A private tour is ideal if you prefer seeing a destination at your own pace, need a custom program or if you have limited time and want to see it all. Here are a few tips on what’s best to explore in Odessa with a private tour.
Odessa’s Jewish history
The turn-of-the–twentieth-century Odessa was the third largest city in the world after New York and Warsaw in terms of Jewish population. Of course, much of the Jewish heritage did not survive Soviet times and Romanian occupation during the Second World War.
Nevertheless, you can easily spend a couple of days following in the footsteps of Bialik, Dizengoff and Pinsker, exploring the sights described in Jabotinsky’s “The Five” and de Waal’s “The Hare with Amber Eyes”, visiting Moldovanka district and walking down Jewish (yes, we have such!) and Bazarnya streets (which can be rightfully called the “Second Jewish street”).
On top of this, there are such Jewish landmarks as the Great Choral (Main City), the Brodsky and Shomrei-Shabbat synagogues, the Holocaust memorial and the Jewish cemetery to name a few. Although lots of sights are concentrated in one neighborhood, Moldovanka district is on the other side of the historic city center from the Shomrei-Shabbat synagogue, while the Jewish cemetery is in the city’s outskirts. Therefore, private tour with a guide and transportation is really the best option to see the Jewish Odessa. Besides, with a custom itinerary you can decide how much time you’d like to spend on your explorations: from a couple of hours to half a day to several days.
Odessa Catacombs Tour
It’s not allowed to go into the underground tunnels on your own. You must be either accompanied by your private authorized guide or join the group tours organized by the catacombs’ staff. So, going to the catacombs with a private tour is indeed the only option (unless you want to join a group tour, which is usually done in a local language).
Akkerman Fortress and Shabo Winery Tour
Located about 70 kilometers outside Odessa, both the Akkerman fortress and Shabo winery are popular places to visit among wine lovers and those interested in exploring the countryside. You can certainly go there on your own by a public bus or “marshrytka”. The challenging part is seeing the fortress, as there are no audio guides, and going to the winery, as you need to either join a fairly large Russian language group tour there or do it with your private guide, who’ll act as a translator to the tour guide provided by the winery. The winery does not organize tours in foreign languages.
If you want to see it all in one day …
Those whose stay in Odessa is limited to one or two days and who want to make the most of their time, may consider organizing a private tour with a custom program. The benefits are obvious: you see what interests you at your own pace. Besides you have an excellent chance to interact with a local person.
Odessa’s historic city center can be easily self-explored. You can see the sights with the Lonely Planet or In Your Pocket guidebooks or simply stroll along the broad cobbled streets, take in the city’s ambiance and people-watch while sitting in any of the cafes in the historic quarter. However, if you are interested in “going beyond the guidebook”, then with a half day private walking tour you can get “under the skin” of the city and see most of the historic quarter. It’s your call really :).
Regardless what you decide to do, we are sure you’ll enjoy our beautiful city and take home with you the fondest memories :).