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ODESSA TRAVEL ADVICE Watch Our Videos of Odessa

Odessa is a historic city located in the south of Ukraine on the Black Sea.

This important seaport continues to grow as a popular summer resort destination with many new hotels, upscale restaurants and iconic nightlife popping up in the past few years. There is nearly 30 km of coastline wrapping the Odessa oblast, dedicated to its ports, beaches and parks.

It is said that the population of 1 million actually doubles to 2 million during a typical summer. Combining its affordable prices with numerous outdoor cafes, pubs, discos and restaurants it is the ultimate place to take a vacation in East Europe.

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Picture of beach resort in Odessa, Ukraine

One of the elite beach resorts in Odessa

Odessa's Nightlife: Itaka @ Arcadia

Ukraine women and men flock to the world famous nightlife at Arcadia Beach

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Tourist Information

"Things to Do"/Sightseeing Attractions in Odessa

Odessa has a diverse range of sightseeing attractions.

Our "things to do" videos highlight Odessa in all of its splendor – starting with its fascinating culture.

A must stop for any visitor to Odessa is the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre, and not just outside for selfies. Take the plunge and purchase tickets for an event – most events last less than 90 minutes so it will not consume your entire evening.

Even veteran travelers to Odessa may not have realized that within 4 blocks of the Opera House there are no less than seven museums to take in, including the National Maritime Museum (currently closed for upgrades) on the southeast corner of the Opera grounds and the Archeological Museum which is just one block south.

Kids will love the Musuem of Waxworks that is located a block south of the Opera House near Deribasovskaya Street.

Naturally most people will have the Potemkin Steps, Odessa Port, and Odessa Colonnade on their itinerary, however other suggested stops a bit further away include the Heroic Defense Museum at the 411 Battery Memorial (where you can touch the M-305 class submarine!), or a walk through Shevchenko Park.

Odessa Nightlife & Entertainment

As single men, we have had the opportunity to explore nightlife around the world, from Munich Oktoberfest, to Miami's Ocean Drive to Spain's wild Ibiza island foam parties. We consider Odessa's nightlife on par to any we have seen in the world, so much so that we have planned summer trips back to Odessa for 7 consecutive years now.

The main attraction for Odessa nightlife are the outdoor mega nightclubs at Arcadia Beach , in particular, Itaka and Ibiza nightclubs which party until the sun comes up on the Black Sea. Add in five or six other discos on any particular year such as Bono Beach Club, Western Club, MORE Lounge, Assol (a huge pirate ship!) and I.E. Moscow Club and you could literally party at a different place each night of the week!

But Odessa has much more to offer for partiers....during the winter months the staffs of these clubs reappear at discos in the city such as Palladium, and Yo Club.

Numerous other year-round places in the city center draw locals and tourists, including the ever-popular Morgan Club (formerly known as Captain Morgan).

For early evening chat and hookah, numerous indoor/outdoor lounges are worthy of consideration such as Granat Café, Fanconi 1872, Bellini, and Garden Café. And for those looking for a feel of back home, Mick O'Neils, aka "The Irish Pub", is a place to sit back in the day or evening and chat up a storm with ex-pats, first time visitors, and a few locals. It's not unusual to hear accents from Germany, Norway, England, and America all within a table's reach here.

Odessa also offers many strip clubs especially on Ekaterinaskaya street. Budget accordingly if you decide to lighten your wallet at any of these places that target the new tourists to town.

Dining In Odessa

Noting its place as a vacation destination, Odessa continues to see numerous new restaurants opening each year. Whereas eight years ago the options were limited, now you can find everything from Georgian, to French, to Japanese within a couple blocks of your hotel or apartment.

Deribasovskaya street caters to all types of meals including quick lunches at McDonald's and Top Sandwich.

And don't limit your dinner options to just the city center. Some of the best restaurants in Odessa are a 10-15 minute taxi drive away, such as Rokka and Dacha.

For those staying in the city, some places include live music on the weekends, including Tito's, Mick O'Neils, and Bellini.

We will show you all of these in our dining videos.

Cafes & Lounges in Odessa

The summer weather in Odessa means being outside! Odessa's outdoor cafes and lounges have their own sub-culture. In fact, its not uncommon to see some early risers enjoying a breakfast and coffee at an outdoor café to start their day.

Add in the afternoon collection of hung-over partiers and lap-top worker bees, and of course don't forget those enjoying a drink post-beach or pre-dinner. Basically cafes and lounges in Odessa are 24/7 "go-to" places to accommodate each person's unique lifestyle.

Main locations for fun café action include the City Garden off Deribasovskaya, Deribovskaya street itself, as well as its main cross street, Ekatineraskaya.

Cafes come and go in Odessa, which we will try to keep updated in our Odessa Café videos.

Odessa Shopping

Odessa draws many of East Europe's elite class and with it, the city has continued to build out its shopping options for the elite including high class boutiques such as Hugo Boss, Gucci, and Porsche dealerships.

Much of the high class shopping can be found around Ekatineraskaya and Greschnaya streets.

Two urban malls appeal to those of all budgets, Europa Shopping Center immediately next to McDonald's on Deribasovskaya and Afina ("Athena") Shopping Center just two blocks away.

The newest mall, Riveria is located 30 minutes north of the city and could be worth a trip on a rainy day. It has a roller-skating, a bowling center and movie theatres.

And for those looking for the largest outdoor market, consider 7KM, a sprawling outdoor market on the western outskirts of the city that rivals markets in Hong Kong and Bangkok in its size. While prices are quite good there, don't expect the same price levels as Shanghai.

Picture of beach resort in Odessa, Ukraine

One of the elite beach resorts in Odessa

Odessa's Nightlife: Itaka @ Arcadia

Ukraine women and men flock to the world famous nightlife at Arcadia Beach

Sponsored Link

Did You Know? 10 Interesting Facts About Odessa...

Ukraine Video Guide offers ten unique and interesting facts about Odessa:

  1. The name Odessa is Greek in origin. It means "odyssey, voyage or long journey". This makes sense as the Odessa shores were probably the farthest port city from the Grecian home base in the Mediterranean Sea-Black Sea chain.
  2. Odessa is home to one of the largest underground labyrinths in the world. The origins of these underground tunnels (called "Catacombs" are debated; some believe they were created about 200 years ago by miners while others believe that the first caves go as far back as the Khazars period of the 6th century.

    The sandstone quarried from these labyrinths was used in the construction of many of the buildings in Odessa, a rarity to be found in very few cities of its time.

    The actual reason(s) (religious maybe?) of these catacombs have never been truly clarified.

    It's estimated the catacombs cover over 250 km with hundreds of entrance points! During WWII, the Nazis made military use of the catacombs. These catacombs are dangerous as it's easily to get lost in them and thus only available to be toured by an educated guide.

  3. As a long-time trading post, Odessa is quite an international melting pot. There are over 100 nationalities living in Odessa. The city make-up is Ukrainians 62%, Russians 29%, Bulgarians 6%, Moldovans 5%, and Jews 5%. You can find mosques, synagogues and churches of various denominations all within walking distance of the train station.
  4. Odessa is home to one of the more unusual houses in the world – "the house with one wall". Built in 1887, this triangular-shaped building followed the dimensions of the plotted land. From the street the building has an optical illusion of being two-dimensionally flat, with one wall.
  5. The white acacia tree is an important symbol of the city. However they are more rare than 50 years ago, when a Soviet politician replaced many of the trees with a more masculine looking tree. Worldwide these trees are becoming more scarce. Odessa actually hosts the White Acacia Festival as an every other year event in May.
  6. Although as a whole, the northern waters of the Black Sea rest upon the southern shores of Ukraine, in fact the Odessa Sea Port projects outward in a northernly-manner into the sea itself. The reason is that much of Odessa city proper is an eastern-based peninsula with water to its north, east and south. So you will find the port facing north, and most of the beaches facing east. Most tourists to Odessa never see the actual southern facing coast of Ukraine!
  7. The song "O Sole Mio" was composed in Odessa and not in Italy. It was composed by Eduardo Di Capua in Odessa in 1898 after following the poem by Giovanni Capurro. Di Capua and Capurro later sold the rights of the song to the Bideri publishing house for 25 lire.
  8. A romantic way to show your everlasting love to your mate is to "lock it up in public".

    A tradition in Odessa (and a few other cities in Ukraine) is to place a metal lock onto the Teschin Bridge, make a wish...and throw away the key! The ritual is supposed to bring everlasting happiness to the couple. The Teschin Bridge connects the Collanade/Voronstov Palace area to the "old Odessa" park. The bridge offers fascinating views down to the Odessa harbor below.

    In fact, so many locks now hang from the bridge that an alternative object, designed in the shape of the heart also exists at the "old Odessa" side of the bridge.

  9. Because of Odessa's peninsular shape, Odessa has a very extended coastline – reaching nearly 30 km in length. With 7 km dedicated to the port, this leaves the majority of the Odessa coastline consisting of beaches and parks – all for tourists to play!
  10. "The Ukrainian Venice" is a name given to the small village of Vilkovo (Vylkove) . This village is near the Romanian-Ukraine border, about 130 miles southwest of Odessa. This is also where you can find a small monument for "zero kilometer", the spot where the Danube River and Black Sea meet. This Danube delta is where the Ukrainian Danube Biosphere Reserve is based. For nature lovers, this may be worth a day-long trip to the delta.
A typical stunning sunrise over the Black Sea

A typical stunning sunrise over the Black Sea

Fountain & Flowers in Odessa's City Garden

Fountains come to life in the city garden off Deribasovskaya street

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A luxury style hotel resort in Odessa Ukraine

Odessa has numerous luxury resort hotels to consider

Odessa's International Airport welcomes  tourists

Odessa's International Airport welcomes tourists

5 Tips For a Fun & Worthwhile Visit to Odessa

Odessa is a magical city offering so much to their visitors. It's not wonder why we have made sure to visit Odessa seven summers in a row!

For first-timers Odessa can offer some confusion as to where to best spend your time and money. Below are some helpful tips to optimize your visit here:

1) Eat as many of your evening meals outside.

There is something magical about the early evenings of Odessa. A quiet serene feel comes about the city just as the sun goes down, waiting for the unknown possibilities that the evening may bring. On many summer evenings the weather is "perfect"; not too humid, no flies or mosquitos, and not too windy.

Grab a table near a pedestrian walkway and watch the crowds grow in size as they come out for nighttime fun -- young ladies' stiletto heels clicking against the cobblestone roads, kids joyfully playing with balloons, and men dressed in what they hope are this year's trendy euro outfits.

Virtually every restaurant in the city center has some type of outdoor seating.

Because much of the nightlife doesn't get going until midnight, crowds typically don't get out to the restaurants until around 9 pm. Take your time, enjoy good conversation over a wine or two and enjoy a post-meal dessert. In many cases, delightful music will be playing in the background to round off your dining experience.

This is the magic of South Europe and Odessa in the summer!

2) Visit Arcadia Beach at least once...whether at day or at night

There are numerous beaches in Odessa, including Lanzeheron Beach that is (semi) walking distance from the city center. However the 20 minute taxi ride to Arcadia is well worth it.

Arcadia combines many unique characteristics, including the old feel of New York's Coney Island, Uruguay's Punte Del Este, the Greek Isle's outdoor discos, and Miami's beach resorts.

Watching the sun come up on the Black Sea beaches is an amazing experience. Watching kids play bumper car, and try the shooting gallery brings back memories for everyone, and watching the hoards of sun worshippers is a great people-watching experience. At night, the place turns hedonistic with men and women dancing at the outdoor mega-clubs like Ibiza, Itaka and Bono to the latest in euro-pop music. Oh...and make sure to bring a camera to capture the memories!

3) It can get very hot in July and August...plan your beach comfort level

Although weather patterns seem to be changing in southern Europe, we have noticed that Odessa continues to see many sweltering days in the 82-94 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). For some this may be too hot to lay out at the beach.

Weather can be more moderate in mid June or early September. Alternatively, for those braving the July and August temperatures, you may want to consider avoiding the mid-day sun and doing your tanning mid-morning or late afternoon.

We typically arrive after 3 pm and stay until sundown...or until the last Pina Colada is consumed.

Not all beach resorts offer umbrellas, but some do, including the fancy beach resorts at Arcadia.

Also note that many times that the power grid in the city center will be overloaded during sweltering days. It's not unusual for electricity to go out for minutes or hours at a time during the peak heat of summer. Many stores now revert to back-up generators.

4) Take in a performance at the Odessa Opera & Ballet Theatre

Virtually everyone takes some breathtaking photos in front of the Odessa Opera House. We are still amazed at how many people do not take in a show however!

Places like LaScala (Milan), Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow), Sydney Opera House and the Vienna Opera House typically get the most notoriety of world-class Opera Houses.

Having attended events at both the Bolshoi Theatre and Sydney Opera House, we can definitely claim that we find the Odessa Opera House much more breathtaking inside than either of them.

Besides, this is a classy and affordable way to impress your partner. Tickets are typically around $8-12 USD for most seats.

For visuals of the interior of the opera house check out our video on cultural things to do in Odessa.

5) Be prepared for the taxi "sharks" of Odessa

Whereas most taxi drivers in Kiev, Lviv and the rest of the country are general good people and typically work on somewhat fixed pricing guidelines, the Odessa taxi men are out for every cent they can get from you.

We strongly recommend avoiding grabbing any taxis off the Deribasovskaya street corners. Those vultures prey on first-timers and once even threatened to call the police if my friend didn't pay a "add-on" payment after they had agreed to a price.

Steps for a successful negotiation:

  • Determine the price you want to pay and pull out exactly that much money.
    • Rates to or from arcadia are typically 35-50 UAH for tourists.
    • Rates to or from the airport can be 80-100 UAH for tourists
  • Wave the money in front of taxi man. State where you want to go.
  • Get him to agree. In most cases he will counter. Say "Nyet", show him the money again. (if you know how to say the value, for example "Soruk" = 40 this helps)
  • If he doesn't accept, start walking away slowly, allowing him a final chance
  • Wait or find another taxi

Alternatively, and better yet, have a friend or hotel "order" a taxi for you. These normally will get you the "local" price.

During a typical 7-day visit with multiple trips to Arcadia, smart taxi negotiations can easily save you up to 600 UAH ($75 USD)

We still have to laugh and put things in perspective. Getting "ripped off" in Odessa by these drivers still is cheaper than a typical ride in New York, Tokyo, Moscow, or Paris. But money is money...why pay 100 UAH when you should pay 40 UAH?

A luxury style hotel resort in Odessa Ukraine

Odessa has numerous luxury resort hotels to consider

Odessa's International Airport welcomes  tourists

Odessa's International Airport welcomes tourists

Ukraine Video Guide's General Advice for Visiting Odessa

Although many people don't gravitate too far the two main cross-streets of Odessa, at some point most people may want to take in the Black Sea, go down to the port, find the Colonnade, or make a trip to one of the beaches,

As a reminder, we encourage people to utilize our custom locator maps of Odessa to see where the top restaurants, nightclubs, attractions, and hotels are located in proximity to your lodging and the city center. Some of the most memorable dining and nighttime experiences are away from the city center. Zoom in, zoom out and organize your trip before arriving.

And for first-timers, don't forget to view our travel tip videos to assist you during your initial visit to Odessa.

Common FAQs for Odessa

Below are some of the more common Odessa Question & Answers involving a visit to Odessa. Customized questions can also be directed to Ukraine Video Guide through our email and Skype Q&A services offered in our travel planning section of our website.

Q: Are there any special occasions or events I should consider planning my trip around?

A: Some people say that everyday in Odessa is a special day! And in some ways it is.

The largest celebration of the city takes place around the weekend of its birthday celebration, which is on September 2nd. Typically the city hosts 3 or more days of outdoor concerts cumulating in a fireworks show over the Potemkin steps. This event brings in many tourists and thousands of people from nearby communities for this big event.

Odessa also hosts a couple of jazz festivals each year, typically in the spring and summer. For those more adventurous, a very popular body-art festival occurs each spring. We will let you use your imagination!

Odessa is drawing other major events. In 2012, Odessa was host to the International Film Festival, which drew many international celebrities to the city.

While April 1st is celebrated in the west as "April Fool's day", Odessa has made it a major party considered "humor day".

Of course, many people prefer Odessa at the beginning or end of the summer season when the tourist crowds are not at their peak levels. For us, we were shocked how on September 6th the town felt as if it had shrunk in half, immediately after the birthday celebrations. Most kids were going back to school, but for us tourists, we were still able to enjoy the beaches and open-aired discos for another week or so without fighting much of the other tourists.

Q: Should I consider any of the other beaches besides Arcadia?

A: Yes. But it depends on many factors, including how many days you are in Odessa. If you are planning only one trip to the beach, Arcadia is our suggestion for many reasons including the ease of finding transportation to and from the beach.

Some of the other beaches are more remote and may require knowing how to track down a taxi.

Lanzheron beach is a 20 minute walk from the city center through pretty Shevchenko Park. The beach is basic with fair sand quality at best, but it's next to the Nemo Dolphin show for a nice combination.

Others may want to get away from the touristy feel of Arcadia. Riviera Beach and Delfin Beach are beaches we like for their beach quality and more subdued feel. Chaitka Beach has some very trendy lodging and restaurants going up around it and offers some variety to the Arcadia atmosphere.

Our videos on the beaches of Odessa offer some visual highlights on the differences of each beach.

Q: How much should I spend on a taxi for a lady?

A: Welcome to Odessa! More and more gentlemen seem to be complaining on forums about the extra costs of dating when visiting Odessa. Unlike Kiev or Kharkov, Odessa has no subway so ladies are limited to taxis or buses, as very few young ladies can afford their own cars.

We have first-hand experience of ladies asking for 200 UAH (or more!) for taxi rides home. If it's costing us 40 UAH to get to Arcadia, that 200 UAH can probably get someone halfway to Kiev! (sarcastic joke).

There are good girls in Odessa, but there are also some professional daters. Good girls seem ok with taking the bus, or accepting a modest but fair offer, say of 60 or 100 UAH. Remember most ladies do not live in the city center where its much more expensive to live.

Buses still run after daytime dates end. While most princesses will object to taking a bus home after a date, don't be surprised to see that same princess getting off a bus a few days later on her way to school or work.

You are the man, and you just paid for the dinner, an interpreter and everything else on the date. Don't feel shy to have an open discussion with a lady if you believe you are being taken advantage of...because if you think you are, then you probably are.

Although very bold, one option is to offer to join the taxi ride...90% of the time you be turned down but it will help with your leverage in determining if the girl is sincere or not. The earlier you know her sincerity level, the better off. You are only in Odessa for a limited time, and you want to spend that time with sincere ladies.

Q: I am planning a side trip to Nikolaev for 2 days. What are the best options I have for transportation?

A: Nikolaev is 131 km ( 82 miles) east of Odessa. The ride will take about 2 hours by transfer in a taxi during non-summer months, and up to 2.5 hours in the summer when Odessa traffic is bad. Add 30 minutes when taking the bus, partially due to a 10 minute stop at the outskirts of Kovlevo.

Many people will take a taxi that can cost between $75 and $100. These costs can be more easily justified if splitting the costs with a friend as it's a "door to door" service.

Several apartment companies also offer transfer options for around the same price that also will help with a "door to door" service. For those with considerable luggage, it's a viable option.

Those on a tight budget may want to consider taking the small "marshrutka" bus that runs every hour or so from the Central Bus Station. Last bus departs around 8 pm. The ride will cost about 38 UAH and you will have the "pleasure" of being squeezed alongside babushkas and maybe a pet cat or two. It's a great way to experience the real Ukraine! This is really only an option if your luggage is small, i.e. a duffel bag. The bus stops at Nikolaev's Sovetskaya street (ok to depart bus if no luggage stored in back of bus) and the Nikolaev Bus Station. To Nikolaev center, you then take a 40 UAH taxi that takes about 5 minutes.

Some people will consider going to Nikolaev straight from the Odessa Airport upon arriving. This plan creates a "triangle" schedule, eliminating one leg of transfers (i.e. AIRPORT > NIKOLAEV > ODESSA > AIRPORT = 3 LEGS, compared to AIRPORT > ODESSA > NIKOLAEV > ODESSA > AIRPORT = 4 LEGS).

Entrance to Odessa's Top Tourist Attraction, Arcadia Beach

The newly remodeled Arcadia Beach continues to be one of Odessa's top tourist attractions

12 Month average weather temperatures in Odessa Ukraine

Warm average temperatures in Odessa make it a popular tourist spot

Odessa Opera & Ballet Theatre

Odessa's National Academic Opera & Ballet Theatre

Ukrainian restaurant in Odessa

One of the top outdoor Ukrainian restaurants in the city center of Odessa

Odessa History

Odessa's history has been like a long journey.

Archelogical digs in the area suggest that Odessa was the site of a Greek colony that disappeared betwwen the 3rd and 4th centuries. The colony was under the name Odessos, Ordas, or Ordyssos.

In the 14th century, the land was under Lithuanian rule – and became a Crimean Tatar fortress called Khadzhi-Bei (also spelled such as Kocibey, Khadjibey or Hacibey.) This area became a major trade center.

Around 1529 the Ottoma Turks gained control of the lands and eventually built a fortress called Yenu-Duniya to protect the harbor. Despite their efforts, the area was captured by the Russians in 1789.

In 1792, the Treaty of Jassy was signed, whereas Turkey ceded the regional area between the Buh and Dniester rivers to Russia. Russia built a fort, naval base and trade port, which become the roots for modern-day Odessa. The city was officially founded in 1794 by decree of Catherine the Great.

The port grew into a significant trading post by 1820 and in 1866 railways ran to the north to Kharkiv and Kiev and as well to the southwest to Romania.

As Odessa industrialized, immigration grew from Bulgaria, Greece and elsewhere. The city's first workers' organization was founded in 1875. During this time Odessa was also growing as the cultural center of the area.

In 1905, Odessa was the scene of a workers' revolt led by sailors from the battleship Potemkin. The popular motion picture Battleship Potemkin documented the scene where hundreds of Odessians where killed on the now famous steps.

In World War I, Odessa was bombed by the Turkish fleet.

In 1917 Bolshevik Revolution saw the city fought over including battles with the French Army , the Red Army, and the White Army,

The Red Army eventually won the battles for the city and in 1920 united it with the Ukrainian SSR.

World War II saw the city captured by German (and Romanian) forces in October of 1941. The city was put under Romanian administration until its liberation by the Soviet Red Army in 1944.

Although it did not see as much destruction of some other East European cities, numerous buildings were destroyed during the WWII battles. It's estimated that nearly 300,000 civilians were reported killed or deported during the Axis occupation, of which most were from the Jewish community.

In 1991 the city gained independence when Ukraine become an independent state following he break-up of the Soviet Union.

Starting in the mid 2000's Odessa saw considerable investment into the city with renovated building and parks, aiding with the dramatic increase to summer tourism.

Odessa Opera & Ballet Theatre

Odessa's National Academic Opera & Ballet Theatre

Ukrainian restaurant in Odessa

One of the top outdoor Ukrainian restaurants in the city center of Odessa