Irkutsk Travel Guide

Irkutsk Travel Guide

Brief:

Irkutsk is capital of the Russian province of Irkutsk oblast in Eastern Siberia. The city lies along the Angara River at its confluence with the Irkut River. Much more than 750,000 individuals reside in this city surrounded by organic beauty. Gorgeous birch forests link urban center to its residential region giving a type of resort feeling to Irkutsk. Irkutsk is lighthearted and sunny, filled with pastel-colored 18th century buildings and delicately sculptured old wooden houses exactly where the political rebels lived n serene exile. Elaborate brick mansions were built at the turn of the century, and the dark black wooden cabins were adorned having a nearby "lace" sculpture that provides them a touch of the Italian Renaissance. 

It was founded as a wintering camp in 1652, throughout the initial Russian colonization of the area; a fort was built in 1661, and Irkutsk rapidly became the primary centre of Cisbaikalia and of the Russian trade route to China and Mongolia. It acquired town status in 1686. Its importance grew after the coming of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1898. The city of Irkutsk, with attractive embankments along the river and many surviving wooden houses on its tree-lined streets, is an administrative and cultural centre for Eastern Siberia and of the Russian Far East. Irkutsk State University (1918) and the Siberian branch of the Academy of Sciences are among the city's many teaching and research institutes. Irkutsk has taken on several roles in its nearly 350 years of existence, including expedition base for explorations of Siberia, city of exiles, and gold rush town, just to name a few. The city's nicknames consist of the capital of Siberia, the pearl of Siberia, as well as Paris of Siberia. 

Irkutsk became the major center of intellectual and social life for Russian artists, officers and nobles exiles, and much of the city's cultural heritage comes from them; also, numerous of their wooden houses filled with pastel colour, adorned with ornate, hand-carved decorations, brick mansions and the dark black wooden cabins survive these days in stark contrast with the regular Soviet apartment blocks that surround them. Ice palaces and sculptures are the primary attraction, while classic Russian palaces are of interest to those wanting to understand much more about the city's background. In the early nineteenth century, many Russian artists, officers and nobles had been sent into exile to Siberia for their component in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. The wide streets and ornate, continental architecture led to Irkutsk becoming known as the "Paris of Siberia", even though travelers are unlikely to have a difficult time distinguishing the two today. 

In summer, there are a great deal of travellers from all over the world going to the lake from Irkutsk. If you don't have time for the lake but just a number of hours in the city, you are able to buy any type of Baikal Lake fish there also as caviar. Irkutsk is a really good place to spend a number of days, or just going to the trip to Baikal Lake.

Another of Irkutsk's attractions is the proximity to beautiful, 636km lengthy Lake Baikal exactly where hiking, biking, horse trekking, fishing and boating are big time. The north end is the most stunning and isolated. Listvyanka village is a well-liked place to stay for tourists.

Attractions:

Church of our Saviour (Spasskaya) - The church of our Savior (Spasskaya) is 1 of the most beautiful churches situated in the most historical heart of Irkutsk. The church is regarded as to become the first stone structure in Irkutsk and the oldest current stone building in modern Irkutsk. Its construction started in 1706, right within of the wooden fort from which Irkutsk originated. Its high altar was finished by 1710. The belfry was added to the church in 1716. The church rises to a height of 42 meters (138 ft). The groundwork of the church is in the type of a square. 

Irkutsk Regional Museum - The Irkutsk Regional Museum at Ul. Karla Marksa 2 (across from the Alexander III memorial on the Angara embankment) has an interesting ethnographic exhibit on indigeous peoples including Even and Buryats, along with a show on Irkutsk in the 20th Century. Closed Mondays. 

Cathedral of the Epiphany - Epiphany Cathedral is 1 of three churches in the historical heart of Irkutsk. It was built in common Baroque style. The construction of the Epiphany church had been finished by 1723. The first visitors of the church could see interesting examples of stone coverings and tiles - thin pieces of fired clay. one of the photos is displaying the city's coat of arms on which two animals are depicted. The initial on is babr - a mythical animal - that's holding sable in its teeth that in turn is really a symbolic of Irkutsk's power and wealth. The church of Epiphany is well-known for its bell-tower. 

Lake baikal - Situated in Southern Siberia, Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume, also as the deepest lake int eh globe. It consists of about 20% of the world's total surface freshwater. Lake Baikal is really a narrow and crescent shaped, so formed because it was formed on an ancient rift valley. There are much more than 300 species of protozoans and about the exact same number of the most interesting amphipod crustaceans, various flat and round worms, lower crustaceans, insects, mollusks, fish, and the nerpa (seal). 

City History Museum - City Background Museum at Ul Tchaikovskovo 5 has an fascinating and thorough display of Irkutsk from its inception to the present day. It is presently located across the river (on the same side as the railway station) from the city center; take bus eight, 11, 23, or 25 from the Angara Hotel, although one will probably have to ask which stop to get off at. The museum is scheduled to move to a brand new creating in the city center in Summer 2008. Closed Wednesdays and holidays. 

olchon Island - olkhon (olchon) is the third-largest lake-bound island in the world. It is by far the biggest island in Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia, with an area of 730 square kilometres (280 sq mi). The island's look is really a outcome of millions of years of tectonic motion resulting in the hollowing of the channel in between the land (Small Sea Strait) and the block of stone forming the island. The steep slopes of the mountains show the vertical heave of the earth.

Geology Museum - The Geology Museum at Irkutsk State Polytechnical University has an extensive display of gems and minerals found in Siberia and the Russian Far East, even a block of asbestos beneath glass. From the center, take bus 3, 4, or 21 across the river to the Polytechnical University (behind the railway station); the museum itself is in the central of the three southern wings of the university - don't enter via the main entrance, but rather walk around the outside of the creating to the right.

Sukachev Art Museum - Sukachev Art Museum at Lenina 5. Probably Siberia's best collection of fine art, such as a number of early icons, Russian secular art of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including a couple of functions of Repin, a section of Mongolian and Chinese art, and a section of European art such as a collection of lesser-known Dutch masters. Closed Tuesdays. 

Church of the Exaltation of the Cross (Krestovozdvizhenskaya) - This church is a quite unique, outstanding example of all the church architecture of 18th century Siberia. This stone marvel was built in 1758. Particularly striking is its austere and clear silhouette, reminiscent of old striking is its austere and clear silhouette, reminiscent of old wooden churches, and distinctive interior design: just as in oriental churches, an ornamental pattern covers all its walls.

Znamensky Convent - The former Znamensky (Sign) Convent was founded in 1683. The stone church was built later in 1762. The lovers of architecture undoubtedly will pay attention to its decorative belfry, chetverik and exquisite interior. Its wooden iconostasis and old-framed icons created by Irkutsk woodcarvers and icon painters are nonetheless intact.

Shopping:

Shops in Irkutsk carry all sorts of gifts, ranging from vodka and caviar to Russian dolls and Red Army paraphernalia. At the city's Central Marketplace, you'll discover an abundance of Russian odds and ends.

Wood carvings, birchwood boxes, and lacquer boxes are typical souvenirs of Siberia. A few hotels have souvenir stalls in the lobby, and the Regional Museum at Ul. Karla Marksa 2 has a decent selection in their gift shop as well. 

Kamusi are winter boots used by native Siberians produced out of deer, elk, or other fur. 1 place to purchase is at a little shop across from the bus station at Ul. oktyabrskoi Revolyutsii 20B known as "Aikhal". It's in a courtyard behind some kiosks, so it takes some looking. They have kamusi for men, ladies, and children, with prices beginning at about 3000 Rubles.

Karl Marks is the primary street in Irkutsk. It passes via all Irkutsk's primary area and divides the city into two parts. Along the street, you can find shops for clothings and places for food and drink, any other factor you might need. 

In Irkutsk you discover the central market between ul. Dzerzhinskogo and ul. Timiryazeva. All trams (if I keep in mind it correct) stop there. Lots of the produce comes from other CIS nations or from nearby China.

Eating Out:

Irkutsk has lots of restaurants offering Russian, Siberian, Buryat, Mongolian, Japanese, Chinese and European cuisine. For a nearby specialty, omyl, Sig and Kharius are nearby fishes found in the lake Baikal (available in many restaurants).

Irkutsk has a limited selection of restaurants. All of the major hotels have restaurants, which differ in quality. one of the best, at the Baikal Business Center Hotel, can also be surprisingly inexpensive.

Blinnaya is the location to go for blinis (conventional Russian pancakes). Situated in the center of town, it is popular with locals and as authentic because it gets. A much more upmarket option is the well-liked Japanese restaurant Kioto, a fixture on the city's dining scene.

Irkutsk has plenty of restaurants providing Russian, Siberian, Buryat, Mongolian, Japanese, Chinese and European cuisine. For a nearby specialty, omyl, Sig and Kharius are nearby fishes discovered in the lake Baikal (available in many restaurants).

Kochevnik on Gor'kogo Street, nice Mongolian restaurant with relaxing atmosphere.

Seul at Ul. Dekyabrskikh Sobytii, Korean and Chinese.

Siberian Village at the Angara Hotel on Kirov Square, Siberian cuisine, a stylish location representing an entire village.

Rus at the hotel Rus, Russian.

Cafe Shokolad at Ul. Dekyabrskikh Sobytii 102 behind the wedding palace, is a clean, contemporary cafe with good salads, reasonably-priced main courses, and, as their name suggests, sumptuous desserts. A little outdoors the historical center (near the TANK bus quit), it is a good place to relax following 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 fast meals. Extremely cheap, and open 24 hours.

Pizza Pinnochio near the Angara Hotel on Kirov Square and other locations; fast and inexpensive pizzas which are sometimes reheated inside a microwave.

Accommodation:

There are two primary options for Irkutsk accommodation - a hotel or a hostel. Each has benefits and disadvantages. When it comes to hotels, Irkutsk has a wide range - even though Irkutsk is still waiting for its initial true 5 star hotel, there are a couple of fairly luxurious four star hotels, such as the newly built Gloria Hotel Irkutsk, very a few more three star hotels (such as the ex-Soviet Angara Hotel) along with a plethora of lower priced and lower high quality hotels. If you are looking for a business hotel in Irkutsk, or merely a Western standard hotel for your holiday, there is lots of choice, and we suggest that you go to our detailed guide of Irkutsk Hotels for much more info, and to create a booking.

Hostels in Irkutsk are an excellent choice for travelers on a budget. Simply because the city and Lake Baikal are such a great draw for adventure travelers, there is no shortage of hostels, both in the city center, in its suburbs, and near Lake Baikal. our Irkutsk Hostels page has a list of hostels and their contact particulars.

Alternatively, those wishing to expertise more of Russian culture, or thinking of staying in Irkutsk for an extended period, may wish to think about a homestay having a friendly family members. These can sometimes be privately arranged even though, in the event you study in Irkutsk, your university or program may have the ability to arrange this for you personally.

Irkutsk has accommodation of any kind, as the city is usually complete of tourists and company travelers. There are excellent five-star hotels in Irkutsk, also as cheap 3 and two-star hotels. Most of the hotels in Irkutsk offer all sorts of solutions for the tourists.

Victory hotel is among the greatest hotels of the city. There tourists will discover comfortably furnished rooms with all the amenities included. The rooms have bathrooms with showers, direct dial phone, as well as electronic security system. The hotel has also restaurants and many other facilities.

Angara hotel is another well-liked hotel amongst the tourists. It is situated in the central part of the city. Angara hotel is 1 of the oldest hotels in Irkutsk, which provides all sorts of solutions required for a comfortable rest. The hotel has a business center, where company meetings and conference can be organized.

Baikal Business Center hotel is among the greatest 4 star hotels in the city. It is located closely to the Irkutsk exhibition Center. The hotel offers best services and all kinds of entertainment.

Irkutsk has accommodation for all spending budget and tastes: you are able to discover a superb 5-star hotel for $150 US per night, or a extremely simple, stuffy, but cheap space for $15 US per evening. The majority of the hotels are situated in the centrum of the city. There are aslo two good hotels ("Baikal Business Center" and "Sun") located close to the primary exposition center of Irkutsk (SibExpoCenter) and in 10 minutes from the airport - might be great option for business travelers.

If you want to save cash, we suggest you to visit Listvyanka - a village on the shore of Baikal lake - the hotels there are of much much better price-quality ratio and the prices range from $5 (!) to $75 per evening, all of them are of a very good quality. See the Transportation section on how you can get to Listvyanka, usually it takes about 1.five hours by bus, there are about 5 buses each day from the bus station (the last one at 19.00) for 60 R ($2), or you can take a taxi or perhaps a car for about 300 R ($10), it'll take you 40 minutes. You can then come back to Irkutsk in the morning.

It is possible to seek out apartments for short-term rent in Irkutsk, but in most of the cases it'll be of a very low quality (but cheap also - from $20 / night), so rather we suggest you to attempt to find a homestay. Like this the high quality will be higher, the price stays the same (about $15-$20 / evening), and you get a chance to meet local people.

In the event you feel like camping, don't do it in Irkutsk - there are simply no places, much better take a bus or perhaps a car to Listvynka - a village on the shore of Baikal lake - and camp there (it costs about 300 R by automobile to go there and takes 1 hour).

Transportation:

Irkutsk is really a relatively compact city in the historical center and traffic congestion isn't bad for a city of almost 600,000. It is a very walkable city within the center, and for all those who want to save time or travel in between 1 side of the river and the other, the public transit system is great. Knowing at least how to read the indicators on the buses and bus stops is helpful, and on the minibuses, 1 must call out to the driver to request a quit. oddly sufficient, the names of major bus stops are posted on kiosk roofs parallel to the road to ensure that the names are not often visible from inside the bus. Bus and minibus fare is normally ten Rubles for bus, or 12 Rubles for minibus ("marshrutka"). Nearby etiquitte is to pay the driver when exiting the bus and trolley (therefore you are able to exit it only thru the front door). In trams tickets should be bought from driver, then stamped in the machine onboard.

There is no road about lake Baikal, nevertheless you can get by car at numerous points in the southern component of Baikal and drive to olkhon island as well. In the event you travel by automobile, you need to usually have sufficient petrol with you to obtain back to the petrol station. There are number of stations on the Irkutsk-Ulan-Ude road, also as on the road along Eastern shore of Baikal (Ulan-Ude - Ust-Barguzin) and along the road from Irkutsk to olkhon island. Diesel could be purchased from the fishermen in villages. It's tough to obtain fuel at olkhon Island. Most of the roads are not asphalted and you better use all-wheels-drive automobile. The road to olkhon is inside a great condition (except the final 60 km, exactly where it's just not asphalted), but be prepared to remain inside a a number of hours line to obtain to the ferry from the mainland to the island and back. Also, everybody who travels about Baikal ought to carry a spare tire: it's not a rare sight to determine someone with his tire broken on the road.
There are normal buses Irkutsk-olkhon island, Irkutsk-Arshan, Irkutsk- Ulan-Ude, Ulan-Ude-Arshan, which start from the Bus stations in Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude. The tickets should be purchased a minimum of 1 day beforehand.

As typical there are buses, trolleybuses, and trams in the city. They cover most of the city center, but I personally prefer trams. The greatest factor to do is to ask the driver for your destination, before you get within. If he/she nods, then it is ok. People are very helpful in Irkutsk, so you'll be able to discover your way around. Taxis are also quite popular in Irkutsk, it expenses about $1-$2 to ride in the city center, and from $15-$20 1 method to Listvyanka, that is 60 km away.

There are numerous privately owned minibuses following the regular buses routes. The minibus is usually quicker and the ride expenses more. The minibuses park at the bus stations and have no timetables. It departs because it is packed with clients. To find out exactly where the current minibus is going to look at the windscreen - there should be a sign having a written destination on it. You need to pay for the ride straight to the driver. You will be asked to pay the double price if your backpack will be to large and will be placed on the seat. You are able to hire the whole minibus, ask if a driver can get you to the certain place and how much money he wants for this.

The taxi from the airport to the city center costs about 100R ($3). You are able to also take a bus or shuttle #20, which departs every 3 minutes or so, costs 8R ($0.25) and goes via the city center (route: airport > Dekabrskikh Sobytii st. > Karla Marksa st. > Lenina st. (Angara hotel) > Angara river > Railway station). The entire trip requires about 30 minutes. Also, there's a train ticket office at the main railway station, that is opened 24 hours each day. The people there speak English and are extremely helpful and polite. 

There are no normal boat lines on the lake. There are only Irkutsk-Listvyanka, MRS-olkhon Island and Port Baikal-Listvyanka ferries. There are no regular timetables for these ferries, you shoud get to the nearby port and verify it there. There are, nevertheless, fishermen who can give you a lift not too far for money.

Climate:

Irkutsk has a borderline subarctic climate (Koppen climate classification Dwc), just short of a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfb), characterized by extreme variation of temperatures between seasons. Temperatures can be extremely warm in the summer, and brutally cold in the winter. Nevertheless, Lake Baikal takes its effect, such that temperatures in Irkutsk are not as extreme as elsewhere in Siberia. The warmest month of the year in Irkutsk is July, when the imply temperature is 18 °C (64.four °F), the highest temperature recorded being 37 C. The coldest month of the year is January, when the mean temperature is only -19 °C (-2.2 °F). Precipitation also varies widely throughout the year, with the wettest month also being July, when precipitation averages 119 mm (4.70 in). The driest month is February, when precipitation averages only 7.6 mm (.30 in). Almost all precipitation throughout the Siberian winter falls as fluffy, low moisture content snow.

The best time to visit Baikal Lake is throughout the summers, as the location is warmer and has extremely less rainfall. Even though there are tourists, who prefer to go to the Baikal throughout winters to experience the Siberian cold. However, as the Siberian winters are unbearably cold, most visitors prefer going there during the summers. This is a lot better as you are able to involve yourself in most tourist activities and discover the place comfortably.

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