We love Ukraine. We love Odessa. And we especially love saving money. If you're like us, you'll love this list. Looking for places to vacation while living in Ukraine? Look no further than to coastal city of Odessa. Get some sun, see some famous steps, try some pakhlava (it’s delicious, trust me), oh and do it all for free!
Wait — not an ILP volunteer yet? Come get an idea of what your life would be like living in Ukraine, vacationing in Odessa and soaking up life in Europe with this neat (and free!) ebook.
In case you didn’t know, Odessa is where all the locals like hang out, and for good reason — I mean, you might even see palm trees here. It’s gorgeous, basically the whole city hugs the coast of the stunning Black Sea and there’s loads of free stuff to do. Perfect for the student abroad looking to save some cash, right?
Here’s our list of 10 fab (and free) things to do on your Odessa vacation:
- The Beach
- Take This Self-Guided Tour
- Hug The Pushkin Statue
- Check Out These Famous Steps
- Relax In The City Garden
- See Deribasovskaya Street
- Walk Along The Harbor
- Wander Privoz Market
- Take A Free Tour
- Waltz Around Primosrky Boulevard
We put this first because, come on, it’s the beach! There are lots of beaches to visit in Odessa and most of them have a free, paid, and VIP section. Bring your own towel if you want to save even more, but you can rent chairs, umbrellas and stuff if you want to. Don’t forget sunblock — you may be in Eastern Europe, but it gets warm enough that you'll need it.
Here's a bit more about the beaches so you can choose which one is right for you:
Odessa has many different beaches, but you have to check out Villa Otrada Beach. The areas surrounding this beach are full of restaurants and shops, so you don't have to go far to get food or buy a few souvenirs. The areas around the beach are also full of beautiful parks and make for a great afternoon stroll.
Arcadia is also very popular, with tons of fun shopping and really good food right by the beach. In the summer, a little carnival sometimes sets up right here meaning you can ride a few rides once you've had your swim.
Volunteers also love Lanzheron; it's closest to the city center and doesn't quite have the same vibe as Arcadia, but they say it has nicer sand.
Take This Self-Guided Tour
No need to hire a guide for this tour — all you need to do is download this app so you can get yourself around the sites of Odessa for free. The maps are also available to be downloaded off-line so you can take this tour without a data plan or WiFi. It should take about 1 hour.
Head's up — you'll probably run into the rest of the points on this list along your tour.
Hug The Pushkin Statue
There’s a life-sized statue of the famous Ukrainian poet Alexander Pushkin that tourists love to take a picture with…they also love to steal his cane, so if it’s missing, you’ll know why.
Pushkin makes the list of Russians you should know before your trip so it might be handy to read up on him before you leave for Odessa and see his statue.
Check Out These Famous Steps
The Potemkin steps were made famous in the film, Battleship Potemkin. There’s a little trick of the eye going on that makes this staircase look even larger — the bottom steps are a lot wider than the top steps. Don’t miss getting your picture taken at the bottom before climbing up!
Here's the address: Odesa, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine, 65000
The steps are open all day long, so no worries about getting here too early or too late.
Relax In The City Garden
Get a bit of greenery by wandering around the city garden, right in the center of Odessa. Apparently, some afternoons the nearby conservatory will play music and you can see old couples waltzing to the music…um, adorable. Think about packing up a picnic and grabbing a spot under the shady trees or under the gazebos.
Here's the address: Derybasivska Street, Odesa, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine, 65000
See Deribasovskaya Street
Especially in the summer, this pedestrian street is full of music, shops and street food, all nestled between gorgeous Neoclassic architecture. If you love elegant houses and pretty architecture, it’s a must see.
Head's up — this classic street intersects right by the city garden so think about walking on over to you can hit the city gardens and Deribasovskaya street in the same afternoon.
Walk Along The Harbor
It’s what you do in a beach town, right? After dinner, walk along the harbor to unwind after a long day at the beach and exploring the city. We suggest doing this with some ice cream in hand or another yummy treat.
Wander Privoz Market
This is one of the largest former USSR food markets around, and is sells it all. Zoo animals used to be kept nearby until one of the elephants escaped — he ate a few apples and pulled out pickled cucumbers from a barrel (and had a few other snacks) before he was captured and returned.
While you are there, sample the pakhlava, which is like Ukraine’s version of baklava. Yum! You'll also find free fruit and berries (strawberries when they are in season get piled high on these tables), fresh flowers and clothes.
Here's the address: Pryvozna St, 14, Odesa, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine, 65000
Hours: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Take A Free Tour
Check with your hotel or tourist info center for details, but Odessa has a few free walking tours you can join to learn more about the city. We love the do-it-yourself tours, but you will probably miss out on a little history, but not if you go with a guide.
You can tip your tour guide if you want, but other than that, the tour is completely free.
Waltz Around Primosrky Boulevard
Plan on walking down this gorgeous boulevard, day or night — it’s beautiful no matter when you visit. Soak up the sites, check out some shops, restaurants, the view of the Black Sea and see if you can spot some street performers or live music on your walk.
It's right around the corner from the classic Potemkin stairs and the coastline so you'll probably stumble upon it while you're in the neighborhood.
Ready to plan your vacation to Odessa? We wrote a whole guide called Traveling On A Budget that you'd probably be interested in .... which will definitely come in handy if you decide to not only vacation in Ukraine, but to volunteer there!
ILP (International Language Programs) sends college-aged volunteers to teach English in Ukraine; a semester abroad, complete with vacation time to explore this country and others — anyone interested in seeing the free things to do in Budapest or exploring Italy?
Come check out our blog (and click that green button) to learn even more: