Yalta Ukraine is the jewel of the Crimean Peninsula. Located on the coast of the Black Sea, it is a popular seaside resort for tourists from the former Soviet states, especially during the summer. Travel to Yalta can include visiting major historical monuments, such as the spectacularly turreted Massandra Palace and Livadia Palace, as well as beautiful beaches and views from on top of Darsan Hill. A popular summer destination, it can be difficult and expensive to find a hotel in Yalta during the peak season, so book ahead for the best choices.
Tourists can travel to Yalta via airplane by flying into nearby Simferopol, and then driving to Yalta by minibus or by taxi. The most scenic, albeit slowest route is via the old trolley bus that starts at the Simferopol train station and travels more than 50 miles to arrive in Yalta. This journey takes about three hours as opposed to little more than one hour by taxi or minibus.
Most people arriving in Yalta Ukraine will head straight to the waterfront, where the famous promenade, Naberezhnaya, is packed with restaurants, cafés and hotels. Stretching about a mile in length, Naberezhnaya is a great place to walk and people-watch, and from the promenade you can choose the beach that appeals to you best. Don't expect perfectly fine white sand, but the slightly rocky beaches and surrounding cliffs have a great view.
In the downtown area close to the promenade there are several tourist attractions. The Armenian Church is an elaborately carved and decorated church in the center of town built to imitate the thousand year-old S. Hripsime Church in Armenia. You can also visit the Chekhov House, the residence of the famous writer. Yalta was the setting for Anton Chekhov's short story "A Woman and Her Dog," and he wrote many of his works here. The Nikita Botanical Garden is also a lovely place to visit—built in 1812, it is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world.
One of the most famous attractions of travel to Yalta is the fantastic Neo-Gothic castle, the Swallow's Nest. Perched on top of a cliff near town, the Swallow's Nest is a miniature turreted castle built in 1911 by a German baron who made his fortune in Crimea. Today it houses an Italian restaurant, of all things, and has an observation deck where tourists can look out over the sea and see the shoreline of Yalta.
Other famous attractions in Yalta Ukraine are the two castles, Massandra Castle located in the outskirts of Yalta, and Livadia Palace, also located in the suburbs. Massandra Castle was built by a Russian prince in a luxurious Louis XIII style. The chateau is nestled in the surrounding mountains and commands a beautiful view. Tourists can see the grounds and the interior. Livadia Palace is perhaps even more interesting, as it houses a museum and was the meeting place for the three so-called Great Powers, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, during the Second World War. The white granite columned palace is a beauty, with porticoed courtyards, an Italian terrace, a chapel, and landscaped gardens.
When you're ready to look for a hotel in Yalta, there are several options in town. Hotel Oreanda is at the top of the spectrum—this four-star hotel is located on the waterfront and though it costs more than other options in the area, the service, English-speaking staff, and well-furnished rooms are of Western European standards, and the host of amenities, including a Jacuzzi, nightclub, and restaurant, make this hotel a great choice. A more affordable—but still comfortable—choice for a hotel in Yalta is the three-star Bristol Hotel located near the waterfront. Rooms are basic but clean. The Yalta Hotel is another three-star choice that is reasonably priced and offers spotless rooms and great views from the upper floors.