Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

For tourists, summer Baikal means nature, seals, shamans, fishing and local cuisine. And the guidebooks say “the deepest and cleanest lake in the world” and “the largest reservoir of fresh water.” Baikal is annually among the top popular Russian destinations among both local tourists and foreigners visiting our country. The summer season on Lake Baikal lasts from May to September, and the highest concentration of tourists is in July and August.

What to see on Baikal 

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

You can get to the lake itself from three cities. Irkutsk is located 60 kilometers from the western coast, Ulan-Ude is 150 km from the eastern coast, and Severobaikalsk is located directly on the northern shore of the lake.

It is easier to get to certain tourist spots from each city:

  • Severobaikalsk is chosen by those whose goal is thermal springs in the vicinity of the city (Gudzhekit, Dzelinda, Khakusy).
  • To Ulan -Ude go to enjoy the wild nature, see the Chivyrkuisky and Barguzinsky bays, the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula, the Ushkany Islands and the Posolsky Sor.
  • People fly to Irkutsk in order to get to Listvyanka, the Taltsy Museum, Olkhon Island and Maloye More, Slyudyanka to the Circum-Baikal Railway (CBZD), to Peschanaya Bay, Bolshoye Goloustnoye and Arshan.

Listvyanka and the Taltsy Ethnographic Museum

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Photo: Curioso.Photography/

Listvyanka is the closest village to Irkutsk on the shore of Lake Baikal. The easiest and fastest way to see the lake is to start from here. Most of the routes to other tourist spots in Lake Baikal begin here. A few hours will be enough to walk around the small village. In Listvyanka you should definitely see the Baikal Museum and visit the fish market. If desired, a nerpinarium. There is an observation deck at an altitude of 700 meters at the Chersky Stone within a 30-minute walk. Part of the route can be covered by a paid cable car. 

20 kilometers from Listvyanka on the banks of the Angara there is an open-air ethnographic museum “Taltsy”. There are exhibits of wooden architecture and objects of the ancient life of the indigenous peoples of Baikal. Entrance to the museum is paid – from 250 rubles.

Tip: in the morning the museum is least crowded; you can come from Irkutsk first to Taltsy, and in the afternoon get to Listvyanka by minibus and continue exploring the lake. 

How to get to Listvyanka from Irkutsk:

By bus in 1.5 hours from the main city bus station, or in an hour by minibus from the Central Market (the “Taltsy” stop will be before Listvyanka).

On the motor ship “Voskhod” along the Angara in 1.5 hours. It departs from the Raketa pier, located in the Solnechny microdistrict.

Olkhon and Maloe More

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Olkhon Island is one of the main natural symbols of Baikal, a center of Buddhism and shamanism, where you can even meet a shaman and take part in rituals. The island is separated from the shore by the Maloye More (in Buryatia they say “Narrow”).

In order to explore the entire island, it is worth setting aside several days. The largest settlement on Olkhon is Khuzhir. All civilization is here, hotels, cafes and shops. At the height of the summer season, the local sandy Saraisky beach is suitable for swimming. From Khuzhir you can walk on foot to Cape Burkhan with the occult rock Shamanka and 13 ritual pillars of Serge. 40 km from the city is the northernmost cape of the island – Khoboy. From there a panorama of the Maloe More opens up.

Tip: the weather on the island changes very quickly. In summer, it is better to have not only a swimsuit with you, but also warm clothes in case of cold wind and rain.

How to get to Olkhon from Irkutsk:

By bus from the bus station or by minibus from the Central Market. Travel time will be 5-6 hours. During peak season, due to queues at the crossing, the journey may take much longer.

On the ship “Kometa” in five hours.

With a tour. Olkhon is the most popular place on the lake, so excursions are organized here from any locality on Lake Baikal. Some of them offer private transfers.

Circum-Baikal Railway and Slyudyanka

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Photo: Tilpunov Mikhail/

Another symbol of the lake is the Circum-Baikal Railway (CBZD) with tunnels, bridges, viaducts and a panorama of the lake. This is a section of 89 km from the Slyudyanka-2 station to the Baikal station.

In the excursion format, you can go on a retro train or buy a ticket and ride in a regular train. You can also take the same route on the Motanya regular train: the views will be no worse, but you can save on the ticket. Tourist trains run with long stops according to the program, the electric train follows a standard route in 5 hours with stops at four stations.

A separate tourist place is the village of Slyudyanka itself, where the railway begins. There is a museum of valuable minerals and a marble station.

Tip: another way to see the Circum-Baikal Railway is from the lake on the motor ship “Barguzin-3”. Such excursions start at the Raketa port and take the whole day. Hikers can walk the same circular route in about 4 days.

How to get from Irkutsk to Slyudyanka:

By bus from the bus station or by minibus from the Central Market, travel time 3 hours.

A little faster, in 2 hours, you can get to the Slyudyanka-1 station by train from the Irkutsk railway station.

Peschanaya Bay and the village of Bolshoye Goloustnoye

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Peschanaya is the most famous bay of Baikal. An equipped beach, recreation centers and the famous “stilted trees” – larches with a root system protruding above the ground. Not far from the shore there is Cormorant Rock, on which seagulls nest. From Irkutsk you can only get to the bay itself by water. An alternative option is to take a bus to the village of Bolshoye Goloustnoye and from there walk 37 km along the Baikal Trail along the shore.

Tip: locals (for an additional fee) can take you from Bolshoy Goloustnoye to Peschanaya Bay by boat.

How to get from Irkutsk to Peschanaya Bay:

By boat from the Raketa pier in the Solnechny microdistrict in 4 hours.

How to get from Irkutsk to the village of Bolshoye Goloustnoye:

By bus from the bus station or by minibus from the Central Market, travel time 3 hours.


Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Arshan is one of the most famous Siberian balneological resorts at the foot of the Sayan Mountains. Geographically, it is located in Buryatia, but getting there is closer from Irkutsk. Local waters are used to treat diseases of the digestive and cardiovascular systems. Therapeutic carbon dioxide springs are located in the Tunkinskaya Valley, 130 kilometers from Slyudyanka and the coast. There are also several waterfalls, Buddhist temples, a Mongolian market and “health paths” – specially laid tourist routes, walks along which improve well-being. The road from Irkutsk takes 3-4 hours, from Ulan-Ude – about 6 hours. You can see all the interesting places in the valley in 2 days.

Tip: this destination is in high demand among residents of Buryatia and the Irkutsk region for weekend trips. Therefore, if you want to enjoy nature without crowds of tourists, come to the springs in the middle of the week.

How to get from Irkutsk: 

By bus from the bus station in 5 hours or by minibus from the Central Market station in 4 hours.
By train to Slyudyanka from the railway station, and then transfer to a regular bus from Slyudyanka to Arshan. This train is especially popular with cyclists, who then travel the 130 km to Arshan on their own.

Holy Nose Island and bays

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Baikal from the Buryatia side is the maximum of nature and the minimum of infrastructure. There are also much fewer tourists here than on the “Irkutsk” side.

The main attraction of these places is the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula. On one side it is washed by the Barguzinsky Bay, on the other by the Chivyrkuisky Gulf. The first is known for its beaches, the holy Dukhovoe Lake and the Svetlaya Polyana ethnographic park. Chivyrkuisky Bay is famous for its sandy beaches, well-warmed water and fishing.

Svyatoy Nos Island and part of the bays are a protected area of ​​the Transbaikal National Park. At the entrance to the reserve at the checkpoint you will need to obtain a permit and keep it until you leave. It will calculate how many days you spent in the park so you can pay a small fee accordingly. In the reserve itself you cannot cut down trees or hunt, but you can fish during certain months. There are areas equipped for tourists. The nearest settlement to the park is the village of Ust-Barguzin, which is accessible by public transport. The remaining 30 kilometers to the peninsula can be driven with locals for an additional fee.

Tip: you can pay for your visit to the Transbaikal Park in advance via the Internet. Don’t forget to take your passport with you, they won’t let you through the checkpoint without it.

How to get from Ulan-Ude:

By bus from the bus station to Ust-Barguzin, the journey will take 3-4 hours. 

In summer, once a week a motor ship runs from the Ulan-Ude river station.

How to get from Irkutsk:

You can get from Irkutsk by public transport only with a transfer to Ulan-Ude.

Posolsky Sor

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

In the village of Posolsky Sor there are two popular recreational areas: “Baikal Surf” and “Kultushnaya”. There are equipped beaches, recreation areas and hotels. Due to its shallow depth, the water warms up well in summer. Convenient beaches and strong winds make this place popular among wind and kite surfers, who even hold competitions here.

How to get from Ulan-Ude:

By bus or train to the station “Kultushnaya” or “Baikalsky Surf” in 3-4 hours. The train journey from Irkutsk will take about 6 hours.

Ushkanyi Islands

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

The archipelago is located near the Holy Nose Peninsula. Getting there is not easy and you cannot land on the islands due to the fact that the territory belongs to a National Park, and visiting requires special permission from the administration. The archipelago has a high scientific value; most of the flora and fauna of the islands is endemic, that is, characteristic only of this area. This is also where Baikal seals most often set up a rookery. You can view the islands exclusively from the water during motor ship and boat excursions. 

How to get there: only by boat from Barguzinsky or Chivyrkuisky bays, by ship from Olkhon.

What to try on Baikal

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Tasting local cuisine is an obligatory part of any excursion. You can find interesting authentic dishes in all major coastal villages. Here’s what you should definitely try: 

– buuzas (aka poses) are similar to manti or khinkali, but with a hole on top; 

– buhler – lamb soup;

– local fish of all preparation methods.

Tip: the main fish market is located in Listvyanka, but if you move deeper from the market into the village, you can buy smoked, dried, fried, dried and salted fish from the locals much cheaper.

How to get to Baikal

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

Irkutsk Airport is located 60 kilometers from the lake. There are direct flights from Moscow from all airports: Aeroflot – from Sheremetyevo, Pobeda – from Vnukovo, other airlines – from Domodedovo. The flight lasts about 5.5 hours. 

Many flights from St. Petersburg fly with a transfer in Moscow, S7 has direct flights – 6 hours and Ural Airlines – 8 hours on the way.

The center of Irkutsk can be reached from the airport by public transport in 20-30 minutes.

The train to Irkutsk from Moscow takes 3.5 days, departs from the Kazan station. You can get from St. Petersburg by train only with a change in Moscow.

Ulan-Ude Airport is located 75 kilometers from the coast of Lake Baikal. S7, Smartavia and RedWings from Domodedovo fly to Ulan-Ude from Moscow, Aeroflot from Sheremetyevo and Pobeda from Vnukovo. The flight lasts 6 hours. From the airport to the center of Ulan-Ude 15 kilometers, there is public transport. 

All trains to Ulan-Ude go only through Irkutsk.

Hotels on Baikal

Holidays on Baikal in summer 2020

In addition to hotels in Irkutsk, there are many private hotels and recreation centers located directly on the coast of Lake Baikal. If you only have a couple of days left, then you will most likely only have time to visit Listvyanka and its surroundings. You can stay in Irkutsk, in one of the guest houses in Listvyanka or in  villages on the banks of the Angara.

The cost of accommodation here starts from 1,500 rubles in economy class hotels to 8,000 and above for rooms in three-star hotels or in houses at tourist bases.

The villages of Slyudyanka and Bolshoye Goloustnoye also have their own guest houses and recreation centers. The average price for a room here is slightly lower than in Listvyanka, the minimum cost of living is also from 1,500 rubles for an economy room

On Olkhon Island, the bulk of hotels and bases are concentrated in and around Khuzhir. In the private sector you can find accommodation at prices starting from 1,000 rubles.

In Ulan-Ude, most of the hotels are located in the city center and around the railway station. There are many comfort-class hotels, the cost of rooms there can exceed 10,000 rubles per night. The price of a Standard room in a three- or four-star hotel is 3,000-4,000 rubles, and economy class rooms in private hotels and apartments are around 1,500-2,000 rubles. For a place in a hostel they usually charge no more than 1,000 rubles. 

From Buryatia on the coast of Lake Baikal there are private hotels and recreation centers in Ust-Barguzin and Maksimikha.

Many coastal areas on both sides of the lake have campsites with minimal amenities.

Tip: when booking places at private recreation centers, pay attention not only to the cost, but also to the included services. In some places the power is already turned on, and in others there may be amenities waiting for you outside.

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