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Odessa

Travel Guide Europe Ukraine Odessa

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Introduction

odessa

odessa

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Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea is Ukraine's fourth largest city with a population of about 1 million. Built by order of Catherine the Great with the vision of creating a St Petersburg of the south, its architecture owes much to French influence. The old centre of the city is about 215 years old, built to a grid plan. It includes many tree-lined, cobbled boulevards, ornate facades and fountains. Recent restoration is returning the centre to the grandeur it once possessed, but much of the city continues to crumble away or is being demolished to make way for concrete and glass office blocks. The outskirts consist mostly of Soviet-era apartment blocks.

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Neighbourhoods

The central area 'Primorsky' includes all main tourist sites.

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Sights and Activities

2 days is enough to sample the most picturesque parts of Odessa (and that's including a day at the beach!)

The Opera and Ballet Theatre (opened in September 2007 after 11 years of restoration) is a grand building, worth seeing inside and out. You must have a ticket to a performance to enter (tickets available at the 'kacca' inside the main door - performances 3-4 times a week including some afternoon showings; tickets are cheap and the best place to sit for a view of the interior is high up at the back or in a box at the side).

Several picturesque streets surround the Opera Theatre and walking along tree-lined Primorsky Boulevard will take you to Potemkin Steps, immortalized in Eisenstein's classic of cinema 'The Battleship Potemkin'. The steps lead down to the (less than picturesque) Odessa seaport (where ferries to Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria leave in the summer).

A free gondala takes you back up the steps (if you're too tired to walk). From the top of the steps you can walk west to Catherine's Square, where a restored statue to Catherine the Great and the four founders and influential personages of early Odessa now stands. City Gardens, in the centre of the city (again, newly restored) is a great place to relax. City Gardens is on Odessa's main, pedestrianised street, 'Deribasovskaya'. At the uphill end of the street, you can see the cathedral (recently rebuilt after being destroyed under Soviet occupation). The 'lower' end of Deribasovskaya leads towards the opera theatre.

Various city beaches line the shore, the closest are 20-30 minute walk from the centre but these are usually the busiest and loudest. In the summer (May-September) Arkadia Beach opens up a huge number of outdoor clubs and discos which attract revellers and big-name peformers, bands and DJs for the weekend. For a taste of 'real' Ukrainian life, venture to 'Privoz' the large city food market, one block West of the train station.

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Events and Festivals

As Odessa is known locally as 'The City of Humour', April 1st is a special city celebration, in which everyone dons silly hats and masks, there is a small parade and lots of alcohol.

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Weather

Odessa is damp, generally bleak, and cold in the winter months (November to February), with temperatures frequently below zero at night, but generally around or slightly above zero during the day. For the past few years snow has not been as heavy or as long-lasting as it used to be, but there are usually 2-3 major falls which cause havoc with the traffic. The summers are hot and humid, with temperatures in the 25-30 °C and mild nights. The best time to visit (in terms of weather) is mid-May to the end of June, or September and early October.

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Getting There

By Plane

Odessa International Airport (ODS) remains a flashback to the Soviet era. Small, dirty, and with surly staff it is located 10 kilometres south of the city centre. Aerosvit Airlines serves most destinations, with flights to/from Athens, Istanbul, Kiev, Milan, Moscow, Riga, Tbilisi and Tel Aviv. Other airlines serve destinations like Yerevan, Timisoara, Prague, Batumi, Simferopol, Warsaw, Budapest, St. Petersburg, Aleppo, Varna and Vienna.
If you arrive from abroad you must complete an immigration form before presenting your passport to immigration. You must keep this immigration form with you until your departure from Ukraine! Get a taxi (70-100 uah) or take a marshrutka 117 (2 uah) to the city centre.

By Train

Odessa train station is located about 1 kilometres south of the central 'old city'. Trains arrive from Moscow and St Petersburg. Connections exist to Poland. Note: there have been no trains to Moldova for 5 years, because these used to travel through Transdnjestria.

By Bus

The main bus station with arrivals from various cities in Russia, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia and Romania is located 5 km to the South West of the city centre. Take tram #5 to the train station and navigate from there.

By Boat

In the summer months international ferries to Odessa run from Istanbul, Constanta (Romania), Poti and Batumi (Georgia) and Varna (Bulgaria). Daily or twice daily ferries also arrive from Yalta and Sebastopol in Crimea. Check UKR Ferry for information about routes, schedules and prices.
If you have your own yacht, Odessa has 3 marinas: the most convenient (and most expensive) is just beside Hotel Odessa, next to the ferry terminal at the bottom of Potemkin steps. Another marina, used by locals, is situated about 4 kilometres south, next to Otrada beach. From Otrada beach it is about a 45-minute walk to the centre of the city. If you arrive on your own be aware that it may take some time (up to a week if the man in charge is not around) to get the required departure visa issued when you decide to sail away!

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Getting Around

By Car

Your own car is best avoided as Odessa drivers are notoriously bad. You can flag down any car and give them the address you wsh to reach and a price you're wiling to pay. The driver will accept, decline, or haggle. Don't get into cars with more than one driver. Taxis do not have meters. Agree a fare before you get into the taxi.

By Public Transport

Odessa transport is generally old but includes electric buses, trams, and 'marshutka' minibuses. The latter are stopped by flagging down at the side of the road. Pay when you get off - you must request your stop. Useful tram is #5: goes from the bus station to the train station and then on to Arkadia beach (and vice versa - just check which destination (Autovauxhal or Arkadia) is displayed on the tram. Marshutka 117 terminates at the airport then goes through the city centre; 195 can be caught from the main street near the cathedral and terminates at Arkadia; 175 and 185 also go from/to the train station (you must request this stop) but terminate by the cathedral in the centre.

By Foot

Central Odessa can easily be covered by foot. All areas are no more than 30 minutes walk away.

By Bike

Except for cycling down 'The Health Road' that links Odessa's beaches, cycling in Odessa is not recommended.

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Eat

Recommended restaurants on Deribasovskaya: Steakhouse (look for the bright wooden cow outside); Kompot (next-door to steakhouse).

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Drink

There are cafes and bars on every block in Odessa. Prices range from budget to upmarket. Between May and September Arkadia beach open a huge number of nightclubs. Get there about 11pm. The clubs are open until 6am.

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Sleep

Budget

The best budget option is to rent a room. Find someone with a sign advertising 'Kamnata' outside the train station. Be aware that the room or apartment you book may be some distance from the centre, however the rates will be far cheaper than anything in the centre but you may get food (and other Ukrainian hospitality) thrown in.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Antony's HomeTroitskaya 45Guesthouse86
International Hostel-Apartment Kovalevsky24 Kovalevskaja Str., Apt. 6 Level 1Hostel93
Odessa Luxury ApartmentsBazarnaya 49Apartment85
TIU Front Page Hostel42 Koblevskaya StreetHostel94
Zirka Hotel70 Uspenskaya StHotel72
TIU Backpackers Odessa31 on DvoryanskayaHostel-
Tokyo StarVodoprovodnaya 1HOTEL86
The Babushka Grand Hostel60 Malaya Arnautskaya 85 EkaterinenskayaHostel90
Hotel Continental5 Deribassovskaya strHotel-
Fontana HostelSecond Kolhoznaya street 8Hostel-
Osobnyak HotelFontanskaya doroga str.,71HOTEL-
La Perle Royale HotelKanatna Str 1BHotel-
Magic Bus Backpackers8 Pushkins'ka Street apt.14,HOSTEL79
Maryan's HomeDeribasovskaya Street 9HOSTEL88
Prominada HotelFontanskaya road, 143Hotel-
Ancient City Hostel24 PasteraHostel-
Odessa EN HostelPushkinskaya St 24, ap 25HOSTEL-
Odessa Rent ServiceStr Deribasovskaya 31APARTMENT-
Renaissance Suites Odessa11, Rishelyevskaya Street Suite 22HOTEL-
Londonskaya Hotel - OdessaPrimorskiy Boulevard 11HOTEL-
Bristol HotelPushkinskaya Street 15HOTEL-
Babushka Beach House2nd Pereulok Costandi 4HOSTEL-
Lafa HostelGretska Street 50, Ap nr 12HOSTEL83
UYTA Odesskiy Hostel21 Troitskaya Str.HOSTEL-
One step to Arcadia hostelKamanina Str 10 apt 7 . 8th station of FontanaHOSTEL-
Star HostelNovoselskogo 91 Entrance: 8 TIRASPOL'SKAJA Street. Apt., 11, LevelHOSTEL-
Flagman Odessa HostelBunina 3 Str., App 29HOSTEL-
OK Odessa HotelOdessa, Gagarin Plateau, 5HOTEL-
Continental Hotel II1, Tiraspolskaya strHotel-
Deribas Hotel27 Derebasovskay street Greek SquareHOTEL-
Central Hotel TsentralnayaPreobrajenskaya, 40HOTEL-
Hotel California27, Evreyskaya StreetHotel-
Frederic Koklen Hotel7 Nekrasova LaneHOTEL-
Bee Hostelул. Еврейская, 24HOSTEL-
Seawave Hostelг. Одесса Спиридоновская 8HOSTEL-
SeahostelSecond Kolhoznuy lane 8HOSTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are many internet cafes throughout the city and most cafes, restaurants and even clubs have WI-FI.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Most public phones in Odessa do not work. They require a phonecard to be (attempted to be) used. If you're going to be making many calls, it's better to invest in a local SIM card.

Post

Ukraine Poshta is the national postal service of Ukraine (website is rather slow and not always working). Unfortunately, the postal service in Ukraine is unreliable or at least inefficient and slow. Most packages get stolen or searched for things that can be sold. Post offices exist in all cities and towns and postcards can be sent quite safely, but the service may be slow. Like many other businesses, post offices are open from around 9:00am to 6:00pm with a lunchbreak between 1:00pm and 2:00pm, though opening times may vary. Smaller ones in rural towns keep shorter hours, while the largest ones in Kiev are usually open very late, during weekends or even 24 hours! If you want to send a letter or postcard and buy stamps, just queue up at the line where you see envelops and cards. Be prepared to wait a while, also regarding the time it takes to send a postcard to Europe (a week) or the USA (two weeks), let alone places further afield. Always send letters by airmail (avia in Ukrainian). For faster (but more expensive) sendings of parcels, try companies like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx.

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 46.4751901
  • Longitude: 30.732928

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