Preparing your journey

The weather in Irkutsk and at Lake Baikal is capricious throughout the year. You’ll need several sets of clothes, depending on the season.

Какую одежду взять летом на Байкал
The summer in our region is hot during the day and chilly at night. Bring some clothes that you can layer up, such as t-shirts and warm hoodies. Don’t forget about hats and sunglasses, too, as you risk getting a sunstroke or eye problems without them.

Какую одежду взять на Байкал для походов
If your plans include taking long walks, put some comfortable open shoes in your suitcase. Paved roads are a rarity at Lake Baikal, so you better pack up a pair of trainers. Waterproof trekking shoes are perfect, as they will prove particularly useful during rainy weather. Pack up a raincoat and an umbrella, too.

Какую одежду взять зимой на Байкал
A fall or spring must-have clothes for Lake Baikal are waterproof trousers, a jacket and shoes that will keep you warm and dry even in the muddiest roads. A hat and a pair of gloves will prove useful, too. Heating gets switched off in the region from 15 of May to 15 of September, so keep this little fact in mind when you prepare for your trip. Pack up a warm set of home clothes and a pair of woolen socks, as they will keep you warm if your rooms have no extra heaters.

Какую одежду взять осенью и весной на Байкал
The winter in Irkutsk and at Lake Baikal is always cold. You’ll need a down jacket and a pair of decent fur boots with thick soles. Don’t forget to take some sweaters, woolen socks, mittens and a warm winter hat. If you plan on spending 2–3 hours outdoors at a time, make sure to bring thermal underwear with you. The heating in the rooms will be working at its full capacity, though, so bring some t-shirts, light trousers or shorts as well.

If you don’t like traveling with a full suitcase, buy some of the things at Irkutsk shopping malls or markets.

Связь в Иркутске

The first mobile phones got to Irkutsk in 1995, but people started using them on a regular basis only in the early 2000s. Only two companies offered their services, and so, mobile communications cost a lot, and connection quality wasn’t that good.

Over the years, everything changed. You could use your mobiles in the remote regions of Irkutsk Oblast, and even in some places around Lake Baikal. The bigger towns have 3G and 4G, and GPRS is everywhere now.

To always stay connected, turn on roaming services or buy a local SIM card as soon as you get to Irkutsk.

Before you buy a SIM card, make sure that your phone supports the local communication standard. Most commonly it’s GSM 900/1800 (European standard), or, rarely, CDMA (American standard). The same phone cannot be used for both communication standards. One and the same telephone can not be used for both standards. It’s better to use GSM because, unlike CDMA, GSM is supported everywhere in Russia.

Mobile network operator and their tariffs

Today, Irkutsk has four major mobile operator companies. Those are state-wide providers MTS, Beeline and MegaFon, and a local company BWC.

These companies charge similar amounts of money for their services. For your convenience we’re providing this comparative table of their minimum rates.

Company

Tariff name

Charging

More information

MTS Smart mini 150 rubles/month 1 GB Internet
1000 minutes/month
Beeline All for 100 Promo 100 rubles/month 500 MB Internet
100 minutes/day within the network
0,7 rubles/minute outside the network
MegaFon All included XS 99 rubles/month 1 GB Internet, 3G+
minutes a month within the network
0,3 rubles/minute outside the network
Tele2 Black 95 rubles/month 1,5 GB Internet
free-of-charge calls to Tele2 numbers in Irkutsk Oblast

Buy a new SIM card here:

  • MTS: 36/2, Dzerzhinsky St.
  • Beeline: 6, Deputatskaya St.
  • MegaFon: 2, Uritski St.
  • BWC: 25, Lenin St.

Additionally, Irkutsk has several mobile connection shops like Svyaznoy, Evroset’ and Govorun. You’ll find them in a mall near the Central Market, on 17, Litvinova St.

Wi-Fi in Irkutsk

The city has around 80 Wi-Fi spots, and you can use 50 of them free of charge. Many cafes and hotels have a network name and its password in the menu or at a bar counter. If you have a problem connecting to Wi-Fi, ask the staff and they’ll make sure everything works properly.

Here’s a list of some Wi-Fi spots in local cafes and hotels.

City center:

  • Promsvyaz’bank, 12, Proletarskaya St.;
  • House Mafia, 107A, Dekabrski’ Sobitiy St.;
  • Courtyard Mariott Hotel, 15/2, Chkalov St.;
  • Dostoevsky Anticafé, 12, Stepan Razin St.;
  • Traveller’s Coffee, 7, Kievskaya St.;
  • Razguloff Coffee Shop, 34, Karl Marx St.;
  • Tower Restaurant, 29, Karl Marx St.;
  • Harat’s pub, 1, Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya St.;
  • Sushi Studio, 18, Karl Marx St.;
  • Bier Haus, 1, Gryaznov St.;
  • Papa John’s pizza house, 48, Marat St.;
  • The London Club, 7, Sukhe-Bator St..

The East Bank:

  • Lermontov Mall, 90/1, Lermontov St.;
  • Safari pizza house, 15, Mayakovski St.;
  • Harat’s pub, 30, Akademicheskaya St.;
  • Harat’s pub, 26, Universitetski Md.;
  • Harat’s pub, 81, Lermontov St.;
  • Park-hotel Burduguz, Burduguz village, 1, Lesnaya St..

To see the closest free Wi-Fi spot available, download the WI-FI Free app on your iPhone or the Free Zone app on your Android phone.

The climate in Irkutsk region is not called harsh for nothing. Travel guidebooks describe it as sharply continental. Let us explain what that really means and how you should prepare to face it in your travels.

Winter in Irkutsk

If you want to experience true Siberia winter, if you dream of walking on hard clear ice of Lake Baikal, come to Irkutsk Oblast in winter.

Иркутск зимой

Each year’s winter is different. Sometimes, it gets as cold as −35 °C (−31 °F). Sometimes, the winters are warm and the daytime temperature is just −2 °C to −10 °C (from 28.4 °F to 14 °F).

The average daily temperature in winter is −14 °C (6,8°F) to −21 °C (−5,8°F), though. Irkutsk winter is always snowy and the blizzards are frequent.

This time of year, you’ll need warm clothes and boots. Be sure to pack up a down jacket, some sweaters, fur boots and a winter hat.

When you come to Irkutsk, buy some woolen socks and mittens – they’ll become your trusty companions in battling the cold. They also make fine souvenirs. You’ll find them near the Central Market on 22, Chekhov St..

Spring

Иркутск весной

If you want to see Irkutsk spring, come to the city some time from early April to late May. There will still be some snow, but the air will be warm and fresh. By the end of May, the trees will start growing their first leaves and the forests around Lake Baikal will be pink with blooming rhododendrons.

The daytime temperature in spring is 0 °C to +12 °C (32 °F to 53.6 °F), though at night, the weather might remain winter cold.

If you’re traveling in spring, you should take trekking shoes and a warm jacket. A sweater and a winter hat will also prove themselves useful.

Summer

Irkutsk summer

The summer sun in Irkutsk will be burning hot most of the time, sometimes hiding away behind the clouds to let the rain and even an occasional hailstorm through. This kind of weather is normal in July and June. August usually gets colder as the temperature decreases and the rain keep falling for days.

Average summer temperatures range from +20 °C to +25 °C (68 °F to 77 °F). On hot days, the temperature might rise up to +30 °C (86 °F).

If you’re traveling in summer, take light cotton clothes, some hats and comfortable summer shoes or sandals. The nights might get cold, so don’t forget warm pants and a sweatshirt. Pack waterproof shoes and a raincoat or an umbrella for rainy weather, too.

Fall

Байкал осенью

The best time to enjoy the perfection of Siberian fall is from the beginning of September until the middle of October. This is the time when the days are still warm, and the nights keep getting colder and colder. In October, you can already get caught up in a rain and snow shower.

The average daytime temperature in the fall is between +2 °C to +10 °C (from 35.6 °F to 50 °F).

In the warmest days, the thermometer might shoot up to +18 °C (64.4 °F). At the same time, the temperature can drop to −2 °C (28.4 °F) at night.