Listvyanka settlement is the most visited destination at Lake Baikal. It is located only 65 km (40 mi) from Irkutsk international airport next to the Angara River source from Lake Baikal. Although the number of local citizens does not exceed 2 thousand people, it hosts about half a million visitors every summer. It is true to say that almost every traveler who comes to Lake Baikal visits this place at first.
Thousands of foreign travelers head off annually to Listvyanka for sightseeing. Many important museums and tourist attractions are concentrated in this area. We would certainly suggest starting your Baikal tour in here since all these tourist sights will give you an overall idea of what the lake is all about and why Lake Baikal is distinguished among all other fresh-water lakes. Staying 1-2 nights is usually enough to cover major tourist attractions. We can organize a fully guided excursion tour to Listvyanka or you can choose to explore it all by yourself.
In Listvyanka, there is basically only one major street which is an embankment road running along the lake shoreline. Most of the hotels, restaurants and places of interest are found close from here. The village is pretty civilized and has many good hotels with all the necessary amenities. Numerous restaurants and cafés offer meals cooked from fresh Baikal omul fish. Here you can find a plenty of little shops and souvenir kiosks open year round. It may be an interesting experience to walk around the fish market next to Listvyanka pier where one can challenge buying smoked Baikal omul fish or at least taste a thick inviting smell hanging all over the area.
The village itself is nestled between the lake shoreline and the foothill of Primorsky (Meritime) mountain range. The main street extended along the coastal line for over 5 km (3 mi) is supported by a levee to keep the lake water away from the road. In some places the levee virtually forms a vertical concrete wall. The height varies in different parts of the street from less than a meter where anyone can jump off to a pebble beach to quite tall wall impossible to come down to the water edge. As the result there are no hotels or other buildings right on the shore, but only across the street.
Since almost every tourist visiting Lake Baikal arrives to Listvyanka at first all the services are also tend to be concentrated here. In fact, the village became the only location at Lake Baikal with relatively well developed tourist infrastructure. It offers visitors a range of comfortable hotels with all the amenities including private bathrooms which is still not being standard at all other destinations around the lake. In fact, Listvyanka has a variety of accommodations of all types and different levels of service. You can find rather cheap homestay options, a yurt camp with accommodation in traditional nomad gers as well as more regular guesthouses normally consisting of log cabins, huts or cottages, and also a tall multi-storey hotel.
Our most favorite choices are Krestovaya Pad' Guesthouse located on a hilltop above the lake (USD 150 per night per DBL/TWIN room with breakfasts), Mayak Hotel found at the main squire next to Listvyanka pier (USD 180) and Anastasia boutique hotel standing right on the bank of the Angara river near the source (USD 220). For a bit more basic, yet comfortable options we often reserve Devyatiy Val Lodge (USD 100) or Baikal Chalet (USD 95). See more hotels on our accommodations page
Fairly good highway laid on the right bank of the Angara River leads to Listvyanka settlement. The distance from Irkutsk city center is about 68 km (43 mi). All our tour itineraries include private car or coach transfer to Listvyanka. Driving there takes approximately 40 minutes unless we stop for a tour to Talsty open air museum found along the way. We can organize ground transfer to Listvyanka as a separate service as well. It is also very easy to take a public bus or private minibus (marshrutka) from Irkutsk to Listvyanka. Please, find more information on this here. Besides that, there is a ferry service there and further to Bolshiye Koty. Some may find it to be a lot more interesting experience than taking a regular car transfer.
Listvyanka offers its guests a lot to see and do. There are many museums, landmarks and places of interest found here in this small area that actually became a “tourist mecca” of Lake Baikal. All these attractions are highly recommended to visit. Most of them are not conventional museums, but outdoor sights that allow enjoying beautiful views of the lake and surroundings and certainly taking pictures.
The Taltsy open-air museum of wooden architecture. Situated 47 km (29 mi) from Irkutsk along the highway to Listvyanka the museum has diverse funds that include over 40 original log buildings of the XVII-XX-th centuries that had been moved out from the area flooded after hydropower dam construction on the Angara river. The oldest and the most valuable of them are the “Tower of our Savior” a part of wooden Ilimsk fortress built in 1667 and wooden Khazanskaya Chapel with mica windows built in 1669. Read more
Viewpoint next to the Angara River source from Lake Baikal with the famous Shaman-rock is also a popular site listed virtually in all international guidebooks. The outlet of the Angara River does not freeze in winter due to the river’s steep gradient that results in a fast speed of Angara’s flow. In any season you will be able to observe the Shaman Rock right in the middle of the river source. The rock is traditionally considered to be a boundary between Lake Baikal and the Angara River. It used to be a sacral place where rich sacrifices had been offered to old mighty Baikal by local Shamanist believers. Read more
Baikal Museum located in the very beginning of Listvyanka settlement exhibits a diverse collection of flora and fauna. You will be able to see aquaria with some of Baikal endemic species including nerpa, the only fresh water seal in the world, as well as fish, aquatic plants, crustaceans and sponges. The museum is one of the top attractions in Listvyanka; over 50 thousand people attend the museum annually. Read more
The Chersky Peak viewpoint is a picturesque place in Listvyanka settlement, about 700 meters (2,300 ft) above Lake Baikal water level. You can easily reach it by taking a chairlift which is a part of a ski track recently built near Baikal Hotel. Many people choose to hike there along the easy trail to the top of the hill from where one can observe famed Shaman-rock in the Angara River source as well as the great panoramic views of port Baikal settlement and the Circum-Baikal railway track that begins here, the vast expanse of the lake's waterbody and snow topped peaks of the Khamar-Daban mountain range on the lake opposite side. Read more
Listvyanka Nerpinarium situated near the main pier offer visitors the unique Baikal seal show. Nerpa is very cautious and tries to hide from people in its natural habitats. It is next to impossible to see one at the lake. In Listvyanka Nerpinarium, nerpas have been trained to perform tricks and now anyone can witness Baikal seal singing, solving math problems, playing water polo and even jumping out of water. These smart animals were even taught to draw pictures, and they will paint them right before your eyes. Read more
Once in Listvyanka it is also possible to visit a small art gallery. Lake Baikal is obviously the main theme of the exposition. The architect and the writer Mr. V. Plamenevsky has started this gallery. You can also find works of other local craftsman exhibited here and available for sale.
Small private “mini zoo” is situated in Listvyanka. The private zoo was initiated by Mr. Valery Dunaev who had moved to Listvyanka from Irkutsk for permanent residence. The first bear who started the zoo was found alive after a big forest fire. Now, you can see three brown bears, two foxes and a mountain ram.
Listvyanka itself is pretty much civilized and does not offer a lot of possibilities to enjoy natural scenes or landscapes. However, travelers who prefer quality accommodation still choose to stay here in a good hotel while we are taking them out of the settlement to the forest area for different activities besides the above mentioned sightseeing. In the summer we lead horseback riding and hiking trips to taiga forest growing on the slopes of Primorsky (Meritime) mountain range. Four-wheeler (all-terrain vehicle) ride on the mug and dirt roads across marshes and small creeks can be very different and enjoyable experience. Or you may prefer to do some physical exercises and paddle along the lake shoreline while on our sea kayak tour.
We can rent boats for single-day water trips or for just a couple of hours to cruise around and have lunch on board. Alternatively, you can always approach shipmasters at the pier and bargain a good deal with them. There is also “Babushkin” public excursion boat which departs from the main pier for an hour ride around Listvyanka bay.
If you have an extra day we suggest to consider taking a whole day trip to the Circum-Baikal Railway that starts from port Baikal settlement on another bank of the Angara river from Listvyanka or depart for a day tour to Bolshiye Koty settlement which in turn is located in 16 km (10 mi) northeast from Listvyanka and accessible only by water or by hiking through the mountain pass. Such trip will surely allow you to admire more sceneries of the lake and see Baikal outside of busy Listvyanka.