Odessa City Information:
A Travel Guide for Students
Ukrainian: Îäåñà; Russian: Îäåññà
Table of Contents (jump to)
I. Weather/Seasonal Concerns back to top
Winters tend to be short and mild as Odessa is located in a subtropical climate. You can leave your winter snow boots at home, since Odessa does not get excessive or prolonged snowfall. The coldest month is January (average temp is + 29 F) and the hottest month is July (average + 74 F).
The quality of the drinking water varies a great deal in Odessa – it is inadvisable to drink straight from the tap. Most locals use filters, boil the water, or purchase bottled water.
II. City Transportation/Orientation back to top
Odessa is a small city for world standards (population of just over 1 million), but it has the illusion of being even smaller than it is, as its center is very centralized. The city’s main street, Deribasovskaya, is a pedestrian street only (well, it’s supposed to be, but watch out) and runs east-west. It intersects with many of Odessa’s other main streets, many of them named after famous Russians and Ukrainians (ul. Pushkinskaya, Ekaterininskaya, etc) or in honor of the nationalities that used to live in that particular section of the city (ul. Polskaya, Grecheskaya, etc.). You’ll find a high concentration of shops, cafes, restaurants and clubs on Deribasovskaya, and is one of tourists’ favorite spot to stroll. During the warm months tourists and locals alike stroll along the sea, especially in the evening when the sun isn’t as intense.
The best way to get around is to walk for short distances (15-20 minutes), or take public transportation for longer distances. The city is pretty well connected with a system of busses and trolleys from 6 am – 1 am, and in comparison with European prices, rides are inexpensive. Taxis are the fastest way to get around. It used to be fairly common to take gypsy cabs, but now the city is filled with taxi drivers and is less popular. As a foreigner you may be expected to pay more, so it’s a good idea to have a friend who speaks Russian call the taxi and agree on a price for you. A few to chose from are listed below (several have "short" phone numbers).
Municipal Taxi: 0-70
080 Taxi: 0-80
City maps and guides are available at any bookstore, though very few of them contain transportation routes. A few centrally located bookstores are listed below.
Knizhny magazin (literally “The Bookstore”): ul. Preobrazhenskaya 17.
Britanskaya kniga (“British Book”): ul. Koblevskaya 47.
Evrokniga (“Euro-book”): Sobornaya Ploshchad 6.
Bukva (“Alphabet Letter”): ul. Deribasovskaya 14.
III. Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, and Music back to top
Traditional Ukrainian and Odessa Specialties: At Lasunka, in the tradition of Ukrainian hospitality each new customer is offered a shot of bread horilka (vodka) with a piece of salo (pork fat). The interior is styled as a Ukrainian country estate, and the menu boasts 7 types of vareniki, as well as other national favorites (borsch soup is actually Ukrainian!). Live folk performances on some evenings (ul. Deribasovskaya 17). Kumanetz is a local favorite and is hard to miss with its display of stuffed chickens in the front window. Everyone who’s been there raves about the food (ul. Gavannaya 7). Fish Café specializes in fish from the Black Sea (plaice, bullheads, herring, and of course, sturgeon, to name a few) (Kirpichny pereulok 1). For Odessa cuisine and modest prices check out Pecharskaya (city garden). Red Lobster is another excellent choice for fare from the sea and is just down the street from the Odessa Language Study Center. While the prices here are similar to Fish Café, the cushioned seats and deep red and white interior may make you feel out of place in regular street clothes (Nakhimova pereulok 1).
Gogol-Style: Whether you like this 19th century writer or not, the quirky atmosphere –and superbly prepared food with great presentation – at Gogol-Mogul is certainly worth checking out. If you order tea you’ll be given a wooden box with your choice of sweet things to drop into your cup with a silver tweezers. Watch the live bird in the corner if your eyes don’t already have enough to feast on. Free Wi-Fi (corner of ul. Gogolya and Nekrasova).
Urban Bohemian: café-restaurant Kompot caters to the young and artistic with a chic urban-French atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, and delicious croissants and coffee drinks. They make fresh pastries, as well as 3 different types of bread, every day. You can also order drinks and pastries to go from the cashier when you first walk in (ul. Deribasovskaya 20; ul. Panteleimonovskaya 70).
Meat-lovers, Wine and Prestige: Steak House is Odessa’s most prestigious restaurant. The establishment manages to avoid pretension with a simple, clean, dignified atmosphere. They grill their meat using natural coals, and guests can observe the process from the comfort of their tables. The menu also includes a large selection of wines from vineyards around the world. The restaurant regularly holds work shops about how to best cook meats to preserve their special flavors, and how to select wines to accompany the dishes. Free Wi-Fi. (ul. Deribasovskaya 20).
Cafeteria-Style: For a quick, filling, and cheap bite to eat, head to Zharu Paru (ul. Preobrazhenskaya 44). During lunch hour long lines form, but they move quickly and this gives you a chance to decide what you want. Restrooms are down a set of stairs near the check-out cashier but be forewarned – they are disgusting.
Magnolia attracts a large, young night crowd, many from the National University not far away. Live concerts most nights, with a cover charge of 50 UAH (Magnolia Sanatorium, Frantsuzsky Bulvar 63/65). The music club ¨ (pronounced “yo”) is one of Ukraine’s leading concert-entertainment centers, and is located in the very heart of Odessa. On non-concert nights they have themed parties and dress codes (for instance, when we were there the theme was Caribbean Pirates with a dress code of pirate attire). Check out their website
for what the theme will be. Bowling alley Sem’ Svyozd
is in the same complex (Polsky Spusk 15). Club Palladium is probably the most-frequented year round club in Odessa, with 400 to 2,000 club-goers a night. Live music or DJs. Dress code. Cover charge of 35 UAH. See the schedule on their site
. (Italyansky bulvar 4).
Arkadia is Odessa’s main beach party spot on the Black Sea, with tons of outdoor clubs, bars, and restaurants. ITAKA
is a restaurant, nightclub, and concert hall right on the shore. ITAKA is Odessa’s hottest night spot in summer, with a capacity of 3000 people. (Arkadia Beach, central alley).
For the Homesick: McDonald's has seven locations and free Wi-Fi (ul. Deribasovskaya 23, Prospekt Shevchenko 26, Ploshchad Privokzalna 1, Ploshchad Derev’yanka 1, Prospekt Dobrovolskogo 116, Chernyakhivskogo vul. 16, Krasnova vul. 14a). If you’re looking for familiar company, the Irish pub Mick O’Neills’ is a popular expat hangout. Other pluses: great service, 10 choices of draft beer, and a billiards and ping pong table (ul Deribasovskaya 13).
Cooking At Home: there are plenty of small grocery stores (produkty) and markets (singular: rynok) around town. There are not many Western-style grocery stores, though they do exist. One of the largest is Fozzy, not far from Mikhalovskaya Ploschad (ul. Srednaya 83a). If you’re willing to try it the local way, get your food and other necessities at a market. Privoz is one of the largest, containing a wide selection of fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, etc., as well as accessories, music, old tools and other random “garage sale” items (ul. Privoznaya – a few minutes walk west from the train station). If you’re in need of cheap clothes (hard to come by in Odessa), the top floor of the shopping complex next to Privoz is a used clothing bazaar. Definitely negotiate the price down – it’s perfectly acceptable and expected.
IV. Internet Cafes/Clubs back to top
ul. Malaya Arnautskaya 117; Tel: +380 (48) 716-57-09
ul. Pushkinskaya 83; Tel: +380 (48) 722-82-87
ul. Evreiskaya 32. Tel: +380 (48) 725-82-15
ul. Nezhinskaya 27; Tel: +380 (482) 37-28-56
Wi-Fi: restaurants with Wi-Fi are marked in the restaurant section above (Gogol-Mogul, Kompot, Steakhouse). For a list of other restaurants and cafes with free Wi-Fi, click here.
VI. Theatres and Music back to top
Classical and Folk Music
Academic Opera and Ballet Theater (site in Russian)
(Pereulok Chaikovskogo 1; Tel: 780-1509, 722-2230)
Odessa’s pride and joy (locals like to claim this is the most beautiful theater building in the world), this theater is Odessa’s main venue for opera and ballet performances, from local artists as well as abroad.
Philharmonic Concert Hall (site in Russian)
(ul. Bunina 15; Tel: 722-6349, 722-0089)
Classic music concerts are held in this Venetian Gothic style building every few nights.
Musical Comedy Theater (site in English)
(ul. Panteleymonovskaya 3; Tel: 722-0162, 724-4104)
This has recently become one of Odessa’s most popular theaters, with leading figures and innovative performances from the operetta genre. Another architectural gem.
Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater named after V. Vasylko (site in Russian)
(ul. Pasteur 15; Tel: 723-5318, 723-2127)
Founded in 1925, this theater features classic and modern plays in the Ukrainian language.
Russian Drama Theater (site in Russian)
(ul. Grecheskaya 48; Tel: 722-4504, 722-7250)
This theater also features both classic and modern plays, but in Russian. Built in 1874, it’s the oldest theater in southern Ukraine. It reopened in 2003 after two years of renovation.
The Clowns' House
(ul. Olgievskaya 23; Tel: 723-6316, 777-8290)
This unique theater combines the art of clowning, gesture, and comedy to create performances for both child and adult audiences. Founded by the famous Oddessa comic-company “Masks.”
13 Vul.Koblevska; Tel: 223-6316.
4-A Vul.Varnenska; Tel: 266 6179.
VI. Museums back to top
(ul. Rishelievskaya 4; Tel: 722-3436)
Ever wonder what Catherine the Great looked like in person? Pushkin? At the wax museum you get the eerie chance to see what some famous cultural figures looked like in person, including Odessa’s founders and other well-known characters from Odessa’s history. Each figure has a plaque giving a short biography in both English and Russian. Open every day.
(ul. Lanzheronovskaya 4; Tel: 722-0171; 722-6302)
This is Ukraine’s oldest museum with artifacts from ancient Greece, Egypt, Italy, and one of the largest collections of artifacts from the north-western Black Sea. The museum houses more than 160,000 exhibits. Day off: Monday.
Literary Museum (website in Russian)
(ul. Lanzheronovskaya 2; Tel: 722-3370, 725-0173)
If not for the chance to see the exhibits cherishing the memory of Gogol, Pushkin, Mickiewicz, Lesya Ukrainka, Kuprin, Babel, Ilf and Petrov, and others, then come for the collection of stone sculptures and statues in the courtyard. The sculptures come from Scythian burial mounds, and the miniature statues are characters from Odessa folklore and other written works written by Odessa authors. Day off: Monday.
Local Lore and History Museum
(ul. Gavannaya 4; Tel: 725-5202, 726-1424)
The exhibition is dedicated to the history of the development of the coast along the northern Black Sea, from the XIV century to modern times. Day off: Friday.
Museum of Odessa's Heroic Defense
(Dacha Kovalevskogo 150; Tel: 401-833, 444-527. Open every day.)
Museum of the Odessa Sea Port
(Lanzheronovsky spusk 2; Tel: 401-833, 729-3857. Days off: Saturday and Sunday.)
Memorial House of N.K. Rerikh
(Ul. Bolshaya Arnautskaya 47, apt. 2; Tel: 715-5858, 728-7756. Open every day.)
Fine Arts Museum (site in Russian)
(ul. Sofievskaya 5a; Tel: 723-8272)
Housed in a mansion, this collection represents Russian and Ukrainian works from the XVI century to modern times. Day off: Tuesday.
Museum of Western and Oriental Art
(ul. Pushkinskaya 9; Tel: 724-6646, 722-4815. Day off: Wednesday)
Municipal Museum of Personal Collections of A.V. Bleshchunov (website in English)
(ul. Polskaya 19; Tel: 722-1081, 725-0453)
This museum contains 6 sections: Buddhist and Islamic East, Western Europe, Christianity, Russian antiquity, Ukraine, and Oddessica. Day off: Wednesday.
National University Museums
(Shampansky pereulok 2; Tel: 633-317)
Minerals and rocks from all over the world – and even outer space! Only organized tour groups are allowed inside. Days off: Saturday and Sunday.
(Shampansky pereulok 2; Tel: 684-547)
Fauna from all over the land and sea. The highlight is the rare cetacean skeleton exhibit. Only organized tour groups are allowed inside. Days off: Saturday and Sunday.
(ul. Dvoryanskaya 2. 723-0208)
Flora and fauna found in the Odessa region. Individuals without a guide are only allowed inside from 16.00-17.00. Days off: Saturday and Sunday.
VII. Other Entertainment back to top
(ul Novoschepnoi ryad 25; Tel: 251-473, 225-589)
Circus (site in Russian)
(ul. Koblevskaya 25; Tel: 726-9090)
Dolphinarium Nemo (site in Russian)
(Lanzheron Beach; Tel: 761-8076)
The nature of the performances here are recreational and educational. You’ll learn about the physiology of dolphins, their psychology, and how they need to be cared for. This is the largest dolphinarium in the CIS. Open year round. No open Mondays.
Catacombs (wikipedia entry in English)
This is the largest man-made labyrinth in Europe, built originally as a result of limestone mining projects in the 19th century. The tunnels were later expanded by local smugglers, and became quite complex. Be sure to arrange with a guide as the tunnels can be dangerous.
VIII. Other Useful Sites back to top
Today.od.ua is a great way to see what's going on in the city, if you read Russian.
Odessa-portal.com offers a great guide on Ukraine's train system.
Odessa.ua is the city's official tourist guide online
Odessacalling.com offers more ideas for things to do in Odessa.
Find out more!
Ukrainian Folklore Project
The SRAS Newsletter
Journal for Students
SRAS Library on Eurasia
Health and Safety in Russia
More Free Resources!
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