Best Places to Tour and Visit in Ukraine
Ukraine is one of the last few unconquered travel frontiers in Europe. Lying northwest to the Baltic sea, Ukraine was established by the East Slavic state Kyivan Rus. The nation is filled with warm-hearted people and has a rich tradition. This is the biggest country in Europe(other than Russia) and is thus filled with a diverse group of people. While it is a very beautiful country that hasn’t been much visited by tourists, there are a few regions you should avoid due to pro-Russian separatists. It is also home to Chernobyl, the place of the largest nuclear disaster on earth. Here are the best places that you must visit in Ukraine along with a few activities you must try when you are in the country.
This city has been under the rule of both the Austrian Hapsburg Empire and the kingdom of Poland, both these cultures have left strong marks on the city’s culture, cuisine, and architecture. It is also very close to other countries in the EU, promoting the name “Gateway to the West” given to it. The city’s central “old town” part is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and usually hosts a festival every weekend. The towns blissful architect is also home to many cafes and restaurants.
This famous port city is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Russian Empress Catherine the Great founded this city in 1794 and it is one of the hotspots in Ukraine for trade, culture, and tourism. As the city was a free port, it had an ethnically diverse population, in 1897 more than a third of the population comprised of Jews. When you are in the city make sure that you experience the Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hobart Earle. You could climb the 142-meter Potemkin staircase or take a walk along Derybasivska Street. The city is a potpourri of many cultures and you must visit it when you go on a trip to Ukraine.
This industrial city has the beautiful Dnipro River passing through it. This city was once a major Soviet base for their weapons, nuclear, and ballistic missiles industries. The city now is home to many gleaming skyscrapers and luxurious sailboats. It also has many large parks, long boulevards, and embankments you can visit.
While this city is not a major tourist spot, owing to its history as a major industrial hub, it is still dotted with many architectural feats and historic buildings. It has a large population of university students, thus giving the entire city a youthful and dynamic vibe. It is also home to an archeological museum that is housed with the campus of Karazin Kharkiv National University. The Derzhprom building exhibits unique Constructivist architecture. The city also hosts the annual Kharkiv Music Festival.
Poltava is site to one of the most important battles in European and Ukranian history. When Peter the Great defeated the Swedish and Ukrainian kings in the Battle of Poltava, Ukraine got imbibed deeply into Russian control for many centuries. You can see an overview of this tragic event in the Museum of the Battle of Poltava. This place was also home to Mykola Hohol, he was a major contributor to Russian literature. You could also see and purchase Ukrainian handicrafts in the annual Sorochynsky Fair that is held nearby.
Ivano-Frankivsk is a popular entry point to the mystical Carpathian Mountains, these mountains are home to people known as Hutsuls. Hutsuls are famous for their leatherwork, pottery, wood carvings, Easter eggs, embroidered clothing, and blankets. These artworks can be purchased in various souvenir shops found within the Fortress Gallery “Bastion” in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. The streets of the city are pedestrian-friendly and are lined with cafes. Taking a stroll through these streets you could spot many architecturally attractive buildings. This city also hosts a Blacksmith Festival every year and its streets are adorned with many beautiful metal sculptures.
Chernivtsi, Kamianetsk-Podilsky, and Mukachevo
These two beautiful cities atop the Carpathian Mountains should be visited. Chernivtsi has an architecturally stunning university campus while Mukachevo is home to the Palanok Castle, whose cornerstone was laid down in the 1400 CE. The Holy Crown of Hungary was safely hidden there at a point of time to protect it from being pillaged by Napoleon’s troops. Kamianetsk-Podilskyi has the most famous medieval castle along the mighty Smotrycz River. The city also has a hot air balloon festival that is held every May month.
Kyiv is the capital city of Ukraine and is an important industrial and cultural hub of Eastern Europe. “Everything Starts in Kyiv” is the motto of the city, the motto is trying to convey that every trip to Ukraine should start in Kyiv. Kyiv is one of the greenest cities in Europe and has more than a hundred parks and 450 public gardens. Kyiv is also known as the “City of Golden Domes” for its many glistening cupolas of ancient Ukrainian Orthodox places of worship. These places of worship include St. Michael’s, St. Sophia’s, and the Monastery of the Caves. Other than being a city of many beautiful churches, it is also the economic hub of the country. This makes the entire city bustle with contemporary culture and classical vibrancy. If you take a walk along the banks of the majestic Dnipro River, you will be able to see many architectural treasures. You could also enjoy the city by taking a boat ride through the river and go under the seven bridges that line the river.
Tour of Chernobyl
Chernobyl is one of the most tragic events in recent history. The event let the entire scientific community stunned and made human civilization rethink many things. The “Chernobyl Disaster” has led to a huge area being demarcated and unused, thus a trip through the place feels like traveling back in time. The tour takes you on a journey around the town of Pripyat and the Chernobyl zone while ensuring that you are not exposed to much radiation. You don’t have to be afraid of the radiation as it is no more than what you would experience on a long flight. You will be accompanied by a guide who will tell you all about the accident and the efforts that have been made to contain the radiation. This tour is one you must surely take when you visit Ukraine as it is an experience you cannot get anywhere else in the world.
Shooting and driving tours
Ukraine is home to many adventure sports, the most common of it is shooting. The country has many gun ranges and shooting tours for you to have fun firing your weapon, including the AK 47. They also have places that let you drive USSR military vehicles, a few places even have tanks that you can drive. All of this is legal, so you don’t have to worry about being arrested at the end of the day.
Trip to the Tunnel of Love
The Tunnel of Love in Klevan is one of the most romantic spots in all of Europe. The tunnel is actually a section of a railway that is adorned by green arches. Many couples flock from all around the world to just take a walk along with this iconic place. You can easily visit this place from Kyiv and many companies organize trips to the place.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s former countryside residence
This place was a country house of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych before he got ousted. The place has since then been converted into a museum and has many features. It has a private zoo, an opulent mansion, a replica of a Spanish galleon, a golf course, and even an underground shooting range. Trips to this place are organized from the city of Kyiv and usually takes about four hours.
Currencies you can use in Ukraine
The official currency of Ukraine is the hryvnia, and it is accepted all over the country. Most of the people there also accept the Pound, the Euro, and the US Dollar. You might have a tough time at a few places if you try to purchase with other currencies. Thankfully most of the cities have many currency exchange centers that are moderately priced.
Ukraine is a very scenic country with many sights. The country is yet to be a mainstream tourist location, so you will be able to explore much of the country without having to deal with giant tourist crowds. It has many one of a kind experiences like the tunnel of love and the trip to Chernobyl. If you are a gun enthusiast, you simply cannot do better than Ukraine. So the next time you are planning for a vacation in Europe, do consider Ukraine as it is one of the last places in Europe to be untouched by tourists.