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Odesa: culture and charm on the Black Sea

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Book a flight to Odesa with Qatar Airways

Set in the south of Ukraine and overlooking the deep, blue waters of the Black Sea, Odesa is home to one million people and visited by around 1.5 million tourists each year. This port city was built on the site of an ancient Greek settlement, Odessos. However, the city wasn’t fully founded until the 18th century when it fell under Russian rule.

Fly to Odesa with Qatar Airways and you’ll be exploring a city with a rich history, reflected in its diverse architecture. Despite having been rebuilt by the Russians, the general style is more Mediterranean but also includes Classicist, Renaissance, and even a sampling of Art Nouveau designs.

The city offers a fantastic combination of cosmopolitan life, culture and the relaxing beach experiences, all at the same time. Cool off at a spectacular waterpark, explore the abundant museums, dine in style or simply lounge on the sand, soaking up the sunshine. Whatever you’re looking for from your holiday, Odesa has it all.

Odesa highlights

Set by The Black Sea, the city offers a fantastic combination of cosmopolitan life, culture and relaxing beach experiences, all at the same time.

  • Tourist attractions

    Not all of Odesa’s attractions lie above ground. For a historical experience you’ll never forget, be sure to explore the Odesa Catacombs. Built during the 19th century, they were used during the Second World War to hide Ukrainian rebels. The largest network of catacombs in the world, they’re easy to get lost in so don’t wander off without a guide.

    The city’s most famous piece of architecture is the Odesa Opera and Ballet Theatre. Although the original building burned down in the 19th century, it was rebuilt and is now one of the city’s most spectacular landmarks. Take a backstage tour or witness one of their amazing shows.

    To get to know the city at a leisurely pace, wander down to Derybasivska Street. Explore the local landmarks, browse the shops or enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafés. By night, it’s a great place to dine at some of the finest restaurants in Odesa.

  • Leisure activities

    With the Ukraine’s summers reaching into the mid-20s Celsius, you might need somewhere to cool down. If you’re travelling with the family, you can let the kids burn off some energy at the Aquapark Odesa. Packed with exciting rides and slides suitable for youngsters of all ages, it’s an easy and entertaining way to spend a day.

     

    Roughly 30km from Odesa, you’ll find the Lower Dniester National Park. An oasis of greenery, wildlife and tranquillity, it’s an ideal day out for those who want to marvel at the Ukrainian countryside. Covering a significant area of the Dniester River, these wetlands act as home to around 30,000 birds and more than 70 species of fish. Pack a picnic and enjoy the peace and quiet.

     

    If the pace of city life gets to be too much, pack your swimming costume and get down to Langeron Odesa Beach. A long stretch of fine sand lapped by the waters of the Black Sea, it’s the perfect spot for some rest and relaxation. There are restaurants on the promenade, making it a superb spot to enjoy a meal and watch the sun slip under the horizon.

  • Food

    With its close proximity to the Black Sea, you’ll find fish and shellfish on menus across the city. Typically, street food vendors will grill fillets of dover sole, sea bass, mullet and prawns, serving them simply with a squeeze of lemon juice and a salad. However, pop into the restaurants and you’ll find dishes of mussels in cream sauce, fried black sprats and even fish dumplings. Look out for forshmak, a meal of minced, salted herrings mixed with onions, potatoes, bread, and apple, baked to perfection.

    As Odesa is a busy city, street food is always popular. Shawarma is a popular staple, consisting of grilled, spiced chicken or beef, served with a salad and a yoghurt dressing, all parcelled up in a warm flatbread. However, while meat and seafood dishes are abundant, there’s plenty for vegetarians. Borscht, potato pancakes and the famous Huzulska Varya salad are just some of the dishes to be enjoyed.

    Do try and leave some room for Odesa’s exceptional desserts. Feast on sweet treats, such as cherry varenyky dumplings served with cherry sauce, the cake-like plyacky and verhuny pastries.

  • Shopping

    To immerse yourself in the local culture and shop like a local, there’s no better place to start than Starokonnyi Flea Market. The biggest of its kind in Odesa, the market covers streets upon streets with everything from trinkets to rare and exquisite treasures. Unlike other markets, there are no stalls. Instead, vendors lay their wares out on the ground, and you can rifle through them as you see fit. Be sure you’re prepared to haggle.

    However, if you prefer your retail therapy to be a more modern experience, the Kadorr City Mall is the place to go. Packed with shops selling everything from homeware to high-end goods, there are some bargains to be found. If you need to refuel, you’ll find some superb restaurants, and there’s parking if you’re taking a car. The Art Nouveau building makes shopping here an immensely pleasurable experience.

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