Although vastly isolated, the historical city of Irkutsk remains one of Siberia’s largest cities, and is widely considered to be the unofficial capital of this North-eastern part of Russia. This is also one of the most popular stop-offs on the world-famous Trans-Siberian railway route across Russia, and the old city streets offer a welcome respite from the lengthy train journey together with enough sights to keep visitors occupied for a few days.

The mini tourist boom in Irkutsk in the past few years has seen inevitable development, with the city’s 19th-century architectural foundation now standing side-by-side with modern restaurants, hip bars and stylish hotels. Visitors can explore the multitude of churches and monasteries throughout town, as well as a good selection of museums and art galleries. The spectacular Lake Baikal is another popular tourist hotspot, and is less than an hour’s drive from Irkutsk.


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Epiphany Cathedral

Rich in bright gold and silver colours, this magnificent 19th-century cathedral stands proud as one of Irkutsk’s most popular religious buildings. But it’s not just the outside which is impressive; visitors are allowed inside during the day, and the exterior boasts stunning murals covering the walls and ceilings.

Knyaz-Vladimirsky Monastery

Constructed in the late 19th century, this impressively elaborate complex was built to honour Prince Vladimir who originally baptized Russia. Although much smaller in size, the monastery draws some similarities to the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square with its array of turrets which are capped off with bright blue tones that can be seen for miles.

The City History Museum

Set in a quaint 19th-century building, this popular museum houses exhibitions detailing Irkutsk’s history as well as some interesting artifacts from around Eastern Siberia. You’ll find pre-Russian wooden yurts alongside photography galleries as well as model constructions of many buildings in the city. The museum is easy to find, located in the middle of the city.

Ul. Uritskogo Shopping Street

In recent years, Irkutsk has experienced something of a mini tourist boom, and one of the epicentres of it all is as at the popular ‘Ul. Uritskogo Road’. Walk down at night to see the area at its liveliest, with small shops, cute cafes and a selection of boutique guesthouses opening their doors to the passing visitors, many of whom are taking a break from their long train journey across Siberia.

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