Travel Guide Europe Russia Siberia Irkutsk



Irkutsk - Cathedral

Irkutsk - Cathedral

© Gelli

On the banks of the Angara River 72 kilometres from Lake Baikal, Irkutsk is today the tourist gateway to the Baikal region and the wilds of Siberia surrounding it. Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has 2 national

Much of the history of Irkutsk, though, revolves around the Decembrists. In the early nineteenth century, many Russian artists, officers and nobles were sent into exile to Siberia for their part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. Irkutsk became the major center of intellectual and social life for these exiles, and much of the city's cultural heritage comes from them. Many of their wooden houses, adorned with ornate, hand-carved decorations, were built by the Decemberists, and still survive today.

Today, Irkutsk is one of the biggest cities 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.



Sights and Activities

Irkutsk wooden architecture

Irkutsk wooden architecture

© GregW

Irkutsk is home to a remarkable number of historic churches, among them Ascension Church (1747-51), Epiphany Cathedral (1718-46), Our Lady of Kazan Church (1885-92), and Saviour Church (1706-13). There are also a few historical museums in the houses of Decembrist exiles, or you can just wander around and look at the beautiful wooden architecture on the houses. A downloadable PDF sight-seeing map can be found at WWW Irkutsk.

Lake Baikal

The world's deepest lake is Lake Baikal 65 kilometres southeast of Irkutsk. It is 1,637 metres deep and contains roughly 20% of the world's freshwater supplies. Fed by 336 rivers and streams including the Angara, Barguzin, Selenga, Turka and Snezhnaya, the lake holds fifty species of fish including bullhead, sturgeon and omul. [1]



Events and Festivals

In the winter, the central park has 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 tourist, even though the temperatures drop well below -20 °C.




Winter precipitation is quite light and all of it falls as snow. Winters are very cold and prolonged everywhere, but the short summers can be quite warm and pleasant by day once the winter snow has melted. Summers become shorter northwards, but even as far north as Verkhoyansk (see the table) the brief summer has some very warm days. Summer is the wettest season everywhere.

Average temperatures for the year are:

  • January - 3 hours of daylight, with a low of -26 °C and a high of -16 °C.
  • February - 5 hours of daylight, with a low of -25 °C and a high of -12 °C.
  • March - 7 hours of daylight, with a low of -17 °C and a high of -4 °C.
  • April - 7 hours of daylight, with a low of -7 °C and a high of 6 °C.
  • May - 8 hours of daylight, with a low of 1 °C and a high of 13 °C.
  • June - 8 hours of daylight, with a low of 7 °C and a high of 20 °C.
  • July - 8 hours of daylight, with a low of 10 °C and a high of 21 °C.
  • August - 7 hours of daylight, with a low of 9 °C and a high of 20 °C.
  • September - 6 hours of daylight, with a low of 2 °C and a high of 14 °C.
  • October - 5 hours of daylight, with a low of -6 °C and a high of 5 °C.
  • November - 3 hours of daylight, with a low of -17 °C and a high of -7 °C.
  • December - 2 hours of daylight, with a low of -24 °C and a high of -16 °C.

More information on the weather can be found from the BBC Irkutsk Average Weather website.

Avg Max-13.5 °C-9.8 °C-0.6 °C8.2 °C17.1 °C22.6 °C24.1 °C21.6 °C15.5 °C6.9 °C-3.3 °C-11 °C
Avg Min-23.1 °C-22.1 °C-13.4 °C-4 °C2.6 °C8.4 °C12 °C10 °C3.6 °C-3.5 °C-13 °C-20.2 °C
Rainfall12 mm9 mm13 mm19 mm33 mm62 mm120 mm86 mm50 mm30 mm18 mm19 mm
Rain Days43357811108665



Getting There

By Plane

Irkutsk International Airport (Russian: Аэропорт Ирку́тск) (Airport Code: IKT) is an airport in the centre of Irkutsk, Russia. Due to its proximity to the Angara Reservoir the airport enjoys a particular microclimate, with foggy weather being prevalent for most of the year. The airport is often closed due to bad weather conditions, with Bratsk serving as a diversion airport. Some key destinations served from Irkutsk include:

There is also the smaller Irkutsk Northwest Airport, which mostly serves civilian aircraft.

By Train

Irkutsk - Ulaan Baatar train

Irkutsk - Ulaan Baatar train

© GregW

Irkutsk is a station on the Trans-Siberian Railway, connecting Moscow and Vladivostok. There are numerous services running from Irkutsk on a daily basis. Branch lines also go south towards Mongolia and China, and to Ulan-Ude.

By Car

Federal road connects Irkutsk with Vladivostok.

By Boat

From late June until late August, there are hydrofoil connections from Irkutsk all the way up north across Lake Baikal to Severobaykalsk, where you can connect to the Baikal Amur Railway (BAM). There are summer ferries to Bratsk as well across the Angara river.



Getting Around

By Public Transport

Around Town
Buses, trolley buses (electric buses), and trams (on tracks) operate on an honour system. Tickets (called "taloni") are the same for all three and can be purchased in a 10-pack from the driver, at kiosks situtated near bus stops, and at some other kiosks. To validate your ticket, slide it into the top of one of the devices mounted on the walls, and punch it. During the day, especially in the city centre, these forms of transportation can get extremely crowded. People often pass their tickets through the crowd to someone standing near a punching device. If you are handed a ticket, please pass it along or punch it and pass it back, as appropriate.

If you travel without a ticket and an inspector catches you, you will be fined 20,000 rubles. (Make sure to get a receipt when you pay the fine.)
Tram numbers are posted on small signs hanging on wires above the street. Trams stop in the middle of the street, but you can wait on the sidewalk. When a tram approaches, cars are obliged to stop and wait for passengers getting on and off the tram.

To Suburbs and Lake Baikal
There are many bus routes between the small suburban towns and Irkutsk city. The main routes are to Angarsk (every day) and to Listvyanka/Lake Baikal (every 2 hours). You can reach any small railway station near Irkutsk via the "elektrichka" or suburban trains. There are a number of hydrofoil routes down the river Angara and up to Lake Baikal. They run only in the summer time.

By Foot

The historical centre of Irkutsk is relatively compact and walkable. Traffic congestion is not bad for a city of nearly 600,000 people.

By Bike

Skiwalker, Kultukskaya Ulitza #15, offers bicycle rental.




For a local speciality, Omyl, 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 RUB150-25 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.
Kochevnik, Gorkogo St., 19, ☏ +7 395 220-04-59, ✉ [email protected]. Nice Mongolian restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere.
Seul, Dekabrskikh Sobytiy, 57, ☏ +7-3952-243824, ✉ [email protected]. Korean and Chinese food.
Figaro, Karla Marksa 22, ☏ +7 (3952) 29-06-07, ✉ [email protected]. 10:30AM-midnight. Italian food with great service.




Balsams Buryatia and Amrita are very nice Buryat alcoholic drinks (costs about 180 RUB each 0.75 l). Thay are also very helpful against cold. Balsam Buryatia was consecrated by Dalai-Lama XIV, as it says label on the bottle.

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!
Broadway, 29, Sedova st, ✉ [email protected]. 12:00-2:00 Tu-Th; 12:00-6:00 Fr-Sa; the bar works around clock. European and Russian cuisine, a dance floor at nights.
Club Megapolis (Мегаполис), 4, Ulanbatorskaya st, ☏ +7 3952 42-64-10. 22:00-7:00. A night club for 2000 persons admittance fee 50-200 руб depending on the weekday.
Club Stratosfera (Стратосфера), 15 Karla Marksa st. Three bars (big, beer and disco), dancefloor, pizzeria, two 3D cinemas, bowling.
Panorama (Панорама), 102 Dekabrskikh Sobytiy st, ☏ +7 3952 533-628, ✉ [email protected]. Cafes Shololade and Summer Terrace; show-club Panorama.
Yefimich (Ефимыч), 3, Karla Marksa st, ☏ +7 3592 20-01-70. A Bar-restaurant for 100 seats inside and 70 seats on the summer ground




Many locals have rooms for rent and services such as Airbnb are popular ways of finding accomodation.

Baikal Hostel - The hostel is situated in Irkutsk, between the train station and the dam on the River Angara. Get off at the bus and Marshrutka station Mikrochirugia Glasa, on the main street uliza Lermontova. From there it's a 1-minute walk to the hhostel.
52°17' Travelcenter & Hostel, Gryaznova 15A, ☏ +7 952 6181217, ✉ [email protected]. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. A 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. Dorm bed: 600 руб; Twin: 1600 руб.
Magic Hostel, 5 Timiriazeva St., 2nd floor (in the very center of Irkutsk), ☏ +7 3952 68-00-68, ✉ [email protected]. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Modern accommodation. Dorm bed: 400-700 руб; Double: 1200-1600 руб.
Nerpa Backpackers Hostel, Sportivniy lane bld. 5A apt. 1 (in the city center, a 7-minute walk from the train station), ☏ +7 964 1111 000, ✉ [email protected]. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. Friendly 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. Dorm bed: 600 руб.
Angara Hotel, Sukhe-Batora st., 7 (2.5km from the train station, at the Kirov Square in the centre), ☏ +7 3952 218-105, +7 3952 218-106, ✉ [email protected]. 280 rooms, a fitness centre, sauna, swimming pool as well as a billiard room. Single: 2100-3600 руб; Twin: 3400-4000 руб.
Courtyard by Marriott Irkutsk, Chkalov Street 15 (walking distance of the Kirov Place). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. 208 spacious guestrooms, including 7 suites, free access to fitness. Lobby Bar, a full American-style breakfast buffet in the restaurant.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


Russia is a huge country, and excess to the internet varies a lot. The main cities and tourist places have (free) wifi excess at lots of places, like restaurants and cafes (McDonald's is always a safe bet). Internet cafes are present in larger places as well. Rural areas and especially if you venture into remote and/or mountainous areas have little excess at all. Most travellers will find connections though when using their phone or tablet.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The emergency number is 112. The country code for Russia is 7. Russian phone numbers have an area code with three, four or five digits (according to their province), followed by an individual number with, respectively, 7, 6 or 5 digits, always yielding 10 digits in total. The three digit code 800 is used for toll-free calls. Mobile phones always have three-digit "area" codes and seven-digit numbers. Calls within any one area code may omit the area code (except in Moscow). Inter-area code calls within Russia: 8 (wait for tone) full Russian number including area code. The international access code for dialling outwith Russia is the sequence of 8 (wait for secondary tone and then) 10. International calls to Russia, as always, replace the plus sign (+) in the international phone format with the local international access code for the country you're calling from, followed by Russia's country code of 7 followed by the individual Russian phone number including area code.

You will require a SIM-unlocked GSM 900 / 1800 compatible international cell phone when buying a Russian SIM card. If you do not have your own international cell phone, it's best to buy a cheap cell phone with some value on the card. Foreigners can purchase a local SIM card by showing your passport. BeeLine is considered to be the best in terms of reliability and connections quality. However Megafon's services can be a bit cheaper.


Russian Post is the national postal service of Russia. It's English version is currently under construction, but mainly involves the track&trace system. The domestic post is reasonably reliable, and sending international mail is fairly reliable but slow, taking at least a few weeks to European countries, longer to the USA or Australia for example. The delivery of mail sent from abroad to Russia is highly unreliable, and people or companies tend to use foreign adresses, from where a private carrier sends it to Russia. Alternatives like poste restante are non-existent with Russian Post. Most cities and large towns in Russia have a Central Post Office (Glavpochtamt), which also sells stamps and envelopes, and usually has fax services and Internet availability, though the latter mostly not in smaller places. Also, many hotels have postal services, including mail boxes. Post offices tend to keep long hours, usually from 8:00am or 9:00am until 8:00pm or 9:00pm Monday to Friday, and closing earlier during weekends. The main central post offices in the biggest cities keep even longer hours. For sending parcels, you can also try services by DHL Russia and FedEx Russia. For all mail you can use the regular alphabet, though maybe include the country's name in Cyrillic. For sending post to Russia (or trying to receive it) note that addresses should be in reverse order: Russia, postal code, city, street address, name.



  1. 1 Baikal facts

Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 52.275261
  • Longitude: 104.30864

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This is version 25. Last edited at 15:00 on Dec 2, 19 by Utrecht. 27 articles link to this page.

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