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An update from Evaneos

Irkutsk (Russia)

Practical information about Irkutsk

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3 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
More than 5 hours by plane from Moscow
When to go
From May to September
Minimum stay
3 to 5 days

Reviews of Irkutsk

Marie Cavalié Travel writer
27 travel articles

Irkutsk is Russia's biggest eastern city, and it will draw you into its fascinating history. It was founded in the 17th century and was the point of departure from numerous expeditions towards Lake Baikal, as well as home to numerous exiles.

My suggestion:
Try kvass, a thirst quenching Russian drink made from fermented bread. It's sold from yellow coloured tanks on the street corners. It's quite surprising at the beginning, but you quickly get used to it.

I think that Irkutsk is an indispensable part of a trip to Russia. Irkutsk will definitely surprise you. It is near Lake Baikal, on a cultural crossroads (Russians, Buryats, and Mongols), and with a past that is as fascinating as it is rich. So get 100% out of the town and don't rush off to see the lands around Lake Baikal too quickly!

Walking along the banks of the Angara, visiting the many magnificent churches, or the houses of the Decembrists (intellectuals who were exiled for revolting against Nicolas I), helped me to understand how the city has benefitted over time from an important and rapid cultural, artistic, scientific, social and political development. Its rich history is reflected in the architecture, and when you have walked around, you feel deeply affected by the city, even though it is so far from the Russian capital. 

Take the time to visit Irkutsk properly, and also to go round some of its many, enormous and typically Russian markets. It's a Francophile city, so if young people don't speak English they may well speak French! 

Epiphany Cathedral
Antoine d'Audigier Travel writer
48 travel articles

A town with beautiful churches in the middle of Russia.

My suggestion:
If you are taking the Trans-Siberian then stop there, it's easy enough to get another train to go almost anywhere.

Apart from the difficulties of pronouncing its name, Irkutsk is a small but pleasant town. And it's already got the benefit of being next to two great Russian must sees - the Trans-Siberian and Lake Baikal. But I was surprised to find how many beautiful pieces of architecture there are, especially the churches.

I was really wowed by Irkutsk Cathedral, as well as Prince Vladimir Monastery. The towers, onion domes and wonderful colours are real works of art. During a trip to Russia, lots of travellers spend more than a week travelling the continent from Beijing, Ulan-Bator or Vladivostok but I really recommend you stop for a few days in Irkutsk and spend time in the wonderful countryside around the sublime lake.

Irkutsk on the river bank
Marc Sigala Travel writer
67 travel articles

Not far from the Mongolian frontier, Irkutsk is the biggest town in eastern Siberia.

My suggestion:
Irkutsk isn't an unpleasant town, but its interest is limited. You're better off having planned to see its surroundings, like Lake Baikal for example.

I got off the Trans-Siberian at Irkutsk and I wasn't disappointed. The town doesn't have many interesting things to do. I enjoyed walking through the 19th century buildings and the many small churches. It has been welcoming tourists for a few years so there are plenty of places to go to stay or to enjoy yourself.

There are a few museums, as well as Znamensky monastery and Epiphany Cathedral to see, but I didn't stay long in Irkutsk because it's quickly seen. I made the most of being there by going to see Lake Baikal , which is only 70 km away. The world's largest fresh water lake is the must see of the region and my detour there was more memorable than the town of Irkutsk itself.

Znamensky monastery