They said “Don’t go to Ukraine, it could be dangerous” Nonsense. It seemed like one of the most peaceful places in Europe. Why spend 2 days in Odessa? Because probably you need more. Here’s why.
It looks terribly alike most seaside cities if you go to the beach, and if you choose to spend your time in the centre of the city, you’ll feel like exploring an old European town. The place is unexpectedly beautiful and the people are friendly. Find out how to spend 2 days in Odessa, Ukraine.
Please note the local currency, which is Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH). At the moment of writing 1 EUR = 30.6135 UAH You can exchange all major currencies there (Eur, USD, etc)
How to get to Odessa, Ukraine?
Any mean of transport is possible, but for those looking for budget-friendly options:
If you are coming from Chisinau, Moldova, take the bus (in Chisinau Gara de Nord – North train station – are busses towards Odessa every 2h. If you plan to travel during the weekend, there is also a Train from Chisinau Central Station. I was lucky enough to take the 8 50 am bus from Chisinau.
Little did I know. I admit I was in doubt when I saw the tiny bus and weird looking driver, but when it started to move I understood what was wrong with it: It had no suspensions. After a 5h trip on that bus (because that’s how long it takes, every single bone in my body was hurting. I do not joke when it comes to back pains.
If you are coming from Kiev, you can take a train. It is clean, nice, cheap and fast (as much as possible, but it will take 7h) and you can buy the train ticket online here. (note their spelling of Odessa – Odesa or Одеса and Kiev – Kyiv or Київ )
I took the 5 42 am IC train to Kiev (travelling from Odessa to Kiev) and it was a dream. Loved it. The IC takes 7h (although mine had a 30 min delay upon arrival) but I consider it to be a great option. The second class price for a ticket is 330 UAH (~ 11 Eur)
These are the budget options. I arrived by bus from Chisinau, Moldova, where I explore Chisinau and the surrounding for 2 days. Remember not to leave Moldova without visiting a winery. I chose Cricova winery because it is the most famous and the closest to Chisinau.
The bus Chisinau – Odessa was approx 12 Eur (50 MDL).
What to do in Odessa, Ukraine?
Not so long and wide as I expected (because that’s how Romanian shore is), but small and nice. Restaurants are right next to the beach, some terraces, places to buy beer and ice cream and a dolphinarium – Odeskyi Delfinariy Nemo. And hotels.
Right before reaching the Langeron beach, stands tall a huge memorial – Monument to an Unknown Sailor. It found it quite impressive and the park next to it is also worth a visit. In the park were even bikes for rent.
The City Centre
As in many European cities, the centre of Odessa makes no difference and has many restaurants and it will be hard to pick one to sit down. Some even have live music. The streets are full of people roaming around and street artists are present to smile and wish you a good day. Soap balloons, helium balloons, all kinds of coloured balloons. If I had to use just one word to describe it, it would be colourful. Even the ponies and horses were colourful. Although I am not happy to see them using animals, especially in such a crowded place.
In the evening, there were people dancing in the middle of the street, while one musician was playing the drums as a cover of famous songs. People seemed happy and it gave me good vibes. But I admit, it was the beginning of May. Probably in summer, it gets more crowded and it can become unbearable. It would, for me.
I am so bad I remember things I have no interest in. I never got history, but Odessa had a short history, fortunately. That is because the city was founded just 230 years ago. And that’s the beauty of it: it all looks like the same architect design all of its buildings because mostly, that’s what happened. Thank you Russian Empress Catherina Empress for your kind heart, and for Odessa.
There are some funny touristic trains/busses providing tours for lazy tourists. Like I was, because after I arrived in Odessa, I walked for 4h and got really tired. So it is nice to just sit and explore the city. They have guides who speak also English.
The Instagram places
The architecture of the entire city is very Instagramable, and it is hard to put your camera away. But please do take some time just to admire, not to take pictures of everything, because it will be impossible to do so, and every street is worth a picture.
Insomnia Haunted house
I found this random, walking on the street. It is on the same street as the hostel I stayed at. You can find them online, on their website or on Facebook, but remember you need a reservation. I forgot to make one a day before, and luckily there was a free spot on my last evening in Odessa.
I don’t want to spoil this for you, but it’s something to try out and enjoy. If you enjoyed haunted houses when you were a child. Follow the rules and try to move fast. Check them Insomnia- The Haunted House on TripAdvisor.
No photos allowed. Sorry.
Where to eat and where to sleep?
I Booked my accommodation on Booking.com. The only decision I had to make was if I want to stay in the city centre or near the beach. Unfortunately, you cannot have both. I stayed really close to the centre and I was happy with that. Also, because I get to see the black see each year I am in Romania, so it was easy to pick.
I stayed at this really cute hostel: Hogwarts Hostel. If you are into Harry Potter, you will love this location. I booked a private room with a bathroom, so it was like a cheap hotel. With a theme. They even had a cat, Mrs Norris. Everything was perfect, location, cleanness, except that not all people from the reception speak English. It’s good they have a 24/7 reception, but at 5 am when I was looking for a taxi and the lady there was too sleepy to understand how urgent it was for me to get to the train station. Ahh. That morning was a nightmare.
But there are many options close to the city centre, or to the beach, which look really good.
Where to eat?
Too many options. If you are in the centre, there are literally restaurant on each and every street. It is hard to choose. There are even many restaurants with vegetarian and vegan options. Although none which was exclusive vegan. It is easy to understand why, as the eastern cuisine has its main disses made from animal products. People are more prone to eat familiar food, I guess.
For the first lunch in Odessa, I picked Gastrobar Khleb.Vino.Zhizn, and it was beautiful. Inside (because the facade was in works) and in the plate. Loved it, and it had vegan and vegetarian options.
As I was taking pictures of my food, some people from the next table looked at me and said in Romanian “It must be a good restaurant if people are taking pictures of the food”. Haha, they thought I don’t understand. And they had no idea I take pictures of everything. But this food was worth it.
Another place worth a visit, for breakfast, which can be served anytime, because it’s opened 24/7, is Benedikt. We liked it so much here, we got back for an evening breakfast. The inside is very nice and cosy, the staff is friendly and the variety of breakfast is impressive. Don’t worry, vegan options are also on the menu.
The takeaway from this Odessa trip
I loved it and I often find myself thinking I would like to move there. THere is much more to experience, more food to taste and crazy architecture to stare at, oh and the beaches… it makes it a perfect spring/autumn destination. I am afraid that it is too crowded during the summer, and some twitter friends suggested that it gets crowded during summer.
Don’t miss it, if you find yourself in Ukraine. Try to stay a bit longer, and maybe book a walking tour. They have flea markets, but it was closed when I was there. Oh, and the famous Odessa cats, which are everywhere <3
Now tell me, have you been to Ukraine? How was your experience?