Around Irkutsk. Irkutsk suburbs. Baikal. Listvyanka. Circum-Baikal railway.
TRIP TO IRKUTSK
For many travelers Irkutsk is a staring point for explorations of Lake Baikal. The closest place, where you can see
Baikal is Listvyanka
settlement, which is 65 km from Irkutsk, and you can get there by bus (1.5 hours) or car (1 hour). Listvyanka is quite a
tourist village: there are hotels for any budget and taste, cafes and restaurants, and you can make good walks there. Some travelers even prefer to stay there instead of Irkutsk, and go to Irkutsk in the daytime.
Alternatively, it is possible to take any Trans-Siberian train from Irkutsk towards East (China), and stop in Slyudyanka, which is less than 3 hours by train from Irkutsk. Slyudyanka is not as touristic as Listvyanka, there's only one hotel outside of the village, but it is a start of the
Circum-Baikal railway. So, if you arrive there early in the morning, you can take Circum-Baikal train, come to Port Baikal (last stop) late in the evening, take a ferry to Listvyanka (about 15 mins), and get into a hotel. However, for this journey it is recommended to have a tent, because who knows what will happen on the way?
If you have three or more days, you should definitely visit Olkhon island
— a beautiful land of steppes and sandy beaches. It is about 250 km away, and a 5-hour journey by car (7-8 hours by bus), but is well worth every bump on the road.
Finally, Irkutsk is not only about Baikal. The great Sayan mountains are very close, and if you have time, it would be a shame not to go there for a few days. The most popular destination is Arshan settlement, which is located just at the beginning on the mountain range. There are a lot of accommodation options (homestays and camps) in the village, and opportunities for taking tours in the mountains.
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