Odessa — Ukraine's Black Sea Port City
Odessa (sometimes spelled Odesa) is one of foreigners' favorite destinations in Ukraine. Odessa has one million inhabitants and lies on the Black Sea coast northwest of Crimea (see map). It became an important port during the 19th century and was the USSR's most important point of trade. The city has a lively, cosmopolitan spirit, and Odessites (or Odessans) are known for their openness and use of humor in public.
Odessa was always home to an extremely diverse population that reflected both European and Russian influences. Of course, the city itself bears many marks from the days of Tsarist Russian, and the vast majority of the population speaks Russian and identifies strongly with Russia. In outlying areas of Odessa oblast, Ukrainian can also be heard, as well as Romanian near the Romanian border.
Odessa's climate is quite a bit drier and milder than in Kiev. The city receives only 350 mm (14") of precipitation a year. Most of the city is located quite high above the Black Sea, which can be reached by descending long streets and staircases such as the "Potemkin Stairs" (see right).
Tours around Odessa
There is a wide choice of English language tours available. Here you can browse a list and order free travel broschures, as well as book a tour.
Odessa's nightlife and attractions
Odessa is well-known for its busy nightlife, its cultural events, its beaches and recreation opportunities. Odessa's nightlife, including stylish restaurants, bars, and cafes, as well as numerous nightclubs and discotheques, is mostly to be found in the historical center around Deribasovskaya Street, and also in Arcadia. Arcadia is a strip of nightclubs and restaurants at the western edge of town along the Black Sea. No other city of Ukraine (except perhaps Crimean resorts during the tourist season) has such a concentration of dance floors and classy, creatively designed restaurants.
Getting to Odessa
Odessa's airport has connections to other large cities around Ukraine as well as some major cities around Europe and the former Soviet Union. Find out more about connections available at this KiyAvia site (in English!). However, many travelers prefer to get there by overnight train from cities such as Kiev, Kharkov, or Lviv. Find up-to-date train schedules in English at poezda.net. In addition, there are relatively comfortable AutoLux buses that reach Odessa from Kiev and other cities.