Five Russian Lakes to Visit This Summer

PHOTO by Depositphotos
Rambler.Travel has found five lakes where you can also enjoy sunbathing, swimming and sightseeing without the queues

Pskovskoye Lake

Where: Pskov Region

Water temperature: up to +21+22 С (+69 +71 F) in July and August

Pskovskoye Lake is part of the enormous Chudsko-Pskovskoye Lake System on the Estonian border. The lake itself is rather large (710 km2) and shallow, and is home to a large variety of fish: bream, pike, roach, and perch.

The surrounding area meanwhile is a picturesque mix of fir trees, sand dunes and rolling hills. There are several resorts where you can stay – Lukomorye Resort (app. 2600 RUB ($37) per double room in July) or Pleskov Country Hotel (3600 RUB ($52) per standard double room in the middle of summer).

As well as simply relaxing, you can go fishing, drive around quaint local villages and visit the old town of Pskov only 25 km away.

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Where: Tver and Novgorod Regions

Water temperature: up to +25 С (+77 F) in July and August

A trip to the legendary lake district halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg could very well be the perfect replacement for any beach holiday. Seliger includes twenty-four separate bodies of water, some of them even large enough to have names of their own. Altogether, the lake system takes up a staggering area of 260 km2, with some 168 islands breaking down the vast waterscape- something that might not be apparent just with the naked eye.

Thanks to these scattered bits of land, Seliger doesn’t quite look like a sea. The islands however do increase the coast line, giving the area almost 1500 km of beaches. There are dozens of health resorts, campsites and hotels for visitors to choose from, but the average price of a double room is 2500—3000 RUB ($36―43) per night.

Swimming season lasts from mid-July to mid-August. During the rest of the summer, you can visit the famous Nilov Monastery and the town of Ostashkov, which is somewhat liberally called the Russian Venice. There's also the option of sailing or exploring the lake district on an ATV.

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Lake Teletskoye

Where: Turochakskiy and Ulaganskiy Districts, Republic of Altai

Water temperature: up to +20 С (+68 F) in July

No other lake in Russia is as beautiful and picturesque as Lake Teletskoye by the Western Sayan Mountains. The coastline is riddled with bays and caves, and the water is so clear that the lake often looks like a giant aquarium. Tourists come here to see the meteorite-formed stone gulf, fish for burbot and grayling, take a picture of the rainbow at the famous Korbu Waterfall, and to visit the UNESCO listed Altai State Nature Reserve.

Swimming in Lake Teletskoye is only for the brave and the daring, as the water is rather cold. Slightly less tenacious – or perhaps more sensible – swimmers resort to diving by Cape Kurasai, where the water warms up to +20 С (+68 F) in mid-July.

Finding a place to stay is not a problem: there are 18 campsites and hotels, with prices ranging from 300 RUB ($5) to 6500 RUB ($93) per night.

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Lake Baikal

Where: border of Irkutsk Region and Buryatia

Water temperature: up to +22 С (+71.6 F) from July 15 to August 15

The deepest lake on Earth is, probably, Russia’s greatest natural wonder. With an area of 31722 km2 - comparable to the size of Belgium or the Netherlands – it will probably take most visitors more than one trip to explore the region.

If you dream of swimming in Earth’s largest freshwater lake, go to Chivyrkuisky or Barguzinsky Gulfs, where the water gets as warm as +22 С (+71.6 F) – just bear in mind that the swim season is, unfortunately, very short and only lasts a month. If you’re into anthropology, visit Buddhist temples in the village of Arshan, or if you're traveling with children, visit the world’s only sealarium, where the Baikal seals live. For those who want to relax, visitors can replenish their energy and health with a trip to the Island of Olkhon, Baikal’s center of cosmic energy.

The lake’s main resort is the Village of Listvyanka, often called the gates of Baikal. The village stretches over 5 kilometres of the lakeshore and lists a number of hotels and bars. Here, you can find accommodation for all tastes and incomes: from the inexpensive Bodriy Medved (Jolly Bear) Guest House for 1200 RUB ($17) per two in mid-July, to the luxury Anastasia Hotel, designed to resemble a Swiss chalet, for 6000 RUB ($86).

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Lake Elton

Where: Palassovsky District, Volgograd Region

Water temperature: +25 С (+77 F) in July

Lake Elton, next to the Kazakh border, is Europe’s largest saltwater lake. Stretching over some 152 km2, its salt levels even exceed that of the famous Dead Sea.

A lot can be said about the health benefits of Lake Elton’s water. It is used to treat joint and musculoskeletal diseases, skin conditions, as well as diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and respiratory organs. It was for this very reason, in early 20th century, that Elton Sanatorium was opened on the lakeshore (where prices now start at 2800 RUB ($40) per person per day, with meals and treatments included). Legend has it that the sanatorium was once home to a crutch museum – a room full of the walking aids patients left behind after undertaking the saltwater treatments. It is also said that the museum had to be closed down because there were just too many crutches to fit into the museum.

Swimming in Lake Elton is impossible due to the shallow water- often only ankle-deep. As the salinity is very high, a freshwater shower is required after bathing.

There is still not much development at Lake Elton: in fact, there is only one village with a shop, a café and the only petrol station within a hundred kilometres. The lack of infrastructure however, is compensated by the unique steppe landscape, Elton Nature Park and the incredible pink lake. According to legend, Mamai Khan hid his treasures on the bottom of the water, but as the gold was destroyed by the salt, the lake was forever colored a golden pink.

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