How to get to Baikal

How to get to Lake Baikal

In the southern part of Eastern Siberia lies the deepest lake on the planet, Lake Baikal. People come here to see the unspoiled natural beauty, learn the history of the local peoples, and just relax at one of the coastal tourist resorts.

In this article we will tell you how to get to Baikal, how much it costs to get there from different Russian cities and when is the best time to come to the lake in order to enjoy your trip.

Contents:

Where is Baikal

Baikal is located in Eastern Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast and the Republic of Buryatia. The lake stretches for 636 kilometers, and the length of the shoreline is more than 2,000 kilometers. On the map, you can find it at the coordinates 53.405332, 107.673058.

There are 2 major cities near Baikal: Irkutsk (72 km from the shore) on one side, Ulan-Ude (170 km) on the other. Each of them has an airport and a train station.

On the shores of Lake Baikal are scattered many villages and small towns. There are tourist bases, hotels, cottages which the locals rent out.

  • Irkutsk region – Listvyanka, Kultuk, Slyudyanka, Utulik, Baikalsk, Solzan, Bolshoe Goloustnoe, Buguldeika, Onguren, Zama, Sarma, Sakhyurt and Khargino.
  • Kabansky District – Vydrino, Tankhoi, Klyuevka, Babushkin, Posolskoe, Oymur, Sukhaya.
  • Pribaikalsky district – Gremyachinsk, Turka, Goryachinsk.
  • Barguzinsky district – Ust-Barguzin, Maksimikha, Monakhovo, Katun, Kurbulik.
  • The Severo-Baikalsky area – Severobaikalsk, Nizhneangarsk, Baikalskoye, Davsha.

How to get to Baikal

One usually comes to Baikal by plane or train to Irkutsk or Ulan-Ude. And from these cities go to small villages on the shore of the lake.

By plane

The cheapest tickets to Irkutsk from Krasnoyarsk and Chita – from 2800 rubles one way. And the most expensive way to fly from Khabarovsk and Vladivostok – from 15000 rubles and only with connection.

In Ulan-Ude there are fewer planes and tickets there are usually 2-3 thousand more expensive than in Irkutsk.

If you live in Moscow, you are lucky: there are more direct flight options from different airlines. But the flight is long – almost 6 hours, both to Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude.

  1. Moscow – Irkutsk. One way ticket prices start from 3500 rubles. The cheapest option is to fly with “Pobeda” or S7 without luggage. The cheapest tickets with luggage (up to 10 kilos) are offered by “Ural Airlines” – from 4,000 rubles.
  2. Moscow – Ulan-Ude. The most advantageous way to fly with Smartavia – tickets from 6000 rubles, without luggage, but with hand luggage up to 10 kg.
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Look for airline tickets on aggregator sites, which collect information from all available airlines. This way you will get the best and most comfortable flight.

Do not leave the purchase of tickets until the last day, waiting for discounts. The cheapest ones are likely to be bought out, and you’ll have to pay almost twice as much. It is worth buying at least 5-7 days before your trip.

Note that on holidays, such as New Year’s Day or the weekend in May, tickets are more expensive. If you do not want to overpay, it’s worth flying in a little earlier.

By train

Moscow – Irkutsk trains depart daily from Yaroslavsky station. The trip is long, 3 days 16 hours. And tickets cost more expensive than by plane: plane ticket from 4500 rubles, coupe from 9000 rubles.

A train ticket to Ulan-Ude costs about the same. It takes a little longer to get there – almost 4 days.

By private car

Those who live near Baikal can go by car. It will be more profitable than by plane or train, though the trip will take longer.

The beauty of traveling to Baikal by private car is that you don’t have to go through Irkutsk or Ulan-Ude, you can go straight to one of the coastal villages. But it will hardly suit those who live far away. For example you will have to drive 4 days from Moscow and that doesn’t include stops for lunch and sleep.

On the other hand, you can plan a fascinating trip and travel half the country. On the way to Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Chelyabinsk, Omsk and Novosibirsk.

Route to Baikal from Irkutsk on the map

Why and when is better to go to Baikal

There is no off-season on Baikal. Every month is beautiful in its own way and your trip will not disappoint.

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Summer on Baikal is short – warm and sunny only a few months, from June to mid-September. During this time, people come to the lake to fish, go boating, scuba diving and explore the surrounding area.

If you want to swim in the lake, come in July and August. By this time, the water in small bays has time to warm up and the beach season begins. Usually you can swim at the Little Sea, where there are sandy beaches.

By the end of September, the Baikal region is transformed and the golden autumn begins, which lasts only a month and a half. At this time you can buy the freshest pine nuts, honey, and wild berry jam.

You can find out what the real Siberian winter is in the winter months – November, December, January, February, March and early April. Only in this time you can skate on the frozen lake, explore the underwater world of Lake Baikal through the transparent ice and visit ice grottos, hung with huge icicles. The best months to travel to Baikal are late January and February, when the ice finally melts.

The ice drift starts in May. It’s getting warmer and warmer, the nature is flourishing, the first wild berries appear in the forests. In a month and a half summer starts again.

How to get to Baikal

Baikal is a unique lake, and everyone should visit it. They come here to have a rest on the shore, to admire the views, to take a trip on the Circum-Baikal railroad, to climb the mountains or to go hiking with tents.

Is it expensive to get here from Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities? What is the cheapest and easiest way and where is the best way: to Irkutsk or Ulan-Ude?

By plane

The quickest and easiest way to get to the lake is by plane. The nearest airports are in Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude. Your choice of airport depends on the type of vacation you are looking for, the city you are most interested in, and the price of airfare.

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Irkutsk is a city with a rich historical and cultural heritage, unique architectural buildings and well-preserved wooden architecture. The road from the city to the coast takes just over an hour. Most often travelers prefer to go through Irkutsk.

Ulan-Ude is an unusual and distinctive city with a special cultural flavor. It takes more than four hours to get from the city to Baikal, but you can still get cheap tickets here.

To Irkutsk

You can easily get here from Moscow and other Siberian cities; otherwise you will need to make a connection. The low-cost airline “Pobeda” flies here, so you can often get cheap tickets for 3500-6000 rubles. I often find good offers from S7. From Moscow also fly Red Wings, Aeroflot and Ural airlines.

The airport is located near the city center which can be reached by cab or public transport.

The flight from Moscow takes 5.5 hours.

In Irkutsk you should stay in the center, as all the main attractions, as well as the bus station are located there. Choose hotels in the center of Irkutsk.

To Ulan-Ude

From Moscow to the capital of Buryatia also flies Pobeda. There are quite a few flight options from other airlines: S7, smartavia. Residents of the European parts of Russia will most likely have to change in Moscow. From Siberian and Ural cities you can fly direct. Click here for up-to-date offers for the whole Russia.

Very often the flight to Ulan-Ude is cheaper than the one to Irkutsk. However, you should remember that the infrastructure of the coastal area of Lake Baikal is less developed on the Buryat side. This vacation is more suitable for those who like hiking and mountain trekking. But it will take you longer to get to the lake: about 4-5 hours.

Flight cost

By train

Both to Irkutsk and to Ulan-Ude goes the Trans-Siberian railway. Train tickets are often not much cheaper than air tickets, especially from the European part of Russia. For example, from Moscow the train will cost 6,500-1,000 rubles and the journey time will be more than three days.

The train should be seen as an opportunity to see the country from the window and get into the railway romance. This way is economical only for residents of Siberian cities.

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By Car

For those who want to see the country on the way to Baikal a road trip is more suitable. The way from the capital will pass through 14 regions of the federation, many interesting cities and 5200 kilometers. Without stops, this journey will take 2.5 days, with visits to cities on it put a few weeks. In some places there are difficult conditions, but such a trip guarantees an unforgettable experience and allows you to get to know your own country in a new way.

Irkutsk-Baikal

The nearest point to which tourists usually go is the settlement Listvyanka. The distance to it is about 70 kilometers. And people usually go to have a rest on the Olkhon island, the distance to it is 300 kilometers. Also someone starts his way from the train station Slyudyanka, which is in 110 kilometers.

By yourself

The easiest way to get there by public transportation is by bus. Buses leave from the bus station on October Revolution Square.

Buses go to Listvyanka every half an hour, the ticket price is 150 rubles. The trip takes about an hour. This is the best variant for one day trip or for the beginning of a walking tour from Listvyanka.

There are also buses to Olkhon island with the interval of half an hour. The trip takes 5,5-6 hours and costs 660-750 rubles. The terminal station is Khuzhir. People usually go to Olkhon for a few days to relax in nature. This is the most popular destination on Baikal, so you should book accommodation in advance – for example, on Hotellook.

To get to Slyudyanka is possible by train from the main railway station on the railroad, which is part of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The train goes 3 hours and costs 200 rubles.

In Irkutsk there are also private marshrutkas. Usually they gather at Central market and cost more expensive than buses. There is no clear schedule and interval of movement.

It’s much more comfortable to travel to Baikal with an experienced guide, who will take you there and give you the information about the area and the route to the most interesting places. This option is perfect for those who don’t want to search for stops, worry about the details of the trip and choose the best spots for rest and the most scenic views. Therefore, many travelers book a tour with a guide in advance. By the way among the tours there are both comfortable tours and extreme trips.

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View current offers and book tours on Tripster, a trusted resource with experienced guides.

By Water

The most picturesque way to get from the city to the lake will be a ship. From Irkutsk, vessels go to Listvyanka, Bolshie Kotov and KBZhD. For example there are motor boats to Bolshie Kotov. The price for the boat is 1200 rubles per one way.

You can see the schedule and book a seat on the East Siberian River Shipping Company site – https://vsrp.ru/.

Ulan-Ude – Baikal

From Ulan-Ude goes to East Baikal coast. First of all it is Goryachinsk, Baikalskiy Surf, Svyatoy Nos Peninsula. You can get to them by public transport or rent a car.

By yourself

Electric trains go in the direction of Baikalsky Priboy, Vydrino, Tankhoy from the central station. The trip to Vydrino is 4.5 hours and the ticket costs 1100-1300 rubles.

There are shuttles from the city center to Goryachinsk and Ust-Barguzin. The cost is about 500-600 rubles.

With tour

If you book a tour, you get both a transfer and a tour with an experienced guide. This will suit those who want to see the most interesting places of the unexplored east coast at once.

Current offers can be seen here.

Conclusion

The most popular and advantageous way to get to Baikal is by air to Irkutsk and then by bus to Listvyanka. In addition, Irkutsk is interesting in itself, it has many good cafes, hotels and modern hostels.

The most comfortable way to visit the lake is by plane to Irkutsk + tour.

Those who like wild camping, hiking and mountaineering can take a flight to Ulan-Ude.

Read also: Baikal in Autumn – is it worth to go?

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