Ukraine

Donbass Arena

Name Donbass Arena
Capacity 50000
Year Completed 2009

The recently constructed Donbass Arena, a space-age construction with the highest standards of spectator comfort, justifiably features on UEFA's elite list. While the arena looks impressive enough when basking in the sun, it comes into its own as a structural beauty when it is lit up in a variety of colours at night. 

One of the landmark venues of Euro 2012, Donetsk is rightly proud of the stage it will provide for Europe's top players this summer. Situated in the finely-manicured Komasol Park to the north of downtown, the Donbass Arena is best reached by tram line 1 from the main railway station. Alternatively take trolleybus line 2 from the rail terminus.

Where to go, what to see

For all its reliance on heavy industry, the iron and steel plants, coal mines and slag heaps, Donetsk is by no stretch of the imagination a grimy and uninspiring ugly duckling. Appropriately for a location where oligarchs hold sway, Ukraine's fourth-largest city is a very much a glitzy boomtown, a forward-looking metropolis of swanky modern buildings, flashing neon, luxury cars and conspicuous consumption by its inhabitants. 

The locals here have plenty of excess cash and they are not afraid to flash their wealth to anyone passing by. While it may be a city set up to accommodate hard workers and money-makers rather than tourists, the locals desire to enjoy the best possible life out of office hours burns brightly. Make no mistake, Donetsk has a real energy and buzz about it and not only because it will be staging three Euro 2012 Group D games, plus both a quarter and semi-final. 

First-time visitors to Donetsk are often surprised to note how green, environmentally-conscious and cultural the place is. Its verdant alleys, tree-lined streets, botanical gardens, trademark rose bushes right, left and centre, well-kept parks and lakes are the stuff of an ecologist's dreams and covers all the recreational and arts bases with its theatres, philharmonic hall, circus, planetariums, museums, restaurants and clubs. 

Spots to check out include the central Lenin square (Ploschad Lenina), the beautiful Pushkina boulevard - which features a highly impressive sculpture park and has to be the most pleasant stroll in the whole city - the miner monument on the corner of Artyoma and Kievsky, the Regional History Museum on Chelyuskintsev and Cathedral Transfiguration of Jesus (vul Artyoma 129). 

The bulk of the city hustle and bustle is to be found on Universitetskaya and Artyoma streets, with the latter being particularly rich in good quality eating and drinking establishments. Marrakesh serves up great North African and French food - with optional belly dancers – while cavernous Irish pub, the Golden Lion, offers both excellent beer and deliciously authentic grub from the Emerald Isle. 

You might even be surprised by the quality of the Guinness in a pub that will provide very familiar surrounds to any Irish supporters this summer. Cherry Pizza is a more than decent Italian and another spot that could well turn out to be a football fan favourite is the Yuzovskaya Pivovarnya microbrewery (Artyoma 129b). 

For the best value meals in town, join the throng at the 3 Tolstyaka on Gurova Square, a Russian joint with flair and low, low prices. Hotel restaurants in the city centre are also a good bet if you are looking for a hearty mean and if you are looking for some market shopping, head for the corner of central market is located on the corner of Shevchenko and Chelyuskintsev. 

A Welsh entrepreneur named John Hughes was instrumental in the founding of Donetsk back in 1869 and his legacy lives in as the city has long nurtured a love of all things British, an affinity the visiting England fans will no doubt be grateful for when they show up in sizeable numbers for group games against France and the host nation. 

The Beatles, for example, continue to be immensely popular here and not surprisingly local businessmen have taken note of that local fascination, opening the Liverpool Art Hotel, Liverpool Foodmarket (a little naff maybe but a very cheap cafeteria all the same) and the Liverpool Live Music Bar (all three on vul Artyoma 131A). Donetsk airport is 8km to the north of the city centre on Vzletnaya, around 1km beyond Putilovsky bus station. Both are connected to downtown by trolleybus 9 or 10, which go up and down vul Universytetskaya. 

The railway station is on pl Pryvokzalna, a little south of the airport, linked to the centre by bus or trolleybus 2. Both trams and trolleybuses run on the principal boulevards: Artyoma, Universitetskaya, Kommunarov and Mira. The orange and black clad fans of the city's number one football club, Shakhtar, certainly owe a huge debt of gratitude to hometown boy turned billionaire oligarch, Rinat Ahkmetov. Thanks to his Forbes-rated financial muscle Shakhtar, are now a real force in Europe. 

The Donetsk Fan Zone will be held in the vicinity of the old Shakhtar stadium on vul Artyoma. Now mainly used for track and field, the ground features a statue of local hero pole vaulter, Sergey Bubka. Donetsk may not be on the tourist map just yet, yet it will be a fascinating spot to visit when the Euro 2012 party comes to town.