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 remarkably like 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.
And to convince you that I really enjoyed Ukraine, read about the other experiences in Ukraine, in case you plan a bigger trip in this beautiful East European country:
- Visiting Kyiv (Kiev): where to go and what to do
- A day trip to Chernobyl (photo journal)
- The dark tourism of Ukraine
- Why you HAVE to visit Lviv, Ukraine
- 5 Castles to visit around Lviv, Ukraine (1-day road trip itinerary)
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 the 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.
But 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 (fast considering the distance, 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 Odesa to Kyiv) 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).
Since you made it to Ukraine, don’t miss the capital and please go and visit Kiev. It’s a beautiful city.
What to do in Odessa, Ukraine?
The Beach in Odesa, Ukraine
Not so long and wide as I expected (because I imagined it to be similar to the Romanian shore), 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.
Odessa 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.
The streets were colourful and full of soap balloons, helium balloons, and 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.
The History of Odessa
Unfortunately, I have a bad memory when it comes to historical facts and dates especially.
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 English speaking guides (just ask them for the English tour).
Instagram places in Odessa, Ukraine
The architecture of the entire city is very Instagramable (speaking of the love and hate relationship I have with my Instagram), and it is hard to put your camera away.
But please do take some time just to admire! Don’t start taking pictures of everything, because it will be impossible to do so, and every street is worth a picture.
Insomnia Haunted house
Care for some a different experience? Then this is for you. (Try to keep your calm, it will all be ok.)
I found this randomly, 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 Sea every year in Romania (if I’m home), so it was easy to pick the centre.
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 staff from the reception speak English.
It’s good they have a 24/7 reception, but it didn’t help much when the lady at the reception was too sleepy at 5 am to understand I need a taxi to get to the train station. Ahh. That morning was a nightmare.
But other than that, there are many options close to the city centre, or to the beach, which look really good.
Where to eat in Odesa, Ukraine?
Odessa has many really nice restaurants. If you are in the centre, there are literally restaurants on each and every street. It is hard to choose.
There are many restaurants with vegetarian and vegan options. Although none was exclusively vegan. It is easy to understand why, as the Eastern European cuisine has its main dishes 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 (especially my boyfriend), we got back for an evening breakfast. The inside is very nice and cosy, the staff is friendly and the variety of breakfasts 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. Some Twitter friends suggested that it gets crowded during the summer, so that’s why I recommend the beginning or end of the season.
Don’t miss Odessa, if you find yourself in Ukraine. Try to stay a bit longer, and maybe book a walking tour in Odesa. Oh, and they have a famous flea market, but it was closed when I was there.
I almost forgot to mention the famous Odessa cats, which are everywhere.
These are my tips and recommendations on how to spend 2 days in Odessa, Ukraine.
Now tell me, have you been to Ukraine? How was your experience? Or are you planning your trip for this year? Can I help?