Donetsk has a population of around a million people, making it the fifth largest city in the country. Donetsk is the unofficial capital of Donets Basin (Donbass) region, the most industrialized part of the country, and as with the surrounding region, it is mostly populated by local Russians, who consistently favour pro-Russian candidates in the elections. Understand that this does not mean that the majority of Donetsk wants secession from Ukraine, in fact the majority supports a united Ukraine, though a very small minority does support the theory.
Strangely, Donetsk was founded by a Welsh businessman in 1869, to exploit the coal mines on what was then the southern reaches of the Russian Empire. It was also around this time the local steel industry — which was expanded during the Soviet period — was first established.
World War II shook the city hard, leaving it not much more than mounds of rubbles. After the war, the city was extensively rebuilt, losing its original layout and architecture reminiscent of British towns.
Lying on the Eurasian steppe inland from the sea, Donetsk has a typical continental climate: While temperatures lower than -30°C (-25°F) were recorded, a more realistic expectation from winter lows (Oct–May) would be -7°C (19°F). Summers, on the other hand, can go up as much as 38°C (100°F), although expecting around 27°C (81°F) would be more typical.
While spring and summer months (May–Jul) are statistically the wettest, rains are more or less evenly distributed throughout the year. But an average year sees about 492 mm (19.37 inches) of precipition anyway, which is about half of what is typical for oceanic climates common in northwestern Europe.
As of 21 May, trains from Kiev to Donetsk are running according to schedule.
The are a few ways to get to Donetsk. You can try to fly in directly (the airport code is DOK) usually through Kiev, Munich, Istanbul or Vienna. There are also options if you are in Ukraine: train, air or by car. The drive from Kiev can be 6-8 h depending on how fast you drive, how many stops you make, etc.
Public transportation is cheap but can be crowded. Be prepared to stand up most of the time, and you may have to make waves when you want to get out. There are four main types: the trolleybus, bus, tram and minibuses (marshrutkas). Trams and buses will get you just about anywhere in the city for 1.50 hryvnia (around 0.15€ as of June 2012). This price is for as long as you want to be on the tram/bus. Tickets are to be bought from the conductor, which is on board of every tram/bus. At the central market there is one of the many depots. These forms of transport stop at every stop on the route.
The minibuses can be found throughout the city. They are like the buses, but faster, smaller, and they stop at only some stops. If you are on board you must yell to the driver that you want out at the next stop, and if you are waiting for one, you must flag it down. Depending on the driver, these can get very crowded. You will pay about 2 hryvnia (usually to the driver).
Most tourists find the taxi to be their best option. Taxi cabs are on every corner and they are relatively cheap. To go across the city, you can expect to pay 30 hryvnia (about $6), but the average amount you would pay to get around the center of the city is $1-2.
There are numerous dispatch taxi services. For example, 381-0000 or 0-67. Keep your eyes open for more numbers, usually printed on the side of the cab in large font.
Also, on the first ride in the taxi, ask the driver if he would like to drive you around on a regular basis. Usually, he will be delighted to do so and give you his ID number for dispatch (pozivnoi) or his cell phone so you can call him directly. That way, you can have a chauffeur for the time of your stay.
Currency exchange offices are all over the city. Souvenirs are also very easy to find.
There are various restaurants located in or around the centre of the city: