Irkutsk was founded in 1661 as a settlement for trading gold and furs. It was connected to Europe via a road constructed in 1760.
After the Decemberist Revolt of 1825, many Russian artists, officers, and nobles were sent into exile to Siberia for their part in the revolt against Tsar Nicholas I and in the late 1800s, 30% of the population of the city were exiles. Irkutsk became the major centre of intellectual and social life for these exiles, and much of the city's cultural heritage is a result of these exiles. Many of their wooden houses, adorned with ornate, hand-carved decorations, survive today in stark contrast with the surrounding Soviet apartment blocks. Around 1900, the city was nicknamed the "Paris of Siberia" due to its wide streets and ornate, continental architecture, but travellers today will find little resemblance with Paris.
During the civil war that broke out after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917-1922, Irkutsk became the site of many furious, bloody clashes between the "Whites" and the "Reds" (aka Bolsheviks). A number of city landmarks remain from that era. In 1920, Kolchak, the once-feared commander of the largest contingent of anti-Bolshevik forces, was executed in Irkutsk, effectively destroying the anti-Bolshevik resistance.
Today, Irkutsk is the 6th largest city in Siberia, with a growing population of more than 590,000 people. It's home to several universities and a major branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, due to its proximity to Lake Baikal.
In July, the average temperature is 18°C (64°F) with a bit of rain, but by January, the temperature plunges in typically Siberian fashion to -19°C (-2°F). Early September finds the local foliage at its finest.
International Airport IrkutskDirect flights operate to/from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Ulan Ude, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, Yakutsk, and several other Russian cities. International flights operate to/from Ulaanbaatar, Osh, Seoul, Bangkok, Beijing, and Tashkent.
Buses, trams, and minibuses run frequently between the airport and Kirov Square (near the Angara Hotel) and other points in the historical center. A trip via public transport costs approximately .
address: Ul. Chelnokova, Tereshkovoi (Улицам Челнокова, Терешковой)Suburban lines to Bajkalsk, Bolshoy Lug, Voennyi Gorodok, Malta, Polovyna, Usolie Siberskoye, Cheremkhovo, Vydrino, Glubokaya, Zyma, Half, Kaya, Podkamennaya, Sludyanka.
Most travellers arrive in Irkutsk via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Irkutsk is about halfway between Moscow and the two eastern terminus cities, Vladivostok and Beijing, making it a good place to break the trip, if only to stretch your legs and buy provisions. The Baikal-Amur Mainline, connecting with more northerly cities, also runs nearby.
Apart from Moscow there are also direct carriages from most cities in Russia such as Saint Petersburg (86 hours), as well as from Minsk (94 hours) and Warsaw (113 hours).
Other popular destinations include Vladivostok, Beijing, Ulaanbaatar, Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk, Chita, Khabarovsk, Severobaykalsk, Ulan-Ude, Neryungri, Blagoveshchensk, Ust-Ilimsk, Novokuznetsk, Penza, Kislovodsk and Abakan.
Be wary of the taxi-drivers at the station if arriving on a late-night train. A taxi ride to the centre of town should only cost . Unlicensed taxis will overcharge you. If there is a disagreement, ask your hostel/hotel owner to come to the taxi and arrange the correct fare.
By footThe historical center of Irkutsk is relatively compact and walkable. Traffic congestion is not bad for a city of nearly 600,000 people.
By public transportFor those who want to save time or travel between one side of the river and the other, the public transit system is a good option. Knowing at least how to read the signs on the buses and bus stops is helpful, and on the minibuses, one must call out to the driver to request a stop. Oddly enough, the names of major bus stops are posted on kiosk roofs parallel to the road so that the names are not often visible from inside the bus. Bus and minibus ("marshrutka") fare is usually . Local etiquette is to pay the driver when exiting the bus and trolley (therefore you can exit it only through the front door). In trams tickets should be purchased from driver, then stamped in the machine on board.
Map of tram and trolleybus lines.
Tourist Information Office
Bike rentalSkiwalker, Kultukskaya Ulitza #15, offers bicycle rental.
address: ul Frank-Kamenetskogo 16АHas an interesting and thorough display of Irkutsk from its inception to the present day.
address: Ul. Karla Marksa, 2Has an interesting ethnographic exhibit on indigeous peoples including Even and Buryats, and a display on Irkutsk in the 20th Century.
address: Lermontov, 83, IRNITU, Building EOver 35,000 items on display.
address: Ul. Lenina, 5Probably Siberia's best collection of fine art, including several early icons, Russian secular art of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including a few works of Repin, a section of Mongolian and Chinese art, and a section of European art including a collection of lesser-known Dutch masters.
address: Ul. Lermontova (ул. Лермонтова,) 277АBranch of the museum is at ul. Sedov , 2. All his exhibits operate and can be used by visitors themselves.
address: Rabochaya Street, 22
phone: +7 3952 20-75-32, +7 3952 29-26-63address: Per. Volonskoho, (пер. Волконского,) 10The museum consists of the S.P.Trubetskogo and the S.G.Volkonskogo memorial estates.
Trubetsky House-Museumaddress: Ul. Dzherzhinskogo (ул. Дзержинского,) 64
House of the Military governors
address: ulitsa Nizhnyaya Naberezhnaya, 2Siberian baroque architecture; built between 1718 and 1746.
Our Lady of Kazan Churchaddress: Ul. Barricad (улица Баррикад)Neobyzantian architecture; built between 1885 and 1892.
Znamensky Monasteryaddress: Ul. Angarskaya, 14Built in 1689, this is an old monastery where Alaska explorer Grigory Shelekhov is buried. Also in the name of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Sign. - Orthodox women's monastery. One of the oldest monasteries in Siberia.
Knyaze-Vladimirsky Monasteryaddress: Ul. Kashtanovskaya, 52Built in 1888 in honour of Prince Vladimir.
Prince Vladimir's Church (Church Litvintsevskaya)address: Ul. Kashtakovskaya, (ул. Каштаковская,) 52Part of the Knyaze-Vladimirsky Monastery; also built in 1888.
Neokesariyskovo Gregory Church
Michael the Archangel Church
Church of the Intercession
Church of the Assumption
Ice-breaker "Angarathe oldest among steam ice-breakers in the world, built in 1900 in Newcastle, now a museum docked at the city's port. Technical data of ship: length - 60 m, width - 10.5 m, height from keel to deck in the center - 7.5 m, displacement - 1400 tons.
Dam and hydroelectricity plantYou can Not many people seem to consider the dam and hydroelectric plant as an interesting sight, so you'll be more or less alone there
address: Ul. Octyabrskoi Revolyutsy, (ул. Октябрьской Революции,) 1.A couple of high-tech buildings are there, but more is left to be built. A business district in the Right Bank district of Irkutsk. Located in the eastern part of the historic city center in close proximity to the main streets: Karla Marksa, Dzerzhinsky, Dekabrsky Sobytii. Planned deadline of all objects - 2016, the total built-up area - 300 hectares. This 34 buildings, 15 of which - business centers. Developer of the project - "Active" .
phone: +7 3952 55-44-32address: 2 Zheleznodorozhnaya st., 66Home to 2 Baikal seals. You can see the seals perform and even paint!
Kirov SquareOld names: Between 1669-1790s - The Kremlin, since the beginning of XIX to 1935 - Tikhvin Gostinodvorskaya, Earl Speranskii and others. It is the main square of Right Bank district, of Irkutsk.
Babr SculptureThe coat of arms of Irkutsk
Irkutsk PhilarmonyClassic, jazz, folk music performance. on 2, Dzerzhinskogo st.
City drama theateraddress: Ul. Karla Marksa, (Карла Маркса,) 14Built in 1898.
Angara embankmentaddress: end of Ul. Karla Marksaat the in the evening, the place for meeting of the youth.
Statue of famous Russian writer A. Vampilovaddress: Karl Marx Stwho was born near Irkutsk. Visiting for good luck and happiness in your life. It is a new and popular tradition in Irkutsk, started from Vampilov's anniversary.
Central park in winterthere many ice sculptures as well as an ice castle that you can walk around in. There are ice slides in this park also. Most Russians stand up and slide on the soles of their shoes. The park is very lively at night with tourists, even though the temperatures drop well below -20 degrees C.
- Walk down Ul. Uritskovo, a pedestrian street with shops and cafes.
Kamusi are winter boots used by native Siberians made out of deer, elk, or other fur. One place to buy is at a small shop across from the bus station at Ul. Oktyabrskoi Revolyutsii 20B called "Aikhal". It is in a courtyard behind some kiosks, so it takes some searching. They have kamusi for men, women, and children, with prices starting at about .
For a local speciality, Omul, Sig and Kharius are local fishes found in the lake Baikal (available in many restaurants). Cold smoked kharius is good with beer. Hot smoked kharius you can find in Listvyanka or Kultuk villages near Baikal lake. Price depends on fish size and is usually about for one. In the Central or New market (Noviy Rinok) you can buy kharius and sig caviar - tasty.
National Buryat big dumplings (boozy, pozy) can be found in Amrita cafés. It's a special Buryat fast food chain with some cafés in the middle of town. Cheap, tasty. Pozy is a steamed meat (beef with pork) big dumplings that must be eaten using only hands.
- Cafe Shokolad at Ul. Dekyabrskikh Sobytii 102 behind the wedding palace, is a clean, modern cafe with good salads, reasonably-priced main courses, and, as their name suggests, sumptuous desserts. A bit outside the historical center (near the TANK bus stop), it is a good place to relax after an excursion to the Sukachev Estate down the street.
- Pizza Domino with no relation to the US chain, is at Lenina 13A across from the Lenin Statue. They do pizzas, soups, and other quick meals. Very cheap, and open 24 hours.
- Pizza Pinocchio near the Angara Hotel on Kirov Square and other locations; quick and inexpensive pizzas that are sometimes reheated in a microwave.
Kochevnikphone: +7 395 220-04-59address: Gorkogo St., 19Nice Mongolian restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere.
Seulphone: +7-3952-243824address: Dekabrskikh Sobytiy, 57Korean and Chinese food
phone: +7 (3952) 29-06-07address: Karla Marksa 22Italian food with great service.
- Liverpool — Is a somewhat Beatles themed restaurant which also works as an superb nightclub with young beautiful Russian hipsters and 2 dancefloors. Not much on out of season. Said only 1 beer on which was of couse the most expensive!
address: 29, Sedova stEuropean and Russian cuisine, a dance floor at nights.
Club Megapolisphone: +7 3952 42-64-10address: 4, Ulanbatorskaya stA night club for 2000 persons
address: 15 Karla Marksa stThree bars (big, beer and disco), dancefloor, pizzeria, two 3D cinemas, bowling.
phone: +7 3952 533-628address: 102 Dekabrskikh Sobytiy stCafes Shololade and Summer Terrace; show-club Panorama.
Yefimichphone: +7 3592 20-01-70address: 3, Karla Marksa stA Bar-restaurant for 100 seats inside and 70 seats on the summer ground
Balsams Buryatia and Amrita are very nice Buryat alcoholic drinks (costs about each ). Thay are also very helpful against cold. Balsam Buryatia was consecrated by Dalai-Lama XIV, as it says label on the bottle.
phone: +7 952 6181217address: Gryaznova 15AA great guesthouse,information center, souvenir & coffee shop, and travel company in the center of The Old Town area. Friendly staff, all the basic amenities (spacious common room and kitchen, lockers, laundry etc.) You will also be provided with linens, towels.
phone: +7-3952-940798address: 136 LermontovaThe first hostel in Irkutsk.
phone: +7 3952 68-00-68address: 5 Timiriazeva St., 2nd floorModern accommodation.
phone: +7 964 1111 000address: Sportivniy lane bld. 5A apt. 1Friendly staff, all the basic amenities (2 bathrooms and toilets, spacious common room and kitchen, lockers, laundry etc.) You will also be provided with linens and towels.
phone: +7 3952 218-105, +7 3952 218-106address: Sukhe-Batora st., 7280 rooms, a fitness centre, sauna, swimming pool as well as a billiard room.
address: Chkalov Street 15208 spacious guestrooms, including 7 suites, free access to fitness. Lobby Bar, a full American-style breakfast buffet in the restaurant.
Chinaphone: +7 3952 781-433, +7 3952 781-434, +7 3952 781-435address: Karla Marksa street, 40
- phone: +7 3952 35-93-59, +7 3952 35-93-58, +7 3952 35-16-54address: 259B Baikalskaya St
Mongoliaphone: +7 3952 34-22-95address: 11 Lapina St
- phone: +7 3952 288 010address: 18 Sukhe Batora St
South Koreaphone: +7 3952 24-13-19address: Boulevard Gagarina, 44, Hotel Irkutsk (former Intourist)
- Listvyanka is the closest village to see Lake Baikal. Purchase bus tickets online at url=https://avtovokzal-on-line.ru/ or at the bus station at ulitsa Oktyabrskoy Revolyutsii, 11.
- Irkutsk port serves boats to Ust-Barguzin, Nizhneangarsk, Bolshoye Koty, Listvyanka and port Baikal on the Circum-Baikal Railway.
- Circum-Baikal Railway and the southmost village on the shore Slyudyanka.
Lake BaikalLake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world, lies about an hour away by train or an hour and a half by bus. It can be circled by train (lengths vary from a few hours to 3 days).
Architectural-Ethnographical Museum 'Tal'tsy'This village of several 17th-19th century wooden houses, churches, and a fort that were relocated from around Irkutsk Oblast to form this interesting open-air museum.
Olkhon islandOlkhon island on lake Baikal offers breath-taking views and rest.
Cherskiy mountain rangeMake 3-day trip to Cherskiy peak (about 2,000 m) near Slyudyanka (Слюдянка).
Arshan ResortArshan village in Buryatia offers mineral water springs (cold and hot springs at Arshan, and hot springs at Zhemchug village (Жемчуг) — about 10 km from Arshan) and scenic views of mountains.
- Daily trains to Mongolia arrive after 36 hours to Ulaanbaatar.