A remote, barren, inhospitable landscape made up of endless plains covered in immaculate snow, that's probably how you imagine Siberia. So, going there in the winter may seem like a little bit of a death wish. But let go of these preconceived ideas, and embrace the treasures of this mystical region, which are even more striking during colder months.
For the gorgeous wilderness
Stretching from the awe-inspiring Ural Mountains to the majestic Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world with a surface area bigger than Belgium, Siberia is Russia's bewitching jewel. The magnificent region's eeriness, imbued with a poetic timelessness, is what makes it so spellbinding.
Siberia in the winter is iridescent expanses of unspoiled, beautiful wilderness. It is the sublime, spectral Baikal Lake. It is vast landscapes of snow-capped, dense forests, where it feels like you could meet the most magical of creatures. It is snowflakes the size of leaves, and leaves dipped in thick snow. It is invigorating Siberian wind that bites you like the taste of newfound freedom. Siberian wilderness in winter is soulful and magnetic, authenticity with a touch of otherworldliness.
For the incomparable adrenaline rush
These never-ending expanses of snow and ice make for the perfect playground for thrill-seekers. Being pulled on a sled by Siberian huskies across Lake Baikal's frozen surface is an unforgettable experience with an adrenaline rush like no other, and you'll even embrace the discomfort of having icy eyelashes, because it's all part of the experience.
But if it does get a bit too much, put on a helmet and hop on a snowmobile instead, on which you'll also get your dose of excitement. Although for the ultimate, James Bond-like thrill, cross the lake in a hovercraft, much faster and definitely more noisy, but also intensely more exhilarating.
For the metropolitan charm of Irkutsk
But Siberia is not just untouched wilderness. 43 miles west of Lake Baikal you'll find the delightful city of Irkutsk, which was once referred to as the Paris of the East by Anton Chekhov, an eminent 19th-century Russian writer.
The remote city is a colorful and elegant architectural jewel flaunting a plethora of picturesque sights, including exquisite French-style boulevards, quaint cafés, sophisticated eateries, and superb, brightly-colored Orthodox churches adorned with splendid gilded domes. The tourism revival the city has witnessed in recent years has also prompted the restoration of historical landmarks and the creation of myriad museums and art galleries for you to explore at your own pace.
For the beautiful train ride
To travel to Siberia, you'll have to embark aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway, guaranteed to be one of the most mesmerizing train rides of your life. Looking out the windows you'll be awed by the fast-moving landscape unfurling before your eyes. Silvery plains as far as the eye can see, the otherworldly beauty of boreal forests, and snow-capped mountains standing out against the pale blue sky. Captivated by the ethereal scenery, you won't even have time for boredom.
For the fantastic hospitality
The winds might be biting, but the atmosphere sure isn't glacial in Siberia. As long as you get in contact with an expert guide, you're guaranteed to be safe in the sometimes unforgiving Siberian wilderness.
Siberian guides and mushers will warmly help you find your way around the icy no man's land they know like the back of their hand. If you have the right connections, you may even be lucky enough to be invited to a local's home. And enjoying authentic food in one of the region's traditional wooden houses, called dachas, will only make your Siberian adventure all the more special.