Irkutsk InformationOn this page: General Information ; How to Get to Irkutsk ; Accommodation ; Tours and Excursions
On other pages: Plan Trip to Baikal ; Destinations at Baikal ; Listvyanka ; Olkhon ; Circum-Baikal Trains
Irkutsk is one of the largest cities of Eastern Siberia. With population of 593,000 inhabitants it is only behind Krasnoyarsk in this geographical region of Russia. The city stands on the Angara river banks only 75 km (47 mi) below its outflow from Lake Baikal. The historical part of the city is situated right on the opposite side from Angara confluence with the Irkut river from which the city took its name.
Irkutsk is considered to be one of the Russian cities with historical heritage. Founded in 1661 as a temporary fort for trading furs with locals, the city soon grew into the most important economic and cultural center of Siberia. In XIX-th century, many nobles from European part of Russia were exiled here for taking part in Decembrist revolt against Russian Emperor. The exiles contributed a lot in turning Irkutsk into intellectual and cultural capital of Siberia. Since 1825, it had become the capital of extensive territory which included Siberia, Russia’s Far East and Alaska. More about History
Unlike many Russian cities, Irkutsk managed to preserve its unique architectural style throughout Soviet time’s industrialization and modern Russia’s oil-driven economic boom. Streets and squares of historical part of the city keep the spirit of past centuries with their brick merchants’ mansions of the late XIX-th and old wooden houses made of Siberian logs and decorated with hand-carved ornaments. More about Wooden architecture
Today, Irkutsk is a popular travel destination along the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is especially on summer weekends when many Russians head on from the city to their gardens one can mention a great number of foreign travelers on Irkutsk central streets. Besides having its own tourist attractions, Irkutsk is the closest large city and international airport to Lake Baikal. This is making it the starting point for most of Lake Baikal tours and expeditions as well as short single-day trips to the lake.
Traveling to Irkutsk
Irkutsk is 6-hour jet flight away from Moscow which is the major hub for international flights to Russia. Irkutsk international airport serves flights to all of three main Moscow airports. Besides, there is international flight to Beijing, China operated by both local and Chinese airline companies. See Schedule for Irkutsk international airport. If travelling across Russia by plane there are also flights to many other Russian cities including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Ulan-Ude, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, etc.
Passenger railway station is located right across the Angara river from historical city center. It is 5,185 km (3,222 mi) trip eastwards from Moscow and 1,113 km (695 mi) to the northwest from Ulan-Bator (Mongolia). Irkutsk railway station is one of the largest in Eastern Siberia. All the trains stop here along the way, and many trains are being formed in Irkutsk and depart to different directions. For some most popular routes please see the schedule for Irkutsk railway station.
When arriving Irkutsk one can find out that the railway station in right in the city center. The airport is also nearby; it is situated amazingly close to one of the cities residential suburbs. For your convenience we can organize automobile or tourist coach transfers from there to any hotel in Irkutsk or Lake Baikal. It is fast, convenient and very easy to reserve in advance.
There is also a choice of taking a taxi or using the extensive public transportation network. Note, that none of Irkutsk taxicabs have taximeter on board. Locals know how much the fair cost to any part of the city is. For guests and visitors it may be challenging to bargain with Russian-speaking drivers. The hint is to walk somewhat away from the airport or railway main entrance; fares may decrease significantly. The network of city transport both publicly and privately owned can take you almost anywhere in the city. We are always willing to suggest the bus route number that will take you to your hotel. Some may find it to be an interesting cultural experience, if not contact us for your transfer information.
Irkutsk offers its guests a plenty of accommodation options. There are many hotels back from Soviet times with rooms and halls renovated as well as newly built modern tourist class hotels that meet most of international hospitality standards. We have carefully selected the best accommodations in Irkutsk that have the experience of hosting international guests. Room rates at these hotels may be pretty high in comparison with the same type of properties in some other countries. This happens due to a very short tourist season that lasts for only 3 or 4 months a year. While there is a significant lack of rooms in the city during summer, property owners by charging higher rates tend to cover losses they have during winter time.
Optionally, there are hotels targeted mostly at local market of Russian business and leasure travelers. These hotels usually do not have any English-speaking personnel, but certainly have more affordable rates. We can also offer our guests apartments for rent in newly built or refurbished condos in the city center. This may be a good choice for people who do not mind preparing their own breakfasts or dinners on the kitchen found in any apartment. For backpackers and budget travelers there are also hostel type of accommodations that are mostly situated in the same residential condos, these hostels have private rooms with shared facilities as well as dormitory type of rooms with rates per bed per night. For any of these options please contact us with your request, and we will try to find the one that meet all your expectations.
Besides accommodation and transfers we would be happy to arrange cultural and excursions program for you while your stay here. To explore the city you can check one of our fully escorted tours to Lake Baikal that necessarily include the city tour and a visit to Decembrist museum.
Once you already arrived to Irkutsk as a free independent traveler with no fixed plans to explore the city we would be happy to offer you our single day trips that start in Irkutsk. Our guide will pick you up from the hotel where you stay and after the program is finished will return you back to any place in Irkutsk. All our excursions are led by experienced English-speaking guides and include car or tourist coach transfers. We are very flexible and organize these tours on a short notice.
Our database of ongoing tours from Irkutsk is growing each year, and this is also a result of our guests’ travel ideas. Please, share us your project, we will arrange the trip of your dream together with you!