kamila

Can't live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

5 reasons to visit Odessa, Ukraine

I’ve been planning to visit Odessa, Ukraine for years yet always something went wrong. I’ve had tickets for a long weekend at the Black Sea and two days before departure I got sick and had to cancel the trip.

Then I again had tickets to visit Odessa but the revolution tension in Ukraine was really big back then and the airline has suspended the flights – I could rebook for the later date which I did and guess what – I got sick again!

Third time’s a charm – I finally managed to visit Odessa in the summer time two years ago. I took the train from Chisinau, Moldova via Transnistria. It was a tiring journey – 5 hours on the wooden benches – but as soon as the train pulled into the station I felt a huge wave of excitement. This is it, one of my travel dreams comes true, I’m finally visiting Odessa!


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I really didn’t know what to expect from the city, had no expectations at all. The only things I knew were the Black Sea harbor, Potemkin Steps my mother kept raving about and some random facts about the multicultural Odessa and its criminal past.

But I fall for the place very quick, from the moment I arrived and saw the magnificent building of the train station. With each passing minute Odessa fascinated me more and more and I can’t even say why. It was city like no other I’ve visited before, didn’t look like other major Ukraine cities – Kiev, Lviv or Ivano-Frankivsk – at all! At times it reminded me of Old Tbilisi with its charming yards but soon it felt like a completely different, one of a kind place.

Visit Odessa Ukraine

I’ve spent 2 summer days in Odessa but I felt it was not enough so exactly a year later I returned to the city. Spending time in Odessa was a pure pleasure, it was a big joy for me just to be there, walk around the old town and relax at the beach.

I can’t really put into words why I’ve enjoyed Odessa so much (hence this post is so belated). I just clicked with the city and felt really good there. If I have a chance to visit Odessa again I wouldn’t need to think twice! And here is why it’s worth to go there.

Beautiful architecture

The old part of Odessa is so pretty! The city used to be the cultural and intellectual center prior the Soviet Russia and the majority of the most amazing buildings comes from that period. The architecture resembles more of the Mediterranean or French influence than Russian and that already gives the unique look and style to the city.

You will find the most spectacular buildings around pedestrian Deribasovskaya street (which itself isn’t all that great) and Potemkin Steps.

Visit Odessa Ukraine

For me there are two absolute highlights of the architecture in Odessa: The Opera house – second biggest opera in the world after La Scala in Milan – and the Passage (it used to be the best hotel in Southern Russia). Both take my breath away every time I see them.

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

But the architecture in this part of the city really is amazing and random walks around the enshadowed, cobbled streets are the best thing you can do in Odessa! Unfortunately most of the places are in a poor condition but when you look carefully you will see its true, faded-out beauty. Odessa really can be a treat for the eye!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

There is one architectonic masterpiece in Odessa that deserves a special attention – Potemkin Steps. Opened in 1841 those 192 steps are the peculiar entrance to the city, the most known image of Odessa and the symbol of the place. They were design to give the optical illusion – when you look from the top you can’t really see the stairs itself but when you look from the bottom you only see stairs.

If you’re too lazy to climb to the top there’s a funicular riding on the left side. During my visit in 2016 it was closed for renovation, now (April 2017) I’ve read that also the steps are going through the renovation process, hopefully it will be over soon!

I definitely recommend visiting the highlights of Odessa with the guide as there are so many details and gems it’s good to have someone to explain it all. There is a great walking tour you can join to learn all about Odessa. Check more details and prices here!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Charming backyards

The backyards are my absolutely favorite thing in Odessa. Kind of like in Old Tbilisi you enter a random gate and you are transformed into a completely different, magical world. As soon as I found out what is hidden from the street view I was peeking inside every single gate!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Unfortunately most of them were closed but those I’ve entered were amazing and sometimes surreal. I even found a statue of Ludwik Zamenhof (a founder of Esperanto language, originally from Poland) in one of the yards!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

I’ve only seen those in the old town as I didn’t dare to do any solo wandering in the backstreets of the (in)famous Moldavanka district – I still regret not being brave enough as apparently that’s where the best yards are!

Still I can’t complain as those I’ve seen were pretty amazing! I literally could spend at least few days only exploring Odessa backyards and that’s already a very solid reason that make me want to visit Odessa again!

If you find yourself in Odessa you can go for the courtyards tour which I wish I had done too! Click here for more details and prices!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Odessa – a perfect summer getaway

Odessa makes a perfect and really affordable summer destination! I’ve been there twice in August and it was just perfect! The weather was really warm and sunny, the sea was bearable and the prices were so cheap you had to pinch yourself!

I spent half of the day just relaxing at the beach – I was ready to spend some money on the sun bed and the umbrella but I couldn’t believe when I heard the price, 80 hryvnas, for everything, for the whole day! That’s not even 3$/3€!!!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

The beach was wide and sandy yet I was in the second row from the shore so every time I wanted to go to the water I didn’t need to worry about my belongings as I could see everything. There are local vendors cruising the beach with drinks and snacks so you basically has everything you might need.

I was at Bali Beach, not far from the dolphinarium. It was a perfect place to relax, not too crowded and not too loud.

If you’re interested in more of a party place there is the whole seaside district for you – Arcadia! The place is full of clubs, discos, all kinds of entertainment and young vibe. If I were 10 years younger I’d definitely stay there and it seemed like a great place to have fun!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Maritime vibe

Odessa is the biggest harbor at the Black Sea and you simply can’t escape the maritime vibe there. Right at the bottom of Potemkin Steps you have the sea station where local as well as long distance ferries from Batumi and Poti, Georgia arrive.

Visit Odessa Ukraine

The view of shipyards is very much present in the Odessa skyline. Young sailors are casually strolling the streets of the city. Even the majority of souvenirs are with the maritime theme. It all somehow fits perfectly to the city. I can’t imagine Odessa without its maritime accents, it gives the city an extra twist.

Visit Odessa Ukraine

The craziest cable car and other Soviet remnants

You might know by now I like crazy Soviet things: playgrounds, amusement parks, cable cars, metro – you name it. The more crazy, the better! The moment when I read about the cable car in Odessa I knew I have to ride it.

It was the whole expedition to find the cable car as back then it was really difficult to find any info online but I succeeded! It’s hard to describe my joy, I was bouncing around like a kid and I almost fell down when leaving the cable car in the lower station – that’s how excited I was!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

The ride is a little bit frightening but the views of the vast green spaces and the Black Sea are definitely worth it! The cable car is painted with the children heroes, with „Nu, pogodi!” being my favorite one (I still find it hillarious we’ve had cartoons like this when I grew up).

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Cable car isn’t the only remnant of the Soviet past in Odessa. In Shevchenko Park you can find the Monument to an Unknown Sailor, dedicated to those who died during the siege of Odessa in 1941. Like in many post-Soviet countries not only there is an eternal flame at the site but the war songs from that period are played there too. My Russian is too poor to understand them but they sound very dark to me, made me feel uncomfortable…

Visit Odessa Ukraine

If you’re after Soviet architecture in Odessa you definitely should check Odessa Academic Theatre of Musical Comedy and the building in the middle of the park at Kulykove pole, next to the main train station. That’s where the clashes in 2014 took place, with almost 50 casualties – now you barely can see such a tragic event occurred in this very place.

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Is it worth to visit Odessa

For me Odessa has (almost) everything I enjoy – beautiful architecture, hidden gems, quirky places, fascinating history and a strong multicultural past. Even if I’m not much of a beach person both times I happened to be in Odessa towards to end of my trip and as little as those few hours of relax were much needed – Odessa turned out to be perfect for this.

I can only recommend visiting Odessa! The city has so much to offer, so many layers to discover that everyone will find something for themselves there with plenty of culture, history or fun to immerse into. You shouldn’t be afraid of traveling to Ukraine and once you go there don’t miss Odessa!

And if you wish to learn more about Odessa and its multicultural, Jewish or criminal past there are numerous affordable tours that you can join! Check all the details and availability here!

Odessa pictures

And to show you how beautiful the city is below you have few more Odessa pictures!

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Visit Odessa Ukraine

Odessa – practical information

Disclaimer: there are affiliate links in this post. If you book or purchase anything though the links listed here I will get a small commission at no extra costs for you. This helps me run this page and provide you the most useful travel information. Thank you! I recommend only products I genuinely belive in.

How to get to Odessa

There are numerous airlines serving Odessa, I know LOT Polish Airlines is among them (as I had my tickets booked with them). You can find the best deals on flights to Odessa at SkyScanner – I always use this website when looking for flights as they have this amazing option „everywhere” and „anytime”!

You can also get to Odessa by train. There’s one connection per day from Chisinau, Moldova and numerous trains (also comfortable overnight) from Kiev, Lviv and other cities in Ukraine. You can buy tickets online for the trains within Ukraine, the prices are incredibly cheap! Just keep in mind that Odessa is a popular summer destination and in the warmer months tickets can be sold out quickly!

Where to stay in Odessa

I’ve stayed at Loft Hostel and I can recommend it. The location is perfect, just few steps away from Deribasivska street, and the hostel is new, clean and really affordable. You can check prices and more details here!

Depending on what you’re interested in I can recommend you staying either in the Old Town or Arcadia.. Click on the name of the district to see the best offers on accommodation!

Where to eat in Odessa

There are plenty of excellent restaurants in Odessa, both with local and international cuisine! If you’re after budget food you can find Puzata Chata at the top floor of the shopping center at Deribasivska street (next to McDonald’s). Check the best restaurants in Odessa here!

Further read

The best guide book to Ukraine is by Bradt – they do the best guides to some less known destinations and Ukraine is no difference! Click here to check more details on the book and price!

I always read a lot about destinations I’m visiting to get the full background of the place. These are the books about Ukraine you might find interesting:


Don’t travel without a travel insurance! I’ve learnt my lesson that you never know what might happen and I don’t leave the house without being insured. Click here for more info and best rates on travel insurance at World Nomads!


If you think of visiting Ukraine or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the „destinations” page.


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Disclaimer: there are affiliate links in some of the posts on this website. If you book or purchase anything though the links listed here I will get a small commission at no extra costs for you. This helps me run this page and provide you the most useful travel information. Thank you! I recommend only products I genuinely belive in.
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16 Kwi '17

There are 25 Comments.

  1. Really great post and one thing is certain: you take great pictures. I love the one with the memorial and behind a picturesque courtyard with a super old car.
    Stefania – The Italian Backpacker latest post…Walking through enchanting OhridMy Profile

    • kami
      21:30 17/04/2017

      Thank you! I really appreciate your kind words! :)

  2. Sue
    19:46 16/04/2017

    I enjoyed this post enormously and visiting Odessa is now on my To Do list. It is not somewhere I had considered before but I shall get the Bradt book you recommend and have a look at Ukraine.

    • kami
      21:33 17/04/2017

      Thank you! I really recommend Bradt guides for the less known destinations, they are the best, so much better than Lonely Planet. I also personally know two Bradt writers and I know they do excellent research!

  3. I visited Odessa last year, and also found it to be a beautiful city. Love your photos as well!

    • kami
      21:37 17/04/2017

      Thank you! Odessa is such a wonderful city, isn’t it?

  4. cristo
    20:31 18/04/2017

    Your post brought back so many good memories….I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking about Tbilissi when in Odessa.The house of unions in Kkulykove pole was still fenced and still smeling like fire when I was there a year ago.Have you been to the big market called „privet” if I remember correctly?I noticed you don’t mention it.

    • kami
      06:57 19/04/2017

      It might be the run down feeling of a formerly beautiful place that makes Odessa and Tbilisi to be so much alike! The pictures of Unions House were taken almost 2 years ago, the entrance was fenced but I walked around easily and no one bothered me.
      Unfortunately I haven’t been to Privoz market – I really wanted to, both times, but I always run out of time. There are just too many things to do in Odessa! I was meant to mention it in the post, must have forgot after all! Thank you for reminding me!

  5. You convinced me! I want to go there, but I heard it’s not really safe for Americans. :(

    • kami
      09:09 20/04/2017

      I haven’t heard about any unsafe situations in Odessa but maybe I just missed something. I think you still should give it a go, it’s an amazing city!

  6. Wizz air uruchomił loty z Wrocławia do Lwowa. Najtańsza są po 40-50 zł. Kupiłem bilet na sierpień i zamierzam odwiedzić Odesse w sierpniu przybywając nocnym pociągiem ze Lwowa. A po Twoim artykule już doczekać się nie mogę :)

    • kami
      15:45 20/04/2017

      jeździłam tym pociągiem tylko w odwrotnym kierunku :) Fajny jest! Kiedy w sierpniu lecisz?

  7. Hej wylatuję 19 sierpnia w sobotę o 12 z Wrocławia przylot do Lwowa na 14, cena całe 50 zł:) Pociąg do Odessy to pewnie ze 200 hrywien, a myślę że będę mieć czas tak do 24 sierpnia do czwartku. Lecę z kolegą – on raczej nastawiony na plażowanie, ja mniej. I chcę zrobić sobie dwudniowy wypad z Odessy do Tiraspolu i do Kiszyniowa:) Powrót planujemy albo jeśli znajdziemy tani lot, to samolotem z Kijowa do Wrocławia – na razie wizzair w tym terminie nie chce z ceną zejść. Lub jak nie, to nocnym do Lwowa i dalej do Wrocławia :)
    stacjabalkany latest post…11 najpiękniejszych zdjęć z deszczowej CzarnogóryMy Profile

  8. Loved this post, Kami!!! :) We were in Odessa a few years ago and rode those same cable cars. Also searched for Zamenhof’s statue but couldn’t find it… maybe next time.

    Happy travels to you!

    • kami
      07:31 21/06/2017

      Thank you! Zamenhof’s statue was in the yard at the end of Deribasivska street, close to Kaczynski street.
      Happy travels to you too!

  9. Odessa should be on everyone’s must go list! It reminds me a bit of Prague 20 years ago after the Soviets were kicked out. And while Tripadvisor has some good restaurant listings, some places I recommend are Farsh (for hamburgers) and Eleven Dogs, which has some great hotdogs and cocktails :)

    Also, on Deribasovskaya is the Jarmarka, a sort of out doors dining/drinking/gathering place with many restaurants and little bars. Check out Burger Point for some good burgers and pasta, as well as California Republic Odessa, which has the ONLY authentic Mexican food in Southeast Ukraine…

    • kami
      07:35 21/06/2017

      Thank you for recommendations, I will try to check them out next time I’m in Odessa! And I agree with you, everyone should visit it! It’s such a great city!

    • kami
      07:35 21/06/2017

      Thank you for recommendations, I will try to check them out next time I’m in Odessa! And I agree with you, everyone should visit it! It’s such a great city!

  10. I didn’t connect with Odessa from the get-go so I am determined to go back and give it another try! This is inspiring me :)

    • kami
      07:35 21/06/2017

      you definitely should! I didn’t have my expectations too high yet I loved it and I’m sure I will be back again!

  11. Wiktoria
    11:16 04/05/2017

    Jesteś moją motywacją! Mam jedynie 18 lat i chciałabym zacząć podróżować, ale… chyba się boję, sama nie wiem czego ;-)
    Pozdrawiam i szczerze zazdroszczę! :)

    • kami
      07:36 21/06/2017

      Dziękuję, bardzo mi miło! Podróżowanie nie jest takie straszne, każdy kiedyś zaczynał i nabierał wprawy :) Zdrowy rozsądek przede wszystkim, tylko trzeba zrobić pierwszy krok, może być i blisko żeby sie oswoić. Powodzenia!

  12. Loved your post. I was there on a cruise stop in 2010 and found it very interesting, similar to but more interesting than Yalta. Took the Jewish tour and learned that they are trying to revive Jewish life there, with rabbis from the U.S. Would have liked to have had more time to explore the city.
    Are people boycotting Crimea now? If so, Odessa is a good alternative and most Westerners don’t need a visa for Ukraine, which makes it more appealing.

    • kami
      07:41 21/06/2017

      Thank you! I think Crimea is off limits now as Russia controls it and it’s not so easy to get there. But I agree, Odessa can be a perfect alternative. I really hope you can get back there, it’s so fascinating!

  13. Hans
    20:45 17/07/2017

    You have an absolutely outstanding blog. I have been a couple of times to Ukraine, and your post about Chernivtsi convinced me to go there also. I was not disappointed, it is a beautiful city. Now with your post about Odesa, I decided to go there in September. Do you think it’s a good month for visiting, not especially for the beach? Continue the good work!

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