Ukraine’s fourth biggest city Odessa is known as the pearl of the Black Sea, where one can easily enjoy the sophisticated atmosphere and warm weather.
The beaches are close to the centre and Odessa also has various museums, a circus and outside the centre is are even catacombs to explore. Odessa is a true Riviera of the Black Sea!
One can’t get away from other tourists in a city with population of one million. However, most of the visitors are rich Ukrainians or Russians and for them Odessa is one huge catwalk. Rich people come to show themselves around and even posh-as-ever Kievan women leave their sense of style home.
For them there is a holiday atmosphere on the rocky streets of Odessa: women tend to wear nothing but bikini and men prefer to walk around shirtless – even on the main street.
Maybe because of the wealthy tourists everything is a bit bigger, or at least more expensive than elsewhere in Ukraine. So it is no wonder Odessa is full of luxurious internet cafes that look more like fancy nightclubs with loud music, drinks and posh furnishings.
Apart from stylish decorating, these cafes tailored for the needs of businessmen do not offer anything compared to more affordable internet cafes. Style also shows in the price: one hour of online can easily cost over ten Canadian dollars.
As an elegant city Odessa is full of high fashion brands from Chanel to Burberry, but there’s also a trashier side of the city.
Vendors have gathered around the city’s biggest attraction, Potemkin Stairs, where they try to get tourists to pose with a monkey on their shoulder or holding a small crocodile.
The price of such a photo is surprisingly low considering how high fines must be for possessing illegal animals. But the militia doesn’t seem to care what vendors are up to.
If vendors and half-clothed tourists don’t count, Odessa is a great city with all its historical buildings. For friends of architecture there is plenty of eye candy.
For example, the famous Potemkin Stairs are worth their reputation. In addition, the opera house located in the centre, a few old five star hotels and the main railway station are sights every visitor mustn’t miss.
Odessa’s outstanding parks are worth visiting as well. They look posh because of all the fountains and statues.
On a hot summer day they are also good places for hiding from the ruthless sunshine, for example Shetchenko Park right by the sea. There is also an amusement park and restaurants for those who don’t like too much sunbathing.
The closest beach, Lanzheron, is located on the rocky surface, which makes Odessa seem even more like Riviera. But there is bad news for those who prefer to lie on soft sand: the closest sand beach is ten kilometers from the centre.
The city also has plenty of charming cafes. In some of them the food is prepared in an open kitchen so the customers can be sure the food is fresh. And the local pastry isn’t bad either!
One definitely can’t be bored in Odessa, since the city has seven theatres, opera, ballet, museums and even circus. The opera and ballet theatre is over 200 years old, which makes it the oldest in Ukraine.
Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra is also internationally highly regarded.
Even though Odessa is a lively city and has millions of visitors every year, the bars close rather early and after midnight it is almost impossible to find a place where to have a drink.
The prices are also rather high compared to other Eastern European cities, though it’s still cheap for Westerns. A dinner with a glass of wine costs ten dollars even in a fancy restaurant.
Taxis are also quite affordable, so there is no need to hop in local buses. However, one may not want to catch a taxi from the street, because then the ride is more expensive. Not every taxi is legal, so one might want to keep an eye on the meter.
If Odessa doesn’t seem to offer anything new, from there it is easy to take a boat to Turkey. One can also get to Kiev in about nine hours by train and Moldova’s capital Chisinau is only five hours bus drive away.
Text and photo: Elina Kirssi