Lake Baikal Travel Guide
Lake Baikal Overview
Lake Baikal is one of the must see sights along the Trans-Siberian line and is accessed from the city of Irkutsk. The lake is among the deepest in the world at 1,642 meters and has some of the clearest water making it a fascinating place to dive. The shoreline is dotted with small Siberian villages with the ones closest to Irkutsk popular with visitors to this region. The entire area is scenically very beautiful and almost all our Trans-Siberian trips visit this area. The lake is linked by river to Mongolia’s Lake Khuvsgul.
Best Months to Visit Lake Baikal
Best Reason to Visit Lake Baikal
Absolutely one of the highlights of the Trans-Siberian regardless of which route you take. For the brave, legend has it that a dip in the lake increases your lifespan by some 25 years.
Top Sights in Lake Baikal
★ The Lake itself is the obvious draw and is easily accessible from Irkutsk. The closest point is the village of Listvyanka which has become very popular with both Russian and foreign visitors. Although this has opened up more activities in this area it also means that much of the peace and tranquility travellers seek out from the lake has gone. If you are short on time Listvyanka can still deliver.
★ Bolshoe Goloustnoe – This village is further from Irkutsk and popular for a more traditional Siberian village experience although it to is getting more visited. There are good hiking possibilities around here.
★ Olkhon Island – More remote and perhaps more rewarding is the National Park of Olkhon Island ideal for a multi-night trip. Stunning scenery both on the island and the views from it.
★ Trekking – There are opportunities for treks of almost any length in this area.
★ Winter Sports – Downhill skiing at Baikalsk and cross country skiing at various lake side points abound. Snowmobiling, ice fishing and from January on cycling on the frozen lake are also highly recommended.
★ Diving – Cold but very clear waters make Baikal and intriguing place to dive in summer or under the ice in winter.
Weather Averages for Lake Baikal
Top Lake Baikal Travel Tip from TSTC
Although the train stops in the perfectly nice city of Irkutsk, for most people the highlight of this stopover will be the lake itself and the opportunity for home stays in the villages along the shore. There are also a few hotels but then you miss the village experience!
TSTC's Hand Picked Hotels around Lake Baikal
The first decision comes down to which area you will stay around the lake. This comes down to Bolshoe Goloustnoe which offers a traditional Siberian experience in a beautiful lake shore village but with only basic guesthouse style accommodation available. The other option is the more built up Listvyanka which is closer to Irkutsk but does have a wider range of hotels. Of these we like the Krestovaya Pad. Overall we prefer to stay in Bolshoe Goloustnoe but do read more here about Irkutsk and Baikal accommodation.
Other Destinations in Russia
Click on any of the destinations below to explore other places in Russia that can be incorporated into your Trans-Siberian tour.
By Phil Stanley & Headseast – TCTC Destination Expert.