The Soviet Express, Europe’s Best Hidden Gem Route

The Soviet Express, Europe’s Best Hidden Gem Route

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia. It lasted from 1922 to 1991. It was a state which consisted of 15 countries throughout eastern Europe and western Asia. Soviet architecture may not be as easy on the eye as Renaissance architecture found throughout Rome. But that doesn’t make it dull. This part of the world was not a popular destination for tourists. However, these days people are constantly looking for new and exciting paths to explore.

Kyiv, Ukraine

How to Get to Kyiv

Kyiv is served by two airports. Boryspil International Airport and Kyiv Zhulyany Airport.

Boryspil serves the majority of international flights.

Zhulyany serves mainly domestic and short-haul destinations. Wizz Air operates flights from London Luton to Kyiv Zhulyany from 19.99 EUR.

Buildings in the city of Kiev

Kyiv is Ukraine’s capital city. It has a population of just under 3 million people. Visiting Kyiv in the high season from July to August will give you warm sunny days. Visiting in the low season from November – April can be cold but free of tourists.

The best time to visit Kyiv is in the shoulder months of May, June, September & October. This way, you’ll avoid large groups of tourists but still get reasonable weather.

This city is different and unique from other European cities. It has its own charm and exuberance.
You won’t find cobbled stone streets and ancient landmarks. What you will find are glowing golden domes parched upon lavishly designed buildings. An energetic atmosphere runs throughout the lanes that are full of character.

Strangely, the city is so large yet surrounded by nature. The Park of Eternal Glory overlooks the town, Mariisnkyi park, and even a beach at Hydropark!

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HOW TO GET HERE: From Kyiv Central Bus Station you can take an 11-hour bus journey to Minsk Central Bus Station. Tickets cost around 15 EUR one way. You can purchase your ticket at

The other option you have is to fly to Minsk. Flights from Kiev Boryspil Internation Airport to Minsk Internation Airport takes just 1 hours. Flights start at around 70 EUR one way. You can purchase your ticket at

A church in Minsk, Belarus

Minsk is the capital of Belarus and is sat along the Svislač and the Nyamiha Rivers. The city has a population of around 2 million inhabitants. Minsk is not a popular tourist destination. So no matter what time of the year you visit, it will be tourist-free. If you want to make sure that there are absolutely no tourists around though, visit between Nov – Mar, this is the low season. If you are looking for milder weather visit in summer from Jun – Aug. Shoulder season is Apr, May, Sep & Oct.

This hidden gem is by far the most surprising destination along this route! There’s little information about what it’s like to visit here. In and around the city you can really sense the Soviet vibe. The buildings, the streets, the historical landmarks, all yell Soviet era at you. What comes as a surprise is that even though you’re surrounded by the Soviet era, it is such a pleasant place to explore. There are numerous attractions to keep you busy. Art galleries & trendy cafés are popping up throughout the city, and all the people are extremely friendly.
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HOW TO GET HERE: From Minsk Central Bus Station, you can take a 3 and a half hour bus journey to Vilnius Central Bus Station. Tickets cost around 12 EUR one way. Tickets can be purchased at

Your other option is to fly from Minsk International Airport to Vilnius International Airport. The flight take just 35 minutes and tickets cost around 45 EUR one way. You can purchase tickets at

Overlooking the city of Vilnius

Vilnius is the capital and largest city in Lithuania. It is spread across an area of around 401 km² and has a population of 545,000. The streets start to fill up with tourists in the peak season from Jun-Sep. A great time to visit the city is during the shoulder months of May & Oct. If you like visiting cities in the low season, it extends from November all the way through to April.

The city itself is quite small, compact, and known for its Baroque-style architecture. It’s charming Old Town is bursting with cheap and cheerful coffee shops and bistros in colorful buildings along cobblestoned streets. Some excellent things to do while you’re here on a budget are visiting the Vilnius Castle Complex, Puskin Memorial Museum, and the Kitschy Market. A great thing to do while you’re on this adventure is to go on the Soviet tour. You can experience what life was like living under the rule of the USSR and snap up photos of the old Soviet architecture.
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HOW TO GET HERE: The cheapest way to get here is a 4 hour bus journey from Vilnius Bus Station to Riga Starptautiská Austoosta. Tickets cost around 14 EUR one way. Tickets can be purchased at

The fastest way to get here takes just one hour and involves a flight from Vilnius International Airport to Riga International Airport. Tickets cost around 40 EUR one way. Tickets can be purchased at

An empty street in Riga city center

Riga is Latvia’s capital city and it is sandwiched between Estonia in the north and Lithuania in the south. The city itself is home to nearly 630,000 inhabitants. Riga has grown in popularity with tourists in recent years so visiting in the high season of June to September does mean you won’t be alone there. In the shoulder months of May & Oct, you will find fewer tourists while in the cold low season from Nov – Apr you will see little tourists around.

You can spend hours uncovering all the Medieval streets of the Old Town here. While you’re doing this, you can embark on an adventure to find the best food in town in one of the many wonderful dining outlets planted throughout the city. The first place you cannot miss on a Soviet adventure is the Academy of Science. This amazing structure was built in 1956 as a giant birthday cake for Joseph Stalin. The second not to miss attraction is the Occupations museum. This gives an insight into what it was like to live during Soviet occupation with its great collection of photos & weapons.
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HOW TO GET HERE: The most popular way to get to Tallinn is by bus which takes in and around 4 hours. Buses run from Riga Starptautiská Austoosta to Tallinn Vana-Paaskula. A one way ticket costs around 11 EUR. You can purchase a ticket at

The quicker but more expensive option is to fly. A flight from Riga International Airport to Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport takes just 50 minutes and costs around 40 EUR. Tickets can be purchased at

The view overlooking Tallinn on a snowy day

Tallinn is Estonia’s capital and most populous city. It has a population of around 427,000 inhabitants. The city is located along the banks of the Baltic Sea, meaning it can get very cold during the winter months. These months take place from Dec-Mar. The high season in Tallinn lasts longer than most Baltic cities but doesn’t see as many visitors. Its peak season is May – September while its shoulder season consists of Apr, Oct & Nov.

Getting lost in the adorable Medieval Town is just about the best thing you can do here! After wandering through the streets you will feel as if you’re in the plot of a Disney movie. Since the entire Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, you would expect food and attractions to be expensive, but that’s not the case. This is one of the best budget-friendly cities in Europe and there’s plenty of free activity such as climbing to the top of Toompea Hill or admiring the Old Town Walls.
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HOW TO GET HERE: The most common way is to travel by bus. It takes around 7 hours and costs 20 EUR one way. Tickets can be purchased at

Another way of travelling between Tallinn and St. Petersburg Moskovsky station is by train. It also takes around 7 hour and costs 20 EUR one way. Tickets can be purchased at

A fort in St. Petersburg on a snowy day

St. Peterburg is Russia’s second-largest city and was the capital of the country for two centuries until it was moved to Moscow in 1918. It has a population of almost 5 million inhabitants! The high season is from June to September where hotel prices start to rise. The city gets a bit quieter from tourists around May & October. Then temperatures start to plummet to around -9°C during the offseason from Nov – Apr.

Of course, no Soviet tour would be complete without a visit to the Russian Federation. In summer, the sun is out, and the streets come alive with events and festivals. Locals gather along the beach at Peters and Pauls’s fortress to take part in the sand festival before taking part in a vodka fueled night in one of the many nightclubs here. During the winter the city transforms into a winter wonderland! Throw on an extra layer of clothes then kick through the snow, sip on a hot chocolate, and admire the beautiful Winter Palace sparkling with decorations.
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