It may seem that Ukraine is mostly about towns and cities. It’s true that Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Chornobyl are the destinations within the country with the best coverage online. So, many travelers limit their travel itineraries to these locations. At the same time, there is so much more to see. For instance, some of the best beaches by the Black Sea are in Ukraine (the country shares the coastline with Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Turkey, and Russia).
Information on vacations by the Black Sea in Ukraine still remains scarce, so we are willing to fix this. Especially considering how great the experience can be. Compared to some of the popular Black Sea resorts in Bulgaria and Russia, in Ukraine, the beaches are cleaner, less crowded, and many still have that off-the-tourist-radar and pristine vibe to them.
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When is the best time to head to Ukraine’s Black Sea resorts?
Depending on whether you’d like to swim and sunbathe, or are simply looking for some relaxing time by the sea, the season lasts from mid-April till the end of September. From spring till the middle of June, the waters of the Black Sea are still too cold to swim in. July till early September is the optimal weather to both swim and sunbathe. This is also the busiest season, with most of Ukraine’s Black Sea beach resorts being fully booked by the locals.
If the weather in September is warm, this month is the best one to explore the coastline. You can still swim in the sea. The sun is mild and relaxing. There are fewer tourists and the prices in accommodations drop dramatically.
Ukraine’s top beaches
The three main areas with the best beaches by the Black Sea are Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson. There are also plenty of resorts by the Sea of Azov, especially around the Berdyansk area, but we will not be focusing on them for this article. Also, prior to 2014, Crimea’s beaches by the Black Sea would’ve definitely made it to this publication because many of them are simply stunning. However, with Russia annexing the Crimean peninsula, we will withhold from promoting the area.
Kinburn Spit beaches: secluded, pristine, and jaw-dropping
Strategically, it would’ve probably been smarter to start the list with Odesa, since it’s so popular, but Kinburn was under the radar for far too long to keep it in the back seat.
A piece of land in the Mykolaiv region is probably the last stretch of clean and pristine beaches free from crowds and perfect for those looking for some exclusive access to the Black Sea.
There are only 100+ residents living in the area, plus some 300+ people owning vacation properties. The Spit is basically a national park, with 3 villages offering accommodations and 13 recreational areas available for camping by the Black Sea. Because the Spit is a bit challenging to get to and has no roads, many tourists trade the hassle of the commute for much more approachable beaches in Odesa.
How to get to the Kinburn Spit?
By car: Only if you own/rent a 4×4 because right after the Heroyske village, the asphalted road ends, and turns into a cobweb of routes in the sand. In addition to the 4×4, you will also need a shovel and a rope, goog internet coverage to navigate through a complex network of routes, as well as an SOS phone number of any of the local drivers in case you get stuck and need help. The drivers most probably won’t speak English.
By boat: This is the most popular and convenient option for many travelers. You can either take the Nibulon boats from Mykolaiv or Kherson (see prices and schedules, as well as book the tickets online here), or head to pier 333 or the small local pier (GPS 46.613961, 31.558549) in Ochakiv.
There are also ways to reach campings and villages with guided tours or by taxi, options that we elaborate more on in this publication about all-things Kinburn.
Hotels, camping, and accommodations of the Kinburn Spit
For camping, there are 13 recreational areas to choose from. At a cost of 4 USD per day, you can either book a tent or bring your own and use the camp’s freshwater, kitchen, and WC/showers. Authentic Camp and Kinburn Spit Camp are among the most popular and recommended destinations.
For hotels/accommodations, you will be able to choose between Rymby or Pokrovskoe villages, with access to freshwater beaches of the Dnipro-Buh bay, or Pokrovka village deeper into Kinburn. Here, the hotels are all closer to the Black Sea beaches. Pelikan, Olhova Roshca, and Kruta Osyp are among the best variants for a comfortable stay.
Things to do at Kinburn
There are plenty of activities in the area. The list of noteworthy places to visit includes the pink salt lakes of Heroyske, the Kefal lakes of Pokrovka, the Herodotov forest, the yoga camp of Sosnovy Bor, birdwatching and sunset-watching near the Yagorlitsky bay, horseback riding, snorkeling, scuba diving, and more.
Best beaches in Odesa, Ukraine: crowded but fun
Odesa and its beaches are good when you don’t have much time to explore the rest of the areas in the country and want a one-stop-shop for the beach, city fun, and easy commute.
Two of the top areas in Odesa for vacation by the beach are the Arcadia and the Lanzheron. These are all close to downtown, easy to reach by taxi or public transportation. They are also among the most crowded and not the cleanest, although there is still some hope for Arcadia. On the bright side, everything we love so much about Odesa, with its laid back downtown, great cafes, and the active nightlife are all within an easy reach.
Alternatively, you can explore the beaches in the residential area, around the Fountain Stop 16. These will probably go hand-in-hand with the AirBnB rentals since there are no major hotels, but it all depends on your preferences.
How to get to Odesa
By train: From any major city, there will be either an overnight train or an express train. You can find more information about the schedule, and book the tickets online, at Ukrzaliznytsia, the official carrier. They finally have their website available in English!
By car or BlaBla Car: It takes from 5 to 6 hours to drive to Odesa from Kyiv. From Lviv, the commute is longer and more demanding. It may take up to 11 hours. Things don’t get any easier if you travel from Kharkiv.
By plane: A good alternative to cars and trains is flying to Odesa. There is an airport in any major city, and internal flights that are operated by UIA and SkyUp, are cheap. If you are lucky enough, you may buy yourself a ticket from 15 USD (one way).
Odesa beach hotels and accommodations
There are plenty of resorts in Odesa, Ukraine, for any budget. If you came solely for the sake of the beach vacation, it is better to look for AirBnB’s around the Fountain 16 Station, more of a residential area. If you are looking for a valuable mix of city life with occasional escapes to the beaches, check offers in the downtown area.
Things to do in Odesa
This is a topic well worthy of a separate publication. Normally, we’d recommend at least 3 days to explore this unique city by the Black Sea. The list of things to do here includes dining in any of the great restaurants of the Deribasivska street, attending the iconic Odesa Opera Theater, exploring the old and legendary courtyards, trying local seafood, descending into the Odesa catacombs, counting the steps of the Potemkin Stairs, and wandering the Vorontsov Palace.
Zatoka beaches: the perfect infrastructure
Zatoka, located within an hour away from Odesa, is where many Ukrainians head to for their summer vacay. If you are looking for a place where everything is tailored for the lazy week by the sea, look no further.
Zatoka is no place for fancy restaurants, the food is tolerable, but this is the reality of any mass-market recreational area in Ukraine. Also, you will need to look patiently for a resort with a good value of quality and price, as many places are simply overpriced. That’s why many are booking in advance.
So, why does everyone head here?
Zatoka is perfect for a vacay by the sea where everything is taken care of. Do you need an Italian food cafe or a quick burger on the way to the beach? You got it! Looking for a budget-friendly resort with a pool? Pretty sure you’ll find one. Interested in an easy and no-fuss commute? Buses leave the Odesa train station every hour. Spending a vacay with kids? There is lots of entertainment in the area.
How to get to Zatoka
By a public bus: In high season, buses leave from the Odesa train station every hour.
By train: Suburban trains run on schedule several times a day. You can purchase tickets on the train or at the train station.
By car/Bla Bla Car: It takes about 40 minutes to get to the city, and in high season, there should be no problem finding a Bla Bla Car headed towards Zatoka.
By taxi: From Odesa, an Uber will cost around 20 USD.
Hotels and resorts in Zatoka
Zatoka offers accommodations for any budget. On average, a night in a beach house with a room and a kitchen may cost around 40 USD. Simpler suits with dining in a hotel restaurant (not included) will be worth around 30 USD. Like with every popular destination, it is a good idea to book in advance.
Things to do in Zatoka
Located just 30 minutes away from Zatoka is the legendary Akkerman Fortress, one of the few fortifications in Ukraine that is well-maintained and looked after. Also in close proximity is the village Shabeau with its wine tasting tours to the local popular vineyards.
Sanjeyka: an under-the-radar gem
So, when all of the locals from Kyiv and Lviv flood Zatoka, the locals from Zatoka and the Odesa area flee to Sanjeyka.
Joking. However, Sanjeyka is more of a place carefully guarded by the locals from Odesa. It is a perfect escape still not touched much by civilization. In other words, you can rent accommodations in the area, but the beach itself is not commercialized. There are no beach bars, rentals, anything. Just a stretch of clean white sand and a flight of wooden steps from the cliff.
Sanjeyka is perfect for sunrises, a calm and quiet day by the sea, or an Instagramable walk.
How to get to Sanjeyka
By taxi: Getting here by taxi from Odesa will cost around 20 USD.
Car rental: This would be the second-best option after a taxi as public transportation here is a bit complicated unless you speak Ukrainian or Russian. Driving a car may be challenging, though. Like with many suburban roads in Ukraine, this one is practically non-existent. As if the locals were sending a very clear message that they would like to keep this place to themselves.
By bus: Look for marshrutkas (local mini-buses) leaving from Odessa central bus station or train station in the direction of Zatoka. Ask a driver for assistance.
Accomodations in Sanjeyka
Because this area is still very much a work in progress, don’t expect any fancy Black Sea resorts. Things are done here in an old-school way, with announcements about rental glued to the gates of the houses next to the beach. Almost like the locals did in Bali before AirBnB. The prices commence at 35 USD in the high season. You can count on a room with a private or shared bathroom or on a personal small house by the sea, depending on the budget.
Things to do near Sanjeyka
First of all, try to be early for at least one sunrise in the area. They are simply stunning here!
Also, located in close proximity is the Dolnicky forest perfect for trekking. If you are not up for active vacations, you can opt-in for a tour of the local wineries instead.
Dzharylhach Island: camping under the stars
Dzharylhach island is the rising star of Ukrainian tourism by the Black Sea. Located in the Mykolaiv area, this is the biggest island in the Black Sea, also, it is not inhabited. During the high season, a couple of its recreational areas are opened to tourists who are not afraid to trade a night in a comfortable hotel for a night in the tent, falling asleep to the sounds of the waves.
And don’t even get us started on that night sky and the stars….
The beaches are clean, secluded, not overcrowded, and really lack any civilization. Whatever your plans are regarding food, you should either take it with you and cook in the field kitchen or book meals in the camp you are staying in.
Getting to the Dzharylhach Island
The key here is to get to either Skadovsk or Zalizny Port, two of the coastal towns closes to the island. From here, catch the next boat to the island. If you are with a day visit, the earliest boat leaves the mainland at 8 am, and the last one from the island leaves at 6:30 pm. The tickets cost around 7 USD one way. You can also catch a private boat from Lazurne coastal town.
Camping on the Dzharylhach Island
There are only a couple of camps on the island, and if you are looking to rent a tent, these get booked very quickly in high season. By the way, the high season here lasts till mid-September.
Should you bring a tent with you, you will have access to the freshwater, kitchen, and basic amenities, all at a relatively small cost.
Things to do in the area
Rent a boat and head watching dolphins, or take a walk to the nearest lighthouse.
On the mainland, the legendary pink lakes in Ivanovka and Hryhorovka are what every local is obsessed with. Also, from Zalizny Port, you can sign up for a truly unique boat tour to the Tender Spit. This is part of the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve, a place protected by the ecological society, and truly unique travel experience.
Zalizny Port: one-stop-shop for all summer activities
Zalizny Port is in many ways very similar to Zatoka. This is the most popular coastal town to head to in the Mykolaiv area, and it has plenty of benefits and convenient infrastructure. Just like in Zatoka, there are accommodations, cafes, and entertainment for every taste and budget. It is also a destination perfect for a vacation with kids due to lots of things to do around.
Getting to Zalizny Port
By train: Two of the main railroad hubs are in Mykolaiv and Kherson. From here, you can either take a taxi (pricey) or a public bus from the train or bus stations of either of the two cities.
By Bla Bla Car: Like always, Bla Bla Car may be the answer to practically any destination. Although, if you are coming from western or eastern Ukraine, catching a train and then switching for a bus or Bla Bla Car is still smarter than taking only Bla Bla Car. At least you can sleep on the train and arrive well-rested.
Accommodations in Zalizny Port
Depending on the budget and preferences, prices start from 15 USD for a very basic room with a shared bathroom to 40 USD per night for a private beach house. On average, though, get ready to spend around 30 USD per night.
Things to do in Zalizny Port
Taking a boat to Dzarylhach Island is the first thing to do. Take some fresh water, snacks, a sunscreen, and a beach towel with you. You can also book a tour to Kinburn or the pink lakes, but both will take all day. Alternatively, head into any of the nearby coastal villages, such as Skadovsk or Lazurne.
Chornomorska Spit: between the sea and the bay
Just 15 minutes away from a small town of Ochakov (not much to do in the town), there is a lovely Chornomorska Spit. Hugged by simultaneously three bays, this is a tiny piece of land with impressive touristic infrastructure. From cheap hostels to luxurious beach houses, as well as concerts, live music bars, paragliding, boat tours, and wakeboarding, this place has it all.
If you prefer to be in the center of events, head deeper into the area, closer to its tip. If you are a fan of secluded beaches, stay near the beginning of the Chernomorska Spit.
Getting to Chernomorska Spit
From the central bus station of Ochakov, catch a taxi. It should not cost more than 10-15 USD. Reaching Ochakov is possible by a bus from Mykolaiv.
Accommodations in the area
As we said, the price of rooms starts from around 15 USD, but those are the places that hardly qualify for a decent vacay by the sea.
Check Santa for its lovely beach houses with terraces facing the bay. In September, you may get a good value of reduced prices.
Things to see in the area
Just an hour and a half away if the Ukrainian version of the Bolivian Salar de Uyuni. It is not as epic and is relatively small, but it is still a chance to walk on salt, to take some great pictures, and to be amazed at nature and its peculiarities. The name of the location is Solonets Tuzly (GPS 46.655777, 31.389932).
Best beaches by the Black Sea: also worth mentioning
To most of the beaches we are about to mention, there is a good alternative in the publication, but for the sake of being thorough, here we go:
- Karolina-Bugaz is the closest it gets to the Zatoka vibes and infrastructure. The place is perfect for everyone who came to party by the beach at night.
- Sergeevka beaches in the Odesa area are not far from Zatoka, offering a wide strip of sand and a clean sea, as well as decent infrastructure.
- Lebedevka is a village a bit further down the coastline, closer to the border with Moldova. The place can get a bit crowded, but the rentals are cheaper here.
- Vapnyarka is a small spot 21 km (13 miles) away from Odesa and very similar in vibes to Sanjeyka. Secluded beaches and guesthouses contribute to the infrastructure. The sunsets are stunning.