18 must-visit places in Crimea

18 must-visit places in Crimea

Horses in front of the ancient fortress of Sudak in Crimea

Crimea may be in the spotlight these days, it is still off most traveler’s radars for security reasons (even though it is actually safe) and a huge lack of up-to-date information.

If the peninsula is on your buket list (if it’s not, keep reading, you will soon be convinced to add it) here’s my list of the 18 must-see places in Crimea so you can get inspired and plan your next Adventure !

Note : I’ve visited all these places while solo backpacking Crimea in 2022. I’ve included locations on Google maps as well and Yandex maps (the one you should definitely use while travelling the peninsula) and some of my favourite food and sleeping addresses.

Last updated : 21/04/2024

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1 – Sevastopol

Севастополь | Let’s start with the obvious : Sevastopol. This is the best place to start your Crimean adventure. Home to Chersones an ancient greek city, large battery forts turned into museums, and the russian black sea fleet daily parading for epic sunset views. It is such a pleasant city that even if you’re not a history buff, you will enjoy it.

Sevastopol is one of the best russian city out there, you will fall in love with the place for sure !

  • How to get there : Trains are available from Russia mainland as well as long distance buses from Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Sochi etc. Any Crimean city and town has multiple daily buses to Sevastopol.
  • Time : 2 days is the minimum to visit Sevastopol. The city is also a great base for day trips to cape Fiolent, Inkerman, Balaklava etc …
  • Where to stay : I highly recommend Khostel v tsenter (“central hostel”) for budget accomodation.
  • Location on Yandex maps

A detailed Sevastopol travel guide is available for free in the content library.

2 – Cape Fiolent

Мыс Фиолент | Cape Fiolent is no doubt one of Crimea’s most breathtaking place. It offers a stunning panorama of the surrounding coast. Rather easily accessible from Sevastopol if you don’t mind the bus overcrowded with babushkas.

A short hike takes you from Fiolent to Georgievsky monastery. An 800 staircase goes down to Yashmovy beach. Make sure to go on a sunny day !

  • How to get there : From the “5 kilometers” bus station in Sevastopol, take the bus N°3.

    Yandex maps shows the exact route.
  • Time : It’s a perfect day (or half a day) trip from Sevastopol.
  • Location on Yandex maps

3 – Balaklava

Балаклава | Balaklava is surrounded by mountains and its location is basically invisible from the sea. Over the course of its 2500 years old history, this naturally hidden bay went from a Genovese trading post to a british settlement during the Crimean war and a secret soviet submarine base.

Today it’s a very pleasant little town where you can go for a boat tour to the nearby beaches, climb up to the ruins of the genovese fortress of Cembalo, visit the Nuclear Bunker/Cold War museum, start (or finish) the Great Sevastopol Trail, and have sea food and wine in one of the many restaurants on the port.

  • How to get there : Multiple daily buses from Sevastopol 5 kilometers bus station.
  • Time : A day is enough to visit but you could sleep-in, there’s a few hotels.
  • Where to eat : I had super tasty seafood in a small café called “Rybny-Vyny” (fish & wine) on a backstreet near the sea seaside. Highly recommend.
  • Location on Yandex maps

4 – Bakhchisarai

Бахчисарай | Bakhchisarai, the historical capital of the Crimean khanate is sure to spice up your journey with oriental vibes ! Located along the Churyuk-Su river, the old town (the rest of it is rather sleepy) is where you will find remnants of the khanate.

Tour the Khan’s palace and its gardens, then make you way up to the Chufut-Kale jewish fortress built on a plateau. On the way you can also visit the Holy Assumption monatesry.

There are many hiking trails in the area, proper shoes and water are recommended to roam around Chufut-Kale.

  • How to get there : Multiple daily buses from Sevastopol or Simferopol main bus station to Bakhchisarai.
  • Time : It takes a full day to visit the old town, the Khan’s palace and Chufut – Kale. I recommend to stay a few days if you like hiking.
  • Where to eat : I had Tatar food at the Eskisheer restaurant. Nice service and cosy traditional outside seating tables.
  • Location on Yandex maps

5 – Mangup – Kale

Мангуп-Кале | The impressive ancient fortress of Mangup – Kale is built on a plateau and believed to date from the 3rd century. Due to its strategic advantages, it was controlled over the centuries by different tribes. In the 13th century the Crimean greeks turned it into the Independant Principality of Theodoros.

It was under the Mongols conquest that Theodoros was known as Mangup-Kale. The Ottoman Turks managed to take the city in the 15th century after half a year siege.

Today you can visit the ruins of the fortress and religious sites such as orthodox monasteries, churches, a mosque and a Karaim kenassa.

There is a 30 kilometers or so hike from Bakhchisarai through Chufut-Kale and Tepe Kerman to Mangup-Kale.

  • How to get there : Several daily buses from Sevastopol 5 kilometers bus station go to Mangup-Kale with a connection half way. Check Yandex maps for the detailed route.
  • Time : It’s a nice day trip from Sevastopol
  • Location on Yandex maps

6 – Evpatoria

Евпатория | The underrated town of Evpatoria (also spelled Yevpatoria) is home to the last ottoman era old town in Crimea. A place not to miss ! It is a delight to follow the “Little Jerusalem” route to discover the Juma-Jami mosque built in the 16th century, the Jewish Karaite kenassa, the 15th century Dervish Tekiye monastery (no more dervishes though), the Yegiya Kapay synagogue and the Gezlev gate.

Truly a little Jerusalem, minus the overcrowd of tourists and israeli soldiers of course.

PS: I adored Evpatoria, I found it much more peaceful and agreable than the towns of the southern coast.

  • How to get there : Daily buses from Simferopol bus station and from Sevastopol North bus station.
  • Time : Allow a couple of days to explore the old town and the sandy beaches of Kalamita Bay.
  • Where to sleep : I highly recommend the Khostel N°1, located right next to the Juma-Jami mosque and old town. Dorm and double rooms available. The manager Vicky speaks english and is lovely.
  • Where to eat : Gezlev Doner for delicious halal food right in front of the mosque and Karaman café next to the kenassa for unusual yet very tasty karaite food.
  • Location on Yandex maps

7 – Ai-Petri

Ай-Петри | One of the most popular natural place in Crimea, Mount Ai-Petri is a 1234 meters high peak located in the Yalta Mountain Forest Reserve. The view of the coast from up there is gorgeous.

Easily reachable by cable car (not working if windy), taxi, organised tour or even on foot. The snow covers the summit from winter to spring and I recommend to avoid going there if the weather is cloudy or rainy, you will miss the spectacular view.

Tip : take a winder breaker jacket, it gets chilly up there even in the middle of summer

People walking the suspended brigde to mount Ai Petri in Crimea
  • How to get there : Daily buses from Yalta to Alupka. Then take the cable car.
  • Time : Half a day trip from Yalta or a full day if you enjoy hiking around.
  • It gets very crowded during the high season.
  • Location on Yandex maps

8 – Yalta

Ялта | The most popular Crimean resort is exactly as the 2013 Bradt guide described it : “a tourist trap”. It’s overcrowded and overpriced, yet the town is rather nice : plenty of food places, a new and clean embankment to walk along the sea side.

Yalta is a great base to make day trips to the surrounding castles. The town was the cure for any poor constitution russian aristocrates back in the 19th century and the area is now doted with exentric castles and fancy dachas.

I found Yalta much overrated, yet I’d recommend to go for the mountains coverred of forests that seem to fall into the sea, the local market that was by far the best I visited in the peninsula and Lenin’s embankment where at every sunset babushkas gather to dance the waltz under the supervision of a huge granite Lenin.

According to locals and recurrent tourits, the city has much MUCH improved since the russian takeover of 2014.

  • How to get there : Long distance buses are available from Russia mainland cities such as Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Sochi etc. Any Crimean city and town has multiple daily buses to Yalta.
  • Time : Not much to see in Yalta itself but the sights nearby need at least a couple of days.
  • Where to stay : I recommend Botkinsky hostel for budget accomodation. Central, quiet and super clean.
  • Location on Yandex maps

9 – Swallow’s nest palace

Замок Ласточкино гнездо | Swallow’s nest is a mini-castle (yep, it’s not as big as it seems on picture) at the top of a cliff on cape Ai-Todor.

Back in the 19th century there was a wooden dacha already hanging there. In 1912 some German oil magnate built instead this gothic style castle as a gift to his mistress. It was partly destroyed by an earthquake and the castle we see today dates from the 1970’s.

Now it serves as a museum with various small exhibitions and cultural programs. Make sure to go on a sunny day, fantastic views of the coast await you !

Swallow's nest palace on the Black Sea coast next to Yalta Crimea
  • How to get there : Jump on a bus N°132 from Yalta towards Alupka. They stop right in front of the souvenir stalls. Take the stairs on the left and walk about 10 minutes to reach the caslte.

    There are apparently ferries from Yalta peer during the summer season.
  • Time : A couple of hours will do.
  • Price : free to walk all the way to the entrance of the castle then 200₽ to get in.
  • Location on Yandex maps
  • Official website
  • Note : it is crowded during the high season.

10 – Sudak Genovese fortress

Судакская крепость | Sudak was a major stop on the silk road and the Genovese built this massive fortress to protect their trades. About 2 kilometers of walls remain to this day with dozens of towers still left standing.

The fortress is truly impressive, I was surpised by the good state of it, it was clean and well organised with museums in some of the towers. During the high season, a small medieval festival takes place with stalls and performances.

Sudak is an overcrowded little resort but its fortress is well worth the visit !

Genovese fortress Sudak
  • How to get there : Bus from any Crimean major town or city such as Kerch, Feodossia, Yalta or Sevastopol.
  • Time : A couple of hours to half a day
  • Price : entrance fee 300₽
  • Official website
  • Tip : base yourself a couple of days in Sudak or Novy Svet just a few kilometes away to have time to explore the area.
  • Location on Yandex maps

11 – Livadia Palace

Ливадийский дворец | The must-visit palace in Crimea in my opinion is Livadia palace : it’s beautiful and full of history !

You can freely roam around the garden overlooking the sea and visit a place of historical significance where the 1945 Yalta conference took place. This is where the “Big Three” naming Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin decided on the future of Europe, splitting Germany in two, and giving parts of Poland to the Soviet Union.

A controversial “Big Three” monument representing bronze statues of the three leaders was erected in 2015 behind the palace to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 1945 conference. Speculators say Stalin’s is slightly taller than the two others.

Among the many reasons why the monument is controversial is the fact that the entire Crimean Tatar population was deported to Central Asia under Stalin after being wrongly accused of collaboration with the Nazis. In case you can’t spot the monument, it is located right here.

  • How to get there : Buses N°122 and 132 from Yalta to Livadia village.
  • Time : A few hours is needed to visit the palace and its garden.
  • Price : The garden is free to roam around, the entrance into the palace is 200₽.
  • Official website
  • Location on Yandex maps

12 – Vorontsov Palace

Воронцовский дворец | Built by the Count Vorontsov in the mid 19th century, this bizarre looking castle is a blend of Scottish and oriental style. Quite unique ! The palace and its amazing garden full of exotic species are the main sight of Alupka resort.

The interior of the palace is of english style as Vorontsov was educated in England. Lots of little trails can be found around the park surrounding the caslte, take your time to explore it !

In 1945 Churchill stayed there. Legend has it that he joked one of the lion marble statue near the castle looked like him.

  • How to get there : Bus N°102 from Yalta right to the entrance of the castle’s park.
  • Time : a few hours are needed to visit the palace and its park
  • Price : free to roam around the garden. 250₽ to visit the palace.
  • Official website
  • Location on Yandex maps

13 – Kertch

Керчь | Kerch is the first town you will come by when entering Crimea. It’s very peaceful during the holiday season compare to the rest of the Crimean coastal towns.

It was the capital of the ancient Bosporan Kingdom (around 5th to 2nd century BC). If you’re a history enthusiat, you will love it.

Visit the Byzantine church of Saint John the Baptist dating from the 8th century, climb up the 400+ stairs to the Mithridat Hill for awesome views, explore the ruins of the Yeni – Kale fortress built by the Ottoman Turks and a few burial grounds of Bosporian Kings (Melek Chesmensky tomb and Tsarsky Kurgan).

There are plenty of ancient greek and scythian sites to discover !

  • How to get there : Long distance buses from Krasnodar or other cities in Russia mainland as well as Crimean cities and towns such as Feodossia, Yalta, Simferopol etc
  • Tip : There are not so many accomodation in Kerch as in other towns of Crimea, if you travel during the high season it might be wise to book a little bit in advance or you might end up sleeping in a crappy place like I did (I had to pay 100 extra rubles for a shower in my so called hotel in a dodgy part of town).
  • The Bosporian Golden Ring project
  • Location on Yandex maps

14 – Foros

Форос | Foros is a popular little resort on the southern coast. It’s reknown for its golden onion Resurection church built on a cliff by some rich nobleman in the 19th century after his daughter’s horse went wild and luckily for her, stopped right at the edge of the cliff.

To get even more scenic views of the coast and church, head to the Baydar gate, a mountain pass on the 19th century Yalta – Sevastopol highway. If you hike the Great Sevastopol Trail, you will pass right next to it. Don’t miss it out ! (plus there’s a restaurant there in case you’re tired of you hiking food).

Fun fact : Gorbachev was put under house arrest in 1991 in his Foros dacha.

  • How to get there : Bus N°128 from Yalta and N°55 Sevastopol. The later seems a best and more frequent bus route.
  • Time : Can be visited on a day trip from Sevastopol.
  • Location on Yandex maps

15 – Golitsyn trail in Novy Svet

Тропа Голицына – Novy Svet was the property of Prince Lev Golitsyn, a russian aristocrat/winemaker. He went broke trying to make champagne popular in Russia and was commissioned by Tsar Nikolai II to build the Massandra winery near Yalta.

Golitsyn ordered a path to be build along the Koba – Kaya hill all the way to Cape Kapchik for the visit or the Tsar in 1912.

The almost 6 kilometers long seaside trail takes you through the Novy Svet Reserve by mount Orel with breathtaking views of the coast all the way.

  • How to get there : Daily buses N°5 and 15 from Sudak to Novy Svet.
  • Time : About 2 hours or so to hike the trail
  • Price : It is supposed to be free but during the high season there’s an entrance free. However if you arrive before (8:30 or 9am) the openning of said “ticket office” you won’t have to pay anything.
  • Tip : it might be slippery so wear proper shoes.
  • Location on Yandex maps

16 – Gurzuf

Гурзуф | Gurzuf may well be one of Crimea cuttest little town. Its winding streets, old wooden houses and hanging balconies are giving it Mediterranean vibes. Once upon a time, this is what all of Crimea used to look like.

One could easily spend a couple of days roaming around Gurzuf streets, visiting Chekov’s dacha, Pushkin’s museum and joying the peble beach with a view on the Ayu – Dag mountain.

  • How to get there : Daily buses from Yalta and Alushta
  • Time : It can be visited on a day-trip from Yalta but the town is so enjoyable that you might wish to stay overnight.
  • Location on Yandex maps

17 – Feodossia

Феодосия | Feodossia was founded in the 6th century BC by the Greeks, hence the name. When the Genovese took over they renamed it Kaffa and built a fortress to protect the Silk Road trades. Some walls and towers are still standing and can be visited.

The Mongols brought the plague and some of the suburbs of today’s city are even named “Quarantine” and “Chumka” (plague).

In the 19th century russian aristocrats built fancy dachas facing the sea like the famous dacha Stamboli.

Fun fact : the reknown russian-armenian painter Ivan Aivazovsky was born and died in Feodossia, and of course there’s a museum were you can see a large collection of his work.

  • How to get there : Daily buses from Kerch, Yalta and other cities in Crimea and Russia mainland.
  • Time : Allow a day or two to visit the city. I recommend to stay overnight.
  • Where to stay : I’ve stayed at the “Religious complex guesthouse“. Cheap single rooms and central.
  • Location on Yandex maps

18 – Simferopol

Simferopol isn’t the most touristy city in Crimea but I think it deserves to be listed here because it’s the capital after all.

The city is quite pleasant for a day with some nice museums to visit such as the Scythian Neapolis Museum Reserve and the Taurida central museum to learn more about the Scythian and Greek history of Crimea.

Also, don’t miss the 16th century Kebi-Jami Tatar mosque dating from the time of Ak-Mechet, the town on which Simferopol was built on.

  • How to get there : Trains are available from Russia mainland as well as long distance buses from Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Sochi etc. Any Crimean city and town has multiple daily buses to Simferopol.
  • Time : Allow a day to roam around and visit the museums
  • Where to stay : I hight recommend Fortuna Hostel for budget accomodation. It’s located in the old town.
  • Where to eat : I highly recommend Starik Khinkalych for super tasty yet inexpensive georgian cuisine
  • Weather : Simferopol is one of Crimea’s most rainy city. The streets were flooded for a couple of hours when I visited.
  • There’s a tiny currency exchange office near the train and bus stations.
  • Location on Yandex maps
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Turskish fortress in Kerch, Crimea
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