A Couchsurfer’s Guide to… Irkutsk

Monument of Irkutsk’s Founders and the Cathedral of the Epiphany by ALEKSANDR RIUTIN

Best breakfast in town!
The most important meal of the day for city explorers must be taken seriously! There’s plenty of breakfast places for any taste and budget around the city center, but my favorite is Belaya Vorona (White Crow), Carl Marx street, 39. It’s a big cafe with a pleasant atmosphere and very reasonable prices that offers a variety of breakfast choices, try their pâté plate, pancakes and drip coffee for a good morning boost! This is also a great place to read a book and relax during the day, or warm up with a cup of sea-buckthorn tea on those Siberian winter evenings.

Best view in the city!
For those not afraid of heights the best view on the city opens from the observation wheel located on the Yunost Island.

Bridge to Yunost Island By Tilpunov Mikhail/shutterstock

One museum not to miss!
One of the craziest and at the same time not well-known, even among locals, is for sure the Trash Museum (Rus. Музей на свалке). Located slightly outside the city on a real city dump site it offers an enormous collection of whatever people throw in the garbage. Starting with old family photos to that old AK-47 that kids did not play with anymore, you’ll see (and touch) real Irkutsk and Russian history. But that’s not all, they also have hundreds of figurines made of scrap metal parts, real scary orcs, a huge field with WWII historical reenactment and a real bear! This is also a great option if you’re traveling with kids!

A historic moment!
To better understand local history make a visit to the Decembrists museum, which consists of two beautiful old buildings located near each other, single ticket for both: Trubetskich manor (Rus: Усадьба Трубецких), Dzerzhinskogo st., 64 and Volkonskich manor (Rus: Дом-музей Волконских), Volkonskogo lane, 10.

Decembrists Museum by volkova natalia/shutterstock

Best place to grab a drink!
Traditionally Russia’s famous for vodka, but Irkutsk can also take pride in its craft beer and cocktail places. Try Smorrebrod, Bogdana Khmelnitskogo st., 3 for a good choice of local craft beer, tasty snacks, vibrant atmosphere and live music closer to midnight, the Library Bar, Carl Marx st., 41 for one of the best cocktails in town and DJs coming at night. And then my favorite hidden gem – One More Bar, Litvinova st., 1, can be tricky to find but absolutely worth it!

A tourist-trap to avoid!
Unless you have very limited time to sea Baikal, skip going to Listvyanka, which is overly touristic and ugly, and go to Bolshoe Goloustnoe instead (2 hours one way, much less tourists, beautiful ice in winter, nice nature) or Olkhon Island (picturesque Baikal views, 6 hours one way, so dedicate at least 3 days).

Okhon Island By Julia Kuzenkova/shutterstock

Best quick bite!
Best doner and shwarma place in town – Pita bar, Carl Marx st., 30. Also serve delicious smoothies to accompany the snack (my favorite is mango one). Can be busy sometimes, but you can always order to go.

One last piece of advice!
Dedicating around 2-3 days for Irkutsk and 3-4 days for the Baikal area is a good idea.

Frozen Lake Baikal in the winter by Katvic/shutterstock

One thought on “A Couchsurfer’s Guide to… Irkutsk

  1. Thanks for this excellent post! Before, I only knew the name of Irkutsk. Now, I want to go there!

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