Listvyanka is a small village located on the western shore of the Baikal Lake at the source of the Angara River. This remarkable river is the only one that flows out of Baikal. It never freezes, and the source of the river is 863 meters wide, the widest one in the world.

Three centuries ago, Listvyanka was just a settlement with a winter cabin and a postal station. Today, Listvyanka is a noisy center of tourism where people come for the beautiful views, new experiences, Siberian delicacies and a feel of the legendary Baikal energy field.

The tourists like Listvyanka for its proximity to Irkutsk, a starting point for the majority of Baikal travelers. In just about 40–60 minutes on Baikalski highway, you’ll see the beautiful pristine lake right in front of you. Whether you’re coming for a three-hour tour or for a couple of days, you will not be bored for a second either way.

Listvyanka in one day

This landmark will be the first thing you see when you enter the village. The right side of the road has an observation desk with a viewpoint of the Angara river source and the Shaman Rock. The legend says that, when Angara ran off from her father Baikal to her fiancé Yenisei, Baikal threw this rock after her.

Shaman Rock
Shaman Rock. Photo by motorka.org
Not far from this site stands the Baikal Museum of Limnology, the only lake museum in Russian. Feel free to come inside for a visit — you won’t regret this decision. Here, you’ll spend hours looking at the wonders of underwater life in aquariums as tall as an average human. You’ll be able to have a virtual trip down the lake’s 1642 meters depth. You’ll see some rare exhibits of flora and fauna of Baikal under the microscope and look at the wild Baikal seals through a webcam.

Baikal seal
Baikal seal. Photo by pbase.com
If you want to meet some of the Baikal seals in person, visit the nerpinary on Gorki str., 101A. Those nice seals will dance, play musical instruments and even draw a painting to make you smile.

Baikal seal in the nerpinary
Baikal seal in the nerpinary. Photo by Alexander Sizov, pribaikal.ru
If you want to see the vastness of the lake from a great height, go up Chersky Peak along the asphalt road from the museum or take a chair lift from Kamenushka Pad’. Reach the arbor with its overview and you’ll see Lake Baikal in all its glory.

Along with the aforementioned Shaman Rock, you’ll see a white telescope in a distance. It is largest one out of the series of chromospheric telescopes in Russia. This telescope belongs to the Baikal Astrophysical Observatory on Partisanskaya St., 29, and you will not be able to get there without a prior appointment. To book a visit, call 8 (39–52) 42-82-65. Alternatively, you can just walk up the hill to the observatory and photograph the nature along the way. From the top of the mountain you’ll see a stunning view of Lake Baikal.

Байкальская обсерватория
Baikal Astrophysical Observatory. Large solar vacuum telescope. Photo by commons.wikimedia.org

If you can only make a one-day visit to Listvyanka, depart from Irkutsk no later than at 9 AM, and you’ll have enough time to enjoy yourself without any hurry

To visit the spiritual landmarks, go to Krestovaya Pad’. There stands the wooden Svyato-Nikolskaya Church, built by a merchant who narrowly managed to save his life during a storm. The church is active, so if you visit during a sermon, remember to follow the rules. Women should cover their hair. Men should remove their hats. Do not make noise or use the flash while taking pictures.

Свято-Никольская церковь на Байкале
Svyato-Nikolskaya Church. Photo by Vladimir Chokan
Krestovaya Pad’ has another landmark, too. Before you reach the bridge, you’ll find a retro-park of the Osipov family. Here, right next to old cars, you’ll see a milkman, a lamplighter, a stationmaster, a lady with a dog and other sculptures. All of them are made of simple iron, even though it feels like there was a magical mix or charm and kindness added during the construction process, too.

Exhibit of the retro-park
Exhibit of the retro-park. Photo by Sergey Nikitin

When you get hungry, visit the local market and try the famous Baikal cuisine of smoked omul and golomyanka

Selling smoked cisco in Lake Baikal
Selling smoked cisco in Lake Baikal. Photo by Denis Kurenkov

Try some pine nuts with honey or chocolate, too — and you won’t be able to find words to describe your pleasure. If you wish to take some with you, buy some smoked or salted fish, caviar, roasted nuts or Baikal herbal tea mixes.

Do not forget about the souvenirs made from leather, wood and Siberian gemstones. If you buy them from a market stall, don’t forget to haggle over prices, too.

Unique souvenirs, jewelry and Baikal-themed works are also up for sale in the Vladimir Plamenevski art gallery on Chapaev St., 76. Vladimir is a poet, an architect and an author of a unique art space, which welcomes all artists, photographers, writers and travelers from around the globe. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, visit the showroom of the gallery for a doze of beauty and spiritual atmosphere.

Listvyanka also has bears

No, they don’t walk the streets. The bears live in a home zoo on Gorki str., 3.

Bear in zoo
Bear in zoo. Photo by Vladimir Chokan

All of the zoo inhabitants are creatures with difficult fates. They enjoy attention, care and delicious condensed milk. Be sure to grab a jar of this milk before you visit the zoo, and you’ll make the bears very happy.

Listvyanka on a second day

If you stayed in the village overnight, come and see a performance in a bard song theatre, stop by a sauna or take a walk under the starry Baikal sky, and you’ll sleep like a baby. In the morning, go wherever your feet take you.

Bard song theater in Listvyanka
Bard song theater in Listvyanka. Photo by Denis Kurenkov
In love with the outdoors? Go scuba diving, rent a quad or a snowmobile, rent a ship.

Crazy about huskies and malamutes? The sled dog center on Kulikov str., 134a will make your day. Ride in the sleds, take part in Kani Cross and skijoring, take pictures and enjoy the time spent with these blue-eyed beauties.

The sled dog center in Listvyanka
The sled dog center in Listvyanka. Photo by Valeriy Sokolenko, fanatbaikala.livejournal.com
Is wandering around historical monuments something you love? Visit the open-air Taltsy museum. To get there, take a 631st bus or a 524th minibus from the bus station in Listvyanka, and you’ll reach the museum in 15 minutes.

Тальцы
Taltsy museum. Photo by Vladimir Chokan
Ready to take a hike in order to make unique discoveries? Walk the trail along the coastline until you reach the miners’ shelter in Chernaya Pad’, wash the sand, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find some specks of gold. The road to the shelter takes about 5–6 hours.

In another two hours of walking, you’ll see the Skriper Cliff caves that formed from the Jurassic sandstone. Board the boat to Bolshie Koty if you want to get there faster — from Koty, the walk will take about half an hour.

The boat is a convenient means of traveling around the nearby places. If you buy a waterway ticket, you can swim along the Listvennichnaya bay, get to Port Baikal or Peschanaya bay.

How to get to Listvyanka from Irkutsk

By car

Take the Baikalski highway. Travel time is around 40–60 minutes.

By bus

Take a 524th minibus route from the Irkutsk bus station. The ride lasts for an hour. Before you plan your trip, check up on the schedule by calling 8 (39–52) 50-03-66, 8 (39-52) 603-303, 8 (902) 51-03-303.

Waterway

During the summer, you can take the Barguzin ship which travels from the «Raketa» Irkutsk pier to Bolshie Koty. Travel time is 1.5 hours. For the exact schedule and ticket prices, please visit the East Siberian River Shipping Company website.

Where to stay in Listvyanka

Europe hotel
Mayak hotel. Photo by Vladimir Chokan

The village offers a wide range of available accommodations, varying from hostel beds for 600 rubles a night up to the 6 700 rubles a night luxury hotel suites.

Affordability is not the main reason the tourists choose to stay in a hostel. A lot of movement, a lot of small happenings and opportunities for forming new friendships make the hostels busy and leave almost no rooms vacant. If you want a cozy atmosphere with breakfast specialties, book a room in a mini-hotel or a boarding house. And if you prefer high-comfort vacations, choose a hotel or a resort. There, you’ll have no difficulties finding a vacant room, but you should book a place in advance nonetheless.

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