Crimea

Crimea (Russian: Крым, Ukrainian: Крим, Crimean Tatar: Qırım, Къырым) is a peninsula jutting into the Black Sea. We treat it here as a region of Russia because Russia controls the area, but see also the boxed text below.

The Crimean Peninsula is connected to Ukraine by two narrow necks of land, making it more like an island with two natural land bridges than simply a bit of land jutting out into the sea. A ferry-boat connects over the 5 km broad Kerch strait, to the Taman Peninsula in mainland Russia.

Russia’s long-time summer playground, Crimea has seen various expressions of holiday spirit. Here is the fanciful 1912 Swallow’s Nest between Yalta and Alupka: summer retreat of an early oil baron.

The political status of the Crimea is a controversial and sensitive issue; Russia has controlled the region since March 2014, annexed it and considers it Russian territory, but Ukraine still claims it and the U.N. and most other governments support its claim. This is only one of a complex set of issues in an ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

Wikivoyage does not take a position on these disputes; we aim to deal only with the practical issues of travel:

  • Crimea is under the de facto control of the Russian Federation. Any visit will require a Russian visa, and most visitors will reach the area via Russia.
  • To the Ukrainian government, entering Crimea on a Russian visa is illegal entry to Ukrainian territory. If you later try to visit Ukraine and show any evidence of your travel to Crimea, you could be refused entry or arrested and fined.
  • Security is tight throughout the region. Visitors should exercise caution in dealing with police and officials, and should avoid photographing anything with military significance.
  • Consular services are unavailable for voyagers from most nations. Western embassies in Moscow are accredited to cover Russia, but they exclude Crimea on the grounds that it legally belongs to Ukraine. Western embassies in Kiev may have no means to reach or help you in an emergency.
  • Some nations have sanctions in place against Russia which may affect travellers. Don’t expect Western payment cards or mobile telephones to work in Crimea. Anyone considering doing business in the area should check their own government’s rules first. Also check Russian rules; they block some things such as import of Western foodstuffs.
  • Unlike some areas of eastern Ukraine, the Crimea is not (as of January 2017) an area of active military conflict.

Some governments have travel advisories for the area: US, UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, Ireland

The peninsula was the site of the “bloodless” Russian invasion of 2014, where outnumbered and infiltrated Ukrainian troops for the most part had no choice but to surrender the entire Crimea to Russian troops. There is not yet a common name for this event.

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Map of Crimea

  • The Coastal Beach Cities — The coastal beach cities are very hospitable to tourists if you speak Russian. Accommodation is plentiful and prices range widely, depending on location and accommodation type. Despite there being nothing particularly cheap listed online, touts offering cheap rooms and apartments are a good way to find budget accommodation. Also look for houses advertising accommodation: they will usually have a large white sign stuck on the door that has about three words written in Cyrillic (unfortunately wording varies). During summer expect the beaches to be packed with mostly Russian tourists. Behind the beaches the Coastal Mountains tower up to 1,500 m above the towns.
  • The Coastal Mountains — The mountain area that stretches from the coast to about 70 km (43 mi) inland contains some very pristine untouched nature. The mountains are formed by ragged limestone that has been shaped into high peaks with canyons, cliffs and valleys transecting them in all directions. Expect a great adventure if you want to go hiking here, but also expect to rough it. Camping sites are few and far between so you’ll probably have to just find one of the many secluded fields to camp in. The area has numerous caves as well as small lakes. There are almost no marked trails
  • The Sea of Azov and Kerch — Gateway to Russia across the Kerch Strait.
  • The Inland Plains — Fairly flat farm land like much of the rest of Ukraine and Western Russia. Looks nice while passing through it by train.
  • 44.95234.1021 Simferopol — The capital. The train station is very clean and beautiful. For the most part this is a place of transit to the coast or to the mountains. It is famous for having the world’s longest trolley bus service of 86 km (53 mi).
  • 44.67734.4091 Alushta — The first beach city on the way to Yalta from the west, this city does not have much in it except old boat docks that have been transformed into beaches.
  • 44.75433.8521 Bakhchysarai — A former Crimean capital, in a canyon between Simferopol and Sevastopol, with a wealth of interesting sites to see including the Crimean Tatar Khan’s palace, the cave cities (Kachi-Kalion, Chufut-Kale, Eski-Kermen, Shuldan) and the Armenian monastery, built in a cave.
The abandoned Jewish cemetery in Feodosiya
  • 45.04235.3741 Feodosiya — Feodosiya is 100 km (62 mi) to the east of Simferopol. From the outskirts it looks like an urban industrial disaster but once past the factories it has a very nice old town. Very similar to Odessa in architecture but just on a smaller scale. Home to the Ayvazovsky Picture Gallery.
  • 45.36236.4721 Kerch — Your last stop before reaching the eastern edge of the Crimea and heading across the straits into the rest of Russia.
  • 45.429835.82181 Shcholkine
  • 44.633.5041 Sevastopol — A major port for the Russian Black sea fleet. Given the title ‘Hero City’ for its resistance to the Nazis during World War II. Numerous monuments to the past’s military exploits. Nice shops.
Letters Sevastopol on Railroad Station
  • 44.49934.1591 Yalta — A very beautiful city containing many of the Russian Czar’s palaces and other great monuments. Twinned with Margate in England amongst other places. Yalta is a tourist hotspot, which contains a mixture of Soviet hotels and modern high rise apartments. Yalta was once the main holiday destination for many Russians before they were allowed to travel outside the Soviet Bloc.
  • 45.19533.3631 Yevpatoria — an ancient city with more that 2500 years of history, named after King Mithridates VI “Eupator” of Pontus, a contemporary of the Roman Empire.

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