Odessa Walks is not just a tour company. We are a team of people, united by the same values and principles: we are passionate about guiding and history. We are proud of our family roots and love our hometowns – Odessa, Constanta, Bucharest, Varna and Nessebar. We are excited to meet new people and treat them as personal friends who happen to be visiting. We strive to be professional at what we do: from responding to information inquiries to developing new tour routes to conducting tours. Our goal? To ensure you discover the best our region has to offer and to make your visit the most memorable experience.
Why Tour with Us?
- Expert guides. We have built a fantastic team of expert and enthusiastic guides. In fact, they are some of the best in business. They are local, have a wealth of guiding experience and most importantly passionate about the region and what they do!
- Exciting stories. Every place has a story, known only to locals. Every must-see has a story, which is not mentioned in a guidebook or on Internet. Fascinating hidden gems may be just a few steps away from the main landmarks. With our guides you’ll explore the must-sees and off the beaten path areas, while listening to stories and not simply looking “here and there”.
- Small groups. We tour in an intimate way, with a maximum group size of 12 people. So it’s not about being herded from one sight to another, being rushed in and out of the bus. On a small group tour, you get every opportunity to set its pace and tell us if you need a little bit more time to make one more “postcard” picture; to ask questions and converse with a guide on topics, which interest you.
Join us for the ultimate tour experience in Odessa, Constanta, Bucharest, Nessebar and Varna! Get in touch with us by phone, email, Facebook or Twitter if you have any inquiries or would like to build a totally customized tour itinerary– we are fully connected and available 24/7.
From Olga Bokhonovskaya, Odessa Walks Founder
My journey to building Odessa Walks Ltd started in 1998, when with a suitcase, a backpack and a BA degree in English and German I left my home country and went to California to attend a business school. What made me move across the ocean back then? Passion to see the world and interest in exploring my career options. And while studies were certainly important, I together with a bunch of likeminded friends extensively traveled.
After obtaining an MBA degree with a focus on international marketing, I have worked in California, London and Moscow before finally making a decision to return to Odessa, my anchor city, to build something of my own, based on what I love most: technology bringing people together, this amazing city and its rich history. So, Odessa Walks Ltd. came to live in 2011.
When I launched Odessa Walks back in 2011, I thought of focusing solely on Odessa (hence the company name) and doing something fun and different than just a standard general observation tour around Odessa’s historic city center. By exploring off the beaten path routes, digging little known exciting facts and stories about the must-see sights, developing food tasting and cultural tours (an excellent way to dive deep into the lifestyle, traditions and cuisine of a destination!) and recruiting guides who are not only experts in their field but have interesting personalities, our team aimed at going beyond traditional tour routes to bring lifetime experiences to our guests.
We succeeded, and as a testament to our success we got strong recommendations from our customers who visited us with a cruise to expand into other Black Sea ports and set up operations in Crimean ports of Yalta and Sevastopol for the next year.
I decided to give it a try. After all, I’ve had prior experience of new market launches, although in a different industry. With Crimea’s fascinating history, appealing to war and history buffs, cultural diversity and scenic landscape (both in the hillside and along the coast) it was a breeze to develop exciting tours, catered to any tastes. The biggest challenge was to find guides, who could liven up the hills of Sevastopol while telling about the Charge of the Light brigade; make you feel like you are walking in the footsteps of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin as you stroll through the halls of the Livadia palace; teach you how to sing local songs and walk up the hills to the cave towns while talking about the ancient cultures. I was very lucky to meet exceptional guides who shared our approach and were excited to join our team. We launched into Crimea in spring 2013. In summer the same year, the Oceania Riviera called at Odessa after her visit to Crimea. As I was standing on the pier waiting for our tour groups I was approached by the three couples from this cruise, who had taken our shore excursions in Sevastopol and Yalta. They thanked me for the great service and said they were really very happy to have chosen us in Crimea and excited to meet our team in Odessa. It was one of these moments when you feel that you are doing the right thing and your work is rewarded.
Feeling inspired and having nailed down expansion tactics, I thought that the company was ready to make a step forward and expand into the Black Sea ports of Romania and Bulgaria for the 2014. Not that things were getting too easy and I needed a new challenge. I had a clear idea in mind how we could bring more value to our customers and make their Black Sea cruise a really fun and memorable experience.
Many of our guests are adventurous eaters and enjoy combining food and travel. Our Odessa Food and Culture tour has been a huge success, so I wanted to provide our customers with a chance to taste their way through the Black Sea coast and try delicious Romanian and Bulgarian foods besides discovering culture and history. For those travelers who are keen on learning Jewish history of Odessa and Eastern Europe I was looking to develop Jewish history tours of each destination, which would tell the local story of Jewish community and put it in context of other places visited during the Black Sea cruise.
The events, which happened in Ukraine and Crimea in 2014 delayed our plans for a year. Nevertheless, last December was spent touring Romanian and Bulgarian coast researching the area and meeting with potential partners and guides.
As with Crimea, the main challenge in Romania and Bulgaria was to find the right people (I guess, all businesses share the human resources problem). Yet again, I was lucky (or perhaps, they are right to say that your strongest wishes come true ☺).
Once we had the team in place, we commenced on developing shore tours. We pioneered Food and Culture tours in the ports of Constanta and Nessebar. Together with our Odessa tour for History, Culture and Food Lovers, they provide travelers with an excellent and fun way to explore and compare the flavors of the Black Sea ports of Odessa, Constanta and Nessebar. Drawing from our Jewish Odessa tour experience, together with the local guides we developed the Jewish Tour of Bucharest, which can be organized from Constanta, and Constanta City Walk with a Jewish Story. And of course, general observation tours in Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine, which let our travelers explore a little bit of everything in each destination: historic sights, local culture, food and wine.
So, today we are excited to welcome you in Odessa, Constanta, Bucharest, Varna and Nessebar. And ready to go beyond traditional routes to bring you lifetime experiences and fulfill our ideas. Aah, and we decided to keep the company name – Odessa Walks ☺. It has become known and brought us luck!
Safe travels and see you soon! And if you’d like to stay tuned on our new developments, I am blogging – odessawalks.com/blog
Olga Bokhonovskaya, Founder, Odessa Walks