For those who plan to travel to Odessa once, I have made a small guide.
You can start from any bigger airport. Odessa itself has only a small airport with two terminals. Direct flights are therefore a rarity. You have to go over Kiev mostly and change there. Half a day should be planned as travel time. We have chosen economy class with UIA (Ukrainian Airlines). You can book online directly on the website. Link to UIA
How do I get from the airport to the hotel?
Most hotels offer a shuttle service. For this we have paid an amount of about 13 $. You can also take a taxi, usually there are always enough waiting at the airport. More than 150 hryvna should not be paid for the trip to the center. Therefore, ask the driver and negotiate the price beforehand.
You need a passport, it should be valid for at least half a year. As a German you can enter the Ukraine without a visa, for up to 90 days per half year. Please refer the conditions of your country.
It is advisable to change some of your currency to hryvna before departure. At a german bank, normally you have to order the money two days in advance. In the Ukraine, you can pick up money at the ATM or you can change at one of the numerous exchange offices. The current exchange rate is always written there.
How expensive is it there?
Prices for consumer goods are similar to those in Germany. For food you pay about one-third. In the restaurants you give about 10% tip or more, if you think this is appropriate. Taxi driving is very cheap compared to Germany.
It is recommended, to book the hotel directly. This is usually via e-mail, a deposit of 20% is common. We paid about 35 $ per night, breakfast included.
My warmest recommendation:
The Ekaterina II Hotel, Ekaterininskaya Square 7, Odessa 65026, Ukraine
Who books directly there (without Opodo etc.) receives 5% discount. The rooms are basic but clean. The staff speaks good English and is always courteous, friendly and helpful. There is a small restaurant, where you can eat very cheap and good. The location is optimal. It is right in the center, to the Potemkin Stairs it’s just two minutes to walk. The hotel offers a shuttle service. This accommodation is also wheelchair accessible and suitable for the disabled. The reception is occupied around the clock.
Cost of stay per person (10 days):
Flight (return flight included, from Munich): about 250 $
Hotel (with breakfast): about 350 $
Food, souvenirs: about 300 $
Total: about 900 $
Safety in Odessa:
We always had the feeling of being able to move absolutely safe in the city. Nevertheless you should follow some basic rules:
– Never mess with money on the open road
– do not wear valuables in the back pockets
– Take special care at crowds (market etc.)
– In restaurants do not leave your smartphone etc. on the table
– Caution is advised when you are addressed by girls on the street. These usually want to lure you into overpriced nightclubs.
– The best is, to ignore offensive beggars or counter them in Russian. These are intrusive but not violent.
– Carefully behave at green traffic lights and crosswalks. Not everyone brakes.
– Negotiate the price before taxi rides.
– In general, use only taxis that have either called by yourself or by the hotel.
– Beware of night clubs, always ask for the menu there (menju). Preferred in English (anglijskij). An absolute warning sign is, if only a menu in Russian is given to obvious tourists.
– If you want to invite girls, then you should order by yourself.
– Sex only with condom. HIV is still a big issue in Ukraine.
The police have a reputation of being corrupt. The officials usually have just little skills in English. In case that you have been a victim of a crime, it is recommended to inform the hotel staff at the reception. These usually know what to do and can also translate if necessary.
Nearby the center there is a hospital. The medical standard from Germany cannot be expected here. If you want to go safe, it is recommended to have a health insurance for the duration of the stay. Officially, this is even mandatory, but nobody asked for it when we arrived. You should also think about an insurance for repatriation in case of emergency. This is included, for example, in the membership of a german automobile club (ACE / ADAC). Please refer the conditions in your country.
In Odessa, people speak Russian. In the restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops you can get along well with English. Skills in Russian are not mandatory, but of great benefit. The signage within the city is written almost in Russian exclusively.
Recommended places in the center of Odessa:
Here I would like to show a small selection of places, where you can eat well or have a drink without being ripped off.
Café, Bar Fanconi, Katerininskaya Street 15/17, Odessa 65000 (city center)
Restaurant GluKoza, Havana Street 12, Odessa 65000 (city center)
Restaurant Kumanets, Havana Street 7, Odessa 65000 (city center)
Restaurant Olio Pizza, Havana Street 7, Odessa 65000 (city center)
Restaurant Maman, Lanzheronivskaya Street 18, Odessa 65000 (city center)
Forty Five Booze & Bakery, Ekaterininskaya Square 1, Odessa 65026 (city center)
Restaurant Veranda, Lanzheron Plaza 65, Odessa 65000 (beach)
Uncle Mischa, a little stall at the beach, offering grilled food
Of course, there are plenty of other good and honest restaurants and bars to visit. More information can be obtained at Tripadvisor or Google.
The places to avoid are listed here.
Mens Club Rasputin – We were warned by locals. There, the money would be pulled out of your pocket.
Club Palladium – We were also warned here. The Google reviews speak volumes.
Nightclub Stereo Avenue, Dobrovolskogo Ave., 118A, Odessa 65111, Ukraine – Be careful, absolute scam! Do not enter!
Generally you should avoid nightclubs which are placed outside the center. If someone knows more locations which are missing on this list, then simply write a short e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care of you and have fun!