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The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Crimea. Please check with your relevant national government.

It's easy to understand why the Russians were keen to reclaim this town more than any other chunk of their lost empire. Orderly and clean as the deck of a ship, with whitewashed neoclassical buildings surrounding a cerulean bay, it has everything most Russian cities lack.

Even when it was controlled by Ukraine, most locals were linked to the navy in some respect and maintained a strong allegiance to Moscow. This resulted in a peculiar cultural microclimate, similar to Gibraltar's. It was no surprise that the locals were at the forefront of what they call 'the Russian spring' and the rest of the world calls 'the annexation of Crimea'.

A favourite playground for military-history fans, Sevastopol is also attractive to those with no interest in weapons and uniforms. Simply put, it is the most pleasant Crimean city – civilised and easy-going, but largely bypassed by the recreational mayhem of Crimea's southern coast.

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