Alushta – a thousand-year-old fortress, the Valley of Ghosts and the Crimea in the palm of your hand
Any seaside town – it’s a cozy squares, cats, the sun, the smell of the sea and seagulls. And also the crowds of holidaymakers and literally crowded beaches. But Alushta stands out of all the resort towns inexpressible atmosphere and beauty of nature. Here is one of the largest aquariums in Europe, vineyards surrounded by green mountains, a unique thousand-year-old fortress, and a real Valley of Ghosts.
I live in Yalta and consistently spend a few days in Alushta every month. I will tell you how to relax in the city, what to do and what sights to see. Tips are relevant not only for summer but also for spring or fall, because Alushta is always good. In my opinion, at this time is even better than in summer.
Alushta attractions: what to see and where to go
The history of the city began in the VI century AD when the descendants of the Germanic Goths and Alans built the fortress of Aluston. From Greek the name is translated as “draught”, which is not surprising, because in the mountains of Alushta is almost always very windy.
Comfortable resort, which we see now, Alushta became after 1945, when they began to actively put in order the beaches, building new resorts, hotels and restaurants. There was an opportunity not only to rest on the sea, but also to walk the mountain trails. Now every corner of the city is already explored and ready to receive tourists.
See the map of attractions and plan your own route of your walk.
Alushta embankment is quite long, almost 4 km. These are both the Naberezhnaya Street itself, which stretches along the coast, and its continuation – Lenin Street.
During the walk you will see elegant lanterns, tents with souvenirs and, perhaps, street musicians. And also – a lot of flowerbeds with bright colors – thanks to the mild climate, even in winter something blooms in the city. Often artists come out to the sea and draw landscapes and passersby. You can park your car along the road – there are always places even in summer, they are marked and suitable even for large cars
Along the way you will come across small cafes for a bite or a full lunch/dinner. Some of them are closed for the winter, but there are some that are open all year round.
The beaches are 90% pebble. Sometimes you can find sand by the water, but it is not enough. So take some slippers or rubber slippers if you’re going to swim.
The descents to the beaches are standard stairs and railings. Each beach is divided into sectors by breakwaters.
For walks is better to choose a day when the sky is not gray – then the color of the sea changes. And the bright colors on the background of the blue expanse just look great. Free stock photo by Damnikia
On the waterfront is the famous Alushta rotunda, near which tourists are often photographed. Its history is quite interesting. Rotunda appeared in the 50’s, when it was necessary to urgently restore the houses, infrastructure in the city, but there was not enough cement even for residential buildings. At that time, the secretary of the city party committee was a young woman, Nina Petrovna Velikanova. She was born in 1917, so she was the same age as the October Revolution. Engineer A. V. Griso came to her and brought her an unusual project. He said that it would be a visiting card of the city, showed ready calculations and estimates.
What exactly Velikanova liked the project, it is hard to say now. But with her light hand Alushta residents have collected funds and materials to install rotunda Griso. So there was a symbol for those who longed for beauty and aesthetics in the postwar period.
In addition to the rotunda, Griso also prepared a sketch for the improvement of the entire promenade.
Rotunda – the largest and most expressive structure on the waterfront. And you can immediately see where you have arrived.
On the part of the city center near the embankment there is a small park. You have to walk along the sea, overcome a small rise, near which the Hotel Riviera is located. Just behind it there is a park.
Here is mainly southern flora – cypresses, jasmine and other plants of the subtropical zone. However, you can also find fauna here – in the form of cats, which sometimes do not even run away from the cars. Cats are an integral part of any warm city. Therefore, in Alushta, as well as on the entire southern coast of Crimea, there are a lot of them. They are tame, not afraid of people and live near stores or cafes – where you can grab some food.
You can go here at any time of year, but I recommend choosing dry days to walk comfortably on the mountain trails. You can walk there for free, but it is forbidden to burn fires and litter. From the mountain offers a magnificent view of the city, the height of Demerdzhi – 1356 m. In addition, at the top of an amazingly clean air.
You should bring some water, something to eat and, of course, a good camera.
The trail is, in fact, wild, and of the elements of civilization you will meet only rare benches. The path is earth and rocks. Depending on the season, more leaves and cones. Tourists walk there often, so the main thing is not to stray from the path, and then you will not get lost.
The length of the full ascent is about four or five kilometers. But no one makes you go all the way to the end – you can walk to the observation deck (and there are a lot of them along the route) and go back down.
You can go to the mountain on your own by simply driving a car to the foot. There is enough parking space. A more interesting option is to take a guided tour. The guide will tell you interesting facts about the mountain and show you the most beautiful places, which offer a view of the city. Tour booking points are scattered throughout the city, so it’s easy to find them – just stroll along the waterfront.
Valley of Ghosts
This is a valley with dozens of intricately shaped stones. They cast shadows that resemble the silhouettes of people, hence the unusual name. What is interesting, these stones are of natural, natural origin.
In the Valley of Ghosts is better to go in the morning or afternoon, when the sun is still or not at the zenith. Then you can see the shadows of the stones better. I recommend choosing a day when the sky is relatively clear and there is no strong wind. Then you will not have time to freeze and be able to enjoy the views.
You probably won’t be limited to a simple walk. If you’re lucky, you’ll witness an unusual and mystical phenomenon called the Brocken Ghost. It looks like a human silhouette and always appears in the opposite direction to the sun. Sometimes the shadow is very tall and often surrounded by colored rings.
It is not easy to encounter a ghost on purpose. It has to be cloudy and still need sunlight.
And also the ghost sometimes moves because of the movement of the fog. In the Altai Mountains such a phenomenon is called the Spirit of the Shaman. The reason is simple physics.
Dozens of hectares on the southern coast of Crimea, planted with grapes of different varieties – from the classic to the completely unknown and autochthonous, that is, local, which appeared here and is adapted to this region.
Right at the entrance to town, if you drive from Simferopol, you can see huge fields of vineyards.
The founder of this fortress of the VI century is considered to be the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. In the city, not once “changed the power”, came the Polovtsians, the Greeks, the Tatar-Mongols. The thickness of the walls of Aluston in some places reached two or three meters, so the fortress was considered one of the most fortified on the Black Sea.
In the X century the fortress was destroyed, presumably by the Pechenegs. Then began the decline of Aluston. We probably wouldn’t have seen this magnificent historical monument if not for the Genoese, who in the XIV century bought a piece of land along with the fortress and rebuilt it.
A hundred years later the Crimea was attacked by Turkish troops, and the city was destroyed by fire. After that the fortress was restored only at the end of XIX century by philanthropist Staheev.
Aluston is located in the center of Alushta. The entrance is free; there are often temporary exhibitions held on the territory. To learn more, visit the official website of the fortress.
Park of Miniatures
You have a unique opportunity to visit all the attractions of the Crimea in just an hour and a half. To do this, you can just come to the Park of Miniatures. Here are the main attractions of the peninsula, including the Genoese fortress, castle “Swallow’s Nest”, as well as the most beautiful temples, museums, palaces and monuments.
It is safe to go with children – they just be interesting. The price for an adult ticket – 1000 rubles, children – 700. All information is on the official site. The park of miniatures is located at Gorky Street, 7. From May to September the park works from 9 am to 11 pm, and from October to April – from 9 am to 8 pm.
Alushta Aquarium has one of the largest collections of fish in Russia – more than 250 species from all over the world, as well as three species of crocodiles, five species of crabs and eight species of turtles. There are four halls with aquatic animals and the Jungle World with exotic tropical forest inhabitants.
From May to October the Aquarium is open from 9 am to 9 pm (box office closes at 8 pm), and from November to April – from 9 am to 7 pm (box office to 6 pm). Tickets for adults costs 1000 rubles, for children – 700 rubles. For details see the official website. Address: 4 Gorky St., right under the trolleybus ticket office. Feel free to go there with the whole family.
Fans of extreme sports
If all of the above doesn’t seem enough to you or you want a thrill, take a rock climbing lesson.
Thanks to the rocky terrain of the coast in the Crimea is actively developing this sport. There are many routes and as many professional companies that are happy to teach you the basics of climbing, will rent the necessary equipment, take you to a place and will lead to the picturesque and easy routes.
The service can be found in tour booths or on the websites of private companies that offer a full range of services.
Prices may fluctuate, but the average check is one and a half to two thousand per person. There is nothing to be afraid of, because there will be professional athletes with you. And you will get a sea of impressions.
Where to Eat in Alushta
As in almost any resort town, everything is divided into two directions here. Either expensive, but interesting, or cheap and easy. Choose what you like best, and in my list you will find both.
This is a restaurant and hotel complex, which is located right on the waterfront, a little closer to the center of Alushta. The first thing that catches your eye is the beautiful interior. A lot of greenery, live plants and cozy pavilions. It is quite cool in summer and warm in winter. The average bill per person will not exceed one thousand rubles – you can even eat for this money. The restaurant has both traditional Russian cuisine and unusual oriental dishes that Crimean Tatars love – samsa, lagman, shurpa and other interesting dishes.
Everything here is quite simple and very accessible. If you need to run in, grab a bite to eat and leave on a tour, this place will do just fine. The menu is pretty uncomplicated, and the food is delicious. If you have in the list five excursions and a walk on night Alushta, then you definitely will not sit here an hour waiting for your order.
The restaurant with the historical name is definitely a must visit. It is located on the Naberezhnaya Street. The place is quiet and beautiful, a lot of dishes, pleasant staff – you just want to stay there longer. The price tag is probably above average. The restaurant may be closed in winter. Find out in advance whether it’s open on the day of your visit.
Here you can eat, have a good time and taste Crimean wines. On the first floor of the hotel there is a unique store with local drinks. The owners offer many kinds of wine, you can buy bottles at good prices – almost like at the “Massandra” factory.
When to go to Alushta
The classic option is a trip in the summer. At this time, the air temperature can rise to +35 º C (sometimes more), and the water – up to + 27 º C. The sea, the sun, the beaches – everything is clear here. But visiting Alushta at other times of the year, you can enjoy the coziness of the city without the crowds.
Believe me, that a walk along the cool embankment and inhale the smell of the sea in winter is as pleasant as sunbathing on the beach in summer. However, you can also go for a swim. If you like the water temperature of about 8-12 ºC.
Therefore, I recommend to go to the South Coast not in summer, but, for example, in early spring, in March.
If you nevertheless have gone to the city in the summer and search wild beaches, visit the next settlement Lazurnoe. There are always fewer people, and the beaches are not inferior to Alushta. You will need a shuttle № 2/110, which departs from the bus station in Alushta.
How to get to Alushta
The fastest option is by plane . From a distant city you can take an option with a transfer via Moscow. There is no airport in Alushta, so you have to fly to neighboring cities – Simferopol or Sochi, where you have to take a bus ticket. Another option is to rent a car.
If you are going by car, this is also possible. The roads are normal, there are enough signs, so you won’t have any problems with it. And if you have a steel character and high resistance to the road, take the risk to go by bus.
One more variant of the trip is by train. You need to get to Krasnodar or Anapa, and from there by bus to Alushta.
How to move around the city
Alushta is quite a small town. If you settle somewhere on the Naberezhnaya Street or in the center, it is better to walk. However, here, as in all cities, works scooter rental, there is a cab.
You can go by car, but I don’t recommend it. The streets are narrow and you often have nowhere to put your car. Secondly, moving by car, you’ll miss a lot of nice little things – you won’t hear the cries of seagulls, you’ll pass by the flowers blooming in February (and there are always such in the South Coast) and just small pretty courtyards.
Where to Stay in Alushta
Choose the center of the city – Golikova, Baglikova, Lenina Street and all the surrounding streets. It is possible and Naberezhnaya street – there to the sea on foot. There are a number of hotels where you can stay: “Aquarium”, “Aluston”, “Aquapark”. You can choose what suits you best in terms of price and convenience.
Pay attention to the hotel “Aquapark” where you can combine relaxation with a pleasant entertainment. There are three in one: dolphinarium, water park and, actually, a huge hotel complex. You can visit the water park or dolphinarium without checking into a hotel.
It is very easy to find the hotel: it is located on the seafront, right by the sea, and you can not pass by anyway. There are two dolphins at the entrance. There are also a lot of parking spaces near the building, which means there is always an opportunity to leave a car.
What to Bring from Alushta
In stores and markets you can find local fruits. In summer, for example, you can buy a couple of kilograms of figs. True, he spoils quickly, so do not take it with you if you fly somewhere in Vladivostok.
There is fig jam, spruce twigs jam, and even lavender jam.
I suggest taking a bottle of good Crimean wine with you. In any case, you are unlikely to find the same in other regions of the country, in addition here you will know exactly what is in front of you – not a fake. But it is better to buy in brand stores.
Crimea is also famous for its essential oil plants, so buy something exclusively Crimean production: cream, essential oil, or any product of natural lavender or essential oil rose.
Tips for tourists
Alushta is quieter and cozier than Yalta, which looks very crowded with cars and people. It’s quieter and even in summer you will find a quiet square where you can just sit and listen to the sound of the sea and the cries of seagulls.
2. On the waterfront you can feed the seagulls, so do not be afraid to take a piece of bread. What a piece, these shouting comrades can eat a couple of loaves and do not grind. There is an opinion that birds can not be fed with bread. To tell you the truth – I am not an ornithologist, but I know that they love bread. However, to save the bellies of birds, you can buy any small fish – they will definitely like it better.
3. In Alushta there is a long promenade, where you can always find a place for a car or a walk. But the city itself is small, which means that you do not have to go far. And all the most interesting things are located in the center.
4. Go to one of the stores of Crimean cosmetics, which are quite a lot in the city. There you will often find quality products made of natural Crimean raw materials.
5. Be sure to take a picture near the Rotunda Grizo. This is a symbol of love of beauty, which was built by the hands of those who could not betray the beauty.
Alushta sights – TOP 40
This is the largest reserve in Crimea, with an area of over 44 thousand hectares. There are more than 1200 species of vegetation, most of which are included into European Red List and Russian Red Book. Also more than 200 species of vertebrates live in the reserve and almost one third of them are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine.
22. House-Museum of the Writer Igor Shmelev
This sightseeing place in Alushta tells us about the life of the famous writer I. S. Shmelev. In the Crimean town he lived during the Civil War – from 1918 to 1922. In the same city he survived with difficulty the death of his only son. The museum was opened in 1993 for people who wanted to get acquainted with the works of the writer. The place has preserved the memory of the writer and his difficult fate.
23. Beketov House-Museum
The house-museum was built by the academician and architect A. N. Beketov. Today its collection has more than 1000 exhibits, most of which tells about his life and work. There are also rooms with paintings by artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the two decades of its work, this place has gained the status of not only the cultural center of Alushta, but also the spiritual one.
24. The Museum-Estate of the Writer Sergeyev-Tsensky
This landmark of Alushta is an architectural and park ensemble, where the trees, which the writer planted with his own hands, have remained. The museum is divided into two parts: a literary part and a memorial one.
The literary part is the southern and western verandahs, while the memorial exposition includes a large library, Sergeev-Tsensky’s study, the dining room where the writer once had lunch, his wife’s room, the living room and the eastern veranda, where various exhibitions are regularly held. The literary exhibition will tell about the life and creative paths of the writer, and the memorial one is preserved as it was when Sergeev-Tsensky was still alive.
25. Museum of local history
The museum began its existence back in 1923, and throughout its work has been closed several times, but then reopened to the public. The list of exhibits includes various findings from archeological excavations and the bottom of the Black Sea, as well as old postcards, photographs, and documents of the inhabitants of Alushta.
There are exhibits from the Great Patriotic War period in one of the museum halls, where you can learn about Alushta’s partisan detachment and the hard life of local residents during the war. As a bonus to the above information, the museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions.
26. Sea Horse” sculpture
The forged sculpture depicting the inhabitant of the underwater kingdom – the seahorse – is located on the Central Alushta Embankment. Initially the figure was placed near Alushta Aquarium, but later it was moved at the request of the residents of Alushta. Local residents are no longer surprised by the fact that the statue of “Seahorse” has become a great entertainment for children, who use it as a carousel, thanks to the rotating base.
27. Monument to Alexander Pushkin
Although Pushkin has not visited Alushta, a monument with a bust of the great Russian poet installed in the central street of the city. In truth there were two monuments in his honor, but one of them was removed because of its desecration by vandals in 1967. Three years later at the same place installed a new monument, which to this day pleases the local residents and guests of Alushta.
28. Monument to A. S. Griboyedov
Presented to Alushta in honor of its 100th anniversary and installed in the heart of the city, a monument to Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov is included in the list of “Memorable Sights of Alushta. How did the local residents react to the installation of the monument?
The first part of them was impressed by the fact that a monument to the famous writer, who left his mark in the world literature, was erected in their city. And the other half was dissatisfied, because after visiting Alushta, Griboedov left a couple of phrases in his notes that he did not like the city.
29. Arch of Alushta (Rotunda)
On the central embankment is located a snow-white arch, which has long become the hallmark of Alushta. Its appearance it resembles the Ancient Greece, and the mysterious legends and tales immediately spring to mind. It is interesting that the Rotunda is a favorite place for photo shoots for newlyweds.
30. Jur-Jur Waterfall
This waterfall is included in the list of “Natural Sights of Alushta” and is the most full-flowing and powerful waterfall of the entire Crimean Peninsula. Its width of about 5 meters and height of a five-story building – 15 meters! Its name is translated as “Eternally Gurgling”.
Moreover, you have to pay a fee to enter the reserve where the Jur-Jur waterfall is located. You can reach the sight on your own or use the services of group excursions. If you are hungry, do not get upset, at the entrance to the reserve the locals are trading.