19th-century architecture and belle-époque charm, Odessa is
akin to a small, walkable version of Paris on the shores of the Black Sea
– and it won’t break the bank. The Opera and Ballet Theatre is
straight out of a James Bond party scene, and the Odessa Passage is
a picture of arches and sculpture, housing galleries under
domed-glass ceilings. To cater to more contemporary whims, head to
Odessa’s answer to the MoMA for a peek into the world of Eastern European modern art.
Home to the largest harbour on what the Ancient Greeks thought of as the
“inhospitable sea” – as well as being a former smugglers’ haven –
Odessa has a seafaring history best explored by hopping between
waterfront shops and cafés and scaling the colossal Potemkin Steps
that lead down to the port. Once you’ve had your share of the sea
breeze, drift just a few steps inland for a leisurely stroll along
the tree- (and mansion-) lined Primorsky Boulevard.
Nestled within the walls of Odessa’s sumptuous Philharmonic Hall
is Bernardazzi, a fantastic restaurant with a courtyard teeming
with chic locals. The wine list rivals those in the South of France, there is live
piano music adding to the chatter of well-heeled patrons and each
dish is a delight. While the seafood, from the pan-fried flounder
to the sea scallops with quail yoke, is a must, make sure to save
room for dessert. The toffee ice cream with waffle fragments,
custard and salted hazelnuts is a dream for those with a sweet
tooth, while anyone celebrating their birthday can pick the
“Whatever I Want” option from the menu. A trip to the Black Sea
coast town would truly be incomplete without a pilgrimage to this
gem, where even the loos are something to behold.
Who to take with you
A new fling for an adventurous weekend break full of hilarious
When to go
Odessa is at its most romantic in autumn – just chilly enough to
cling onto your new lover, but not so much your eyes will be
Most likely to bump into
Babushkas braving the city’s cable cars.
Essentials to bring with you
Layers, layers, layers – pack your chunkiest knit and a puffer
to keep the Black Sea breeze at bay.
How to get there
Fly into Odessa International Airport, which is just outside the