Compared to Europe the Soviet Union has few major highways. Cars can be rented and driven around those parts of the country prescribed by Intourist. Travel by rental car is not recommended for those who do not speak Russian or for anyone except the adventurous.
Russia’s rail system is extensive and modern. The Trans-Siberian Railway is said to be the greatest single travel experience a tourist can have (if you like to travel five days nonstop by train for 5,778 miles). Australians traveling to or from Europe as an adventure constitute a large group of foreign passengers. If you go, buy the soft class. Hard class passengers hire their own bedding. Russians using the train dress informally and it is not unusual to see a Russian official step off the train in pajamas adorned with his medals.
One popular tour of the Soviet Union moves up the Volga River by ship starting at Rostov-on-Don, gate to the Caucasus and a transportation center (a canal links the lower Volga with the lower Don River). Stops along the river include Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), Zhilguli, Ulyanovsk, and Kazan.