Yalta, the summer capital of Ukraine
Yalta is a resort town in Crimea, Ukraine. Located on the South coast of the peninsula facing the Black Sea and surrounded by beautiful wooded mountains, many orchards and vineyards. It was once the site of an ancient Greek colony founded by sailors and has a warm Mediterranean climate. Yalta enjoys a fairly mild climate with summer highs (July) of about 28°C and winter lows (February) of about 5°C, with an annual average temperature of 13°C. Census data of 2008 statues Yalta has a population of approximately 100,500. Although English is not widely spoken there, most young people do understand it very well. Russian is thought to be the most widely spoken language but you will hear Ukrainian and Tatar occasionally.
What to See & Do in Yalta:
Attractions close to town include:
- The Beach and Promenade – of course one of the draws to Yalta is the beautiful Black Sea. Although some beaches are nicer then others, and some do require a small entrance fee, they are all beautiful to see. Beaches in Yalta do not have sand though, but small pebbles much like the French Riviera. The Promenade has many attractions as well.
- Armenian Church (Armyanskaya Tserkov) – built in the early 1900s above where town is now, this beautiful church is very detailed with arches and carvings, and worth a look.
- Chekov's house – if you enjoyed his work, you will enjoy this small house were he wrote A women and her dog as well as many other short stories.
- There are a number of other attraction such as the Lenin's Statue on the water front, a zoo and an aquarium, Yalta’s cable car that takes you up Darsan hill for a great view and several house – museums like that of Lesya Ukrainka.
Out of Town:
- Nikita Botanical Garden – founded in 1812 it is one of the worlds oldest operating botanical gardens still used for scientific purposes.
- Livadia Palace – past guests have been Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, it was the last Tsar’s residence.
- Other things to see out of town include: Foros Church (popular for weddings), Massandra Palace (also a winery with the same name), Ai-Petri Mountain, Alpuka Palace and the Tsar’s path that has hiking trails.
- One of the most popular things to do at night is to get dressed up and walk the harbor front. There is approximately 2 KM (from the McDonalds on the East to the Hotel Oreanda on the West) that is great to walk around or sip on a drink at one of the many cafes.
- Clubs and Discos – Yalta has plenty of clubs and discos to drink and dance at. From open-air nightclubs like Filibuster and dance floors in the parks, to the darker underground clubs, Yalta has it all. Mirage is known for its extravagant floorshows.
- Casinos – for those that like to gamble, Yalta does have some casino too, one called Third Rome is on the sea front and thought to be the nicest.
Getting there and Away:
Yalta has no airport so to fly you will have to go to Simferopol (Capital city of Crimea). If you arrive in Kiev, you will have to transfer from Terminal B (international) to Terminal A (internal). You can also take the train from Kiev to Simferopol if you have more time then money.
Once in Simferopol you have several options on how to transfer over to Yalta:
- Trolleybus – very scenic, longest trolley bus route in the world – takes about 3 hours.
- Public Mini-bus - takes about 2 hours depending on stops and number of people on board.
- Taxi - fastest and most expensive way – should take just over 1 hour.
Most people move around Yalta by local mini-buses, they are cheap, convenient and go everywhere. Taxis are all over as well, but beware some will try to over charge so, always agree on a price before getting in and do not be afraid to haggle or try another taxi if you think you are being charged too much.
Shopping, Eating & Drinking:
- All of Crimea is known for its red onions and honey, both are supposed to the best in the Ukraine and very sweet.
- Vodka is cheap and plentiful. The best selection is usually found at the super markets outside of the city center.
- For everything local, check out the market. From produce to meats, hot meals, fabrics, toys and people watching. If you want the real thing, go to the market and try everything you can.
by Alex Shale
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