I'll be visiting my cousin there, but in my off time without him, I was wondering if people there for the most part know English. Enough for me to take a cab or order food, etc. Also, what language is more used there -- Ukrainian or Russian? I want to try to learn a few important phrases in their main language. Are there any particular areas that will be easy for me to get by without a mastery of the local language?
Hi there, Casey!
First thing you have to know about Odessa is that it is a port city. That means there are a lot of foreigners there. I am from Ukraine and in school we learn English, so there will be no problems if you don't know Russian or Ukrainian. If you have any question you can always ask anyone (would be better to ask young people).
Odessa is one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine and people love foreigners there.
Menus in almost all restaurants are in English too.
The most people in Odessa speak Russian. Ukrainian is more used in western regions.
The biggest problem for men from other countries in Odessa is... not to fall in love with ukrainian girls. They are so beautiful!
Good luck and welcome to Ukraine!
Majority of people do not speak English. You have more chances with younger generation - 20-35 years old. Odessa is russian speaking city. There are a lot of places with WIFI (almost all restaurants, shopping malls etc), so use Google Translate when in trouble :) City center is not that big, area next to Odessa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet is the most tourist friendly
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In Odesa people mostly speak Russian language. Ukrainian is official and understood for all natives. So people will react normally whatever language you choose.
Simple English language is used by many Odesa residents.
I advice you to stick to the central part of the city, beaches areas, use cabs (taxi) instead of regular city buses and shop in supermarkets instead of open markets.
Enjoy your trip