Things to do in ODESSA, Ukraine in one day

You only have one day in Odessa / Ukraine and still don’t want to miss the best things to do and highlights during your city trip? No problem with the travel tips and BIG5 checklists from JOURNICATION! This Odessa travel guide shows you with maps the route to the best places within the big port city at the Black Sea. In addition to my personal experience report, you’ll get recommendations on the best hotels, restaurants and photo spots in Odessa and an overview of costs. You’ll see, in 24 hours in Odessa, there are more sights to discover than just the Potemkin Steps and the Opera House. Let’s go for a perfect day in Odessa, Ukraine in 2021!

What do you learn in this article?

BIG5 Things to do in Odessa, Ukraine

You don’t want to miss any sights? Find all the tips and your checklist for the city trip to Odessa here:

BIG5 Odessa – Speed Date

Outstanding:

Odessa is a great place to combine a beach vacation and a city break, with the relaxed vibe of a coastal city surrounded by impressive architecture.

Sucks:

Sometimes it is difficult to communicate with English only! Not reading or speaking Ukrainian/Russian can become a bit challenging in some situations – be prepared

DO:

Schau dir die Katakomben von Odessa an – es sind die größten der Welt

DO NOT:

Do not be inattentive and take good care of your valuables, especially in the crowded public transport and bars / clubs. Also, do not get into unregistered cabs at night after partying.

Don’t tell your mother:

You should not visit the extensive catacombs alone or without a local guide – you can easily get lost in the dark, damp corridors!
And: Odessa has one of the highest HIV rates in Europe…

BIG5 Odessa – Rapid Fire Q&A

  • Why should you travel to Odessa? – Odessa offers a great mix of magnificent architecture, relaxing beaches on the Black Sea, and a dazzling nightlife.
  • Can you get around in Odessa with English only? – Well, it is possible. Meanwhile, especially the younger people often speak English, but in many places you can only communicate in Ukrainian or Russian.
  • Where is the best view over Odessa? – You have a great panoramic view over Odessa from the terraces of the Oblaka restaurant on the 9th floor of the Kadorr department store.
  • What about public transportation in Odessa? – Due to the extensive catacombs, there is no subway in Odessa, despite its size. In the center you can get around very cheaply by buses and streetcars. You usually pay when you get off.
  • How much time should I plan for Odessa? – For the Odessa sights usually one day is enough, if you are interested in the catacombs and an extensive beach vacation / nightlife, you should plan several days.

BIG5 Odessa – Orga

Best travel time for Odessa, Ukraine

The best time to visit Odessa is from the end of April to the beginning of October. In spring and autumn it is a little cooler than in high summer, but there are fewer tourists.
It’s best to keep this in mind when deciding when to travel to Odessa.

Arrival & Departure in Odessa

Visa: Check here if you need a visa for Ukraine with your passport

  • Bus: From Kiev / Ukraine (several times a day, 6 hours, from 20 Euro with Flixbus).
  • Bus: From Chisinau / Moldova (several times daily, ~5 hours, from 10 Euro)
  • Train: From Kiev / Ukraine (several times a day, more than 7 hours, from 10 Euro)
  • Train: From / to Chisinau / Moldova (once a day, 4 hours, from 10 Euro)

Next up is …Kiev (Ukraine), Tiraspol (Transnistria) or Chisinau (Moldova)

Accommodation / Hotels in Odessa, Ukraine

Recommended location:Where should you book a hotel in Odessa? – It is best to book accommodation directly in the city center with walking distance to the beach. This way, most Odessa attractions are super easy to reach.

  • Budget: Friday Hostel(Pushkinskaya 77, 4th floor, Odessa, 65026; ~6€ dorm, from 20€ double room), very good accessibility from Odessa main train station.
  • Budget: TsaTsa(36 Pastera Street, Odessa, 65000; ~6€ dorm, from 20€ double room), good hostel in the west of the center, with nice courtyard to relax after exploring the city
  • Medium: Old city loft (19 вулиця Пастера, Odessa, 65000; from ~60€ DR), great location to explore the city center on foot. An old loft with great ambience for your city trip to Odessa.
  • Medium: Il Decameron Luxury Design Hotel(10 Kachinskogo Street, Odessa, 65026; ~80€ DR), modern, super-equipped hotel in the center of Odessa.
  • Noble: Hotel de Paris Odessa MGallery (Ekaterininskaya Square 4/1, Odessa, 65026; 120€ DR), upscale hotel in very central location with only a few meters to Potemkin’s Stairs
  • Noble: Duke Hotel (Pereulok Chaykovskogo 10, Odessa, 65026; 175€ DR), luxurious 5* hotel within walking distance to the BIG5 Odessa attractions

Price Level in Odessa

  • What is the currency of Ukraine? – The currency in Ukraine is the hryvnia or hryvnia (UAH), currently the conversion rate is approx. 1 hryvnia = 0.033 euros.
  • Can I pay with Euro in Ukraine? – No, in Ukraine you pay everywhere with hryvnia.

Withdraw money: No problem thanks to the many ATMs in the city

Beer indicator: (about 1,50 Euro) for 0,5 liter in the restaurant

Cost of a taxi: Be sure to use an official app), otherwise there is a big risk of paying way too much. For this purpose, Uber & Yandex offer themselves

What is the cost of public transport in Odessa? You pay 5 UAH (about 0,15 Euro) for trolley buses & streetcars in the center, 10 UAH (about 0,30 Euro) for buses

Restaurants, Bars & Cafés in Odessa

  • Kumanets (7 Havana St. Odessa) – medium to upscale price level in great Ukrainian ambiance, from decor to employee attire.
  • Kompot – Odessa-based chain, found in many locations around the city
  • Puzata Khata (Пузата Хата, Derybasivska St. 21 Odessa) – delicious local food.
  • Oblaka on the 9th floor of Kadorr Department Store (Katerynyns’ka St. 27) – Outstanding view of the whole city and a wide range of food and fresh drinks
  • Port (Preobrazhens’ka St. 34 Odessa) – hip wine bar with great selection.
  • Molodоst (Hrets’ka St. 19 Odessa) – popular bar in Odessa especially among young people & students.
  • Atelier Design & Coffee (Preobrazhens’ka St, 9А Odessa) – as the name suggests, great coffee shop with modern, cozy ambience and hip creations.

BIG5 Odessa – Activities

  • Walk on the Potemkin Stairs
  • Enjoy the beaches of the Black Sea
  • Venture into the catacombs of Odessa
  • See a performance at the Odessa Opera House
  • Stroll through the Derybasivska pedestrian zone

BIG5 Odessa – Photo spots

  • Potemkin stairs – from above and from below 🙂
  • Panoramic view of whole Odessa from Oblaka restaurant in Kadorr department store
  • Odessa Passage reminds strongly of the Galeria of Milan
  • The harbor of Odessa – walk out onto the pier at the Odessa Hotel
  • The Odessa Opera House is the most famous building of the city

 

 

BIG5 Odessa – Things to do off the beaten track

  • Discover graffiti & street art around Stroganov Bridge
  • Experience the hustle and bustle and local products at Privoz Market
  • Explore the Black Sea Street near the Walk of Fame / Langeron Beach
  • Odessa is full of wonderful street art – if you know where! Book a guided tour
  • Enjoy the special flair of Spiridonovskaya Street, especially house number 8

BIG5 Odessa – Culinary Journey

  • Bychky – local fried fish
  • Pakhlava – baklava in the Ukrainian version
  • Borscht – whether with meat or vegetarian is a typical dish for Odessa
  • Try different varieties of the berry drink “compote”
  • Seafood – of course, you are right by the sea!

BIG5 Odessa – Communication

What language do you speak in Ukraine? – In Ukraine they speak Ukrainian – no, not Russian!

  • thank you – Дякую – Dyakuyu
  • yes -Так – tak
  • no – немає – nemaye
  • hello – Здравствуйте – Zdravstvuyte
  • goodbye – до побачення – do pobachennya

BIG5 Odessa – Helpful Websites / Links

  • Official site of Odessa Tourist Office
  • If you don’t want to take care of everything organizationally yourself, just want to enjoy your vacation and still not miss any sights in Odessa, great tours are offered locally:

 

BIG5 Odessa – Overview map for your city trip

Things to do in Odessa Odesa Ukraine highlights one day itinerary travel tips hotel recommendation: Odessa Opera House is one of the most famous buildings of the city

One day in Odessa, Ukraine 🇺🇦 – here is your overview

Best suited for screenshots 📷📝

Your morning in Odessa

  • Transfiguration Cathedral & Cathedral Square
  • Odessa Passage
  • Derybasivska pedestrian zone
  • Odessa Opera House
  • Primorsky Boulevard
  • Potemkin Stairs
  • Odessa Port
  • Vorontsov Palace & Colonnade
  • Teshchin Bridge

Your afternoon in Odessa

  • Relax on the beach
  • Luna Park OR:
  • Odessa Catacombs

Your evening in Odessa

  • Authentic Ukrainian dinner
  • Odessa nightlife

 

In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the things to do in Odessa and the circular route for you in an overview map:

Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!

Odessa Highlights in one day – Your Travel Guide

Welcome to Odessa – Bienvenidos à Odessa”. At the first moment it sounds completely absurd to connect a city in Ukraine with the dazzling Miami from the song by Will Smith. But you’ll see, the comparison is not so far off on some points… you’ll see why.

Odessa is a relatively young city. In 1794, Russian Tsarina Catherine II – better known as Catherine the Great – arranged for the Black Sea port to be founded. Not on a greenfield site, but on the ruins of Hadzhibey, recently conquered by the Ottomans.

The famous Black Sea port is an impressive melting pot of cultures. Due to its strategic location as one of the most important ports on the Black Sea, Odessa has always been a plaything of powers, all of which have left their mark on the culture and cityscape. Already from one house to another, the architectural style can change from Western Gothic to Byzantine.

 

Things to do in Odessa, Ukraine in the morning

Start your discovery tour of Odessa at the Transfiguration Cathedral. The striking building was erected in the 19th century. Today, however, the original building no longer stands, but a replica from 1999 that is as detailed as possible. The old cathedral was destroyed in 1936 on Stalin’s orders.

On the Cathedral Square there is a statue of an important man in the history of the city: Count Mikhail Vorontsov. Worth seeing is also the neat building behind it: The “Budynok O. P. Russova Na Sadoviy Vulytsi” was recently renovated by an investor and is now used as a residential building. Not all old buildings in the Ukrainian port city are so fortunate: some of them are in prime locations, standing empty and gradually falling into disrepair.

We continue to a hidden gem: the Odessa Passage. The sight looks familiar… but from where? That’s right, the Odessa Passage is reminiscent of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. And yes, both buildings date back to the same time, when it was popular to unite many stores under one roof. Quasi the precursor of the big department stores.

 

Odessa Highlights: The center around Derybasivska

Coming out of the passage you are already on one of the most famous streets of Odessa: the pedestrian zone Derybasivska. Here you will find different architectural styles in a small area: magnificent buildings from the 19th century – incomprehensibly, some of them are empty today -, Stalinist monumental architecture and prefabricated buildings of the 1960s. Culinary you will certainly find in the Derybasivska and the adjacent squares: There are many nice street cafes, restaurants and the typical internationally known fast food chains.

Directly across the street you can stroll into the city garden. This green oasis in Odessa is beautifully landscaped with a pavilion, fountains (colorfully lit in the dark) and a variety of statues. Sit next to popular jazz singer and actor Leonid Utyossov on the park bench or on the chair art installation honoring Ilf and Petrov.

 

Things to do in Odessa: Opera House and Potemkin Stairs

A short detour around the corner is the most famous building in Odessa: the Opera House. Performances still take place here almost every day. Some tickets are surprisingly cheap. The best way to find out more is to visit the official website of the Odessa Opera House.

Right behind it is the building of the Duma of Odessa, i.e. the administrative seat. Overlooking the Black Sea, a cannon from the British battleship Tigris, sunk during the Crimean War, was placed here.

Continuing along the avenue-like Primorsky Boulevard above the port, under the gaze of Alexander Punchkins, you will automatically come to the statue of the Duc de Richelieu. As a leading administrator, he helped the still young Odessa to prosperity and prosperity. And yes, he is related to the famous novel character from “The Three Musketeers.”

 

 

The statue looks over to the most famous building of Odessa: The Potemkin Staircase. Due to the special architecture, there are several optical illusions to marvel at: If you stand at the top, you don’t see the staircase at all – the harbor and the sea seem very close. If you stand at the bottom and look up the 192 steps, the staircase looks as if it gets narrower towards the top – but in fact it doesn’t, all the steps are the same width. The sky seems so much closer.

 

 

 

Walk down the stairs into the Odessa harbor. You can walk around the whole pier past the Odessa Hotel to the lighthouse: There are great views of the sea and the bustle of the harbor in all directions.

In the port of Odessa on the Black Sea

And it’s back up the stairs again…. come on, it’s only 192 steps…. If that’s too much after all, you can take the train.

One day in Odessa: Vorontsov Palace & Architecture

Now, if you continue walking along Primorsky Boulevard, you’ll come to Vorontsov Palace and the neat colonnade. As of September 2021, the palace is unfortunately in a desolate condition and surrounded by a construction fence, so that no one is injured by falling parts…

Vorontsov Palace today is in poor condition

Now you will cross the Teshchin Bridge, also called Mother-in-Law Bridge. From the middle of the bridge you have a good view over the harbor and the surrounding streets.
In the neighborhood there are some beautiful buildings like the Shakhsky Palace, the Tolstoy Palace and the Falz-Fein House. From here you can take a detour to the monument to Catherine II, the founder of Odessa.

Just nearby is the former “house with only one wall” or “Witch House of Odessa” as it is called in some travel blogs as an Odessa sight. As an update from September 2021, it should be said that in the course of new construction works, the house now has more than one wall – so it is not really “worth seeing” anymore.

By now, at the latest, you’ve earned an extensive break! A day in Odessa with all the sights is definitely a decent walk. You want to enjoy your drink with a great panoramic view over the city? Then Oblaka restaurant on the top floors of Kadorr shoppingcenter is the place for you! I was thrilled with the view and the selection!

 

Things to do in Odessa in the afternoon

For the afternoon you have several activities in Odessa to choose from. Depending on what you feel like.

Things to do in Odessa: Relax on the beach

Sightseeing on foot through Odessa was quite exhausting, wasn’t it? Then let’s go to the beach!

City trip and beach vacation in one? This works especially well in Odessa!

What is the best beach in Odessa?

Odessa has many beaches on the Black Sea, especially in the eastern part of the city. Especially popular and easily accessible are the beaches in Langeron, Otrada and Arcadia.

The Golden Shore beach is considered especially clean and has great fine sand!

In Odessa you will find many great beaches

Things to do in Odessa: Discover the catacombs

Where are the largest catacombs in the world? Paris? – no! Rome? – no! The largest catacombs in the world are in Odessa! About 2,500 kilometers, the branched tunnel system under the city extends far into the outskirts and surrounding villages.

These tunnels were originally built as stone mines to get cheap building material for the expansion of the city. Some of the tunnels are more than 60 meters deep under the ground and in 3 levels above each other – difficult to keep track of. And this is exactly what made the Odessa catacombs an ideal hiding place for smugglersor partisan groups during the Second World War. This is what the Museum of Heroic Partisans in Nerubajske, just outside Odessa, is about.

The entrance fee to the museum is 250 UA.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit the catacombs alone. It’s best to sign up for a guided tour in advance or book a tour through Freetours or Get your Guide.

 

In another article of JOURNICATION we clarify the question: How to get to the Odessa Catacombs by bus cheaply?

 

Things to do in Odessa Odesa Ukraine highlights one day itinerary travel tips hotel recommendation: Odessa catacombs are the largest in the world

Odessa Sightseeing: Have fun in Luna Park

You feel like more action and adrenaline kicks? Check out the Luna Park of Odessa! There are many different attractions and rides here. Many are designed for children, but there are also some for adult guests.

The Ferris wheel in Luna Park of Odessa

Granted, Luna Park has certainly seen its glory days! Especially the Ferris wheel. But it’s best to see for yourself.

Things to do in Odessa in the evening

After a long day with the numerous Odessa sights and certainly some highlights, it’s time for an authentic Ukrainian dinner! My personal recommendation for this is the restaurant Kumanets near the city garden. The whole premises are lovingly furnished and decorated, even the staff wears traditional Ukrainian costumes. And not to speak of the food. If you are looking for typical Ukrainian food and drinks, this is the place for you!

Ukrainian food and decoration in restaurant Kulantes

Odessa is known far beyond the city and country borders for its nightlife.

So dive into the famous nightlife of Odessa, the “Ibiza of Ukraine”. In the Arcadia district (easily accessible by city bus line 198 or cab) you will find many nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

In the city center you can also find many bars, which are especially popular with students. Especially popular are the “Порт” (Port, good wine bar) and the OPEX.

You have more than one day in Odessa?

Wonderful, because the city on the Black Sea has so much more to offer!

Odessa is home to many exciting museums. These include:

  • Museum of Modern Arts
  • Odessa Museum of Western and Oriental Art
  • Smuggling Museum

The Museum of Western and Oriental Art Odessa

You certainly didn’t get through all of the afternoon suggestions in one day in Odessa either. The activities like the beach and the catacombs can be divided into several days.

What are the best day trips from Odessa?

If you have more than one day in Odessa, you can also take great day trips. Odessa is a good starting point for day trips or tours to all of Ukraine.

  • Akkermann Fortress – imposing 13th century fortress overlooking the Black Sea.
  • Fancy some wine? Then head for the Shabo Wine Cultural Center
  • Nikolaev Zoo

Organized tours are recommended for day trips. Especially if you are not very good at reading Cyrillic characters and don’t want to search a bit longer for English-speaking passers-by.

 

 

Now you know the best things to do in Odessa in a day and see what a great destination the city in Ukraine is. Are Odessa, its catacombs and beaches on your bucket list now too? 🇺🇦

Interested in more great places & highlights in Eastern Europe? Here is some more inspiration for you:

Eastern Europe Highlights – Hidden Gem destinations I

Hidden Gems Eastern Europe – The Highlights II

 

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