The Crimean peninsula in the north of the Black Sea is best known for its Mediterranean south coast, which is lined with numerous health resorts and holiday destinations. But Crimea also offers mountain tours, magnificent tsarist castles, ancient sites and idyllic nature reserves in addition to beach and sea.
The Crimean peninsula, the part of Ukraine that juts into the Black Sea in the north, is one of the country's most popular holiday regions. The autonomous republic of Ukraine, covering a good 26,000 square kilometres, is the largest peninsula in Ukraine and borders the Sea of Azov in the north-east. Whether you are looking for action, culture or relaxation, whether alone, as a couple or as a family, Crimea has the ideal destination for every need.
Table of contents
Tourism in Crimea
The tsars and the Russian high nobility already appreciated the pleasant Mediterranean climate of the Crimean peninsula in the 19th century and had their summer residences built - especially on the Black Sea on the south coast.
The Liwadija Palace on the Crimean peninsula was built in 1910 and served as the summer residence of Russia's last tsar.
Word quickly spread about the Crimean peninsula as a holiday and recreation resort and it soon became the destination of important artists, writers and other representatives of the Russian upper class who could afford it. At the time of the Soviet Union, Crimea was also discovered as a health resort and recorded up to 10 million guests in the summer months. Even today, the spas on Crimea's south coast are popular holiday destinations.
With Ukraine 's independence from Russia, the number of visitors dropped sharply, but tourism in Crimea is on the rise and is gradually being discovered by Western holidaymakers as well - who knows how long Crimea will remain a tourist insider tip!
Best time to visit the Crimean Peninsula
The climate in Crimea can be compared to the Côte d'Azur in France, the south of Italy or the coast of Croatia. Crimea offers the best bathing weather between May and September. Then the air temperature is around 30°C and the water temperature around 25°C. There is hardly any rainfall during the summer months.
Highlights of Crimea - Beaches, Mountains, Ruins and Palaces
The most visited region of the Crimean peninsula is its southern coast with Yalta as the tourist centre. The area between the Crimean Mountains and the Black Sea is blessed with an above-average number of sunny days, above all the probably best-known Crimean resort of Yevpatoriya with 2,440 hours of sunshine per year (for comparison: the Greek island of Corfu can boast about 2,500 hours of sunshine). Crimea's fantastic coastline offers over 500 kilometres of inviting bays, pure beach feeling and sunsets at their best - best enjoyed with a glass of sparkling Crimean champagne!
Away from the coast, Crimea boasts a varied landscape of mountains, karst caves, river landscapes and waterfalls, some regions of which are protected nature reserves. And amateur archaeologists and culture lovers don't miss out on Crimea either, as the Crimean peninsula has been settled for thousands of years and counts Scythians, Greeks, Romans, the Mongolian "Golden Horde", Crimean Tartars, Ottomans and Russians among its rulers. Monuments, from the ruins of the ancient city of Khersones to the magnificent Tsarist palaces of Livadiya, Vorontsov and Massandra, tell Crimea's turbulent history from ancient Greece to modern Ukraine.
A ride on the trolley bus
A must for any visitor to Crimea is a ride on the longest trolley bus line in the world. These overhead-powered buses run between Yalta, Alushta and the Crimean capital Simferopol. The line also runs through the Crimean mountains, among other places, from where dreamlike views of the famous 1234m-high Ai-Petri, which got its bizarre appearance from a former coral reef, and the Black Sea open up.
The largest city on the Crimean peninsula has long been a bone of contention between Russia and Ukraine. The Russian Black Sea Fleet, which has been anchored on Ukrainian territory leased from Russia since the collapse of the USSR, is still stationed here today. Sevastopol is visited by about half a million tourists every year, who appreciate not only the subtropical temperatures of up to 40 degrees, but also the more than 2,000 monuments, the magnificent churches and the modern buildings of Sevastopol.
Simferopol is the second largest city on the peninsula after Sevastopol and the capital of the autonomous Republic of Crimea. The cultural and scientific centre in the heart of the peninsula is one of the most beautiful cities in Crimea with its monuments and parks, and its numerous museums tell the turbulent history of the Crimean peninsula.
Kerch, the third largest city on the Crimean peninsula after Sevastopol and Simferopol. It is located in the very east of the peninsula on the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov. Kerch is one of the oldest cities in the world and is extremely rich in cultural and historical heritage. As a stop on the Silk Road, Kerch is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Spas in Crimea
The Mediterranean climate and the wonderful mountain air have given rise to a number of health resorts with numerous spas and sanatoriums on the southern coast of Crimea, first and foremost the extremely popular resort of Yalta. Especially patients with respiratory or nervous diseases find relief in the beautiful landscape and on the picturesque beaches. The cosy, dreamy Crimean spas naturally also attract numerous guests to the Black Sea coast in search of relaxation.
Among the most popular resorts are Yevpatoriya, with its magnificent mosque one of the most beautiful towns in the whole of Ukraine, Foros, known for its striking Red Rock and its Church of the Assumption of Christ, pine-covered Alupka at the foot of the rugged Ai-Petri with the magnificent Vorontsov Castle, Hursuf, Crimea's oldest settlement, Alushta, with numerous parks the "greenest city in Crimea", Sudak, known for its excellent wines and gigantic fortress, and Feodosiya with its magnificent buildings from the Middle Ages.
Festivals in Crimea
However, Crimea is not only about relaxation, a few times a year there is also pure action. Probably the biggest spectacle on the Crimean peninsula is Kazantip, a techno festival that attracts thousands of dance-loving fans every year. Also known as the "Orange Republic", it is the Ukrainian answer to the German Love Parade. Kazantip takes place in the small coastal town of Popovka, west of Yevpatoriya, which is expanded to include its own festival town for this purpose from mid-July to the end of August.
The second well-known music event in Crimea is the "Jazz Koktebel", by now a real symbol of the Koktebel settlement of the same name. In this relatively small place, up to 20,000 tourists listen to modern, ethnic and jazz music every year.