24 hours in: Irkutsk
One day stay in the capital of Eastern Siberia. Is it enough? It will take you about 20 minutes to get from the airport to downtown. By the way, there are trolleybuses running this rout. It makes clear that Irkutsk is a quite compact city. So, one day is enough to see it all if you can’t stay longer.
It’s very convenient to get around on foot. Taking public transport could be a nice city life experience as well. If you could be late for a meeting with our local guide, Yandex taxi is here for you.
Irkutsk local guides team will take you to the most interesting places of the city. They will show you the best way to explore Irkutsk and turn one-day stay into the best day ever.
Early morning: 8-9 AM
All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. Let happiness enter your day. Follow the link and choose a breakfast spot that matches you.
Morning: 9-12 AM
One of the best routes to explore Irkutsk starts in 130 Quarter. It looks a little bit like an island lying between two central streets: 3 Iyulya (3 Июля) and Sedova (Седова). There are many cozy cafes and restaurants placed in brand new wooden houses decorated in old Siberian style.
At the very beginning of 130 Quarter, you will see the symbol of Irkutsk – Babr. Make your wish and touch its claws. Be sure, all your wishes will come true. Let’s go!
From 3 Iyulya turn to Lenin street and keep straight.
Keep going. You’ll pass by a lovely flower bed (in summer) and right ahead of you there is a huge monument to…Lenin of course at the crossing of two main streets: Lenin Street and Karl Marx Street.
Stay with your back to Lenin and take left.
Now you move along Karl Marx Street. You may see some local painters selling their paintings. Most of them depict views of the city or Lake Baikal.
Then you’ll pass by a monument to Alexander Vampilov a talented Irkutsk playwright, who received particular recognition during his short lifetime. He drowned in Lake Baikal at the age of 34. His works were translated into many languages of the world, and his plays are still beloved and staged in Irkutsk.
Ahead of you across the street, there is a monument to Alexander 3. The monument was erected to commemorate the opening of the Great Siberian Railway. It was him who ordered to construct the road. The first train arrived in Irkutsk in 1898. Now you are on one of two embankments of the Angara River. If you look across the river, you may see trains running on the opposite side.
Get back to Karl Marx Street.
Move ahead in the same direction you have come from. Turn into smaller street Marata Street. To your right, you’ll find a lovely park with funny sculptures. Here you may have some rest sitting on a bench, then move ahead along Marata Street. It goes parallel to Lenin Street. But it’s quieter, and it still preserves some nice wooden houses of the 20th century. When you reach the tramline, turn right. At the traffic light to your left cross the street.
Now you move along Lenin Street again. Keep going ahead and it will bring you to the historical center of Irkutsk.
Kirov Square will come on your way. It’s a nice place to hang out with your friends sitting on the grass in summer chatting and eating a pizza. In winter, a huge Christmas tree is set up here.
At the end of the square across the street, there is a huge grey building – Regional administration. If you move towards it, you will find yourself where the fortress of Irkutsk appeared and the future capital of Eastern Siberia started. On this spot, you will see three different churches: The church of our Savior (the white one), The Epiphany church (the most beautiful one), The Polish Roman Catholic church. Opposite the white church, you will find the Eternal flame erected in honor of the Soviet people’s victory in the Great Patriotic War.
Move towards the footbridge. It’s a great viewpoint to observe The Angara river, The Epiphany church, The Monument to the founders of Irkutsk and Moscow Gates.
When you reach the gates, pass under them like many people did who entered the city on their way from the European part of Russia. In the 19th century, there was a highway from Moscow to Irkutsk.
Cross the street to the side where Sberbank is. Go straight till the crossroads of Dekabrskikh Sobiti and Karl Marx Street. Turn right and keep moving along Karl Marx Street. Welcome to the most beautiful street in Irkutsk. It is one of the longest streets of the city and the first straight street. On both sides of it, you will see pretty buildings of the 19th-20th centuries. The richest merchants of Irkutsk used to own them.
Midday: 12-2 PM
You must be getting hungry after such a great walk. If you can’t wait any longer to eat something, then we recommend you to visit a nice place where dumplings are served (Address: Karl Marx Street, 39 – Карла Маркса, 39). They have an English menu, so you won’t have any problems to get around and make the right choice.
If you still can wait, then we offer you to get back to 130 Quarter. There are some nice restaurants to have lunch. For example, ‘Rassolnik’ and ‘Mamai’. At ‘Rassolnik’ (Address: 3 Iyulya Street, building 3 – 3 Июля, строение 3) they serve traditional Russian dishes. ‘Mamai’ (Address: Sedova 16/1, Седова, 16/1) is a restaurant of Mongolian and Buryat cuisines.
Afternoon: 2-6 PM
Yummy lunch fills you with energy. You are ready to continue the exploration.
Why not going for a walk in a park. To get there you need to go over the overground passage that connects 130 Quarter with the Musical theatre. Now you can see the park from a distance. In the former times, there was the Jerusalem cemetery. At the end of the 20th century, it was turned into the park. Still one can find some graves of the outstanding citizens of Irkutsk. Last year the park was reconstructed, it became even more convenient to spend your free time. Also on the territory of the park, you can visit an old orthodox church.
From here it would be more convenient to take a taxi to get to the next point – The house of Europe (Address: Fridrikh Engels Street, 21a – Фридриха Энгельса, 21а). It was included in the list of the World Protected buildings. The house is richly decorated with wooden laces. To realize how amazing it is you must see it. The House of Europe hosts the Information center. Here you can buy souvenirs, take maps of the city for free, and get useful information about Irkutsk and Lake Baikal.
On the territory of the mansion, there is Sister-city alley with 11 monuments – symbols of sisters-cities of Irkutsk. Come and check if your home city is here or not yet. In addition, you can visit the Museum of Tea and Museum of city life which are located in lovely wooden houses on the territory of the House of Europe.
It will take you 5 minutes walk to get from this place to the museum devoted to the life of Decembrist-revolutionaries in Irkutsk (Address: Volkonskogo lane, 10 – Волконского переулок, 10). The museum tried to preserve the traditions of the owners. It’s worth visiting.
Just a few hours to have a taste of Irkutsk? Why waste time? Follow the route we have described in the morning: 9-12 PM. It could be perfect for any time of the day. You will see the most beautiful sights in the city.
Our local guides are true Irkutsk experts. They are passionate about the city. Take an Irkutsk tour with them to see this city from a unique perspective.
Written by Marina, a local guide