Listvyanka is perhaps one of the oldest Russian settlements on the shore of the great Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. It is a charming village dotted with traditional Siberian wooden houses, with a main road that runs right along the shore of fantastic lake, making it the perfect base to explore this picturesque region. This old-style Siberian village is one of the most visited places in Siberia. Everything about it impresses our imagination. The natural beauty of this clean and peaceful village will charm you and leave the peace of mind and unity filling deep in your sole. Ideal place to relax and take a break from city life and traffic noise to simply enjoy the beauty and serenity of this fabulous region.
Throughout the year, many tourists, scientists and academics come to Listvyanka from a whole variety of countries to explore the legendary Lake Baikal. Perhaps, every traveler visits this tourist-wise village, because it's the easiest way to reach Baikal. So large that it is often mistaken for a sea, Russia's Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in the world, and the largest freshwater lake by volume. It is famous for its crystal clear waters and unique wildlife. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, Lake Baikal offers a sightseeing of unmatched beauty. Listvyanka is located 60 km south-east from Irkutsk, and it takes about 1 hour to get there.
Russian pioneers came to this spot in the middle of the 17th century, and a hundred years later there was an outpost. The settlement grew along with the development of navigation on Lake Baikal. This astonishing Siberian village, situated at the source of the Angara River, is famous for its trade history. From the 18th century a ferry took merchants across the lake on their way to Mongolia, China and the Far East.
The first written information about Listvyanka can be found in traveller's notes from the second half of the eighteenth century. These places were hard to get to, so only Cossacks and fugitive exiles were not afraid to explore. In the beginning of the nineteenth century the most important business in Listvyanka was the shipbuilding industry. The icebreaker ships Baikal and Angara, which were built in England, were assembled here. The village prospered very quickly, and soon Listvyanka, through which the commerce passage between Russia and the East lay, came into its golden period. This is how the village transformed into a Baikal pier and at the same time became an important administrative area in the Russian empire.
It is practically impossible to miss it or confuse this pretty village with anything else. Listvyanka is a place where you can admire Baikal and Siberian architecture, dive into its history and try some lake fish. Listvyanka is a comfortable place to stay. In summer, you can walk along the shore of Baikal, rent a mountain bike, make a day tour, rent horses for the whole day, or go for a rafting trip. In winter, you can rent a snowmobile, go skiing, or try dog sledging. Steam-sauna is a must in winter (imagine, heating yourself up and then jumping in the snow!).
The standard must-sees are Limnological Museum (or Museum of Baikal), where you can learn about flora and fauna of the lake and see some unique species in aquarium. Listvyanka is the site of the Limnological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It studies the lakes and man-made reservoirs of Siberia and the Russian Far East, with particular focus on Lake Baikal. The Shaman rock, a reserved cliff right next to the Baikal Lake, is a natural landmark of the Pribaikalskiy National Park. Inhabitants of the Angara River for centuries have believed that this cliff has unusual powers. Cherskiy peak is a mountain peak 700 meters high, there is a scenic viewpoint right next to it. If the weather is fine then you can see Listvyanka from there and the vastness of the Baikal Lake. You can reach the top of the peak either by foot or using a cable lift. In Nerpinary you can see a show of trained seals. They sing, dance, play with a ball, count and even draw. Seals from the Baikal are very loveable and funny creatures. Visit an interesting Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture. Samples of old wooden houses were brought here from all over Siberia, so it may be quite interesting. You can get delicious home-made food in a market on the main square of Listvyanka. Local people sell all kind of souvenirs there and nice fish made in different ways (salted, smoked, baked).
Listvyanka is one of the busiest tourist centers in the whole of Siberia. Due to its proximity to Irkutsk, it sees probably more visitors than all other towns and villages on Lake Baikal combined. Village is relatively overdeveloped, with a tourist-oriented market, picnic areas and a plethora of hotels and cafes.