A popular stop on the Trans-Siberian railway, Irkutsk is surrounded by natural beauty and is only a short distance away from Lake Baikal. This centre of Siberian culture has charming heritage architecture, masses of contemporary art and year-round celebrations and festivals.
Things to do
In between Irkutsk’s modern buildings you’ll spot traditional Siberian timber houses. The best place to see these is at 130 Kvartal, a complex of restored or recreated wooden houses that contain restaurants, cafes and museums.
Soak up the local culture at Sukachev Art Museum, which showcases early religious art, Russian paintings spanning three centuries and an assortment of Chinese and Mongolian art. The Sculpture Gallery has more modern pieces, including an exhibition of Soviet sculptures, some of which are made of semi-precious stones.
Kirov Square changes with the seasons, showcasing flowers in warm weather and ice sculptures in the winter. Try the selection of beers at the nearby Bier House or sample some of the delicious desserts at Cafe Shokolad.
Irkutsk is an ideal base for exploring Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake, 70 kilometres to the south. In summer, you can lounge on the beaches, swim in the clear water or ride a horse along the scenic lakeside paths. If you’re there in winter, try the snowmobile trips and ice fishing or watch the annual Winter Games Festival.
Irkutsk is a stop on the Trans-Siberian route and many visitors arrive at the main train station. It’s easy to get around on the efficient public transport system of buses, minibuses and trams. Regular buses go out to Irkutsk Airport, less than 10 kilometres outside the city.
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