14 Oct How to travel with Circum Baikal Railway
The Circum Baikal Railway (Krugobajkalskaja Zheleznaja Doroga or Krugobajkalka) is the historical and a very scenic railway along the Northern part of the Lake Baikal in the region of Irkutsk. It used to be a part of the main Trans-Siberian Railway but since the second track was built in the middle of the 20th century, it has been serving mostly as a touristic route. The Circum Baikal Railway offers one day tours, which are a pleasant and relaxing way to spend some time on Baikal, enjoy its beautiful nature and stunning landscapes.
Check where the route starts, how it runs, where to buy the tickets, how much they cost, what to eat on the train and what to expect from this scenic one day tour.
Route and Program
The Circum Baikal Railway runs along the Northwestern part of Baikal. The tour lasts literally the whole day. The train departures from the main train station in Irkutsk at 8 a.m. and you’re back in Irkutsk at around 8:30 p.m..
For the first 2 hours you travel across taiga from Irkutsk to Slyudyanka, where the proper Baikal route starts. The route along Baikal is a bit more than 80km long. The train goes slow, so that you have enough time to enjoy the views. The train has also several stops, which last approximately from 15min to 1,5 hour. You can go out to take some pictures, go for a short walk, and during the longest break you can have a dinner or even swim in Baikal (so don’t forget to take your swimming suite!). You arrive to Port Baikal (the last station), around 7 p.m.. With a ferry you’re transferred to Listvyanka, and from there buses take you back to Irkutsk.
There is also an option to start the tour in Listvyanka and finish in Irkutsk. For the exact train schedules and departures, check the official website of Circum Baikal Railway (only in Russian) or ask us for advice.
There’s also a guide during the whole trip, who explains everything about the history of the Circum Baikal Railway, and the fauna and flora of the Lake Baikal. Unfortunately, the guide speaks Russian only, so be ready to spend the day without much guidance.
Some pics from the tour:
The Circum Baikal Railway is a touristy train, with up to 200 passengers on every tour. The tour is operated by different types of trains – the old, historical ones (only special tours) or the modern ones, which remind of a typical Russian regional train (elektrichka). In every train there are 3 classes you can choose from:
3rd class, with simple benches, the most basic one
2nd class with comfortable seats
1st class, with comfortable seats and tables
It’s a whole day tour, so think about what you’re going to eat in advance. There is an option to order full board or half board, and eat on the train. You can to order vegetarian or fish meal, however, it doesn’t always work and you may end up having a chicken and meaty pastry for lunch or dinner.
Or, you can take food with you or buy something on the way. There are no shops in the places, where the train stops, however, there is a small shop/ bar inside the train, where you can get snacks, drinks (including beer) and smoked fish (Omul, the local speciality). You can also eat a proper meal at a small local restaurant in the village, in which the train stays for 1,5 hour.
Last but not least, where to buy tickets and how much do they cost? Depending on the class, tickets cost from 2000 to 3000RUB (approx. 60EUR), without any meals. A full board costs additionally 1400RUB. Tickets can be bought directly at the Circum Baikal Railway (check their website for contact details) or, with many travel agencies, like us:). So if you’d like to book your one day tour on the Circum Baikal Railway, contact us now!