Mykolayiv (Ukrainian: Миколаїв) is a city in Southern Ukraine. It is an important shipbuilding centre and transportation hub for Ukraine, and has a large military presence. It had a large Jewish population until the Holocaust in World War II.
Mykolayiv was founded in 1789 in the aftermath of the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774 together with neighbouring cities of Kherson (1778) and later Odesa (1794). It was named Nikolaev (Russian: Никола́ев) by its founder, Prince Grigory Potemkin after the sailors' patron saint. and also after the day in December 1788 when general Suvorov captured major Turkish fortress of Achikale (now Ochakov/Ochakiv, in 60 km from Mykolayiv). The first ship "St. Nicholas" was built in 1790. Its current English name is a transliteration of its Ukrainian name, which was adopted following Ukrainian independence in 1992.
From the beginning Mykolayiv became the navy shipbuilding centre of the Russian Empire. Mykolayiv was governed by a military governor until 1900. The oldest shipyard (modern name '61 Communars') was founded one year earlier than the city in 1788. Soldiers, craftsmen and free people from various areas of Russian Empire were ordered to Mykolayiv. Some streets still have numbered names according to founders' occupation: 11th Voennaya (Military) or 9th Slobodska (Free settler). The city was well planned from the beginning. Main streets are wide and were used to carry wood to the shipyards. Glamorous parks make a big portion of the city. Downtown area is located on the peninsula made by Southern Bug and Ingul rivers estuary. The Black Sea navy headquarters was located in Mykolayiv for more than 100 years until it moved to Sevastopol.
Shipbuilding is a part of Mykolayiv history. There are three shipyards in Mykolayiv and the only Shipbuilding University in Ukraine. Mykolayiv was closed to foreign visitors until the late 1980s because of large navy projects (as well as Air Force base, turbine plant and military port).
Mykolayiv was major Jewish centre of Russian Empire in 19th century. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty) was born in Mykolayiv on April 18, 1902.
The city had a population of about 500,000 in 2015.
Although Ukrainian is the sole official language in all of Ukraine, Russian is the first language of most locals in Mykolayiv.
- 1 Mykolaiv Airport (NLV IATA).
The nearest major airport is Odesa (ODS IATA). There are daily flights from Odesa operated by Ukraine International Airlines, Aerosvit, Austrian Airlines, Polish airline LOT and Czech Airline "CSA".
Direct trains from Kyiv (10 hours), Lviv (18 hours), and Odesa (5 hours) depart every day. Train departures timetable [dead link]. All trains have coach cars.
Main routes from Kherson (65 km), Odesa (120 km), Uman' (320 km), Chishinau (325 km), the Crimea (350 km), Kiev (500 km), Kharkiv (520 km), Lviv (950 km). Usually gas (petrol) is cheaper than in Western Europe, approximately the same price as in North America. Check if you can hire a driver with a car. Be careful if you travel alone and don't forget to carry a mobile phone. Hitchhiking is not recommended. The roads are terrible and dangerous. Use seat belts despite of comments from local drivers.
Direct daily connections from Kyiv (10 hours), Kharkiv (12 hours), Odesa (2 hours), Cishinau (7 hours), Khmelnytsky (11 hours), Donetsk (12 hours), Rostov-na-Donu (17 hours), Minsk (23 hours). Be prepared to sleep in the bus seat if you decide to take a night coach. Bus from Hamburg, Germany (42-hour trip) departs twice a week.
Even though Mykolayiv has a major Ukrainian commercial sea port (Portnikolaev; 5 million tonnes in 2004), there are no regular passenger lines.
Coach buses (marshrutka) can take you almost anywhere in the city for less than half a US dollar. Taxi service is also inexpensive. Mykolayiv local transportation system consists of buses, trams, trolley buses and boats.
- Ukrainian theatre.
- Russian drama theatre.
- Zoo  (one of the biggest in Europe, the biggest in Ukraine).
- Museum of Shipbuilding and Fleet
- Museum of Arts  [dead link].
- Lutheran Church.
- Catholic Church.
- Russian Orthodox Church (1825).
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
- Astronomical observatory  (1821, 31.58E,46.58N).
- Swimming pool 'Vodoley' .
- Radsad wineries (right bank of the Southern Bug river).
- Old Greek settlement Olvio (30 km south of Mykolayiv).
- Soborna (main pedestrian street in town) is the place to be any night of the week with several gorgeous parks and lots of shopping.
- Shtorm[dead link] bowling (Sadova 2), also a nightclub on a second level.
Walk around. Mykolayiv is a relatively safe town with lots of cool stuff to see.
National Shipbuilding University; Pedagogical University; Agrarian University; Petro Mohyla Humanitarian University
Western shoppers will be surprised by affordability of fashion European clothing in Mykolayiv. Pedestrian Radyanska (Sovetskaya) and adjacent streets make local shopping district. Western-style supermarkets accept major credit cards. Don't forget to buy local wines (Radsad or Koblevo brands) as a souvenirs. Prepare to pay 1-3% to local banks for ATM machines ('bankomat') withdrawals. Watch your pockets at crowded public markets.
Local meat product labels usually don't say 'organic' but mostly they are. Dairy products are delicious, especially ice cream. Even McDonalds used to mention "We use Ukrainian ingredients" in TV commercials. Vegetables are mostly seasonal. Fish is delicious but can have small bones when served in restaurant. Ready-to-go homemade food can be found in local stores.
Any clean cafe can offer hearty inexpensive dish of local food. Ask for 'borsch' (beet soup), 'bliny' (crêpes - thin stuffed pancakes), 'zharkoe' (meat with potatoes and mushrooms in a clay pot). You must sure try out the chicken. Ukraine is a country of the chicken. It is cheap and you will get a lot on your plate.
Celentano pizza [dead link] (#1 on Faleevska/Lenina and #2 on Spaska/Lyagina), Bocas del Torro (Radyanska between Potemkinska and Shevchenka: try every salad in the salad bar!), Bliny. Don't forget to try out the rest of the food of Pizza Celentano. The service is good so is the atmosphere very cozy.
Blindage (Radyanska/Velyka Mors'ka which is like an armory museum - waitress in military uniform will offer you a triple shot of vodka in real bullet casings and weapons of Soviet and German World War II armies)
Coliseum (Radyanska/Shevchenko), Malakhit (Moskovska/Spaska)
Astoria - great food, good service, good prices
Try local wines from Radsad winery - white: Chardonnay, Aligote, red: Merlot, Cabernet. Wines with alcohol content of more than 15% are artificially fortified with sugar, avoid them. Buy vodka or cognac in stores only. Western brands are very expensive, and bars commonly water them down. Local brewery Yantar (Amber) belongs to InBev beer group (brands Stella Artois, Taller, etc.) and makes 10% of Ukrainian beer production.
Try out the Ukraine milkshake at Pizza Celentano. You won't believe that it is only very cold milk with sugar. The texture is amazingly creamy but it's not too sweet.
- Delerium is an upscale nightclub. Open Tu-Su 21:00-05:00.
- Nikolaev (Lenina 107, corner of Sadova)
- Parus (Sportivna 9, river view, ☏ +380-512-346088)
- Vladam/Piligrim (Sadova 3b, ☏ +380-512-360151, private hotel, Christian management);
- Na Admirala Makarova, 1/2 block from McDonald's at Lyagina St. 18, ☏ +380 512 47-93-99, email: Mykolaiv_hotel@ukr.net, modern, comfortable beds, AC, 15 rooms, friendly staff, accepts credit cards, double 500-700 грн/night (June 2018).
- Hotel Turist (Tourist)
- Hotel Continent
- Reikartz River Hotel
- Ingul Admiralska 34, ☏ +380-512-355557, 5-star price for 3-star service
- Metalurg, 20 km from downtown in satellite city district of Zhovtneve, prospekt Oktyabrskiy 319a, ☏ +380-512-634056
- Business Complex Aleksandrovskiy
Hotel Palace Ukraine
Important numbers: 102-police; 103-medical emergency. Purchase a mobile phone or SIM card from MTS  [dead link] or Kyivstar [dead link] GSM 900/1800 providers to stay connected. Though Mykolayiv has been a safe city, in 2012, an increasing series of crimes have been reported. Avoid drunk people and don't drink with people that you don't know. Avoid buying cut-rate liquor from public markets. It's too often counterfeit and potentially dangerous. Avoid staying out after midnight, and if you do, call a taxi service (067). TB and Hepatitis immunization is recommended.