Ukraine is a very vivid country, rich in culture and history. There is much to offer tourists, many lovely sights, traditional sounds, decadent flavor and unique smells. A wide variety of attractions in Ukraine capture the interest of tourists from the world over. One such Ukrainian attraction is St. Sophia Cathedral and Monastery, built during the 11th century. Also located in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, are attractions such as The Golden Gate, Cathedral of St. Vladimir, Museum of Ukrainian Art, Andreyev Hill, the Opera House and the Historical Museum of Ukraine.
Take a walk through time in the historical city of Lviv. In addition to the amazing architecture, visitors can explore great Ukrainian attractions including the National Museum, Antique Armory, Pharmaceutical Museum, Museum of Ethnography and Crafts, Museum of History and the Opera House of Ivan Franko. The city of Odessa is well-known for the Potemkin Stairway with its 192 steps. Odessa also boasts a beautifully decorated opera house, a statue of the Duke of Richelieu, the Archaeological Museum and the Vorontsov Palace. This is just a small sampling of the many fascinating attractions in Ukraine. Visit this wonderful country and you will soon find there is always more to discover.
1. CRIMEAN RESORTS, UKRAINE
Trident – the symbol of Ukraine Crimea is a fascinating region to explore, as well as a great place to spend a vacation. Across the centuries it has attracted settlers such as the Greeks, the Venetians and the Genoese – all of whom founded cities along the coast and inter-married with the local people. Crimean resorts is a prime vacation destination for millions of tourists from all over the world. Crimean health resorts are famous for their mineral waters as well as wines. Private enterprise is flourishing and well-stocked shops and good restaurants are the norm.
WHEN TO VISIT CRIMEA
Crimean Beaches Crimea is one of the largest and most famous health resorts of the former USSR. Stalin, Khruschev, Brezhnev, and other powerful leaders of the former Soviet Union often visited Crimea for relaxation and vacation. Crimea’s high season starts in July and lasts till September. Tourists start coming in mid-April when it usually gets warm. September is a perfect time to enjoy the resorts with less crowds, and October brings wonderful, golden colors to the peninsula. Even though winter months bring occasional snowfalls, there are usually periods of sunshine every day.
The temperature of the water of the Black Sea usually ranges between 22-25Â°C (72-78F) during summer months and is usually warm enough to swim in untill late October. Occasional strong winds can cause chilly water to reach the surface and stay there till it warms, so it is difficult to forecast water temperature based only on air temperature.
2. KIEW, UKRAINE
Kiev is the largest city in Ukraine, and also the capital. Its history is rich and vibrant, especially since it acted as capital of the Soviet Union for some time. It is here that you can get glimpses of ornate architecture in bright golds, yellows and greens — those of which pop from the other concrete giants that line the streets.
Things to do in Kiev:
- Pechersk Lavra (caves monastery)
- Chernobyl Museum
- St. Andrew’s Church
- St. Sophia’s Cathedral
- St. Michael’s Monastery
- Pirogovo (open air museum)
- You can shop along the streets of Khreschatyk or in the Bessarabsky Markets, all while the giant Mother of the Motherland statue watches over the city.
3. ODESSA, UKRAINE
Odesa is referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea” is the 3rd largest city in Ukraine, the largest city along the Black Sea, and the most important city of Ukraine for trade. Odesa’s mild climate, warm waters and sunlit beaches attract hundreds of thousands of people year around. Its shady lanes, beautiful lightly pastel buildings and cozy squares impart to the city a certain air of intimacy.When I taught English in Kiev, many of my students would talk about Odessa, always mentioning the people as being particularly funny. I was glad that when I finally got to visit this Southern city on the Black Sea, they did not disappoint with their humorous street art and even a couple of friendly locals. Like Lviv, Odessa has more of an Eastern European flair that will feel quaint and comfortable after a stint in the big city of Kiev.
Things to do in Odessa:
- Visiting the beaches, like Arcadia and Malibu (it is a popular summer vacation destination)
- Walking along Primorvskiy Boulevard
- Museum of Western and Eastern Art
4. YALTA, UKRAINE
Steep mountain peaks serve as a lovely backdrop for Yalta the jewel of the Crimean peninsula. There is no surprise that the writer Anton Chekhov chose to live in this seaside resortâ€”it seems to be a combination of Carmel California the French Riviera and Greece. Yalta (pop. 80 000) has exemplary resorts museums and beaches. Places to see in Yalta: Livadia is the former Romanov vacation home used for the World War II conference of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt. Chekhova former residence has been turned into a museum; inside one can find the writers medical bag (from his days as a doctor) and the piano Rachmaninov played when he visited.
Allow at least two (but preferably three) nights for relaxation. Just outside of Yalta set on a hilltop beside the ocean are the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens which boast 1 600 varieties of roses and a very good restaurant/club. Yalta is also located in the south of Ukraine in the Crimea peninsula. It is a resort town, and has been for centuries given its location on the Black Sea. The smooth pebble beaches are a pleasure to visit in the summer, but be aware that plenty of other people will be doing exactly the same.
Things to do in Yalta:
- Livadia Palace — the location of the Yalta Conference in 1945
- Massandra Palace — located in the countryside
- The Nikita Botanical Gardens are a good place to spend the afternoon with some of your freshly bought, local Yalta honey.
5. KHARKOV, UKRAINE
Kharkov is a bit of an outlier on this list, but it might have interest to the traveler that wants to get to know all sides of the Ukraine culture. Kharkov is located way out on the Northeast side of the country, near the Russian border, but surprisingly it is the 2nd largest city, and one with a very strong educational and institutional backbone.
Things to do in Kharkov:
- Explore the universities
- Blagoveshensky Cathedral
- Kid’s Rail Road
6. POLTAVA, UKRAINE
Poltava, Ukraine Located between Kharkiv and Kyiv in Ukraine, Poltava is best known as the site of a 1709 battle between a coalition of Cossacks, led by Mazepa, and the Swedes (Charles XII) against the Russian army of Czar Peter I. The subsequent Russian victory in battle established Russia prominent position in Europe and consequently Ukraine decline. The battlefield and its monuments are the major draw. Places to see in the town include the October Park, the gun-barrel-shaped Column of Glory and the Spassky Church, which is actually an outer shell protecting an earlier, wooden church.
It is still unknown when the city was founded. Within the city limits the archeologists unearthed a Paleolithic dwelling as well as the Scythian remains. The present name of the city is traditionally connected to the settlement Ltava which is mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle.
Things to do in Poltava:
- Zhovtneva Street is the heart of the city of Poltava. There are numerous restaurants, shops and attractions along it.
- circular park surrounded by white buildings modeled after St. Petersburg
- Gogol Theater, which holds classical concerts and plays at low prices.
- Uspenska Church.
- Halushky monument is the home turned museum of Ukrainian writer Kotlyarevsky.
7. Carpathian Mountains
Carpathian Mountains Carpathian Mountains are considered to be the Green Pearl of Ukraine. It is one of the most popular resorts and tourist centers of the country. A beautiful mix of natural areas, forests, meadows, shepherds and humans living in harmony with nature is what makes the mountains so sttractive to tourists! An original nature of territory, beauty of its Alpine meadows and woods, rough rivers and mountain lakes, soft climate, curative mineral sources, the historical and architectural monuments can attract everyone to themselves. Thousands of tourists and people who like travels and adventures come here. The Ukrainian Carpathians are relatively gentle peaks that rise as high as 2061 m (Mt. Hoverla). The largest resorts are located in Slavsko, Bukovel, Tysovets, and Dragobrat. Some of the smaller resorts are in Krasiya, Dolyna, Beskid, Polyana, Synevir, Yaremche, Verkhovnya, Kosiv, and Yavoriv.
If you visit the Carpathians, you will not find yourself in an extreme blizzards or dying from severe hypothermia. The Carpathians benefit from having a relatively mild temperature in winter time. Lowest winter temperatures are around -10 C to -15 C (5 F to 14 F). In summer time the weather is agreeably warm. Throughout the year, the Carpathians do get quite a bit of rainfall 800- 1500 mm (hence itâ€™s rich and verdant plant life). However, this is spread out evenly through the year.
Things to do in Carpathian Mountain:
Carpathian Mountains, UkraineThe Carpathian mountains dominate the region with their forests, rivers, lakes, alpine meadows, towns and villages. The region is rich in culture, activity and history. It is ideal for summer holidays walking, riding, mountain climbing, exploring. Equipped campsites, hikers’ refuges, groomed hiking trails or signs are very rare. Topographical maps with hiking routes can be obtained at the resorts or from the local inhabitants who provide accommodation to tourists. It is highly advisable to bring rain gear. Drinking water is widely available from the mountain brooks and streams.
Cycling and Riding
The Carpathians are great for cycling. There is an abundance of automobile roads a both paved and unpaved â€“ which are suitable for cycling, and it is possible to get to any region of the mountains on your bike some way or another.
The Prut River and Rafting
It is slightly more difficult to access the more rugged central and southern Carpathians. Trains run to Ivano-Frankivsk, Kolomyia, and Chernivtsi from cities in central and eastern Ukraine. From there you can take “marshrutka” to different destinations in the mountains. There is also a slow narrow-gauge diesel train that runs from Ivano-Frankivsk to Rakhiv and back several times a day. Buses and “marshrutkas” usually leave from train or bus stations.
8. Olesko Castle, ukraine
Olesko Castle is an outstanding architectural and historic monument from the 13th – 18th centuries, once a strong fortress of Old Rus in the 14th century. Later in the 15th – 16th century Olesko Castle was turned into a palace for aristocracy and remodeled in the Italian Renaissance style in the 1620s. The famous Polish king Jan III Sobieski was born there in 1629. The king often lived in Olesko Castle and collected numerous art works. Afterwards the castle belonged to the Rzewuski family. After restoration in 1965-1975 Olesko Castle became a museum. Hundreds of unique paintings, sculptures and applied arts can be seen in the museum. Among them are icons, portraits, still-lives, the monumental picture of the Battle of Vienna, old furniture and wooden sculptures. In the Olesko Castle basement there is a well which also served as an escape passage for the besieged. A nice park with some modern sculptures surrounds Olesko Castle.
9. Lviv, Ukraine
Lviv, Ukraine Lviv is a very poetic city steeped in legends both ancient and relatively new. Narrow medieval streets paved with stones, architectural decoration done in different styles all preserved in its original form. In ancient times Lviv was the capital of a mighty Slavic state called the Galicia-Volyn principality. Being a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then Poland contributed to the formation of the city unique image. In spite of all the whims of history the city has not lost its Ukrainian spirit, and thank God, Lviva delicate architecture has not suffered from monstrosities of the Soviet Era. So it is no wonder that the central part of the city is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
Things to do in Lviv:
- Dzyga Cultural Center, 35 Virmenska Street; 75-21-01. A contemporary art space with a music hall and bar.
- The National Museum in Lviv comprises two buildings:
- the original museum at 42 Drahomanov Street, 72-57-45; and
- the newer museum at 20 Prospekt Svobody, 74-22-82 or 72-89-60, across from the Grand Hotel. Highlights includes Ukrainian icons from the 14th through the 17th century.
- The 220 spiral metal steps of Castle Hill, northeast of the city center, lead to the crumbling remains of a castle that is supposedly on the spot where Danylo founded Lviv. Here you will find spectacular views of the city and the distant Carpathian Mountains.
10. Carpathian Landscapes
By and large Ukraine is as flat as a topographically challenged blin (pancake), which makes its bumpy bits all the more special. Ukraine’s slice of the Carpathian arc barely reaches over 2000 m, but its soothing wooded slopes, rough stony trails, flower-filled upland pastures and wide, snaking valleys make this prime hiking, biking and skiing territory. Needless to say, the Carpathians are home to Ukraine’s highest peak, Mt Hoverla, a fairly easy trek from nearby villages, as well as several ski resorts.
HOW TO REACH UKRAINE
How to get to Ukraine by Air
Kiev’s Borispol International Airport, 38 km from the city centre, is the main gateway to Ukraine. It’s served by two main airlines- Air Ukraine and Ukraine International Airlines, the latter operating flights to a number of cities in west Europe, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London, Rome, Barcelona, Vienna and Milan. Air Ukraine, a smaller outfit, operates flights to a few more destinations, some of them in neighbouring countries of the CIS.
In addition to Kiev, a few other cities in Ukraine have international airports; these include Lviv, which is linked to Warsaw, Washington DC and New York; Simferopol, which has connections to Turkey; and Odessa, where flights from Vienna and Moscow land. During the summer, there are direct connections between the UK and Ivano-Frankivsk.
How to get to Ukraine by Rail
Ukraine is linked by train to all the other CIS states, with frequent trains to Berlin, Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, Brest (in Belarus) and Moscow. Most trains arrive at Kiev or Lviv. To get to Ukraine by train from Western Europe, a connecting train to Berlin would be the most convenient; from Berlin, a train trip to Kiev is just about 26 hours.
How to get to Ukraine by Road
There are a number of land crossings all across Ukraine’s borders with its neighbours, the main ones being Uzhgorod, Chop and Mostiska. There are frequent buses connecting Kiev, Lviv and a few other towns to other countries, but, keeping in mind the vastness of the country, you might find it a bit tiring to go by bus. The trip from Kharkiv to Moscow itself is about 20 hours, and that’s considered one of the shorter trips!
How to get to Ukraine by Sea
The river ports of Odessa and Izmail, on the Danube, are connected to a number of ports around the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, including Haifa (Israel), Piraeus (Greece), Port Said (Egypt) and Limassol (Cyprus). In addition, there are regular ferries from Novorissysk, Anapa, Temryuk and Sochi (in the Russian Federation) and Sukhumi and Batumi (in Georgia). Sevastopol is connected by ferry to Istanbul, and Yalta is a port of call for small cruise boats coming through Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.