FoodDining out is very popular in Odessa. There are many cozy restaurants and cafes in Odessa downtown. Ukrainian cuisine restaurants are tourist places. Others are more for locals but they still serve Ukrainian meals. Almost all central restaurants accept plastic and USD \ Εuros. Their menus have got English translation and even the waiters understand a little bit of English. Soups, meat and fish are very popular. I would recommend you to try borsch (beet and meat soup), vareniki (dumplings) and pancakes with red caviar. As for fish, bullheads are very common and delicious in Odessa. Odessa is not a place for junk food. We have so much natural food which is healty and is worth to be tried.
WaterOdessa tap running water is not drinkable. It is good for brushing teeth and washing though. We use filtered and\or boiled water for cooking and drinking. We have water filters at home or buy bottled water from local shops.
CurrencyUkraine official currency is called hryvna \ grivna (UAH). You will need it only for public transport (if you take a risk to use it), small local shops where the cards are not accepted. The approximate rough exchange rate is USD 1=UAH12, euro 1= UAH 16. You will get along without it in the majority of places. Plastic is eccepted (Visa, Maestro, Master Card, but Diners Club and American Express less), travellers' cheques are often of a pain. British pounds are eccepted by the banks. Foreigners bringing in more than USD10 000 in cash or equivalent should fill out a special declaration form. If you have old or damaged money, some banks (not even all of them) will take them but for lower rate.
ShopsBig shopping malls and supermarkets are opened until the late evening. Huge supermarkets are opened 24/7. Pharmacies are everywhere and opened until 7-8 pm every day. The magority of them except plastic, none of them-foreign currencies.
Train ticketsTrains always run in time. You should board about 15 minutes earlier. Platform numbers are listed no more than 20 minutes before the train leaves. If the train is only stopping by, be ready to get on fairly quickly. There are three different class tickets. СВ(EsVe) is luxury class and means the compartment will have only bunks inside. Not all trains have these first class spaces. Купе(Coupe) is also considered comfort class with four bunks. Плацкарт (Platskart) is lower-class packed full of rows of small bunks.
TransportationThe city should be explored by walking©. There are trolleybuses, trams (UAH 1,5) and minibuses (UAH 3) in Odessa. There is no metro here because of the catacombs underground. Private taxis are expensive and the prices vary if you don’t have personal driver or local representative who can call a local taxi company. By the way, the majority of sights are located within a walking distance in the downtown.
SmokingSmoking is NOT allowed in public places. If you are caught by the police, you will be fined immediately.
DrinkingDrinking is NOT allowed in public places. Even the beer is forbidden.
SouvenirsWhen comes to souvenirs, everyone first thinks of matrioshka. Matrioshka is usually a wooden doll painted with family faces and flowers having up to fifteen pieces inside. Secondly, we have roushnik. It's a long white linnen or cotton with ornate embroidery on the ends. Third, it's Petrikivka. It's a pure form of Ukrainian folk painting where bright brushstrokes depict orange bright flowers or fairy-tale themes on a black lacquered surface, usually on a bowl, platter, round jewelery box or wooden egg. Religious icons are also very authentic and modern examples can be purchased in most churches.
NightlifeOdessa is a clubbing Mecca of Ukraine ©. There is a beach area called Arcadia. It houses dozen of clubs, bars, restaurants located on the beach. The most famous are Ibiza, Itaka, Ё Moscow, Aura, Park. Here you will find any type of music and atmosphere you like.
InternetInternet is never a problem here. It is offered by all hotels, the majority of the restaurants and cafes for free. Some hotels even offer a laptop rent.
BikesNothing to be compared to Paris or Barcelona. Bikes are not common here. They are even dangerous if you ride along the cars' road because the traffic here is just awful. You can ride a bike in a park or along "health road". It's possible to rent a bike here as well.
BeachesThere are public and private beaches in Odessa. Public are totally for free of charge but they don’t have any umbrellas and beach chairs. You have to lie on the sand. The entrance to the private beaches is about euros 10. For that price you can stay on the beach from 8 am to 8 pm and use beach chair, mattress, shower, toilet, swimming pool. All Odessa beaches are sandy except for nude beach. The most famous are Itaka, Ibiza, Otrada, Riviera.
LanguageOfficial language of Ukraine is Ukrainian but Odessites speak Russian. Ukrainian is only used for official purposes. All our documents and signs are written in Ukrainian. What is the difference between Russian and Ukrainian? These two languages have very slight difference. The grammar and the pronunciation are the same but the lexicology is different. They might be roughly compared with British and American English.
Travelling with childrenAll the children who have travelled to Ukraine loved it. In Odessa there is everything they need: sunny beaches, dolphinarium, museum of interesting science and museum of chocolate.
Solo women travellersOdessa is safe city for women travellers. Just take the same precuations you would do in your country. Don't walk along dark empty streets at night, use official taxis, exchange money in the banks or official exchange booths. I don't advise to accept drinks from strangers as well as to go to their apartments.
Disabled travellersOdessa is not as prepared for disabled travellers as other European cities. There are steps everywhere: in the train stations, in the museums and even in some hotels. Though it is not a big problem. I am ready to provide all wheelchair users with a special car or a bus with a driver who will help you moving.
ElectricityAC is 220 volts and outlets fit the same (two-pin) plugs used everywhere in Europe. Frequencies are different (50 hertz), so in certain cases you will need an adapter as well as a converter.
ToiletsThe toilets here are pet peeves here. Searching for toilets you should think of bus and train stations, large parks, squares. Even if you happen to find them, don't expect they are free. Moreover, four times out of five there will be no paper in your public toilet stall. So, be prepared for that. But the situation is not as bad as you might think, you should just use every occasion being in a restaurant. The letter (М) is for Gents and (Ж) is for Ladies.
Why do we paint trees white?In some streets we paint the trunks of trees white. We do that with special liquid to save the trees from insects and to disinfect theirs barks.
Does it snow in Odessa?The temperature comes down to 5-10 C below zero. During the winter time it snows here. The snow stays here for several weeks. During the summer time the temperature is about 35-40 C. So if you are not used to it, it’s better to take a cap or umbrella with you.
ReligionThe majority of Odessites like the majority of Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians. Christianity is key religion here. There are representatives of enormous amount of confessions here though. All sitizens live peacefully and religious conflicts never arise.