Sevastopol is one of the tougher cities in Ukraine to get to, but with its amazing waterfront and dramatic scenery, it’s absolutely worth the extra effort. Below are a couple videos I shot during the summer in Sevastopol.
Summer in Sevastopol
HOW TO GET THERE:
Although there is an airport in Sevastopol called БЕЛЬБЕК (Belbek), it’s rarely in use, so the train is your best option. Assuming you’d be flying in to Kiev, here’s what to do next: Plan to spend at least a day in Kiev. Then, head over to Kiev’s main train station to buy your ticket to Sevastopol. There are usually at least two trains per day, but schedules change. It’s an 18 hr train ride, so ask for a spot in the “CB” wagon. (CB is pronounced “Ess-Veh” and basically means their 1st class train car.) In the “CB” wagon you’ll share your room with just one other person, probably a Russian businessman, and will have your own bed. It’s the best way to travel. Next level of service is “kupe” (pronounced “koo-PEH”) and has two bunk beds per room. (That is, you’ll be sharing the room with three other people.) The train is slow and rickety, but a fun experience. I’ve done that ride at least twenty times. Just bring a good book and enjoy the ride and the scenery.
WHERE TO STAY:
Although there’s a nice hotel (the Best Western, on Naximova) in the absolute center of Sevastopol, it’s relatively expensive compared to renting an apartment. Prices vary seasonally, of course, but figure $100/night for a tiny hotel room versus $40/night for your own two-bedroom apartment just a few minutes walk further from the waterfront. My friend Chris rents out a few apartments in Sevastopol, all in great locations (and conditions). Tell him Mark (from Russian Accelerator) sent you. Here’s a link to his site: www.Travel2Sevastopol.com But whether you use Chris’s site or someone else’s, be sure to stay in the center. Ask them, “How far to Artillery Bay?” (which is the central bay in Sevastopol, where all the action is.)
BEST PLACES TO EAT:
All the best places to eat are located in a very small radius in “Art Bay” (short for “Artillery Bay”). Here’s a tour to the main ones: Starting at Best Western’s “Hotel Sevastopol” on Naximova Street, there’s a decent sushi restaurant there called ВАБИ САБИ (Wabi Sabi). Also attached to the Best Western is a coffee & dessert cafe called “Shokoladnitsa.”
If you’re in the mood for shashlik (what we’d call shishkabob), I recommend “ПЕНА” (pronounced PYEH-na). It’s on your left as you’re walking down the hill from the Best Western. Or up for great pizza? Continue down the hill and look for the little ‘O Sole Mio’ pizzeria on the left. The owners are Italian immigrants and their pizza is light, delicious ad authentically Italian. Finally, if you’re up for seafood, I’d go to БАРКАС. They’re just across the bay, and at night you can’t miss their neon sign.
HOW TO GET AROUND:
Taxis are fairly cheap, but be sure to use the metered ones, if possible. That usually means calling the taxi company, but the operators often speak English (or will pass the phone to someone who does.) Or you can pop into the Hotel Sevastopol and they’ll hail one for you.
Local public transport consists mainly of buses and minivans called marshrutkis and at two grivna or so for a ride, they’re virtually free. But unless you know which bus to use, it’s best to stick with taxis.
WHAT TO SEE & DO:
The Waterfront/Art Bay: Obviously, any trip to Sevastopol will include a leisurely stroll along their boardwalk. What I love about Sevastopol’s main waterfront is that it’s NOT just a strip. It’s also a park, with various paths you can take. As nice as neighboring Yalta is, their boardwalk is simply a single, straight walking street.
Hersones: Hersones is the ruins of an ancient Greek city right in the center of Sevastopol. (Well, not the Art Bay center, but in the geographical center of the city, just a few minutes further south.)
The city is on the water and has a fun, rocky beach, so bring your suit and towel, too.
Cape Fiolent: Fiolent is maybe a 20 minute cab ride from the city center. You’re high up on the cliffs when you get there, but to truly experience it, you’ll want to walk down the 700 steps to the beach below. That water is crystal clean, and the backdrop of those cliffs behind you make it a memorable beach experience. Here’s a video that shows Fiolent, Hersones, and other places to check-out in Sevastopol.
Seven-hundred steps sounds intimidating, but it’s not steps in the traditional sense. It’s a few steps…and then a path through the trees, then ten more steps, and so on. Figure twenty minutes to get down. No big deal.
Muson Mall: The Muson Mall seems to get bigger by the day. It’s already huge with stores, a multiplex theater, an ice-skating rink, a basketball court, an indoor gaming area with rides…who knows what they’ll add next? But it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon. Check out the video below:
Bars & Nightclubs: Popular clubs and bars come and go, but for now the cool bar seems to be the Beatles Bar in Artillery Bay, just next to the O Sole Mio pizzeria.
You can’t miss their gigantic white neon bass guitar, nor the Beatles music that is played round the clock. As for clubs….make your way to the ferry stop in Art Bay. On a weekend night just stand there and see which club the ladies are headed into that night. Perhaps MALINA’S? Perhaps WHITE PEOPLE (yes, bizarre name for a club). But that’s the place to be.
Lubimovka Beach: I’ll admit…it’s kind of a haul to get to Lubimovka Beach because it’s on the north shore. You need to get on the ferry to get there. And after the ferry, either a cab or a bus. But it’s the best sandy beach in the city. (All others are rocky.) Here’s video I made that shows you how to get there. (That’s me in the red shirt.)
OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Most tourists to Sevastopol spend most of their time in the center, or at one of the spots mentioned above. But there’s one other place you should consider: The PANORAMA building. From the city center, walk from the McDonald’s along the main shopping street, called Bolshaya Morskaya. At the end of that (all of a ten minute walk or so), you’ll come to a big traffic circle (where the city’s other main hotel, HOTEL UKRAINA is located.) And there, up a small hill is the circular building called the Panorama. Inside, as the name suggests, is a 360 degree painting…a panorama of a battle during the Crimean War. It’s an easy walk, and certainly not something you get to see every day.
Below is a video I shot on the streets of Sevastopol when I went out to get guitar strings.