Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe after Russia. However few people go visit Ukraine. Indeed Ukraine doesn’t really have a good reputation because of the political crises there. However almost the whole country is not dangerous and there are many things to do and places to visit in Ukraine: castles, churches, the Black sea, forests, beaches… What to do in Ukraine? Here’s an article listing the Ukraine tourist attractions and Ukraine tourist places, then I’ll share Ukraine travel tips!
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Things to do in Ukraine
People who go to Ukraine usually visit Kiev only, the capital of the country. There are numerous bars, cafés and green spaces (there are two wonderful botanical gardens!). You have to see the impressive Saint Sophia’s cathedral, but also Kiev Pechersk Lavra, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. I wrote a detailed article about my visit to Kiev. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Third largest city of Ukraine, Odessa is located in the south of Ukraine, along the Black sea. In fact we call Odessa the pearl of the black sea. Odessa is very popular among the locals but few international tourists go there. There’s the beach but also vineyards, cafés, bars, and a vibrant nightlife. Go see the opera, the Potemkin stairs and of course the catacombs! I wrote a detailed article about my visit to Odessa. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Yep, it’s now possible to visit the place where the worst nuclear accident of the 20th century happened. We talk about approximately 60,000 deaths and 100,000 handicapped people because of this catastrophic accident. The visit is very interesting and I recommend you to do it. You spend the day in Pripyat, the small town where it happened. I wrote a detailed article about my visit to Chernobyl. Click here to book a Chernobyl tour.
Kamianets-Podilskyi is in western Ukraine, and it’s a medieval town mostly known for its fortress. It dates back to the 14th century and it’s really impressive. You have to see it! But there’s more than that! Take some time to have a walk in the cobbled streets, admire the houses, the old town and the street murals. Go on a hot air balloon ride. Actually there’s an amazing festival of hot air balloons in the late spring. Click here to find your accommodation.
Chernivtsi was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we call it now “Little Vienna”. The architecture is very different than the rest of Ukraine. It was a town of poets and intellectuals so there are numerous bookstores in Chernivtsi. This is where you’ll find the National univesity, one of the largest universities in Ukraine (you have to see it!). There are also cobbled streets, Baroque buildings, and an incredible café scene. Click here to find your accommodation.
Many people say that if there’s one city you have to visit in Ukraine, it’s Lviv! It’s the cultural capital of Ukraine, and there are many things to do! Wander in Rynok Square just to have a coffee or a beer and head to the Lviv National Art Gallery, home to over 50,000 works of art. The Lviv old town is a world heritage UNESCO site. Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
It’s one of the oldest cities in Ukraine, Chernihiv apparently dates back to the 7th century! You cannot miss Catherine’s church and its golden cupolas, or Pyatnytska church on the Red Square. It’s also nice to have a walk along Desna river which is not far. Beer lovers will enjoy Tchernihiv, this is where the Cherninihivske beer comes from. It’s very popular in Ukraine. Click here to find your accommodation.
Uzhhorod is not far from the border with Slovakia and Hungary so there are many Hungarians living there. You have to see Uzhhorod castle which dates back to the 9th century but also the Greek-Catholic Cathedral from the 17th century. There are cobbled streets and many cafés and restaurants, but also a bridge connecting the northern and southern parts of town, which are separated by the Uzh river. Click here to find your accommodation.
Located in the center of Ukraine, Uman is mostly known for its Sofiyivka park which is a botanical garden and a scientific research center at the same time. There’s a big farmer’s market, an obelisk in the city center and of course a Basilian Monastery, which dates back to 1764. Click here to find your accommodation.
Zhovkva is only 30km (18 miles) away from Lviv so you can go there for a day trip. Go visit the Church of Saint Lawrence and its domed roof. There’s also the Holy Trinity church, a church made of wood dating back to the 17th century. And of course the Zhovkva castle to find out more about the history and the culture of the region. Take some time to have a walk in the charming city center.
Kharkiv is the second largest city of Ukraine. It’s the city of students so there are numerous bars and restaurants, and Kharkiv is lively in the evening. There are also many theaters and festivals throughout the year. Head to the Freedom square, the 8th largest city center square in Europe. Don’t miss the Derzhprom for its architecture. Take the cable car over Gorky park. And take the subway just to admire the stations! Click here to find your accommodation. Click here to find the best activities.
Mukachevo is in western Ukraine. People go there to see the Palanok castle which dates back to the 14th century, and located atop a volcanic hill. In the old town, you’ll find the Dormiton cathedral and beautiful buildings. The Carpathian mountains are not far. Click here to find your accommodation.
These were the best places to visit in Ukraine! Now here are a few Ukraine travel tips!
Ukraine travel budget
- Accommodation is not expensive in Ukraine. One night in a hostel dorm costs around 200-300 UAH ($7.50-11). One night in a hotel or in an apartment costs around 600 UAH ($22.50). Click here to book your accommodation.
- Food is not expensive either. For a local dish in a cafeteria, you’ll pay between 100 and 150 UAH ($4-5.50). The prices are more or less the same, if you want to eat at a fast food, Asian food or a pizza. For a three-course meal, you’ll pay around 300 UAH ($11.50). A beer costs around 30 UAH ($1).
- Regarding transportation, a bus ticket in town costs 5 UAH ($0.20). To travel within country, you can go anywhere by bus for less than 400 UAH($15). Use Flixbus! Train rides cost around 400 UAH ($15). Domestic flights cost around 3000 UAH ($115). You can also rent a car, it costs around 850 UAH ($32) per day. Be careful, the drivers are aggressive and the roads are not always in good condition.
- Regarding activities like visits, museums, you’ll rarely pay more than 150 UAH ($5.50).
Basically, if you’re traveling on a budget, you can get by with $35 per day. Otherwise you’ll spend about $100+ per day. Ukraine is a cheap travel destination.
How to get around in Ukraine
Buses are very popular to get around in Ukraine. You can also try the trains, they have a Soviet feel which can be charming. You can also take a domestic flight. Finally you can rent a car but keep an eye open, the roads are not always in good condition. You can try hitchhiking but you can wait for a long time, it’s not as popular as in the neighboring countries.
Best time to visit Ukraine
June, July and August are the best months to visit Ukraine. The weather is nice (25°C/77°F) and you can enjoy outdoor activities. It’s also the high season but as I said earlier, it’s nothing compared to the cities in Western Europe. April, May, September and October are also good months to go to Ukraine. Unless you want to go skiing in the mountains, I’d avoid visiting Ukraine from November to March, it’s really cold (below 0°C/32°F).
Visa policy of Ukraine
If you’re an European citizen or coming from a Western country, you don’t need a visa to get to Ukraine. You can find all the details here.
Safety in Ukraine
Ukraine has a reputation for being a dangerous country. Indeed Russia annexed Crimea and there were violent protests around Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. But the tourists are now allowed to get there. If you visit the cities I listed in this guide, Ukraine is not more dangerous than another country. Keep an eye open in public transportation, there are pickpockets. Withdraw money in banks, not at the ATMs in the street.
Otherwise there are problems related to racism in the country, I recommend black people not to wander alone at night (an Ukrainian guy told me this when I was there!). I listed common travel scams targeting tourists. The one with the wallet on the floor is very common in Ukraine. Generally speaking, always trust your instinct. And don’t forget to get travel insurance. It will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. Click here to get one.
Packing list for Ukraine
I’m not gonna list all the things to pack for Ukraine. I don’t know how long you’re gonna stay there, where you’re going in Ukraine, what you’re going to do and when you’ll visit. Take all the necessary clothes, toiletries, and also:
- hand sanitizer
- combination locks
- a money belt
- a security cable lock
- a travel plug adapter
- a stainless steel water bottle
- a lifestraw (a water bottle with a purifier)
- a menstrual cup (for the ladies)
Here’s a full list of travel accessories, which can be useful!
What to eat in Ukraine
You’ll find in Ukraine the food you can eat in the neighboring countries. But Ukraine has its own dishes it’s proud of. Borsch is a beetroot soup with cabbage, potatoes and beetroot. Vareniki are dumplings filled with potatoes, meat or cheese and fried onions. Holubtsi are cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice. Salo is a slice of pork fat, very salty and popular. There’s also the chicken kyiv, it’s hicken with butter inside and herbs.
That’s it! You have all the information needed to travel to Ukraine smoothly!!
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