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Travel to Lake Baikal should be on the “must do list” of every tourist who is visiting Russia. Baikal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Southern region of Siberia, Russia. It is one of the oldest, deepest and largest freshwater lakes in the world.
In fact, it contains around 20% of the Earth’s surface fresh water which hasn’t been frozen into icebergs. This lake is around 2,600 miles (more than 4000 km) East of Moscow. It is located near Mongolia’s Northern border and for sure, Lake Baikal is on our list of must-see places to visit in Russia.
Places to Travel on Lake Baikal
- Listvyanka village – the most visited and easiest to get point of Lake Baikal. This little town is located 60 kilometers from Irkutsk. Listvyanka is a place for a fast acquaintance with the lake. It has a lot of hotels, restaurants and the other infrastructure. Extremely busy place during the high season.
- Olkhon island – the largest island on Lake Baikal and the only one that is inhabited. Olkhon is located in the middle part of the lake near its western coast. The island is famous for the shaman myths and legends and there is a lot of cool places to visit. To get to Olkhon from Irkutsk you’ll need to take a bus from the central bus station “Irkutsk – Khuzhir” and it will take you to the island in about 5-6 hours. For those who are wondering “where can I stay on the Olkhon island” – village Khuzir has a lot of options (just be prepared that it’s not 5-star hotels with much comfort).
- Kotelnikovsky cape – located on the northwest side of the lake around 80 km from the Severobaikalsk city. This place is famous for its hot springs. Kotelnikovsky cape will be perfect for those who like nature and calm rest with not a lot of crowds. “Mys Kotelnikovsky resort” is the only place to stay in the area.
- Baykalskiy Priboy – another popular place to stay on Lake Baikal. It’s located on the east coast of the lake in the gulf, around 130 km from the city Ulan-Ude. Baykalskiy Priboy is a perfect place for beginning divers and surfers. Besides that, here you can find some good trails for biking and hiking.
- Turka village (The Baikal Harbor) – special Economic Tourism and Recreation Zone supported by the Russian government. The Baikal Harbor is located in the eastern part of the lake 169 km from Ulan-Ude. This area is rich with small rivers and probably the best for fishing and kayaking.
Learn more: Top 20 places to visit on Lake Baikal
When is the Best Time to Visit Lake Baikal?
The on-season to travel to Lake Baikal is between late spring and summer. During this period, the weather is warm with the lush green landscape. You will also be able to choose from a lot of different recreational activities around the lake such as fishing, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking.
Some prefer to travel to Lake Baikal in the winter. Although this is considered to be the off-season, a lot of tourists visit this place during this time of the year. In the winter, Lake Baikal freezes, and people can enjoy themselves on the ice which is an unforgettable experience!
How about some ice skating on the surface of the deepest lake in the world?
There are a lot of reasons to visit this beautiful region. It can provide you with an experience of a lifetime. When you visit this place, you will be able to enjoy fresh air, beautiful scenery, magnificent mountains, dense forests and people of different cultures. It is the perfect place for people that enjoy eco-tourism and want to be close to mighty nature.
How to Get to Lake Baikal?
Let’s talk about getting to Baikal area if you are traveling there independently. The best and fastest way to get to Lake Baikal is to fly to Irkutsk city. There are a few airlines like Aeroflot, S7, Ural Airlines that have direct flights from Moscow to Irkutsk. Flight time between two destinations is around 5-6 hours and the round trip flight Moscow – Irkutsk – Moscow will cost you about 15,000 Russian rubles (approx. $3300). You can also fly to Irkutsk from the other cities, such as St. Petersburg, Omsk, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk – but it might cost you more.
You can check and book your flight to Irkutsk using this form. Jet Radar – popular travel metasearch engine, which finds the best deals on flights in Russia. Definitely check the flight prices through this service.
Distance from Irkutsk to Lake Baikal is around 70 kilometers and you’ll have a few options to get there: by train, bus or taxi. Taxi is the easiest and the most expensive way. Bus, probably, the most popular and budget option of getting from Irkutsk to Port Baikal. Another popular option – to take a Circum-Baikal train which goes from Irkutsk train station to the cities Listvyanka and Slyudyanka on the lake.
For thrill-seekers: take a 3-day train from Moscow to Lake Baikal
No joke, you can take a train from Moscow to Lake Baikal through Trans-Siberian railroad. It will take you only… 3 days! It might be a very memorable journey – on the way you can learn a lot about Russia, for example, how big Russia is. So, if you are feeling adventurous, taking a train from Moscow to Lake Baikal might be a perfect option for you.
One-way cheapest train tickets in the 3rd class will cost you ~6000 rubles (~$100) or ~10000 rubles (~$200) in the 2nd class. Kind of pricey and more expensive than taking a flight, but I promise you that you will never forget this trip :).
If after all, you decided to take a train from Moscow to Lake Baikal, you have the next train options: Moscow – Irkutsk, Moscow – Ulan-Ude or Moscow – Severobaykalsk. You can choose any of them depending on what part of the lake you want to visit.
Lake Baikal – natural scenic beauty
The area surrounding the lake is a high seismic zone. Thus, you may experience a lot of frequent earthquakes. Since only a few people live very near the lake, no one gets hurt or injured during these shakes. For science lovers, this is a place of tremendous interest.
Lake Baikal is surrounded by beautiful and magnificent mountains. The highest mountain range is the Ulan Burgasy range. The highest mountain in this range is 2840 meters high. As mentioned earlier, Baikal is one of the purest surface water reservoirs on the planet. In fact, you can even drink icy cold water directly from the lake. This lake is very unsteady and windy. The flora and fauna in the lake are also quite unique.
Many fishermen have their houses near Lake Baikal. In the evenings, they come to spend the night fishing on the lake. You can buy fresh fish from these people. Some fishermen even prepare the fish for you before selling it. Even weekend campers fishing in Lake Baikal.
Take a look at more pictures of Lake Baikal…
I hope you learned something new about Lake Baikal – one of the most beautiful natural places in Russia. If you have any questions about traveling to Baikal, don’t be shy to ask in the comments.
See you in Russia, my friends!