The city of Irkutsk may not be the first place you think of when the urge to travel kicks in, but we think it should be! Located in eastern Siberia, Irkutsk is home to a rich history, unique architecture, delicious food, and is in close proximity to the deepest and oldest lake in the world (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). If you’re planning on visiting or just curious about what to see and do if you plan a trip, our expert local guides are sharing their picks for the best things to do in Irkutsk.
Walk around the 130th District
One of the areas in the city loved by both locals and visitors is the 130th District. This is a good spot for some aimless exploring. Get lost among the many small, local shops where you can try cedar nuts or local honey. This is also a good spot to shop for souvenirs such as Orenburg shawls, matryoshkas, and other local handicrafts. You’ll also find a good selection of cafes, bars, and restaurants. During the summer months, lots of terraces are open and live music is played in the open air.
Explore the Green Line
The Green Line is a wonderful way to explore the city and its main streets and sites including monuments, famous buildings, embankments, and other must-sees in Irkutsk. That is a route that takes you to 30 sites in the historical center of the city. The line is five kilometres and absolutely walkable. Don’t forget to take a break for a good cup of coffee or to have something to eat. A few good places on your way are Rassolnik, Krutoi Zames, Babr Burger, Mamochka, and Paloma. The Green line is marked on this map, but you can ask for a paper copy at the Tourist Information Office and also get a free consult on what else to do and see while you’re in the city.
Discover Listvyanka Village
This little settlement is location on the shores of the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal. Listvyanka is the closest lakeside village to Irkutsk, and you can get there by a minibus from the central bus station in the city. There’s plenty to do around the lake in both summer and winter. During warmer months you can explore the charming village on foot, swim in the lake, or take a boat ride. In the winter, there’s the chance for hovercraft rides across the ice, dog-sledding, and ice fishing.
Visit the Decembrists’ Houses
Travel back in time by visiting the historical and memorial museum of the Decembrists, housed in two memorial estates: Volkonsky House-Museum and Trubetskoy House-Museum. But who were Decembrists? They were Russian revolutionaries who led an unsuccessful revolt on December 14, 1825. After that key historical event, the leaders of the uprising were killed immediately, and more than 100 Decembrists were exiled to Siberia. The history of Irkutsk is deeply connected with the Decembrists and their wives, so if you’re interested in learning more, visiting their houses is a must.
Check out the Gallery of V. Bronstein
This is the best place in our city for anybody who is interested in contemporary art. The space holds upwards of 1500 pieces of work by Siberian artists that is well worth checking out on a visit to the city. In particular, there is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the famous Buryat artist Dashi Namdakov, who is popular all over the world. In addition, there are lots of new exhibits opening in the halls of the gallery every couple of months so you never know what you might come across.