The historic Ukrainian resort city of Yalta is one of the key ports of call on a number of voyages which explore the Dnieper River as it winds its way to the beautiful Crimean coast. Yalta can trace its settlement history back to the time of the Greeks, when a group of sailors first settled there, though over the years it’s been in the hands of both the Ottoman Empire and the Soviet Union. Indeed, its subtropical climate and idyllic coastal location ensured its reputation as the go-to holiday resort for Russians throughout much of the 20th century, though its place in the spotlight truly arrived when the Yalta Conference of 1945 was held there. This landmark meeting saw the USA , the United Kingdom and Russia come together to decide the organisation of Europe after the Second World War had ended.
To get a feel for Yalta, soak up some rays and enjoy the region’s resort charm which clearly still emanates today, a stroll along Lenin Embankment is essential. This is the city’s main promenade and one of its oldest streets, home to a wealth of bars, restaurants and shops and also a great place to watch ships come in and out of the bay. From here, you can also board a cable car to the top of Darsan Hill, which offers some great views of both the city and the Black Sea.
The Nikita Botanical Gardens are one of the city’s biggest attractions and it’s perhaps no surprise to find such a natural oasis here, considering the area’s famously temperate climate. The gardens are beautiful and home to a huge array of exotic plants including Bonsai, cacti and also a butterfly house. As well as their fabulous flora, the gardens offer some incredible ocean views too, completing the idyllic natural picture and ensuring that they’re a popular choice for tourists and locals alike. Those who favour fauna over flora should make their way to Yalta’s zoo, another popular attraction which is well maintained and home to a variety of animals.
Another tourist favourite is the Chekhov House and Museum, which is the former home of the celebrated Russian author and dramatist Anton Chekhov. Everything has been kept pretty much as it was when Chekhov lived and worked there and it offers an intriguing glimpse into his life as well as being home to a charming garden which you are also free to explore.
Yalta is also home to a number of key architectural attractions, many of which are faith buildings built in the Russian Orthodox style. With its gleaming gold domes, St Alexander Cathedral is one of the most popular, featuring incredible architecture and a construction overseen by numerous tsars throughout history. The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is a completely different place of worship architecturally and is well-known for its organ recitals. Elsewhere, the Armenian Church is certainly a must for architecture afficionados, being the work of the celebrated architect and painter Vardges Surenyants and home to some beautifully ornate interiors.
It perhaps won’t come as a surprise that the vodka is very good in Yalta, but it’s also great for wine-lovers and offers a chance to pick up or sample some lesser-known vintages during your visit.