Yalta

Yalta seen from the surrounding hills

Yalta (Russian: Ялта) is a resort town on the Crimea peninsula in Russia.

Understand

Yalta is a kitschy place, with heritage going back to the 19th century and its use as an exclusive sanatorium and also to communist-era mass tourism. Today mass tourism still sustains the city, which is understandable given its beautiful surroundings and proximity to many of Crimea's major sights.

Summer sees the city inundated with mainly Russian and Ukrainian tourists. However, consider a visit at any time of year: average temperatures are always above freezing (though it can and does occasionally freeze). Spring and autumn see some positively pleasant weather that can reach into high the 20 °Cs. Winters are not as cold as in the rest of Ukraine. Protected from the North by the mountains and warmed by the Black Sea, there is never a lot of snow in the winter, but beware of the winds as they can be bitingly cold.

Russian is the main language - getting by without a basic grasp will be difficult but not impossible. Ukrainian is also spoken. Crimean Tatar, which has a dialect that is very closely related to Turkish, is spoken by the predominantly Muslim Crimean Tatar people: if you speak Crimean Tatar (and even if you don't!), you will be warmly welcomed by the Crimean Tatars. English is not widely spoken, but try your luck with younger people if you have to speak in English.

People are generally friendly and crime in this city of over 80,000 people is low. Tourists are safe as long as they stay sensible: don't flash your cash, avoid unlit pathways at night (if only to avoid the drunks), and try to judge whether a strangers buying you drinks is being hospitable (most likely) or sinister (less likely, but possible).

Ukraine is not a rich country and many of the services etc are not up to Western standards. Be patient and bear that in mind and appreciate the good side of Yalta.

Get in

Simferopol is Crimea's main transport hub. From Simferopol the world's longest trolleybus route wends a scenic way to Yalta via Alushta for around 3 hours (costs 15.25 hryvnias as of July 2013). The quality of the trolley buses varies. While the old Soviet ones may look retro-cool, consider waiting for one of the more modern, less characterful but more comfortable ones. Minibuses are faster but a bit more expensive (2 Euro). A taxi will typically cost 10 to 20 Euro and it will take just over an hour.

Buses also run to Sevastopol and other cities throughout Crimea and beyond.

Get around

A decent network of cheap minibuses connects the centre of town and the outlying areas. Pay either when you board or when you get off: this can be slightly confusing at times! Taxis are everywhere; some are genuine, and some are just people offering you a ride for a fare. Speaking English means the fare goes up, but it is still very reasonable, so learn to haggle - if the price is too high walk away as there will always be someone else to barter with.

Yalta is a city that is spread out over a large area (Greater Yalta). The centre and harbor is a great place to walk around, but just beware of the local drivers as they tend not to give way for pedestrians. Traffic in the city in the summer months is heavy and you can be stuck in a jam if you go by a motor vehicle. Sometimes you may find it is much quicker to walk. The locals always dress up and walk around the harbor front at night - it's a great way to pass the evening away, or you can watch the people go by enjoying a drink at one of many cafes. The waterfront is well over a mile long - from McDonald's on the East end to the Hotel Oreanda on the West. Walk the length to choose your beach, which will be somewhat "rocky".

Ferries connect the central ferry port (on Ulitsa Ruzvjelta) to nearby beaches and towns and the Swallow's Nest (famous folly perched on a cliff and now an Italian restaurant). Luxury cruise ships visit Yalta during the summer, on their way around the Black Sea, which is certainly a nice way to travel.

Useful bus numbers

Minibuses to the palaces sometimes, but not always, have "Дворец" (meaning palace) mentioned on their route listings.

In Livadia, the 27, 32 and 102 use a stop on the Sevastopolskoye Shosse main road, which is uphill from the palace; the number 11 ends up on a smaller road on the same level as the palace.

See

The Armenian church.

Most of the sights are some way out of town and will require a bus, boat or taxi to reach. However, within the town you can see:

Livadia Palace, former royal retreat and site of the 1945 Yalta conference.

Beyond walking distance of the centre can be found:

Do

The Swallow's Nest, Neo-Gothic folly on the way to Alupka.

Walk The Tsar's Path (Tsarskaya Tropa, Russian: Царская тропа; also called the Solnechnaya Tropa, Russian: Солнечная тропа) that runs for 6 km from the Livadia Palace to the castle-like former coastal home of Prince A. N. Golitsyn, a friend of Alexander I, now the Yasnaya Polyana resort. Minibus 26 will take you back to Yalta. The path keeps a very level course until near the end where it heads uphill to Yasnaya Polyana. However at the point where it starts to go uphill, if you head downhill on the nearby road you will end up at the Swallow's Nest. The start of the path may be hard to find - it is slightly downhill of the palace and the row of buildings next to the chapel.

Explore the region around Yalta - it is steeped in history and there are many interesting places to visit within an hour's mini bus ride from the city.

Buy

Banks, ATMs and exchange offices are plentiful and exchange rates are pretty good.

All areas of Crimea are famous for their red onions. It is said that they used to be much sweeter than they are now, but they are still a delicacy that are quite expensive elsewhere in Ukraine.

Vodka is very cheap and plentiful - you will be amazed at the many varieties available. Take a trip down to the souvenir shops located on the far side of the harbor (the other side from McDonalds), for numerous trinkets and other interesting reminders of Yalta. Beware if you speak English that the prices tend to go up!

Honey It is the best honey from Ukraine! In this region you can buy almost everywhere fresh honey from apiaries. The best prices are during the summer time.

Eat

There are several very nice little cafes at the main market (Ovoshnoi Rynok). They are not expensive, and are cleaner and serve fresher food than many in other areas. They have quite a good selection of food and it is well prepared. Best though to only eat HOT food, for safety's sake.

Try shopping in the many markets for local produce. There are great bargains to be had on meat and vegetables. You might have to overlook some of the health standards, but as long as you wash and cook the food well - you should not have a problem.

Drink

To get the best Vodka, take a visit to one or two of the supermarkets outside the city centre and you will find a great selection at prices you will not believe.

Sleep

The colossal Yalta Hotel Complex, 1140 rooms of Soviet touristic joy. Worth a visit in its own right, plus it has one of the nearest beaches to the city centre.

Summer sees the city inundated with tourists and there is are lots of apartments and hotels available. Apartments come in all shapes and sizes but do not expect Western standards most of the time. However, do not judge an apartment by its outside: many decent places are housed in pretty shabby looking buildings.

Prices vary and are dependent upon the apartment's proximity to the sea and how much the owner think you can afford to pay! Try to avoiding "foreigner pricing" by speaking Russian, by not dressing flashily or showing wealth, and by negotiating in UAH rather than dollars or euros. Play it right and you can get an apartment for 150 UAH per night or a private room in a shared apartment for 100 UAH (in the off season at least, maybe more in summer). Better places with all the mod cons may go for $50 - $200+ per night.

Apartments further away from the centre might also have their water turned off at night - this is common in Ukraine, be warned! You might also suffer power cuts, but this all adds to the local flavour. Also, keep your apartment clear of garbage in summer, otherwise you will attract giant cockroaches!

There is a hostel of the conventional type for those who are uncomfortable negotiating (and it can be tricky) but remember with a bit of effort you could get a whole private apartment for not very much more that the price of a single dorm bed!

Connect

Internet

A free wifi network covers the central area and waterfront. Places with wifi abound but wifi combined with sea view, decent coffee, power outlets and toilets is surprisingly hard to find. One option is:

There's also a few internet cafes. Try Internet Cafe Stalker at 14 Ulitsa Kievskaya (about 15 UAH for 3 hours).

Post

The main post office is next to the Lenin statue at the eastern end of the waterfront promenade.

Go next

There are several interesting places within the Greater Yalta area. Many are listed in the See section. Also nearby are:

Going beyond the Greater Yalta area may take you to:

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, September 30, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.