09
Jun-2013

10 Things to do in Donetsk

Donetsk is a fascinating place for both urban lovers and the adventure fans. Most of the travelers connect the city with the dusty dark coal mines and cone-shaped waste landscapes. However, the city’s recent developments turned it into a modern, green and fast-growing metropolis. Its natural parks and nature reserves are still largely unknown, so – no crowds of tourist and a perfect one-on-one with the parching expanse of steppes and curious flocks of black-headed gulls. Whether you are headed to Donetsk for study, business trip or to cheer at EURO 2012 football event, check out the selection of our favorite things to do in Donetsk.

1. Explore Forged Figures Park

In 2010 Donetsk proudly joined the list of Europe’s forging capitals. And rightfully so! It’s impressive Forged Figures Park brings out the best of Donetsk craftsmanship. Over 100 beautifully crafted figures will immediately capture your imagination. Here you can meet folk tale heroes, animals, arches, benches, and even all 12 Zodiac Signs! And if you are visiting Donetsk with your loved one, catch a romantic moment under the adorable Lovers Pavilion.

How & Where:

Follow Peace Avenue (Prospekt Mira) towards the crossing with University street until you reach the building of Donetsk City Hall . The Park is located right around the corner.

2. Relax at Shcherbakov City Park

Take a rest away from the busy streets of Donetsk in the shadows of Shcherbakov Park – one of Ukraine’s most beautiful city parks. Start your walk at the bridge across the first city pond. The bridge is a popular attraction with city couples, that hang polished locks on it as symbols of their never-ending love.  Once you cross the pond, you face the impressive golden statue of an angel. Here you have two options: turn left and reach park’s roller coasters and boat station, turn right and you’ll soon come across the main park fountain and the central lakefront.

Farther on you’ll be lured in with the intense smell of hundreds of roses. Donetsk Rosarium is the largest in Ukraine, and due to specifics of planting, it’s always filled with the delicate blossom.

How & Where:

The Park is bordered by the University Street in the east, Stadionna Street in the south, and Shakhter Stadium in the west (Not to be mistaken for Donbass Arena Stadium!)

3. Cheer for your favorite team at Donbass Arena Stadium

Donbass Arena Stadium is no doubt one of the largest and most impressive structures in Ukraine and in Europe.  Right as you enter, you’ll spot a huge football-fountain spins under the pressure of the water. The ball weights over 28 tonne and has a diameter of 2.7 m! Pushing the ball to help it move already became a local tradition. So gather up all your strength :)

How & Where:

The Stadium is situated on the right side of Peace Avenue (Prospekt Mira). If you arrive to Donetsk by train, take tram #1 from the main train station, and get off at the Peace Avenue Bus Stop.

4. Try shooting from King’s Cannon

Tsar Pushka Donetsk

This huge cannon or the so-called ‘Tsar-Pushka’ is Russia’s present to the city of Donetsk, and is an exact copy of the King’s Cannon that stands at Moscow’s Red Square. The thing’s dimensions are mind-blowing.The carriage itself weights over 20 tonne, and the trunk gets up to all 44!  Wake up the mighty warrior in you and kick off a cavalier photo shoot :)

How & Where:

The monument is located right in front of Donetsk City Hall. To get there, walk across Peace Avenue (Prospekt Mira) until you reach Shcherbakov Park.

5. Stroll along Pushkin Boulevard

The DivisionImage courtesy of Constantine Zuyev

City’s main walking street carries the name of Russia’s most famous poet. Note that it ends as an intersection with city’s second most important Shevchenko Boulevard – named in honor of Ukraine’s most famous poet. This ‘national friendship’ was an intended result of city planning during USSR times.

Pushkin Boulevard is a charming street, full of sculptures, wooden benches, colorful flowerbeds and greenery of sidewalks.  However, street’s main attraction is Mertsalov’s Palm. This eye-catching statue is beautifully crafted from … a train rail! The masterpiece was made by a simple blacksmith, who used only a hammer and a chisel.  Mertsalov’s Palm took the world by surprise when it won the Grand Prix at Paris International Industrial Exhibition at the turn of 20th century.

How & Where:

Walk along Shevchenko Boulevard until you reach the crossing. This will be the start of Pushkin Boulevard.

6. Take a photo with the Statue of Lenin

Uncle LeninImage courtesy of Joseph Ragan

For those interested in communist history of Ukraine, Donetsk will no doubt be the long-awaited treasure. Soviet-style buildings, grand promenades, shady cone-shaped slagheaps of industrial Donbass and yes – the Statue of Lenin! The Monument that used to overshadow every major square in the cities and towns of Ukraine is now kicked out from most of the country’s West and Center. However, Donetsk, Kharkiv and countless smaller towns in Ukraine’s Eastern and Southern regions still hold on to the curious remnants of former Soviet glory. Don’t leave the city without taking a photo with Uncle Lenin – the leader and the inspiration of world’s proletariat!

How & Where:

Take Shevchenko Boulevard until you reach the crossing with Artema Street. Follow along the street till you face Donbass Palace Hotel. The Lenin Square will be on your left.

7. Cycle to the underground Soledar Salt Mines

Ever imagined listening to a symphony orchestra in a hall completely made of salt? Well, that’s exactly what happened in 2002 and 2004 in Soledar. Visitors to the famous Soledar Salt Mines, that once used to be the bottom of the Perm Sea, got the rare chance to enjoy the stunning acoustics as Donetsk Symphony Orchestra gave an outstanding performance 300 m below the ground.

While it’s not so easy to catch the live music, Salt Mines in itself are an impressive site and an exciting attraction for thousands of visitors every year. Enjoy the beautiful gallery of sculptures, the salty music hall and even an underground football field! And yes, don’t forget to steel a moment away from the tour groups and lick the flavored walls – so how does the bottom of the ancient sea taste?

How & Where:

The salt mines are located in the city of Soledar, 35 minutes away from Donetsk. Email us, if you’d like to combine the thrill of cycling adventure with the exciting tour at Soledar Salt Mines.

8. Watch pelikans in Meotida National Park at the Azov Sea

The National Park Meotida is a member of Europarc Federation of National Parks. Tucked in the southern corner of Donetsk region, this strip of land is home to some of the rarest birds in European continent. Over 250 bird species live, create families and breed at the Park. Flocks of proud cormorants and curious black-headed gulls gather at the stretching sandy spits of Azov Sea.

But it’s the Dalmatian Pelican that won’t leave any visitor indifferent. These beautiful creatures has once gone almost extinct and as of 1994 only 1000 breeding pairs existed in the wild. Take a boat ride along the shore, enjoy the sun, rising over the shallow waters of Azov, and watch the time go by, as Mother Nature shows off its cutest creations.

How & Where:

The National Park is located in the south of Donetsk Region, next to the town of Yalta (not to be confused with Yalta in Crimean Peninsula). Email us, if you’d like to arrange a sightseeing or a more specialized bird-watching tour to Meotida.

9. Feel the spirit of Cossacks at Kamyani Mohyly Nature Reserve

As Lonely Planet put it, ‘..This is what the Ukraine of the Cossacks looked like – a parched, isolated, sprawling, yellow expanse.’ Kamyani Mogyly Nature Reserve Reserve is a unique natural landscape, with spiking granite boulders, surfacing the vast virgin breadths of what is one of Europe’s last remaining natural steppes.

Every step of the eco-trails was once marched on by pagan tribes, hordes of Crimean Tatars and later the Cossacks. The Reserve breathes with the history and will no doubt be one of the most mesmerizing experieces you can have in Donetsk region.

How & Where:

The Reserve is located next to the village of Nazarivka, 2 hours drive to the south of Donetsk. Email us, if you are interested in a walking tour along the trails of Kamyani Mogyly Nature Reserve.

10. Swim in the warm waters of Azov Sea

If you would like to pamper yourself with the warm waters of the sea, then you are in luck, as the Sea of Azov is a mere 2 hours drive away from Donetsk. The world’s shallowest sea is a perfect getaway for families with little children, and is a haven for the bird lovers. The infrastructure might not be up to the standard, unlike in the southern tip of Crimea. However, if you don’t mind budget accommodation, isolated sand strips and one-on-one with nature, then a trip to the Azov Sea can be a pleasant escape from the noisy and industrial Donetsk.

How & Where:

Take a bus to the town of Mariupol. From there you can head to three possible tourist locations: the more touristy and loud town of Yalta, quieter and more secluded Belosarayskaya Kosa and a small village of Sedino at Kryvaya Kosa.

Which places sound most interesting to you? Have you already been to Donetsk? Let us know how it was and what impressions you had in the comments below!

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