Trip Types
  • Travel Style
  • Interests and Activities
  • Tour Ideas by Month
  • Continents and Regions

Lake Baikal

Practical information on Lake Baikal

  • Relaxation
  • Encounters with locals
  • Beach / Seaside Resort
  • Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
  • Island
  • Viewpoint
  • Hiking / Trekking
  • Mountain
  • River
  • Water Sports
  • Lake
  • Place or Religious Monument
  • Archaeological Site
  • Castle and fortress
  • Handicraft
  • Place or Historical Monument
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Unesco World Heritage
  • Essential
  • Off the beaten track
5 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
4 days on the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow
When to go
It is magical in winter and great for skating and snowmobiling. Nevertheless, I recommend you visit Siberia in summer.
Minimum stay
3 to 5 days

Reviews of Lake Baikal

Ariadne M Seasoned Traveller
37 written opinions

LakeBaïkal is a freshwater inland sea that isaveryholyplace for the Buryat and a priceless natural work of art that should be preserved at all costs!

My suggestion:
Try reading "The Consolations of the Forest" by Sylvain Tesson before you set off for the lake and above all...go there in the summer! You should also make a point of staying with a local on Olkhon Island.
My review

Just about any journey to Baikal means passing through Irkutsk. It is the biggest town in the region with around 600,000 inhabitants. I arrived there by plane, only stayed for a few hours and felt very disappointed. It's a dynamic town that is popular with back packers.

The lake and its surroundings have a plethora of sporting activities to offer: fishing, walking, cycling, horse riding, boat trips, swimming, diving, canoeing, etc. And, of course, if you are lucky enough to go there in summer, you can sunbathe on the pretty beaches.

In winter the must-dos are crossing the lake on iceskates or in a snowmobile, or making a hole in the ice with a chainsaw so you can go fishing.

Some people live in the isolated hamlets and cabins around the lake. Experts can go it alone but the region is very wild and isolated. I think in this region it's essential to use a local agent to organise your activities professionally and safely. 

Marie Cavalié Seasoned Traveller
22 written opinions

Lake Baikal, nicknamed the pearl of Siberia, is a mythical, magical place, both intriguing and inspiring. These Shamanic lands give off an aura of mysticism and authenticity which will cast a spell on you so you will never want to leave.

My suggestion:
Eat omul while you are there, a fish that is only found in Lake Baikal. Its fine, tender flesh makes it a highly prized food.
My review

There are places where you feel relaxed, rested and serene. Lake Baikal is one of those, and whatever the season you can't be indifferent to it. In winter, the sun reflects off water mixed with ice, pack ice forms here and there, the mountains around are covered in immaculate white snow, and there's a villager cutting a hole in the ice to go fishing. In summer, the pure, limpid blue waters spread under the green specked mountains and unusual animals, like the seals, appear unexpectedly. Baikal is a unique place whose micro climate has encouraged the development of endemic species.

It's also an enigmatic land, stamped with Shamanism, whose peoples have a mysterious history. And it's also a marvellous place for archaeology fans because the earth is full of remains that go back as far as the paleolithic era.

In my opinion it is an absolutely sublime corner of the world. If you are travelling on the Trans-Siberian it would be pure folly not to stop there. What's more, if you take the train from Irkutsk early enough while travelling along the shores of the lake you will be able to admire the beauty of the landscape around Baikal. If you are looking for a trip that is off the beaten path then the north shore of the lake is a lot less visited by tourists than the south. And in fact the lake is already feeling the effects of the advance of mass tourism.

Marc Sigala Seasoned Traveller
66 written opinions

Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest lake on the planet. It contains 20% of the world's fresh water.

My suggestion:
Lake Baikal is almost unimaginably big, so find out which parts you want to visit before you go there.
My review

A natural paradise and source of food for the people living around it, and a sacred sea and centre of planetary energy for the local Shamans, Lake Baikal has always fascinated people. I quickly fell under its spell too, and the impression of immense size you get when looking at it forces you to respect it.

I could also see how the local population venerated it. If you get the chance to meet some of them, take it. Their culture and their customs are vivid and often more deeply rooted than those you can see elsewhere during a trip to Russia.

Three-quarters of the 3,000 species of animals and plants are endemic to Lake Baikal, so keep your eyes open - there are lots of things you see that you can only see here.