If you want to follow something that looks like a path, Magadan will show you how far you can go. Although the journey is only slightly longer, you should be prepared to spend at least 5 extra days on the road as you will be slower on the unpaved and muddy roads leading up to the journey.

Route through Russia Distance Driving time
Moscow – Vladivostok 8,999 km
5,592 miles
11 days and more
Saint Petersburg – Vladivostok 9,701 km
6,028 miles
12 days and more
The border of Latvia with Magadan
Furthest points to the west and east
10,619 km
6,598 miles
16 days and more

Factors affecting the length of trips to Russia

There are a number of factors that need to be taken into account that may affect the amount of time you need to travel through Russia.

Let’s start by exposing a great myth which, as I have heard, is mentioned many times: the roads from Moscow to Vladivostok are quite decent and asphalted. In the forums and in various YouTube videos you can meet people who show traces of mud, and the truth is that until 2014 a significant part of the Trans-Siberian Railway was in very poor condition.

Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk, in the heart of Siberia, could be reached fairly quickly from Moscow by good roads, and then everything would be even worse. After passing Lake Baikal, large parts of the road near Chita were barely larger than the road that crosses the field.

The section of the R-254 of the Trans-Siberian Railway between Chelyabinsk and Novosibirsk is an excellent motorway.
In recent years, the Trans-Siberian Railway, which crosses Russia, has been considerably modernised.

Vitaly Kaplin/Shutterstock.de

Due to the enormous expansion of the road network, the entire route is now on quality asphalt, which means that you have to drive flexibly enough.

Remember, if you decide to make a detour, you are likely to encounter very bad roads. It is well known that the Russians have two problems in their country – fools and roads – and you can experience many of these problems if you decide to take some scenic routes along the road.

How the weather and season affect driving time

Russia is known for some of the most extreme weather conditions in the world. Depending on when you decide to travel to Russia, you can experience everything from the crushing heat of 40 degrees (104°F) to the freezing cold of -40°F (also -40°F) in winter. Despite the fact that the roads are better than before, they still cross large parts of the animal world, via streams and rivers.

In spring and early summer you may encounter more difficult conditions. Rain and fast-flowing rivers can make it difficult to pass certain parts of the road network and can slow your progress.

In July and August, you probably won’t want to drive long cars in one day – the weather can be incredibly hot and mosquitoes arrive in the middle to the end of August. Maybe your plane starts to defend itself and you want to make other stops.

Grandmother's bay on Lake Baikal - directly on the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia.
Lake Baikal is a nice stop on the road through Russia, but beware of mosquitoes in August.

Hollyrik photography/Shutterstock.com

Surprisingly, it’s probably the fastest way in winter. If the road is completely frozen, you can drive forwards without slowing down, as long as your car is equipped with snow tires.

You must prepare your.

Of course, you can make the trip technically in the car of your choice and have spent enough time and care to get to your destination.

But Russian roads are known to have pits the size of a soccer field in the first winter after construction. Intensive freezing means that the water finds the cracks necessary to cause damage.

So prepare for a few holes in your jaws on the way, and make sure your car is in good condition if you don’t want it to give up a few hundred miles before Blagoveshchensk.

4×4/SUV will be a much better option, especially if you plan to take your time and stop on the road to see more than the highway.

Fastest route between the eastern and western furthest points of Russia

For those who understand the meaning of the words literally, a journey through Russia can really mean travelling the entire length of the country, from the furthest point in the west to the furthest point in the east (or vice versa).

Kaliningrad is technically the westernmost point of Russia, but it is separated from the rest of the country by 2 countries, so we assume that the border between Russia and Latvia is the starting point.

The Ubylinka nuclear power plant or the Burachka nuclear power plant are popular border crossings, and I have crossed Russia and from Russia both ways. Before anyone points it out: Yes – the passage between Russia and Estonia in Narva is a little further west, but if you don’t live in Estonia, it is unlikely that you will ever use it, so your journey probably won’t start there.

Like I said, the Far East is Magadan. This isolated town lies far north of Vladivostok, and to get there you have to go from the Trans-Siberian Railway to Nevers (yes, it’s a real place, although this sentence sounds funny). You’ll find the fork a few hundred miles after Chita.

The road then goes to the north, to the interior of Siberia, to the rivers Lena and Yakutsk, and then to the east to Magadan. This road is not as new and not as well maintained as the Trans-Siberian Railway, so you will probably drive much slower to get there for at least 16 or 17 days.

Route within Russia

Although Russia is big, there is only one real road that runs through the whole country, and that is the road you have to follow if you want to make this trip.

Despite the fact that it consists of many different highways, it is called the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok.

The first phase will take place from Moscow to the south of the Urals, which separates geographical Europe from Asia. Before reaching Chelyabinsk, you will pass the historic cities of Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Ufa.

Once you have left the Urals, the road follows the south of Russia to Omsk and then continues to Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk in the middle of Siberia.

Russian pine forests and hilly landscapes offer breathtaking views along the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Siberia can be an ideal place to visit Russia in summer and winter.

vaalaa/Shutterstock.com

The nearest big city is Irkutsk, which is located near the largest freshwater lake in the world – Lake Baikal, and in about 400-500 km you can reach Chita.

If you thought you had seen wild animals before you came to Chita, you will soon learn what real wild animals are. Hundreds of kilometers past Chita you don’t see any sign of civilization, except for a strange truck driving in the opposite direction. Most goods and people are transported through Russia by plane or train because of the long distances, so you don’t see too much transport along the way.

The road runs close to the border with China, then to the city of Khabarovsk and finally south to Vladivostok, a few kilometers from the border with North Korea.

How long can you travel in Russia with?

The journey through Russia can only take 11 or 12 days, but if you don’t come by car imported from Japan or if you really need to get from one side to the other as soon as possible, not by train and not by plane, you will need a lot more time.

There are some beautiful cities to explore along the way, and even if you don’t want to stop in each city, it’s worth spending some time exploring different parts of Russia’s rich history.

Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod, in the European part of Russia, are incredible places to rest in the city. So I strongly advise you to take at least a day or two off for it.

The large Siberian industrial cities are less historical, but offer a fascinating view of the real Russia, and it is worth staying in at least one of the cities Omsk, Novosibirsk or Krasnoyarsk.

If you love nature, the Altai Mountains are located in the border area between Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia and are among the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. From Novosibirsk you have to go south on the Trans-Siberian Highway.

Lake Baikal is also a unique place, located directly on your route and worth exploring for several days – there are unique plants and animals, and the lake is so big that it looks and feels like the sea.

To make optimal use of all these possibilities and not spend too much time in the car on days when there is no interruption, you should take at least 3 weeks to make the trip comfortable. Four weeks will give you enough time to see most of the sights on the road and you’ll spend less time driving on the days you’re in the car.

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