Hug Baikal

Irkutsk Region

Russia Beyond
Russia Beyond
Visiting the deepest freshwater lake on the planet is an experience of a lifetime. Yes, you can get to it by car, bus or train, but hardly anything compares with a steam locomotive trip along the Circum-Baikal Railway.

“Hugging” the southern part of Baikal, the Circum-Baikal Railway (CBR) once connected two separate branches of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Its construction cost the imperial crown millions, which is why this stretch of track was dubbed the “golden buckle” of Russia’s steel belt. 

And, even now, when only locals regularly use this part of the Trans-Siberian Railway, a trip along the CBR is one of the most memorable (and convenient) ways to see Lake Baikal. Believe me, the smell of the chugunka furnace, the historical flavor and an opportunity to feel like a traveler from the beginning of the 20th century are worth it. 

It’s not without reason that Siberians call Baikal a sea. One person will remember it as meditative and calm, another - fierce and cruel, while yet another - frozen in ice... 

But there are also real fans, who “wait for the weather by the sea” for weeks only to see the very same Baikal, when there is not a single wrinkle on the surface of the age-old giant. When it, like in a mirror, reflects the soft blue sky and, underneath the layers of crystal clear water, you can see mischievous omuls. This kind of Baikal becomes a treasure chest of impressions, which you can think back to when you feel uneasy and there is a storm brewing outside… 

How to hug Baikal?

🛤️ Irkutsk is the starting point for your journey along the Circum-Baikal Railway. How to get to Irkutsk is up to you. For reference, a plane from Moscow takes 6 hours, while a trip by train takes 3 days. 

🛤️ Tours along the CBR begin at the railway station in Irkutsk. First, travelers go to Slyudanka by train, where, after a half-hour stop, they transfer to the CBR. Further, the route circles the lake and passes by several sightseeing stops, ending at the port of Baikal. Here, travelers change to a boat and cross over to Listvyanka, from where they return to Irkutsk by bus.

🛤️ There is also a reverse route. First you will be taken by bus to Listvyanka. Then you will be ferried to Port Baikal and transferred to a retro train to Slyudyanka and Irkutsk.

🛤️ The train tour will take the whole day, but it’s even better, because there’s never too much of Baikal! However, be prepared to wake up at dawn, as, at 7 am, you have to be already at the station.

🛤️ We strongly advise you to bring a raincoat, because the weather on the lake (as part of the tour involves crossing to Listvyanka by boat) can be very unpredictable. 

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