Irkutsk Oblast ( Russian: Ирку́тская о́бласть eer-KOOTS-kuh-yuh OH-blust) is a region in Eastern Siberia, which borders Krasnoyarsk (region) to the west, Evenkia to the northwest, Yakutia to the north, Zabaykalsky Krai to the northeast, Buryatia to the southeast, and Tuva to the southwest.
Irkutsk — the attractive capital and largest city; one of the principal stops on the Trans-Siberian Railway and the gateway to Lake Baikal
Angarsk — the second largest regional city is home to the Museum of Clocks
Bratsk — a relatively large city on the Baikal-Amur Mainline
Listvyanka — located on the shores of Lake Baikal
Slyudyanka - southmost point of the Baikal
Nizhneudinsk — a small city on the Trans-Siberian with a pretty church; located near some interesting caves and a waterfall along the Uda River
Tayshet — nothing much to see, but many stop at this important rail junction to begin the Baikal-Amur Mainline
Usolye-Sibirskoye — a medium sized city on the Trans-Siberian with a mudbath spa and many archaeological sites
Ust-Orda — the center of the Ust-Orda region contains a museum of regional history featuring the indigenous Buryat culture
Baikalo-Lensky Nature Reserve
Lake Baikal. Located between Buryatia and Irkutsk Oblast, is the the deepest and oldest lake in the world and also the planet's largest body of freshwater.
Olkhon. The largest island in lake Baikal is a real jewel, and worthy of the effort it takes to reach it.
Pribaikalsky National Park
Vitimsky Nature Reserve
Irkutsk Oblast, in particular the capital
Irkutsk and the shores of Lake Baikal, is likely Siberia's top travel destination.
Russian is understood and spoken by all; some members of ethnic minorities (especially the Buryat) are bilingual and speak their native languages with one another.
Irkutsk Airport is one of
Russia's most important and receives international flights from Mongolia, China, South Korea, Thailand, and Uzbekistan. Domestic flights are available from most major Russian airports, including: Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Khabarovsk, Yekaterinburg, Vladivostok, and many others.
Despite the importance of Irkutsk Airport, most travellers still arrive via the
Trans-Siberian Railway, which stops at (from west to east): Taishet (junction with the Baikal-Amur Mainline), Nizhneudinsk, Usolye-Sibirskoe, Angarsk, Irkutsk, among other less frequented settlements.
Baikal Highway crosses the region from west to east. A bus from
Ulan-Ude connects Irkutsk with Buryatia.
Bratsk and Ust-Orda are accessible via the Baikal-Amur Mainline from the Trans-Siberian Railway junction at Taishet.
The Baikal Highway (Байкальский тракт), a route from Irkutsk to Listvyanka village usually taken by marshrutka. One-hour trip starts from Irkutsk reservoir and is 68km long. The road is in some distance from the Reservoir that can be seen by rare glimpses as the road goes up and down along the hills covered with pines, burches and bush.
Circum-Baikal Railway (Кругобайкальская железная дорога), a memorial railway in Pribaikalsy National Park. It was a part of Trans-Siberian Railway in active exploitation till 1950s. When the main bypass was constructed the Railway lost its importance and is used now for tourist and emergency purposes. A few carriages depart from Slyudyanka, the southmost station and 4h 40min later arrive in Baikal station, wich is also a port up north. Enjoy panoramic views full of beautiful nature as the train moves along the shoreline. There are four stops and 38 tunnels during the trip. Retro trains (№988/987 Байкальский круиз) shuttle on special dates.
Camping out on one of
Lake Baikal's islands
Rafting on Irkut river
Michel Strogoff by Jules Verne.
Plays by Alexander Vampilov.
Writings by Valentin Rasputin.
Local vodka produced by OAO "Kedr": «Baik», «Слава», «Байкальская», «Звезда Байкала».
While being in woods, beware of snakes that are commonly warming in the sun on the stones. There is not many of them but some may be vipers.
The other problem of this (and other regions of the North Hemisphere) is ticks. Their bites may be infectious. Usually vaccinations are taken beforehand.
Irkutsk Airport is a useful hub to jump off to different parts of the country.
For closer destinations, most will travel by the
Trans-Siberian Railway, which leads to Kansk and further Krasnoyarsk in the west and to Ulan Ude in the east.
Baikal-Amur Mainline, which runs on a parallel track to north of the Trans-Siberian, begins at Taishet in western Irkutsk Oblast and on to Severobaikalsk.