You are here

Irkutsk, Russia

Irkutsk was founded in 1661 as a fort to colonize Siberia. It was the main Russian fort behind the Ural mountains, so all the expeditions to colonize Kamchatka and Alaska have begun there. For centuries Russian emperors, communists exiled political prisoners to Irkutsk, thus many brainy Russians spent years in the city influencing the average IQ level of inhabitants.

Irkutsk is often called the “Paris of Siberia” as the culture and refinement at this one-time outpost not far from the frontiers of China and Mongolia came from the Decembrists, a group of Russian revolutionaries that tried to topple the Russian Empire in 1825. Many of the leaders of this rebellion were executed in St. Petersburg, yet the involved nobility were exiled to Irkutsk. Two of the homes that housed some of the largest salons and social gatherings of this era, the Volkonsky House and the Trubetskoy House, still stand, the former of which remains one of the more popular museums of the city.

Even today art remains an integral part of the city. It houses the Irkutsk Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the largest art galleries east of the Ural Mountains, the Sukachev Art Museum and the Sukachev Estate - the former home of one of the more prominent mayors, linking the Decembrists era and the modern days.

The center of the city is full of wooden houses with typical decorative carvings on the walls and window frames. Most of the buildings of this kind were destroyed in Moscow and other big cities during the industrialization of the 20th century, so it’s a rare opportunity to see what a Russian city would look like if it stayed the way it was back in the days.

Irkutsk sits in a region so cold that some parts of the ground never thaw even in the hottest summer days. It’s no surprise that the icebreaker Angara, one of the oldest in the world and a geology museum serve as important sights for tourists.

Of course, the real reason to visit Irkutsk is Lake Baikal, located nearby. The deepest lake in the world, this Russian treasure is often called the “Blue Eye of Siberia.” It is said that putting one’s feet in the water from its shores will add five years to your life (a particularly memorable experience in the winter months).

Traditionally, Irkutsk was the city from which the great Russian explorers set out. Even today, it is a great place to start one’s own personal exploration of Siberia and the Russian Far East.

You are here

Irkutsk, Russia

You are here

Irkutsk, Russia

No video has been added yet

See it on following tours


Small Group Trans-Siberian

17 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Ekaterinburg Irkutsk Ulan Bator
Ideal program for travelers who want to explore authentic Trans-Siberian. Program enhance lifetime adventure with comfort and expert service.
Rating: 4.95

Epic Trans-Siberian Expedition

20 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Ekaterinburg Novosibirsk Irkutsk Vladivostok
All aboard! Explore Russia far and wide in 20 days with our new small group Trans-Siberian rail adventure from Moscow to Lake Baikal to Vladivostok
Rating: 4.94

Tsar's Gold Trans-Siberian

16 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Ulan Bator Beijing
First private train to operate on Trans-Siberian route. Tsar's Gold provides all inclusive itinerary and top-notch quality.
Rating: 4.90

Eurasian Capitals Trans-Siberian

Saint Petersburg Moscow Irkutsk Ulan Bator Beijing
An extended journey from Russia to China starting in one of the most beautiful places on Earth - the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg.
Rating: 4.89

Epic Trans-Siberian

Moscow Ekaterinburg Novosibirsk Irkutsk Vladivostok
Explore Russia's vastness with the Epic Trans-Siberian Expedition - if you want to see all of Russia this program is built for you.
Rating: 4.82

Classic Trans-Siberian

Moscow Irkutsk Ulan Bator Beijing
A classic three-country Trans-Siberian with combination of trains and downtown hotels, carefully planned sightseeing and flexible program.
Rating: 4.85

Golden Eagle Journey

15 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Vladivostok
Embark on the ultimate Trans-Siberian journey surrounded by 5-star luxury and quality of the premium private train, the Golden Eagle.
Rating: 5.00

Imperial Russia Classic

15 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Ulan Bator Beijing
A classic Trans-Siberian route through Russia, Mongolia & China aboard the Russian Railways private train - Imperial Russia.
Rating: 4.79

Naadam Festival

13 days / Group rail tour
Moscow Kazan Irkutsk Ulan Bator
From Moscow to Ulan Bator on board Luxury Golden Eagle Train to celebrate the biggest national holiday in Mongolia, the Naadam Festival.
Rating: 4.75