Top 10 Best Things to Do
As many of you will know from my previous posts, I like to travel to Ukraine in any season of the year from the freezing winters to the scorching summers. For 6 weeks of this past Summer, I rented an apartment in Kiev again to escape the unpredictableness of the British summer. For a week of that time I took the 7 hour “fast” train to Odessa to enjoy some time by the sea. Due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukrainians now have little choice of coastal holidays within their own country, so most people descend on the city of Odessa for Summer and it can get very busy because of this. It’s still very nice however and here are 10 great things to do in and around the city.
Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
I took my girlfriend to see Tina Karol, a Ukrainian pop singer perform here one evening. Outside it’s a grand building in a classic baroque style with a nice park and fountains next to it. Inside is also very nice with small booths from where you can watch the performance. I’m not too into opera’s and classical singing so it doesn’t appeal to me that much, but it is a nice building to see and easy to find.
How to get there: 5 minutes walk from the centre
If you say the name quickly it almost sounds like Pokemon stairs and if you come here to catch Pokemon you’ll be disappointed as there’s only one small pokestop at the bottom of them with very few Pokemon. The steps are considered the entrance to the city from the sea, but to be honest they are just steps overlooking a rather industrial port. They are worth a look as they are near the city centre, but combine them with a trip on a boat from the port to make them worthwhile.
How to get there: 5 minutes walk from the centre towards the port
Odessa Lions/Colonnade/Monument to an Orange
If you walk along the tree lined avenue near the port, you’ll come across 2 lions and also a Colonnade structure. The are views over the port and it’s a nice place to enjoy an ice cream in the hot weather. If you walk across the nearby mother-in-law bridge you’ll also find a monument to the orange which commemorates how Odessa bribed the emperor with 3000 oranges to complete the construction of the port.
The mother-in-law bridge also has an interesting story that it was built so a political figure, Mihail Sinitsa who loved his mother-in-law’s pancakes so much so that he ordered the construction of the bridge so he didn’t have to walk so far during his lunch to get there.
How to get there: 10 minutes walk to the left of Potemkin stairs
Otrada Cable Car
This rather colourful cable car descends over houses and parks to reach Otrada beach. Each car has room for only 2 people and every one of them is painted in a different style often taking inspiration from children’s films and crazes like Angry birds or Avatar. It’s rather out of the way, but worth the slight detour to take the 10 minute trip to the beach.
How to get there: Number 5 tram from the railway station to the Mauritanian arch and walk 2 minutes to the top station
Around 6km south of the city centre, you’ll find the district of Arcadia which has recently been renovated with a new plaza and street with musical fountains, restaurants and some western stores like Victoria’s Secret (may be fake). The whole place is now quite modern and beautiful and also includes the large Hawaii Aquapark and a wild mouse coaster. As you get to the beach you’ll find some of the popular Odessa night clubs, Ibiza and Itaka. There’s a small beach, but it can often get crowded, so you’d be best travelling further down the coast if you wish to relax, see the next item.
How to get there: Number 5 tram from the railway station
15th Fontana Station Beach
To get away from the crowds we took the 40 minute tram ride to this beach. The sand is nice and the beach is freely accessible unlike those near the centre where you often have to pay for a good spot. All there is are a few small kiosks with drinks so it’s perfect to get away from the hustle and bustle of the main Langeron beach.
How to get there: Number 18 tram from the railway station to Clinical Sanatorium Gorky and walk down the stairs
Memorial of Heroic Defense of Odessa Museum
The name may not sound all that exciting for a Summer holiday excursion, but it’s a great park situated around an hour by tram from the centre of Odessa. It contains a submarine, train, tram, ship, plane, tanks, big guns and other military vehicles. You can even climb and go inside some of them.
If you cross the road near the Marshrutka station and head down the hill towards the beach, you’ll find a nice quiet seafood restaurant called Гоголь у моря (Gogol by the Sea) with a nice atmosphere and views across the black sea.
How to get there: Number 18 tram from the railway station to the last stop and change on to tram 19 to the end
There are a few dolphinariums in Ukraine all under the Nemo brand, but I’d hazard a guess that this has to be best one. It’s right by the sea and attached a to a nice modern hotel of the same name. We chose to visit the romantic show on a Sunday evening and after a slightly disappointing start of several really good acrobats/dancers, the actual dolphin show began. It’s amazing what they can do and they put on a rather impressive show. I’d recommend you skip the night shown and go and see the day one which is cheaper and exactly the same, just without the dancers (who wants to see dancers at a dolphin show?!).
Another day we spent the day at Nemo Beach Club which gives you access to the hotel facilities including the pool and also the terrace with smaller pools on the roof for 300 UAH including towel rental. The place has several bars and restaurants with tasty and freshly prepared food and they have some cool cocktails too (Electric Lemonade and Nemo were my favourites). If you visit the roof it overlooks the dolphin show at one end, so you can watch at the same time at no extra cost. You can also choose to swim with the dolphins in one of the hotel pools, but this is rather expensive.
The beach club and hotel has to be one of my favourite places to relax in Odessa and I’d definitely choose to stay there next time I visit.
How to get there: Marshrutka 203 to Tarasa Shevchenka Park (last stop) and walk down the hill
This is a newest zoo in Odessa which only opened in the Summer of 2016. It’s quite small and a way out of the centre, but the animals are kept in large enclosures and seem to be well looked after. Usually zoos in Ukraine are rather disappointing and not anywhere near European standards, but this was different and you can get really close to the animals. You can also pay to feed the animals. It’s a good trip out of the city for an afternoon and I hope it will expand more in the future.
How to get there: Marshrutka 201 from the railway station
Yes, Big Ben is in Odessa! Actually it’s a 12 foot miniature version outside the London Hotel in Odessa which we were staying at. I’m sure I heard it chime once time too! Nothing much else to see here, but worth stopping by if you are in the area.
How to get there: Walk south from the centre towards Starobazarnyi Garden Square