Steep mountain peaks serve as a lovely backdrop for Yalta the jewel of the Crimean peninsula. There is no surprise that the writer Anton Chekhov chose to live in this seaside resort—it seems to be a combination of Carmel California the French Riviera and Greece. Yalta (pop. 80 000) has exemplary resorts museums and beaches.
Places to see in Yalta: Livadia is the former Romanov vacation home used for the World War II conference of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt. Chekhov’s former residence has been turned into a museum; inside one can find the writer’s medical bag (from his days as a doctor) and the piano Rachmaninov played when he visited.
Allow at least two (but preferably three) nights for relaxation. Just outside of Yalta set on a hilltop beside the ocean are the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens which boast 1 600 varieties of roses and a very good restaurant/club.
Do not miss the Swallow’s Nest, a fantastical castle perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea (the castle was in fact designed for a German businessman by a U.S. architect).
Enjoy the refreshing ferry or hydrofoil ride between the resort towns along the coast. Alupka from which one can take a cable car to Mt. Ai-Petri for fabulous views and Miskhor with a beautiful beach are tourists' favorite resorts. Special trips can be arranged to Sevastopol and Balaklava, two important sites in the Crimean War immortalized in the poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade."
Another excursion goes to Bakhchisarai, a city of minarets and mosques—it was once the capital of the Crimean Khanate. While there, it is recommended to see the magnificent palace of Khan Mengli-Girel and the Fountain of Tears which inspired Pushkin to write the poem The Fountain of Bakhchisarai.
There is no airport in Yalta; one must fly to the regional capital of Simferopol set among beautiful vineyards and orchards and then take a car into the city (about an hour’s drive). 210 mi/340 km southeast of Odesa.