Koktebel's future was predetermined when poet and artist Maximilian Voloshin built a house and settled there in 1907. The most prominent cultural figures of the Silver Age stayed at his house, including Alexei Tolstoy, Marina Tsvetayeva, Mikhail Bulgakov, Nikolai Gumilyov and many others. So Koktebel began to be considered a resort for creative people.
Koktebel is a popular venue for music and art festivals, gatherings of singers-songwriters, poets and academics. In Soviet times, a resort hotel was built here for members of the Writers' Union. Koktebel became popular among artists, who would often spend the whole summer here or even move to the town. Later they were joined by hippies and rock musicians. Today, Koktebel is the most non-mainstream resort in Crimea, with exhibitions of paintings on fences, improvised live concerts on the embankment and a variety of festivals. Since 2003, the legendary Koktebel Jazz Party has been held here, bringing together jazz stars from all over the world.
Other Koktebel regulars are attracted here because of the Mount Klementyev with its unique ascending air currents: this is the cradle of Soviet hang-gliding. There is only one similar place in the world, located in the United States near Harris Hill, New York. In 1926, the higher pilot and glider school was opened in Koktebel, and the best Soviet aviators were trained there. It is here that future aeronautical engineers Oleg Antonov and Alexander Yakovlev, and spacecraft designer Sergei Korolev commenced their life-long journeys.
According to the most popular version, the name Koktebel has Crimean Tatar roots meaning "the land of blue hills" (kök — gray-blue, töbe — hill, el — land, terrain).
Koktebel has a steppe temperate continental climate with mild winters and hot summers. It is not unusual to see blooming roses in winter. The town owes its mild and healthy climate to the warm sea breezes from the south and the mountains that protect it from the cold steppe winds.
The swimming season in Koktebel begins in May and ends in mid-October. On average, the water temperature is between 20˚C and 25˚C in summer, and air temperature between 23˚C and 26˚C. In winter, it fluctuates from 3˚C to 6˚C.
Things to see
- Kara Dag Nature Reserve and Kara Dag Mountain are the biggest reason to visit Koktebel. The plateau is only open for guided tours, so travellers are asked to sign up in advance. The reserve's special protection status does not allow independent visits. Kara Dag is an extinct volcano, not at all dangerous, but it has very diverse contours and vegetation. Another option is a boat trip from Koktebel, which includes sailing through the Golden Gate, dubbed the Devil's Gate by the locals. In the old days, it was believed to be an entrance to other worlds.
- Voloshin House Museum on the embankment houses a rich collection of valuable cultural artefacts. The poet was friends with many famous artists of the time and had them over at parties. The display comprises about 60,000 exhibits including the works of his friends such as Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Alexandre Benois and even Diego Rivera.
- Mount Klementyev houses a glider sports centre, offering gliding and hang-gliding training or flights with an instructor. For those who prefer contemplating the beautiful landscape to actually flying, we recommend visiting the Starfall of Memories observation deck. Panoramic views of the town and the valley open up from this rotunda on top of Mount Koklyuk.
Hotels and more
Koktebel has a four-star hotel and other large hotels; however, most of the accommodation is in small hotels. Those who want to experience the unique atmosphere of the place can easily find boutique rooms decorated with works by local artists.
Koktebel is great for sunbathing and swimming. Its pebbly and sandy beaches stretch for more than 5 km. Due to its compact size, almost all shopping and entertainment is either within walking distance or a five-minute drive.
There is a water park and a dolphinarium in Koktebel.
How to get there
Koktebel is 116 km away from Simferopol Airport. A journey by car or by bus will take two to three hours. There is direct bus service both from the airport and from the Kurortnaya bus terminal near the railway station.
A regular bus service also operates with the neighbouring Feodosia (20 km), about half an hour's ride to Koktebel.
The distance from the Crimean Bridge is 130 km.