Located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea, Odessa is Ukraine’s third largest city and a major commercial and transportation hub. In fact, it’s the country’s biggest seaport and was one of the most important trading ports in the USSR during Ukraine’s Soviet period.
These days, Odessa is as cosmopolitan as any other European capital, and it’s eclectic mix of different architectural styles – including Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Classic – make it appear more Mediterranean than Russian.
But these similarities to the sultry Mediterranean don’t end with the city’s urban layout. It also enjoys a warm and sunny climate, and is blessed with enough sandy beaches within its city limits to satisfy even the most die-hard beach holiday enthusiasts.
Odessa is also jam-packed with numerous museums, art galleries and cultural points of interest, making a stop here interesting, enjoyable and leaving you wanting more.
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Odessa, approximately 2 kilometres east of the city centre. It is a 15-minute walk to town via the famous Potemkin Steps.
Alternatively, taxis can be flagged directly outside the terminal.
The cruise terminal at the Port of Odessa is a modern facility, with all the amenities cruise passengers need when docking in a new city.
- Internet access
- Public toilets
- ATMs and Foreign Exchange
- Tourist Information Centre (with free maps)
- Duty free shopping and souvenir shops
- Post office
- Public telephones.
Taxis are readily available outside the terminal. There are also car hire offices only a short walk away from Odessa Port.
A plethora of accommodation options are located around the city centre.
How To Get Around
Odessa is compact enough to explore on foot. All the major sights are within walking distance from the cruise terminal.
There is also an extensive public transport system throughout the city. However, as English isn’t widely spoken, getting around with the city’s inexpensive train and bus network may prove difficult.
Of course, taxis can be used to reach outlying parts of the city. As always, it’s best to agree on a price before setting off.
Travel times from the cruise terminal:
- It is a 13 minute journey to the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre
- It is a 6 minute journey to Primorsky Boulevard
- It is a 12 minute journey to the Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art.
Currency – The local currency in Odessa is the Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH). Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 kopiyok (100 kopiyok equals 1 hryvnia) and 1 hryvnia denominations. Notes come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 hryvnia denominations.
Time Zone – Odessa is on Eastern Europe Time (EET), which is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Weather – Odessa enjoys a temperate climate, with warm, humid summers and mild winters. Average daytime temperatures during summer (June to August) hover around 25 degrees Celsius. Winters (December to February) are usually accompanied with frequent rainfall, with temperatures averaging around 2 degrees Celsius. Snowfall – when it does occur during the colder months – is usually light.
Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre – Without a doubt one of the city’s chief architectural jewels, the Odessa Opera & Ballet Theatre was built in the late 19th century and designed by the team behind the Vienna State Opera house. The views from outside are just as spectacular as those inside: the building’s façade is decorated in the Italian Baroque style, whilst inside gilded stucco figures complement hanging crystal chandeliers and rich red seating. The Opera house is also noted for its excellent acoustics.
Museum of Western and Eastern Art – As its name suggests, this museum features an eclectic mix of art from both the East and West. Housed in a recently renovated mid-19th century palace, the Museum of Western & Eastern Art is easily the Ukraine’s finest collection of foreign art, and well worth a couple of hours of exploration. Opening hours are from 10:30am to 6pm, Thursday to Tuesday. Entry costs around AUD$1.50 per adult and half that for children.
Primorsky Boulevard – Take a stroll along Primorsky Boulevard and wander amidst replica 19th century gas lamps, Soviet-era statues and historic monuments, such as the Potemkin Steps (a giant staircase from the sea to the city) and the Vorontsov Palace. Essentially an open-air museum, Primorsky Boulevard is just half a kilometre long, and remains the place to be seen in Odessa. Time your visit around sunset and watch as the sun casts the boulevard in a warm orange glow.