Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia among the foreigners.
No wonder, over 1.5 million people yearly travel to Baikal. The one question most visitors ask is where to go on Lake Baikal and which are some of the best places to visit on the lake.
Below, you’ll find Russianblogger’s list of the top 20 destinations on Lake Baikal. Make sure to visit some of these beautiful places on your upcoming trip to Russia!
20 Ideas on Where to Travel on Lake Baikal
- 1. Olkhon Island
Olkhon is probably the most iconic and famous destination on Lake Baikal – a must visit for any tourist.
Getting to Olkhon is kind of a hassle as it is about 6-7 hour trip from Irkutsk. You can find out more info about Olkhon Island and how to get there in this article.
To name a few places you cannot miss on the island – the Shamanka Rock, the Hoboy Cape, and the Khorin-Irgi Cape.
- 2. Listvyanka
Listvyanka is one of the most popular places on Lake Baikal because of the ease of getting here. It is the closest to Irkutsk destination on Lake Baikal; it takes less than an hour to get here by car which is perfect for those that only have a few days to spend in the area.
Listvyanka is a small village, but it gets extremely busy here during the high season. It is very touristy, there are lots of restaurants and accommodation options around.
While in Listvyanka, I recommend you to hike the Great Baikal Trail and take a cable car to the top of the Stone Cherskogo to enjoy some of the best views of Baikal.
- 3. The Circum-Baikal Railway
The Circum-Baikal railway is a historic 84 kilometers long railroad on the western shore of Lake Baikal. It was built over a hundred years ago as part of the Trans-Siberian railway but these days it mostly serves as a tourist attraction. The route starts at Slyudyanka and ends at Port Baikal.
There are a few options on how to explore this unique railroad. The easiest way is to take an excursion train “Circum-Baikal Express”. It is a whole day trip with drop-on/drop-off from Irkutsk. Taking this tour is a nice way to travel the Circum-Baikal railway as you get a chance to get off at the stops to walk around and take some pictures with no hurry.
Another option is if you would like to travel independently – by a regular train #6201 which is called “Matyanya” by locals. “Matyanya” travels between Slyudyanka and Port Baikal only 4 times a week. This train is very slow and it takes about 6 hours to go one-way from Slyudyanka to Port Baikal. A good thing is that it is very cheap with the cost under $5 per ticket.
- 4. Chivyrkuy Bay
Chivyrkuy Bay is probably the most popular destination on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal. This part of the lake is faster to get to if you are coming from Ulan-Ude (Buryatia) rather than Irkutsk.
You’ll have a choice of heading to one of the three small villages located in the bay: Kurbulik, Monahovo or Katun. There is not a lot of touristy resorts and hotels around; most visitors come here to camp with their own equipment.
The eastern shore of the lake is cleaner, not as developed and busy with tourists compared to its western side. It’s also one of the best places for fishing on the lake. Visit Chivyrkuy Bay to enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Baikal!
- 5. Ogoy Island
Ogoy is one of the islands of Lake Baikal located nearby Olkhon island. To get here during the summer, you can take a tour from Olkhon. In the winter, you can walk or drive a car on frozen Lake Baikal.
The main landmark of Ogoy island is the Buddhist Stupa of Enlightenment which was built at its highest point. Don’ forget to walk 3 times around the Stupa and make a wish – it’s one of the local rituals and beliefs.
- 6. Zuun-Hagun
Zuun-Hagun is a very touristy destination on the lake, especially among the youngsters that like to party. It is located close to Olkhon Gate (it’s a spot on the mainland where you take a ferry to Olkhon Island) which makes it easily accessible by car.
Zuum-Hagun is a small village but during the summer it gets extremely busy. This area has a lot of guest houses and resorts to offer.
- 7. Ushkany Islands
The Ushkany Islands is a very little known place on Lake Baikal. It is located in the middle of the lake on the territory of the Zabaykalsky National Park. The islands are very pristine and pretty much untouched by civilization.
The Ushkany Islands are famous for being a favorite place to hang out for Baikal seals. So if you would like to watch these unique animals in wildlife, you have to visit Ushkany in May or June.
The best way to get here is to take a day tour from Olkhon Island. You will have to pay an additional National Park fee of 2000 Rubles to enter the islands.
- 8. Peschanaya Bay
Pechanaya Bay is one of the most picturesque spots on Lake Baikal. It is located in the southern part of the lake; the closest village to the bay is called Bolshoye Goloustnoye which is 35 km away.
The best way of getting to Peschanaya Bay in the summer is to take a 4-hour ferry from Irkutsk. Another option is to take a bus from Irkutsk to Bolshoye Goloustnoye and from there hike for about 10 hours.
There are two vacation resorts in the area: “Baykalskiye Dyuny” and “Peschanka”. Come here in July or August to relax and swim in the warm waters of Lake Baikal.
- 9. Slyudyanka
Slyudyanka settlement is located on the southwestern point of Lake Baikal. It is easily accessible as it is one of the stops on the Trans-Siberian railway.
It’s a great place to start your Baikal journey. Make sure to check out the Circum-Baikal railway and hike around the Khamar-Daban mountain range to the top of the Chersky Peak (2090m).
- 10. Sagan-Zaba Cliff
Sagan-Zaba is the white marble cliff located on the west coast of Baikal near Krestovsky Cape and Krestovaya Bay. Besides its pretty cool look, this place is famous because of the old petroglyphs and cave drawings which are date back to the Bronze and Stone Ages.
The area around Sagan-Zaba is not very touristy so it’s one of the best places on Lake Baikal for a peaceful and quiet vacation.
- 11. Baikalskoye Village
Baikaskoye is a small fishing village located on the northwest of the lake. It only has about 700 inhabitants which mainly live by fishing and hunting.
This is a must visit place if you are traveling to the north of Lake Baikal. Baikalskoye has an atmosphere of the older days village with lots of cute and charming houses.
- 12. Lake Frolikha
Frolikha is located near the northeastern shore of Lake Baikal on the territory of the Frolikhinsky Federal Reserve. This place is not easy to get to but it’s worth it. You will have to take a boat from one of the cities Severobaikalsk/Nizhneangarsk/Baikalskoye to Ayaya Bay and from there hike 8km (it takes about 2 hours) to Lake Frolikha.
This glacial lake is surrounded by mountains and Siberian taiga – a must visit for eco-tourists.
- 13. Tazheranskaya Steppe
The Tazheranskaya Steppe is one of those places that is usually being ignored by the travelers which in my opinion is a big mistake.
It is located on the way from Irkutsk to Olkhon Island – it starts about 205 km from Irkutsk by Jelanzy village and goes all the way to the shore of Lake Baikal.
If you have a chance, I recommend that you spend at least a few hours exploring Tazheranskaya Steppe. The landscapes around are very unique – you will actually find it weird to see the steppe landscapes in the middle of the Siberian taiga. Check out some interesting monuments, rock formations, salt lakes and caves in the area.
- 14. Kotelnikovsky Cape
Kotelnikovsky Cape is located in the northwestern part of Baikal 80km to the south from Severobaikalsk. There are no roads in the area so the only way of getting here is by water from Severobaikalsk, Nizhneangarsk or Baikalskoye village.
Kotelnikovsky Cape is mostly known for its hot springs. Visit Mys Kotelnikovsky Resort where you can take mineral baths even in the winter with breathtaking views of Lake Baikal.
- 15. Sobolinaya Mountain Ski Resort
Are you visiting Lake Baikal in the winter or early spring? To have some fun, make sure to check out Sobolinaya Mountain Ski Resort which is open from November to April.
This is the biggest and the most popular place to ski & snowboard in the area. Sobolinaya Mountain is located near Baikalsk town on the southern shore of Lake Baikal.
- 16. Enkhaluk
Enkhaluk is a popular vacation spot on the eastern coast of Baikal which has some of the best and cleanest beaches on the lake. It is the easiest to get to Enkhaluk from Ulan-Ude by taking a bus #501 (it leaves from the train station).
One of the most famous places by Enkhaluk is Proval Bay which was formed by the 1862 earthquake.
- 17. Bolshie Koty
Bolshie Koty is located nearby Listvyanka (about 20km away) but it’s only accessible by foot through Great Baikal Trail or water from Listvyanka or Irkutsk.
This settlement is especially popular among tourists because it’s located so close to Irkutsk (only 1.5-hour ferry ride from there).
While in Bolshie Koty, hike to the top of Skriper mountain and check out Sennaya Fall gold mine.
- 18. Khakusi Hot Springs
Khakusi Hot Springs and resort are located on the northeastern shore of Lake Baikal in Buryatia. You can get here from Severobaikalsk or Nizhneangarsk.
Khakusi thermal baths are good for a blood circulation, nervous system, endocrine system and a variety of skin diseases.
A very cool thing to do is to go to this place in the winter time. It is an unforgettable experience to take an open-air hot springs bath when it’s about -20 °F outside.
- 19. Erd Mountain
Erd Mountain more looks like a hill but it doesn’t make this place less attracting. Since ancient times, it’s been a sacred place for Mongolian tribes and Buryat Buddhists. Visit Erd Mountain to experience shamanic rituals and learn their culture and traditions.
Its located about 2km from Lake Baikal nearby Elanzy village.
- 20. Turka (Baykalskaya Gavan)
Turka village is a part of the special economic zone called “Baykalskaya Gavan” located on Buryatia’s (eastern) side of Lake Baikal.
The government invested a lot of money into the infrastructure of the area and there are plans to make Turka village one of the most touristy destinations on the lake.
While in Turka, make sure to walk along the newly built lakefront and check out the lighthouse.
Above, I mentioned some of the best places you can visit while traveling to Lake Baikal. In general, the eastern shore of Baikal is a lot cleaner, more picturesque and not as crowd/touristy compared to the western part. At the same time, it is very easily accessible if you travel from Ulan-Ude.
If you only have a few days to spend on Lake Baikal, then I would suggest going to Listvyanka or Slyudyanka – you won’t have much time for anything else. In a short amount of time, the best you can do is probably take a boat tour. If you have more time to travel, then I recommend you to visit northern Lake Baikal, which is more untouched by civilization and remote.
If you have any questions regarding travel to Lake Baikal, I’ll be welcome to give you an advice. Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below!