For many travelers, Lake Baikal is a popular destination and a stopover on the Trans-Siberian railway. Included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, it’s the planet’s deepest and oldest lake.
Irkutsk, the unofficial capital of the Baikal region, is both a modern city and excellent introduction to Siberia’s past. This is where most of the tourists arrive to stay a night before moving on to either Listvyanka, or Olkhon Island.
Listvyanka – a resort village and the closest access point to Lake Baikal. Listvyanka houses numerous museums, shops, cafes, saunas, and more. It offers a variety of tours from boat and horse rides, to trekking, hiking, rafting, or rock climbing.
Olkhon is the largest island in Lake Baikal. The population of the island is less than 1,500 and consists mostly of indigenous Buryats. Olkhon Island is a spiritual epicenter for ancient shamanism. The panoramic views from the island are amazing.
Top attractions: We’ve assembled a list of the top 7 attractions around Listvyanka and Olkhon Island for you to enjoy during your stay at Lake Baikal.
1. The Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture and Ethnography is located on the way to Listvyanka village. If you want to see how Siberians lived centuries ago, spend time at this amazing outdoor museum where homes, old school rooms, churches, farming equipment and more can be viewed as you move from one exhibit to another. You will learn how they heated their homes in the bitter Siberian winter, how they preserved food, took saunas, and cared for their clothing. There is a restaurant on site which serves traditional Siberian food.
2. Lake Baikal Limnological Museum is the only museum which entirely devoted to the history of Lake Baikal exploration, its flora and fauna. The museum features 11 large aquariums that provide close-up views of the lake inhabitants.
3. Viewing point “Chersky Stone” in Listvyanka: The chairlift takes you up to the rock for an amazing view of Lake Baikal.
4. The Church of St. Nicholas in Listvyanka was built by Russian merchant, Ksenofont Serebryakov. A legend says that he had nearly drowned during a heavy storm on Lake Baikal and decided to build a church in honor of St. Nicholas, the patron and defender of sailors and fishermen.
5. Shaman’s Rock or Shamanka Rock in Olkhon Island is one of Baikal’s most famous landmarks. This rock is a subject of many popular legends and myths about Baikal. It is considered the ninth most sacred places in Asia.
6. Cape Khoboy is the most northern point of Olkhon Island. It offers beautiful views of landscapes and majestic circular panorama of Baikal.
7. Buryat Village in Olkhon: If you never been to any other Buryat village then you might want to pay this place a visit. Experience their simple life far away from the city annoyance and get acquainted with the Buryat culture and traditions.
How to get there: The most interesting and scenic way to get to Irkutsk is via train from Khabarovsk – this is the most scenic stretch of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. If you’re in a hurry, though, Aeroflot and IrAero operate multiple nonstop flights per week between Khabarovsk and Irkutsk. Yakutia Airlines also operates frequent flights with connections through Yakutsk, and there are daily flights between Moscow and Irkutsk.
Check our seasonal summer flights from Anchorage to the Russian Far East. If you need assistance in arranging your trip to Lake Baikal, let us know.