Travel Bug in Crimea

Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine

I had the opportunity to go to Crimea from April 26-30 for a conference and personal time.  Special thanks to the American Embassy in Ukraine, Renuka, and Lonely Planet for their assistance. 

 

This is intended as a quick-reference guide for anyone planning a trip to the region.  I have a full travelogue as well if you want more detailed descriptions of my experiences and recommendations.

 

·  Sights

            Sevastopol

            Yalta

            Livadia

            Alupka

·  Beaches

·  Food and Drink 

·  Transportation

·  Lodging

·  Money

·  Language

 

PHOTOS

 

 

Sights

Sevastopol

·        Russian Black Sea Fleet —the name says it all. In the harbor near plosha Nakhimova. Also nearby is a monument to Nakhimova, and a monument to the fleet that was sunk by the Russians as a barrier.

·        Khersoneus—ancient Greek ruins on the waterfront.  Absolutely beautiful.

Yalta

·        Chekhov House-Museum —A home of Chekhov.  Includes the desk where he wrote some of his plays, and a piano that Rachmaninoff used to play on.

·        Naberezhna Lenina—a waterfront boardwalk with shops and restaurants.

·        Swallow’s Nest—a castle built for a rich German man that juts out on a cliff over Yalta Bay. It looks like something out of a fairy tale.

Livadia

·        Livadia PalaceThe former Tsar’s palace (dvoretz) where the Yalta Conference (Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt) was held.  Roosevelt stayed here during the conference.

Alupka

·        Alupka PalaceChurchill stayed here during the Yalta Conference.  Now it’s a museum. More interesting to me, though, was the nearby park and exquisite bathrooms (1 UAH).

·        Massandravineyards of a well-known Crimean wine.  Tastings and tours are available (you had better like sweet wine, though).

Beaches

Yalta, Livadia, and Alupka all have fantastic beaches.  The beaches are pebbly but the sun is strong and the water is clear.  They are probably even more fantastic in the summer when the water warms up. 

Food and Drink

There are a lot of fish restaurants in Yalta, but I never found one that was good.  In fact, the best meal I had on the waterfront was at a Russian blini restaurant (look for the advertising with the pancakes).  Another good place I ate at was Tiflis, a Georgian restaurant one kilometer from Livadia.  The environment was woodsy but the restaurant was elegant.

Transportation

·        Most trains from other parts of Ukraine (i.e. Kyiv) go overnight to Simferopol .  From there you can take a taxi (~60 gryvnias, or 20 gryvnias per person) and be in Sevastopol in less than 2 hours, or take a regional train (that costs 5 gryvnias per person) and be there in three hours).

·        Within Sevastopol there are a few different trolleybuses and lots of marshrutkas (minivans used as buses).  Taxis are easy to get as well.

·        I HIGHLY recommend taking a marshrutka or bus from Sevastopol to Yalta.  The view of the mountains on the left and the Black Sea on the right is amazing. 

·        In Yalta, the main trolleybus line (#1) is slow.  The marshrutkas are better. They can be caught in one of three places:  the main bus station; the rynok square; and “Spartak” bus terminal. If you can tell the driver of one marshrutka where you are trying to go to, he can usually point you to the right place.

Lodging

I stayed at Hotel Otdikh, a small, quiet hotel.  I got a double room (two twin beds) for 64 UAH (12 USD) with a breakfast that was more like a dinner. But there was hot water round the clock, and I was so close to the ocean (with view) that I could hear the waves.  And the staff speak a little bit of English. I would stay there again.

Money

ATMs are fairly easy to find. Some ATMs even issue dollars. If you are coming from Kyiv and want to use cash, I would exchange your dollars or Euros in Kyiv, since the exchange rate will be better there.  I think there are places that accept credit cards, but I wouldn’t use a credit card in Ukraine.

Language

Even though technically Crimea is in Ukraine, the people consider themselves to be Russian.  Not many people speak English.  I would go to Foreign Languages for Travelers site to learn some Russian. And bring a phrasebook. 

 

Home