While visiting new destinations a lot of travelers are interested in exploring them beyond the historic quarter and city borders. A question frequently asked by our tour guests is about the day trips from Odessa. What’s worth seeing in the countryside? How long does it take to travel around Odessa’s region? What is the best itinerary? Here’re a few ideas and itineraries drawn on my personal preferences and experience:).
What I totally love about the region is it’s fantastic cultural diversity. Once scarcely populated by the remnants of the Mongols, the area got a huge boost when it was included into the Russian Empire. Bulgarians, Albanians and Greeks, Germans and Swiss were granted privileges to settle and develop wild fields into the prosperous region of grain and orchards. Landscape, consisting of endless colorful Bessarabian fields crossed by the Dniester estuary can’t but delight an eye of a traveler.
Based on the most interesting regional aspects (nature, culture, history, lifestyle) I am a big fan of the two trips: day trip along the coast to Karolino Bugas, Shabo and Akkerman and a visit to the Danube delta.
A day trip along the coast to Karolino Bugaz, Shabo and Akkerman: tons of history, scenic countryside, natural Black Sea coast and the picturesque Dniester estuary. That’s what you can expect from this trip.
During a scenic drive to the south-western part of Odessa’s region and further down along the Black Sea coast to Bessarabia you’ll see local villages, once founded by the German colonists, endless grain fields (yes, Odessa is one of Ukraine’s breadbasket regions), orchards and vineyards.
Very picturesque is the spot where the Dniester estuary connects with the Black Sea.
Once you reach the Black Sea coast, you are in Karolino-Bugaz, the main regional summer resort popular among travelers in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Soviet resorts, “dachas” and modern countryside houses create an interesting landscape, which borders the Black Sea coast on one side and the Dniester estuary on the other.
Bessarabia starts as you cross the Dniester. Thirty minutes more and you are in the town of Belgorod- Dniestrovsky, often called by the locals by its Turkish-Romanian name Akkerman. The main historical sights of the place are the Akkerman (Belgorod-Dniestrovsky) fortress, the last outpost of Christians on the Black Sea built by the Moldavians in the 15th century and the ruins of the ancient Greek Tira.
History buffs will be very much excited to explore long fascinating history of Akkerman.
Before you embark on the journey back to Odessa, you can drop by Shabo to see the place set up in 1820s by the Swiss colonists. Shabo is now a mix of old and new with a few original Swiss houses having survived all the disastrous events of the 20th century. To really immerse into the history of the place, go on a tour of the Shabo winery. It’s not so much about the wine. Most of the tour’s time is spent exploring the region’s history, including that of wine making. You can skip wine tasting if you are not a big wine drinker.
Without a visit to the Shabo winery the trip will take you about six hours with a stop for lunch. The winery tour (which is quite interesting and very different from what you’ll see in most wineries) adds two and a half hours to the trip with wine tasting and two hours without.
The second trip, which I highly recommend is a visit to the Danube Delta and Vilkovo. Expect to experience the amazing nature of the Danube biosphere reserve, the Russian Orthodox “Old Believers”’ authentic settlements and a boat trip along the Danube canals.
This is a really very interesting trip. But it has a big minus – the 4-hour drive one way. But even with such a long drive you can make it from Odessa and back in one day, just be prepared to spend lots of time on the road. You can nap on the way back:).
Is the drive worth it? We head south-west from Odessa, through picturesque Bessarabian steppes towards the Lower Danube region. Bulgarian, Greek, German, Moldavian and Ukrainian villages with funny names, fields planted with grain, oilseed rapes, melons and corn; low banks of the Dniester river; small food stalls along the road – that’s what you see from the car windows along the way. A few stops for photos. The trip lets you immerse into a very different culture and landscape of Ukraine.
In four hours you arrive in Vilkovo, a village founded by the Russian Orthodox “Old Believers” (Lipovanians) and Ukrainian Cossacks centuries ago on the canals of the Danube river. Immersion into Lipovanian culture and lifestyle, a visit to the Old Believers’ church followed by a private boat trip along the main canal to the Danube delta and natural reserve.
The natural life of the Danube delta is fascinating. You can go fishing and even swim in the Danube if the weather allows.
Another perk of the trip is a visit to a private home. You see how people live, try homemade local specialty – fish soup and since Bessarabia is a huge wine region and Vilkovo is no exception, you’ll be certainly offered a glass of locally made wine.
That’s a day in Vilkovo and the Danube delta, a very colorful, full of exciting experiences and quite long!:) Nap time on the way back to Odessa:).
Hope you find this information useful, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions and to arrange these trips.