Try local wines
While Odesa is famous as a seaside resort, its wineries also have become incredibly popular in recent years. The reason for such a spiking popularity apart from the flavor is a decent price - for instance, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Shabo winery costs around UAH 100, which is roughly 3 euros. The city itself has numerous spots to discover the local wine scene.
One of them is a trendy always-packed Port. Wine Bar. Located near the City Garden, this spot offers more than 15 types of wine produced on the local wineries. The place's specials include plum, pomegranate and quince wine. You can enjoy a glass in-house and then buy a souvenir bottle of wine that you enjoyed the most. A glass of wine here costs UAH 35 or 1 euro.
Another location to explore Odesa wines is Wine Story shop. Here you will find up to thousand types of wine and other alcoholic drinks from thirteen countries. Moreover, the store has a wine bar with a selection of wines updated every two weeks. Professional sommeliers will help to choose appropriate snacks to accompany the drink like cheese, ham, olives, artichokes or nuts. To give an idea, a glass of Odesa rosé here costs UAH 30 or 1 euro.
Finally, the gem of Odesa wine scene is Shabo Wine Culture Center. The center offers highly popular organized tours where visitors can witness the process of winemaking, ancient cellars as well as attend a degustation. The tour with a degustation of 6 Shabo wines costs UAH 280, which is approximately 9 euros.
Listen to live jazz
One of the best things to do in Odesa at night is sitting at the table in local jazz clubs and enjoy live music with a glass of wine. Luckily, the city that boasts hosting one of the best jazz festivals in Ukraine, Koktebel, has many spots for jazz lovers during any season.
Perron No 7, for instance, is the first specialized jazz club in Odesa. It has three floors, which serve different purposes: a chamber concert hall located in a full-functional recording studio, a restaurant with a lounge area and even a small hostel for six persons. The tickets for live jazz concerts here cost up to UAH 500 or 15 euros.
Another iconic location is Jazzy Buzzy restaurant located on one of the old streets in Odesa, Uspenska street. Everything from the live music itself to the interior suggests it’s a classic American jazz-inspired location. The restaurant offers dishes from international cuisine as well as Odesa specials. For instance, a local classic - forshmak, which is salty minced fish, costs UAH 100 or 3 euros.
Meet the sunrise at local beaches
Many of the best experiences in life can't be bought. One of them easily is meeting sunrise (or sunset, depending on your preferences) on a desolate beach and listening to the sea sounds. The most popular locations include Langeron, Otrada, Arcadia and Zolotiy Bereg. Beach chairs rent usually costs UAH 50-150, which roughly equals 2-5 euros. You can rent one or bring your own warm blanket along with a picnic basket full of delicacies.
Visit Shustoff Cognac Winery Museum
One of the surprisingly inexpensive things to do in Odesa is a tour in Shustoff Cognac Winery Museum. The history of Shustoff brand dates back to 1863 when Nikolai Shustov founded his own distilling enterprise. During the first years of the production, the product range included wine, liqueur, nastoykas and spotykach.
Nowadays, Shustoff specializes in cognacs and even has a special line to commemorate 110 years since the day Shustov received the Grand Prix at the wine-tasting competition in Paris. The tour in the Cognac museum offers visitors to explore 6 rooms, where they can witness the history of Shustov dynasty, original process of winemaking, history of Odesa cognac factory, as well as an art bar. The price of a tour with degustation starts at UAH 200 or 7 euros.
Listen to street musicians
Like many European cities, Odesa has spots usually occupied by street musicians. Those are Dumska square, Grecheska square or Primorsky Boulevard, where young and old artists perform the classic Odesa songs along with international music hits. Odesa wouldn't be Odesa if there weren't any quirks: among the musicians, tourists can spot a musician that plays an old Ukrainian instrument bandura and even an eccentric old man playing his music with help of bottles and steel bars.
Exploring courtyards always falls on the lists of the best things to do in Odesa. Indeed, skipping the city's cozy and hidden yards can in a way be compared to skipping Montmartre streets in Paris. For many years, life in Odesa bustled in these very courtyards, where people gathered to discuss the latest news, kids played around the whole day and housekeepers hanged bedsheets to dry.
Nowadays many of them still carry the same purpose while others stay merely a reminder of bygone days. The yards are pretty easy to find by yourself: for instance on 30, Nezhynska Street Marazlievska street; 33, Dvorianska street; 35, Pushkinska street or Vorontsov Alley near the famous Witch House.
Ride the Odesa Funicular
The famous Potemkin Stairs are one of the most-visited tourist landmarks in Odesa. Built in 1837 as a gift of Prince Vorontsov to his wife, the stairs survived two world wars and are regularly renovated to stand at least a hundred years more. The top of the 192 steps opens a scenic view of the Black Sea, the Gulf of Odesa and the Sea Port. Many people who easily get to the bottom of the stairs dread climbing back again.
Luckily, you can ride the oldest funicular in Ukraine that is located nearby. Odesa Funicular was opened in 1902 and lured in the brave souls who wanted to test this transport. Nowadays the funicular introduces modern technologies - you can pay for the ride with your phone or via PayPass. The funicular ride costs UAH 3 or around 9 euro cents.
The funicular is not to be confused with Odesa cableway located on Frantsuzkyi Boulevard. The 425-meter transport allows a quick passage from the city center to the seaside, namely Otrada beach. The cableway works through April-October and a ride costs UAH 40 (around 1 euro).
Visit the House of Scientists
To answer the question "What to do in Odesa if you love museums?” let's look at the House of Scientists. While the name itself suggests it's a typical post-Soviet establishment, in fact, the museum is a mansion with many luxurious halls. Its history dates back to 1831 when the building was constructed in the Russian classicism style building. It used to belong to the count Michael Tolstoy, a well-known Odesa benefactor. The luxurious mansion was the first building in Odesa to have a telephone line.
The two-story building has numerous halls to visit and marvel at the rich decor. At the moment, the Oak, Walnut and Silk living rooms are open for excursions. The second floor is occupied by a gorgeous White Hall, which still carries the vibe of the old Odesa elite. The Marble hall hosts one of the most expensive exhibits of the mansion: an old piano estimated to cost €500 000. The instrument is not only incredibly expensive but also carries historical value: the famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt performed his works on it.
Nowadays the House of Scientists hosts numerous art exhibitions and music concerts, most of them are free to visit. You can check out the schedule beforehand on the museum's site in Russian.
Enjoy local seafood
One of the most iconic locations that now went beyond Odesa's borders is Ryba u Vohni ("Fish on Fire") restaurant. The menu is comprised in a way that visitors can choose among the international seafood classics like carpaccio or fish steaks, or opt for the Odesa classics - the Black Sea mussels in tomato sauce, fried Mullus, forshmak, pilaf and others. The prices mostly range from UAH 70 to UAH 320 (2-9 euros) for a dish. You can also order a glass of wine to top off the dinner - the prices start at UAH 80 (2 euros) for a glass of homemade wine.
Discover the Secrets of Underground Odesa Museum
Among the top 10 things to do in Odesa on a low budget is another location that has a surprisingly decent price. The Odesa museum called Secrets of Underground offers a 2,5-3-hour tour in Odesa catacombs. The extensive network used to serve as a conduit for smugglers, prison, hidden revolutionary meeting location and even anti-nuclear bunkers.
The catacombs are opened for exploration with an experienced English-speaking guide. Many visitors left positive reviews on TripAdvisor regarding the tour organizing, interesting trivia and excellent language skills of the museum's guide Igor Kalinin. The price of a tour starts at UAH 250 (around 8 euros). You can contact the museum's managers to find out the exact cost.
Naturally, there aren't the only free or cheap things to do in Odesa. The city has many spots, so don't be afraid to explore on your own.
Photo sources: depositphotos.com, Ilya Varlamov / zyalt.livejournal.com, villa-angel.com.ua, Denis Belenko / behance.com.