pearl of siberia



One of the most popular stops on any Trans Mongolian or Trans Siberian Railway tour is the wonderful Siberian city of Irkutsk. Located over 5,000km along the routes from Moscow it is a pleasant city with a warm climate in the summer months. The city is quite different from Moscow, despite feeling very Russian in its population. There is an altogether more relaxed feeling to life in a city once dubbed as the “Paris of Siberia” due to the large amount of artists that ended up here along with the wide streets and continental architecture. It certainly retains a buzzing street life that includes a great cafe and bar culture that thrives in the warmer summer months.

Some facts about Lake Baikal

The city itself is one of the largest in Siberia with a population of over half a million and is found on the Angara river which is a tributary of the Yenisei. However, it’s not the city that most people come here for but instead the lake, Lake Baikal, and it’s surrounding countryside. One thing is for sure, Baikal has plenty of that and it is stunning. There are multiple hiking options and while some of it is for the fitter amongst us, there is also plenty of walking options for the less enthusiastic hikers such as myself.

Lake Baikal itself deserves a few moments of wallowing in the stats and so here goes...It is the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume despite being only the 7th largest in surface area. To put that into perspective, you could fit all the water from the Great Lakes in North America and still have room for more! This, of course, makes it the world’s deepest lake at 1,642m and if that isn’t enough for the stat-bank, it is thought to be the clearest and the oldest at 25 million years old. the lake is home to over 1700 species of plants and animals and a whopping two thirds of them can’t be found anywhere else on the planet.
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What to do in Irkutsk

Our Trans-Siberian Express Rail Tours usually take in a short stay in Irkutsk, occasionally a night at the wonderful Marussia boutique hotel before departure on the train again. It is near the cultural street that is buzzing in the evenings and is lined with bars such as my favourite - Harat’s Irish pub. But it’s not why people come here and most of our clients spend most of their time around the lake and rightly so.

Listvyanka or Bolshoe Goloustnoe?

It is an area of stunning beauty but it has also been (over)developed in areas and, in my opinion, you don’t really want to go to these places as that’s not why you are going to Siberia. Listvyanka has developed itself into a nice spot on the shores but it lacks any real authenticity and has more of a feeling of an old seaside town resort than it does the wilds of Siberia. I would usually recommend the village of Bolshoe Goloustnoe, which is still inhabited by villagers, many of whom have never really left the place. You can spend a night in a cabin on a farm, giving you a real taste of Siberia while still having the privacy that wouldn’t be available in a normal homestay.

Make sure you stop of in Irkutsk and take in Lake Baikal on a Trans Siberian Express or any other Trans Siberian / Trans Mongolian tour.



Siberia's Top 5

Siberia is one of the highlights of a Trans-Siberian journey and most visitors will undoubtedly have at least one stop in this magnificent region.

A Plumb Adventure

The Trans-Siberian Travel Company's staff member Chris Plumb took an epic journey from Vladivostok to St Petersburg visa Mongolia and the Tsars Gold train.

Trips Avoiding China

In the past most tourists have focused on the Trans-Mongolian to Beijing but in recent years the Trans-Siberian line to Vladivostok has become increasingly popular.

Visiting St Petersburg

Is it worth adding on a visit to the second city of Russia; St Petersburg? After all, it isn’t strictly a part of the Trans Siberian or Mongolian train lines.

Moscow Metro

There are so many options of tours in Moscow but a Metro tour should be the top of everyone’s list and is one of our favourites with plenty of surprises!

Irkutsk & Lake Baikal

One of the most popular stops on any Trans Mongolian or Trans Siberian Railway tour is the wonderful Siberian city of Irkutsk and nearby Lake Baikal.

Destination Ekaterinburg

Ekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia and one of the most popular stops on the Trans-Siberian Railway offering up history and rural Russia in the Urals.

Moscow's Kremlin

Literally meaning “fortress inside a city” the Moscow Kremlin refers to the fortified collection of palaces and cathedrals that look over Red Square.

St Petersburg's Hermitage

The State Hermitage is one of the world’s oldest museums having been founded by Catherine the Great 250 years ago and has been open to the public for over 160 years.

First Time China

As this was my first time in China I was keen to see as much as possible. We settled on Beijing, Xian and Shanghai which offer great contrasts.

Platform Life

This trip is full of discovery but you have to also get up and go out on the platforms to find the most exciting experiences to complete your Trans-Siberian trip.

Train Life

Guest blog entry describing life on board a Trans-Siberian train and the daily coming and going and routines you get into on a long train ride.

What Route to Take

When first exploring into the Trans Siberian railway, one of the first questions to ask yourself is which way to go. Here our guest blogger gives her views.

Moscow Impressions

First in a series of 5 articles written by guest blogger Louisa Howard who completed a Trans-Mongolian trip with us from Moscow all the way to Shanghai.

Trans-Siberian History

Learn about the history of this extraordinary railway in our brief guide to the construction and importance of the train routes across Russia and to China.

Tsars Gold Train

The Tsars Gold private train is one of several that run tours just for tourists in a good level of comfort along the Trans-Mongolian route. Learn more here.

Life On Board

What is a Siberian train really like? Here we go into detail about what you experience on the trains and how they really are and what facilities they have.

Destination Vladivostok

Vladivostok lies at the Far Eastern end of the Trans-Siberian railway and has been a city that has had an important part in the history of several countries.

Destination Krasnoyarsk

One of the lesser know destinations available for Trans-Siberian Tours is a stopover in the city of Krasnoyarsk despite being the third largest in Siberia.

About Siberia

With a total size of 13.1 million square miles Siberia takes up three quarters of Russia’s total size and a tenth of the whole world’s surface - learn more.

Off The Beaten Track

Learn about our Off The Beaten track rail tours that visit destinations less visited along the Siberian and Trans-Mongolian rail routes including Kazan and Krasnoyarsk.

Gers in Winter

One of the Highlights of a Trans-Siberian Tour is Mongolia and a night or two out at a ger camp on the steppe. How about visiting Mongolian ger camps in winter?

Visa Requirements

There are few nationalities that can take a Trans-Siberian trip visa free. This article intends to shed some light on the paperwork required by most.

Bogie Changing

Whether you are a train aficionado or not one of the more unusual Trans-Siberian tours experiences available to the traveller occurs at the Chinese borders.

Planning A Trip

For many people the idea of how to start organizing their Trans Siberian holiday is a daunting task. Here is a beginner’s guide to deciding what’s best for you.

Trans-Siberian in Winter

Winter is a very special time to travel the Trans-Siberian but many might be put off by the cold. This article will hopefully convince you to dress up warm and travel!

Accommodation Options

One of the joys of Trans-Siberian is the wide variety of accommodation on offer. Here we list some of the best options for the most popular stop overs.

Destination Kazan

Kazan is half way between Moscow and Ekaterinburg and an increasingly popular stop on Trans-Siberian trips for its exciting mix of cultures from East and West.

Trans-Siberian Routes

In this article we discuss the different Trans-Siberian route options available including the Trans-Manchurian, Trans-Mongolian and the Baikal Amur Mainline.

Who Travels The Trans-Siberian

Using the public trains in Russia who are you likely to come across on your Trans-Siberian travels. Here we discuss the different groups you are likely to find.

Train Classes

Picking the right train class can make all the difference on a Trans-Siberian train trip where so much time is spent on board. Learn about the different train classes here.

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