Thursday, December 8, 2022
Ukraine travel guide - Travel S helper

Ukraine

travel guide

Ukraine is a sovereign state in Eastern Europe, bounded on the east and northeast by Russia, on the northwest by Belarus, on the west by Poland and Slovakia, on the southwest by Hungary, Romania, and Moldova, and on the south and southeast by the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Ukraine and Russia are presently engaged in a territorial dispute over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014 but which Ukraine and the majority of the international community see as Ukrainian. Ukraine’s total size, including Crimea, is 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the biggest nation completely inside Europe and the 46th largest in the world. It has a population of about 44.5 million, making it the world’s 32nd most populated nation.

Since 32,000 BC, the present Ukrainian region has been populated. Throughout the Middle Ages, the region was a vital center of East Slavic culture, with the strong kingdom of Kievan Rus’ serving as the foundation for Ukrainian identity. Following the territory’s disintegration in the 13th century, it was disputed, controlled, and partitioned by a number of countries, including Lithuania, Poland, the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. During the 17th and 18th centuries, a Cossack republic developed and flourished, but its territory was ultimately divided between Poland and the Russian Empire, and finally absorbed entirely by Russia. During the twentieth century, two short periods of independence occurred, one at the conclusion of World War I and another during World War II. However, both instances resulted in the consolidation of Ukraine’s borders into a Soviet republic, a position that lasted until 1991, when Ukraine achieved independence from the Soviet Union after the Cold War’s conclusion. Prior to independence, Ukraine was often referred to in English as “The Ukraine,” but sources have subsequently moved to exclude the prefix “the” from all usage of the term.

Ukraine proclaimed itself a neutral state after independence. Nonetheless, in 1994, it established a limited military cooperation with the Russian Federation and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nations, as well as a collaboration with NATO. In the 2000s, the government started to gravitate toward NATO, and the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan signed in 2002 laid the groundwork for further collaboration with the alliance. Later, it was agreed that the issue of NATO membership should be decided by a public vote at some time in the future. Former President Viktor Yanukovych deemed the existing level of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO adequate and opposed Ukraine’s membership in NATO. Protests against President Yanukovych’s administration erupted in downtown Kiev in 2013, after the government’s decision to suspend the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement in favor of stronger economic relations with Russia. This sparked a several-month-long wave of rallies and protests known as the Euromaidan, which eventually culminated in the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which saw President Yanukovych and his cabinet deposed and a new government formed. These actions laid the groundwork for Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the outbreak of the Donbass War in April 2014. Both of these projects are currently underway as of August 2016. Ukraine implemented the economic component of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the European Union on 1 January 2016.

Ukraine has long been a worldwide breadbasket due to its vast, rich farmlands, and it continues to be one of the biggest grain exporters in the world. Ukraine’s diverse economy is anchored on a sizable heavy industry sector, most notably in aircraft and industrial equipment.

Ukraine is a unitary country with a semi-presidential system with three distinct departments of government: legislative, executive, and judiciary. Kiev is the capital and biggest city. Ukraine has the second-largest military in Europe, behind Russia, when reserves and paramilitary troops are included. The nation has a population of 42.5 million people (excluding Crimea), with Ukrainians constituting 77.8 percent of the population, followed by a sizable minority of Russians (17.3 percent), Romanians/Moldovans, Belarusians, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, and Hungarians. Ukrainian is Ukraine’s official language; it uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Eastern Orthodoxy is the country’s main religion, and it has had a significant impact on Ukrainian architecture, literature, and music.

After the October Revolution and the Civil War, the whole nation, known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, became a member of the Soviet Union. Ukraine is Europe’s second-largest nation, despite having one of the fastest-declining populations of any major country owing to high emigration, limited immigration, early deaths (especially among males), and a decreasing birthrate that was already below replacement levels.

Every year, Ukraine used to draw more than 20 million international residents (23 million in 2012). However, after 2014, this figure has dropped to about 10 million. Visitors are mainly from Eastern Europe, although they also come from Western Europe, Turkey, and Israel.

Flights & Hotels
search and compare

We compare room prices from 120 different hotel booking services (including Booking.com, Agoda, Hotel.com and others), enabling you to pick the most affordable offers that are not even listed on each service separately.

100% Best Price

The price for one and the same room can differ depending on the website you are using. Price comparison enables finding the best offer. Also, sometimes the same room can have a different availability status in another system.

No charge & No Fees

We don’t charge any commissions or extra fees from our customers and we cooperate only with proven and reliable companies.

Ratings and Reviews

We use TrustYou™, the smart semantic analysis system, to gather reviews from many booking services (including Booking.com, Agoda, Hotel.com and others), and calculate ratings based on all the reviews available online.

Discounts and Offers

We search for destinations through a large booking services database. This way we find the best discounts and offer them to you.

Ukraine - Info Card

Population

41,167,336

Currency

Hryvnia (₴) (UAH)

Time zone

UTC+2 (EET)

Area

603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi)

Calling code

+380

Official language

Hryvnia (₴) (UAH)

Ukraine | Introduction

Tourism in Ukraine

Ukraine is a location located at the crossroads of central and eastern Europe, as well as the north and south hemispheres. It shares a border with Russia and is not distant from Turkey. It contains mountain ranges, including the Carpathian Mountains, which are ideal for skiing, trekking, fishing, and hunting. The Black Sea shoreline is a popular summer holiday location for tourists. Ukraine features vineyards where local wines are produced, old castle remains, historical parks, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches, as well as a few mosques and synagogues. Kiev, the country’s capital city, is home to numerous distinctive buildings, including the Saint Sophia Cathedral and wide boulevards.

Other popular tourist destinations include the port city of Odesa and the ancient city of Lviv in the west. The majority of Western Ukraine, which was formerly part of the Republic of Poland before World War II, is a favorite tourist destination for Poles. With its warm climate, rugged mountains, plateaus, and ancient ruins, Crimea, a little “continent” of its own, had been a popular vacation destination for tourists for swimming or sun tanning in the Black Sea, though the tourist trade has been severely impacted by Russia’s occupation and annexation of the territory in 2014. Cities there include Sevastopol and Yalta, which hosted the World War II peace conference. Visitors may also take ship cruises down the Dnieper River from Kiev to the Black Sea shore. Ukrainian cuisine has a lengthy history and a broad range of unique dishes.

The country’s tourist sector is often seen as undeveloped, yet it is critical to Ukraine’s economy. Ukraine does offer certain benefits, including much cheaper prices than other European locations and visa-free entry for most individuals from Europe, the former Soviet Union, and North America. Citizens of the European Union and EFTA, the United States, Canada, Japan, and South Korea have not needed a visa to visit Ukraine for tourist reasons since 2005. In addition, nationals of Russia and other CIS nations are not needed to get a visa (except Turkmenistan).

Geography Of Ukraine

Ukraine is the 46th-largest nation in the world, with a land area of 603,628 square kilometers (233,062 square miles) and a coastline of 2,782 kilometers (1,729 miles) (after South Sudan, before Madagascar). It is the biggest fully European nation and the second largest country in Europe (after the European part of Russia, before metropolitan France). It is located between latitudes 44° and 53° N and longitudes 22° and 41° E.

Ukraine’s environment is dominated by rich plains (or steppes) and plateaus cut by rivers such as the Dnieper (Dnipro), Seversky Donets, Dniester, and the Southern Buh as they flow south into the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. To the southwest, the Danube delta marks the boundary with Romania. Its different areas have a variety of geographical characteristics spanning from the mountains to the plains. The only mountains in the nation are the Carpathian Mountains in the west, with the highest peak, Hora Hoverla, at 2,061 meters (6,762 feet), and the Crimean Mountains in Crimea, in the extreme south along the shore. However, Ukraine contains a number of highland areas, including the Volyn-Podillia Upland (in the west) and the Near-Dnipro Upland (on the right bank of the Dnieper); to the east are the south-western spurs of the Central Russian Uplands, which form the boundary with the Russian Federation. The Donets Ridge and the Near Azov Upland may be found near the Sea of Azov. The snow melt from the mountains feeds the rivers, and natural variations in height provide a rapid decrease in elevation, creating many chances for waterfalls to develop.

Iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulphur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, wood, and an abundance of fertile land are among Ukraine’s significant natural resources. Despite this, the country confronts a number of significant environmental problems, including insufficient drinkable water supplies, air and water pollution, and deforestation, as well as radioactive poisoning in the north-east from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986. Recycling hazardous home trash is still in its infancy in Ukraine.

Climate In Ukraine

With the exception of the southern coast of Crimea, which has a subtropical climate, Ukraine has a mainly temperate climate. The climate is affected by the Atlantic Ocean’s fairly warm, humid air. Average yearly temperatures in the north vary from 5.5–7 °C (41.9–44.6 °F) to 11–13 °C (51.8–55.4 °F) in the south. Precipitation is abnormally distributed, with the west and north receiving the most and the east and southeast receiving the least. Western Ukraine, especially the Carpathian Mountains, gets about 1,200 millimetres (47.2 in) of precipitation each year, whereas Crimea and the Black Sea coast receive approximately 400 mm (47.2 in) (15.7 in).

Demographics Of Ukraine

Ukrainians account for 77.8 percent of the population, according to the 2001 Ukrainian Census. Other significant groups have identified as Russians (17.3 percent), Belarusians (0.6 percent), Moldovans (0.5 percent), Crimean Tatars (0.5 percent), Bulgarians (0.4 percent), Hungarians (0.3 percent), Romanians (0.3 percent), Poles (0.3 percent), Jews (0.2 percent), Armenians (0.2 percent), Greeks (0.2 percent ), and Tatars (0.2 percent ).The industrial districts in the east and southeast are the most densely inhabited, with urban areas housing about 67.2 percent of the population.

Religion In Ukraine

According to estimates collected by the independent Razumkov Centre in a national poll conducted in 2006, 75.2 percent of respondents believe in God, while 22 percent do not. 37.4 percent indicated they go to church on a regular basis.

The most common religion in Ukraine among Ukrainians who are affiliated with an organized religion is Eastern Orthodoxy, which is currently divided into three Church bodies: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church autonomous church body under the Patriarch of Moscow, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

The Eastern Rite Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which practices a similar liturgical and spiritual tradition to Eastern Orthodoxy but is in communion with the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church and recognizes the primacy of the Pope as head of the Church, is a distant second in terms of number of followers.

In addition, there are 863 Latin Rite Catholic communities and 474 clergy members in Ukraine, serving about one million Latin Rite Catholics. The group accounts for 2.19 percent of the population and is mostly made up of ethnic Poles and Hungarians who reside primarily in the country’s western areas. In Ukraine, Protestants account for about 2.19 percent of the population. Smaller groupings may also be found.

There are about 500,000 Muslims in Ukraine, with approximately 300,000 of them being Crimean Tatars.

There are 487 recognized Muslim communities in Crimea, with 368 of them located on the island. In addition, about 50,000 Muslims, the most of whom are foreign-born, reside in Kiev.

The Jewish population is a sliver of what it was before WWII. Ukraine was a part of the Pale of Settlement during the Tsarist era, and Jews were severely limited throughout the Russian Empire. In 1926, the biggest Jewish communities were in Odessa, with 154,000 people, or 36.5 percent of the total population, and Kiev, with 140,500 people, or 27.3 percent. Orthodox Judaism is the most prevalent religion in Ukraine. There are also smaller Reform and Conservative (“Masorti”) Jewish communities.

According to one 2006 poll, the number of non-religious people in Ukraine was about 11.1 percent of the total population.

Famines and migration

The 1930s famines, followed by the destruction of World War II, resulted in a demographic catastrophe. In 1933, females had a life expectancy of 10 years and men had a life expectancy of seven years. By 1941–44, females had a life expectancy of 25 years and males had a life expectancy of 15 years. “Over 7 million Ukrainians, more than one-sixth of the pre-war population, were murdered during the Second World War,” according to The Oxford Companion to World War II.

Significant migration occurred during Ukraine’s first years of independence. In 1991–92, over one million individuals migrated to Ukraine, the majority of them came from other former Soviet republics. Between 1991 and 2004, 2.2 million people immigrated to Ukraine (including 2 million from other former Soviet Union countries), while 2.5 million left the country (among them, 1.9 million moved to other former Soviet Union republics). Currently, immigrants account for an estimated 14.7 percent of the overall population, or 6.9 million people; this is the world’s fourth highest number. In 2006, an estimated 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian heritage lived in Canada, making it the world’s third-largest Ukrainian community after Ukraine and Russia. In addition, there are significant Ukrainian immigrant populations in the United States, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina.

Language in Ukraine

The official language is Ukrainian. Russian, Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian are spoken near neighboring nations. Russian is a close cousin of Ukrainian and is often used as a first language in Ukraine’s south and east. It is fair to assume that almost any Ukrainian will understand Russian; however, keep in mind that in the western regions, people may be hesitant to assist you if you speak Russian, but Ukrainians will be more tolerant than Russians to outsiders. You will have the greatest difficulty in Lviv, since they not only speak Ukrainian but also have their own dialect.

In the east, on the other hand, Russian is the most widely spoken language. People speaking transitional dialects may also be found in the country’s center and eastern regions (generically referred to as the surzhyk, i.e. the “mix [of languages]”). It is also usual for individuals to converse in their native tongue, regardless of the interlocutor’s, thus a guest speaking Russian may be answered in Ukrainian and vice versa.

Both languages are spoken in Kiev, the capital, although Russian is more frequently used. As a result, Ukrainian is more often seen in Central and Western Ukraine, whereas Russian is more commonly encountered in Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

Because English is the most often taught foreign language in schools, young people are more likely to speak a bit of it. The majority of individuals in the tourist sector (hotels, etc.) speak English. Also, as a result of Ukraine’s hosting of Euro 2012, there has been a significant increase in tourism amenities, as well as police officers learning English to better help visitors to the games.

In general, Ukrainian is gaining momentum over time. Certain areas, such as Luhansk, may have unique laws and education in Russian. Russian is still the lingua franca in general, although the younger generation is pushing their children to speak Ukrainian at home. The biggest barrier to Ukrainization is opposition in the East and South who would like Russian to be the state’s official language; additionally, much of the media, such as books, videos, and video games, are only in Russian; however, there have been a few titles with the option of Ukrainian subtitles on DVDs, and some authors write exclusively in Ukrainian, so it is making progress. Universities used to offer the option of teaching in either Ukrainian or Russian, but today, with the exception of those in specialized fields or private institutions, most national universities only teach in Ukrainian. However, many people think that Ukraine will always have two languages and that neither threatens the other’s survival.

It should be emphasized, however, that although everyone there is a Ukrainian citizen, there are more than a million people of Russian ancestry; for example, Kharkiv alone has 1 million ethnic Russians. It is difficult to claim they are ethnically distinct people, but they did move during the Soviet Union and are proud of their origins as Russians, continuing to speak Russian with their children even if they are receiving an education in Ukrainian. The topic of language in Ukrainian is a sensitive one, therefore perhaps the material given seems impartial.

If you’re going to Ukraine, study either basic Ukrainian or basic Russian beforehand (know your phrase book well) and/or have access to a bilingual speaker. A mobile/cell/handy number (nearly everyone has a mobile phone) may be a lifesaver. Nobody in any official capacity (train stations, police, bus drivers, information desks, etc.) will be allowed to communicate in any language other than Ukrainian and Russian. You will, however, be able to converse if you already know another Slavic language since the Slavic languages are closely linked.

It is a good idea to get acquainted with the Cyrillic alphabet in order to save time and effort. Certain terms, if you can read Cyrillic, are near to English, such as telefon (telephone), which you would understand if you saw it, thus understanding the alphabet helps a lot.

Internet & Communications in Ukraine

The major telecom operator is Ukrtelekom. Ukraine’s country code is 380.

Kyivstar and Vodafone are the two largest mobile phone providers in Ukraine.

Internet

The overwhelming majority of Ukraine’s land has mobile GPRS access. 3G mobile access is rapidly expanding. Cities are littered with public Wi-Fi hotspots. There are plans and initiatives in the works to provide widespread wireless broadband connectivity in urban open areas, long-distance trains operated by Ukrzaliznytsia, and urban public transportation vehicles.

Economy Of Ukraine

Ukraine’s economy was the second biggest in the Soviet Union during the Soviet era, with a significant industrial and agricultural component of the country’s planned economy. With the demise of the Soviet regime, the nation transitioned from a planned to a market economy. The bulk of the people, which had fallen into poverty, found the changeover process tough. Ukraine’s economy suffered greatly in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Life was difficult for the ordinary Ukrainian citizen on a daily basis. A large proportion of people in rural Ukraine lived by producing their own food, often working two or more jobs, and purchasing essentials via the barter economy.

To address severe commodity shortages, the government liberalised most pricing in 1991, and was effective in doing so. Simultaneously, the government continued to subsidize state-run businesses and agriculture via unreported monetary emission. The early 1990s’ lax monetary policy drove inflation to hyperinflationary heights. Ukraine set the world record highest inflation in a calendar year in 1993. Those on fixed incomes were hit the worst. Prices did not stabilize until 1996, when a new currency, the hryvnia, was introduced. In addition, the government was sluggish to undertake fundamental changes. Following the country’s independence, the government established a legislative framework for privatization. However, strong opposition to changes inside the administration and from a sizable portion of the public quickly stymied reform attempts. Many state-owned businesses were exempted from the privatization process.

Meanwhile, by 1999, the GDP had dropped to fewer than 40% of its 1991 level. It rebounded significantly in the years that followed, but has yet to reach its historical peak as of 2014. In the early 2000s, the economy saw significant export-based growth of 5 to 10% each year, with industrial output increasing by more than 10% per year. Ukraine was affected by the 2008 economic crisis, and the IMF authorized a $16.5 billion stand-by loan for the nation in November 2008.

According to the CIA, Ukraine’s GDP (PPP) in 2010 was $305.2 billion, ranking 38th in the world. According to the CIA, its GDP per capita in 2010 was $6,700 (in PPP values), ranking it 107th in the world. Nominal GDP (in US dollars, estimated at the market exchange rate) was $136 billion, ranking the country 53rd in the world. By July 2008, the average nominal monthly wage in Ukraine had reached 1,930 hryvnias. Despite being lower than in neighboring Central European nations, wage growth in 2008 was 36.8 percent.

Ukraine manufactures almost every kind of transportation vehicle and spacecraft. Many nations import Antonov aircraft and KrAZ vehicles. The bulk of Ukrainian exports are sold to the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Ukraine has had its own space agency, the National Space Agency of Ukraine, since its independence (NSAU). Ukraine has been a key player in scientific space research and remote sensing missions. Ukraine deployed six self-built satellites and 101 launch vehicles between 1991 and 2007, and it continues to develop spacecraft.

The nation imports the majority of its energy sources, particularly oil and natural gas, and is heavily reliant on Russia as an energy provider. While 25 percent of natural gas in Ukraine originates from domestic sources, approximately 35 percent comes from Russia, and the remaining 40 percent comes from Central Asia through transit routes controlled by Russia. At the same time, Ukraine transports 85 percent of Russian gas to Western Europe.

The Ukrainian economy’s fastest expanding sector is the information technology (IT) market, which surpassed all other Central and Eastern European nations in 2007, increasing by 40%. Ukraine ranked fourth in the world in terms of certified IT experts in 2013, behind only the United States, India, and Russia.

According to the World Bank, Ukraine’s GDP in 2010 was approximately $136 billion, $163 billion in 2011, $176.6 billion in 2012, and $177.4 billion in 2013. In 2014 and 2015, the Ukrainian currency was the world’s worst performing currency, having lost 80% of its value since April 2014, after the Donbass War and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine is classified as a middle-income country by the World Bank. Significant problems include poor infrastructure and transportation, as well as corruption and bureaucracy. The people’s determination to confront corrupt politicians and corporate elites resulted in a large wave of public protests against Victor Yanukovych’s government in November 2013. However, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine remains the most corrupt nation in Europe, ranking 142nd out of 175 countries in the globe in the 2014 CPI report. In 2007, the Ukrainian stock market had the world’s second-highest growth rate of 130 percent. According to the CIA, the Ukrainian stock market had a market value of $111.8 billion in 2006.

Ukraine has made some progress in terms of decreasing absolute poverty, providing access to basic and secondary education, improving maternal health, and lowering child mortality. The absolute poverty rate (share of the population whose daily consumption is less than US$5.05 (PPP)) fell from 11.9 percent in 2000 to 2.3 percent in 2012, while the relative poverty rate (share of the population below the national poverty line) decreased from 71.2 percent to 24.0 percent.

Entry Requirements For Ukraine

Visa & Passport for Ukraine

Citizens of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican City, Monaco, Iceland, Norway, San Marino, Mongolia, Serbia, Montenegro, Georgia, Hong Kong, Israel, Paraguay, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Panama, Turkey, and the Commonwealth of Independent States are no longer required to obtain a tourist visa (except Turkmenistan). Due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukraine announced intentions in 2014 to impose visa restrictions on travel from Russia.

These visa waivers are only valid for tourist trips of less than 90 days. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, El Salvador, Mauritius, and the Seychelles may acquire visas on arrival.

Visas for other countries are available within a few hours after visiting a Ukrainian consulate after receiving a ‘letter of invitation’ from a prospective lodging or business provider.

More information is available from Ukraine’s embassies throughout the world.

Always keep track of how much money you have on hand. Customs agents may ask about the quantity brought into the nation. It is illegal to import significant sums of Ukrainian money (hryvnia) into Ukraine unless they were reported while leaving the country.

It is recommended to verify customs regulations in advance (e.g., the Boryspil Airport website, which includes an English version), since laws and regulations have a tendency of changing on short and unexpected notice.

You will no longer be needed to fill out an immigration form upon entering the nation.

How To Travel To Ukraine

Get In - By plane

Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv is the cheapest method to fly into Ukraine. Budapest, Frankfurt, Milan, Munich, Prague, London, Rome, Vienna, and Warsaw are the main international hubs for these flights, with several flights per day of Austrian AUA, CSA Czech Airlines, LOT, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Air France, British Airways, and KLM; as well as Ukraine International, which code-shares on these routes with the respective carriers, and another Ukrainian carrier, AeroSvit. Flight specials come and go, depending on the carrier’s whim.

Low-cost carrier Wizzair began operations in other countries as well as inside Ukraine. AirBaltic is the only other low-cost airline servicing Ukraine, with flights connecting in Riga, Latvia, or Vilnius, Lithuania. AeroSvit may potentially be classified as a low-cost airline. Aerosvit began flying between Kyiv Boryspil and London Gatwick in 2011. Be aware that if you have a lot of luggage, Wizzair provides 30kg allowances as opposed to the other airlines’ 20kg limits.

Direct flights to places like as Dnipro (Lufthansa), Donetsk (Lufthansa, Austrian), Odessa (LOT, Austrian, CSA Czech Airlines), Kharkiv and Lviv (LOT, Austrian Airlines) are available, although they are more costly.

Ukraine International Airlines is the most popular airline for domestic flights inside Ukraine. It is Ukraine’s unofficial national airline, with flights to all of the country’s main cities. The planes utilized are newer Boeing 737s. Aerosvit also began domestic flights from its base in Kyiv, mostly with newer Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft.

Get In - By train

There are daily direct overnight trains to Lviv or Kiev from Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Belgrade, Budapest, Bucharest, and Sofia. When traveling from Western Europe, expect a 2-3 hour delay at the border as the train’s bogies are adjusted to accommodate a different rail gauge. Rather of waiting for a through train, it’s usually faster and less expensive to purchase a ticket to the border and then change trains.

There are excellent international connections from Kiev to Central Europe and Russia. Every night, flights depart from Belgrade (36h), Budapest (24h), Chişinău (15h), Minsk (12h), Prague (35h), Sofia (37h) through Bucharest (26h), and Warsaw (16h). There are several trains from Moscow, the quickest of which being the Metropolitan Express, which takes just 812 hours. Saint Petersburg is also well serviced, with a 23-hour overnight train ride. During the summer, Berlin (22h) has nightly connections, whereas Vienna (34h) has nightly departures M-Th. There is also a weekly link from Venice (45h) to Ljubljana (41h), leaving on Thursdays.

Astana (73h, Thu), Baku (64h, Wed), and Murmansk are some of the most exotic locations with rare departures from Kiev (61h, seasonal). If you want to go on a genuine trip, take train 133E from Kiev to Vladivostok. It’s one of the longest train trips imaginable, lasting eight nights!

Train information is available on the Ukrainian railways’ website in both English and Ukrainian. The website is currently in ‘beta’ mode and has several glitches, especially with online booking.

Get In - By bus

From Poland, there are low-cost direct bus connections to Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. They typically provide a low-cost degree of comfort and cost about UAH 90-100.

Get In - By car

On the Polish side, the closest major town is Przemyl, which is easily accessible by taking Route #4 (which goes through Przemyl), also known as the E40 in European terminology.

When you arrive, the road is quite narrow (no motorway/autobahn here), with a line of trucks and vans parked to the right and a hard-core parking lot with cafe/bar to the left. Stop behind the goods trucks, slide up the side of them, and then feed into the customs area when the man signals you ahead (for polite Europeans, you’re not skipping the line – commercial traffic is handled differently).

If you’re driving an EU-registered vehicle, go to the EU-passports, passport control area. Then it’s Ukrainian passport control, Ukrainian customs, and you’re done. It used to be a nightmare, with apocalyptic stories of 5-6+ hours at the border, but the Ukrainians have made tremendous strides in efficiency, and the trip now takes about an hour (2012). Don’t expect the border police to be nice or even courteous; instead, anticipate everything from indifferent to highly rude behavior.

Once through, just follow the major road towards Lviv on the E40 – this is the route that will take you all the way through Ukraine to Kyiv (and thence on to the east). Follow this route – the major towns along the way are Lviv, Rivne, and Zhytomyr.

Keep an eye out approximately 15-20 kilometers into Ukraine, near Mostyska, where police have gone wild with traffic calming tactics (speed bumps or “sleeping policemen”). They’re like icebergs across the road, and they’re not well marked. There are approximately four or five of them scattered around the town.

Aside from that, be cautious on the road, which, despite being the major east/west highway and the main road route into the EU, is still in disrepair (surface-wise). You’ll quickly see why Ukraine has such terrible data on driver and pedestrian deaths and injuries.

Get In - By foot and bike

From Sighetu Marmaţiei in Romania, you may stroll over the 200-meter-long bridge. After arriving at Solotvino, Ukraine, you may continue your journey by vehicle or rail. Bicycling is also an option in the summer. After crossing the lovely ancient bridge, go upward and turn right at the church. After around 50 meters, there is an ATM on the right! This is significant since train tickets can only be purchased in hryvnya, and there is no exchange point, ATM, or credit card payment option at the railway station! Continue ahead and make a left just before the railroad crossing. There is just one train each day to Lviv (in the late afternoon). It stops in every town and takes approximately 13 hours to get at its destination; the ticket costs about €10.

You cannot cross the border by foot or bicycle at Krocienko (Poland). You must be in a moving car. In August 2011, a cyclist traveling by bicycle from Poland only had to wait about 5 minutes to flag down a vehicle willing (and with room) to transport him, a bicycle, and a complete cycle touring gear. The actual crossing timed out at approximately one hour. There was no fee made by either the driver or the immigration officers.

Get In - From Slovakia

Slovakia and Ukraine have two road border crossings (Ubla and Uzhhorod). Ubla is exclusively for walkers and bicycles, whereas Uzhorod is only for vehicles. However, you may hop into someone else’s vehicle simply to cross the border. Chop has one rail border crossing.

There is a daily bus service to Uzhhorod from Koice (excluding Sunday and Monday) and Preov (Slovakia). There are also a few buses that go daily from Michalovce to Uzhorod. Uzhorod is connected by night train to Lviv and Odessa.

You may also take the daily local train fromierna n.Tisou to Chop.

Destinations in Ukraine

Regions in Ukraine

  • Central Ukraine
    Ukraine’s political, economic, and cultural center, centered on the capital of Kyiv.
  • Western Ukraine
    For centuries, non-Russian European nations (e.g., Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey) ruled the region; as a result, Central European architecture, food, language, and religion may be found here.
  • Eastern Ukraine
    The highly industrialized and Russified coal-mining area of the Donbass, which is home to major Soviet cities and a sizable ethnic Russian population.
  • Southern Ukraine
    The famous Black Sea coast of Ukraine, well known for the beautiful city of Odessa

Cities in Ukraine

  • Kiev — The lovely Ukrainian capital, with its green hills and world-renowned Orthodox and Baroque buildings.
  • Chernihiv — The historic city of Kyivan Rus’, one of Ukraine’s oldest cities, contains a lot of Medieval architecture.
  • Chernivtsi — Bukovina’s city provides a Balkan ambiance combined with excellent traditional Habsburg buildings.
  • Dnipro — The mile-long Promenade along the Dnipro River is the centerpiece.
  • Kharkiv — For fifteen years, kozak metropolis served as the capital of Soviet Ukraine.
  • Lviv — the country’s second most populous city In nearly everything, there is some Polish, some Austrian, and some Russian. The well-known medieval old town.
  • Odessa — a port city on the Black Sea with a diverse cultural mix

Accommodation & Hotels in Ukraine

Outside of Kiev, hotels may be a terrible experience for a westerner. The lower the price of the hotel, the greater the possibility of some unpleasant shocks, particularly for those unfamiliar with the Soviet-style quality of service that is still prevalent in many locations.

Outside of Kiev, there are many mid-range (€25-45) alternatives. At Ivano-Frankivsk (in the Carpathians), for example, the typical cost for a suite (bedroom and sitting room) in one such hotel is about €35. Many hotels provide both refurbished and non-renovated rooms/suites (“western style”) (East European style). The last option is more than 50% less expensive and provides you with a large old-fashioned two-room suite that is simple but clean!

There are many 5-star hotels in Kiev and one in Donetsk; lists may be found in the city guides for both cities. The typical cost at one such hotel in Lviv is between €40 and €60 per night.

Another alternative is to look for an apartment on the internet before leaving your country. In Kiev and Odessa, there are many options.

Many individuals from ex-Soviet nations travel to the train station, where they attempt to locate someone ready to rent a room. Prices are generally considerably lower, and if there are many individuals providing the accommodation, you may strike some excellent bargains.

These transactions are generally illegal, and they will push you into a position before you can negotiate. Make sure they have warm water, and don’t be embarrassed to mention that the room isn’t what you anticipated when you walked in.

Things To See in Ukraine

Ukraine, with its vast size and varied culture and landscapes, has a plethora of excellent things to offer. The country’s major attractions include some outstanding and distinctively Slavic towns, significant cultural history, and, of course, world-class natural regions.

Visit the ancient city of Lviv, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site yet is still a busy town and the country’s real center for study and culture. Its cobblestoned lanes are densely packed with monuments dating back to the Middle Ages, apparently unscathed by the devastating power of warfare that has altered some of Ukraine’s other towns so drastically. Even the considerable Soviet planning that has influenced many other locations on Europe’s far east side has left just a little imprint on the colorful variety of architectural styles. The Korniakt Palace (directly on the market square) and many magnificent churches are highlights. Try the Lviv National Art Gallery’s excellent collection for a more refined taste of culture.

Then there are the must-sees in Kiev, a vibrant city where the golden roofs of the Unesco World Heritage monuments Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Pechersk Lavra stand out. Take an afternoon walk around Andriyivsky Uzviz, Kiev’s Montmartre, which is teeming with artists and souvenir vendors. Follow in the footsteps of Apostle Andrew, who, tradition has it, ascended the steep stairs of this bohemian neighborhood two thousand years ago, to the summit where a church bearing his name still stands. The wonderful Pyrohovo Museum of Folk Architecture is not to be missed. Last but not least, Kiev is an excellent location for exploring Ukraine’s vibrant markets (but Odesa or Kharkiv have good ones too). Consider visiting the Residence of the Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans in Chernivtsi as well.

The beautiful Carpathian Mountains are among the greatest natural features this otherwise surprisingly flat region has to offer in terms of natural attractions. They provide breathtaking views of wooded hills, verdant valleys, and snow-capped summits and provide abundant possibilities for hiking, bicycling, and winter sports. Another excellent choice for environment enthusiasts and bird watchers is the relatively unknown Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. Spend the day boating and bird-watching in the beautiful village of Vylkovo, which has numerous canals.

Food & Drinks in Ukraine

Food in Ukraine

Ukrainian food is very delicious, and it has many similarities with Russian cuisine. It utilizes a lot of fat components, much as other cuisines in the area, particularly in celebratory meals. Traditional local cuisine includes “salo” (salted lard) and soups such as “solianka” (солнка in Ukrainian, pork soup) and “borshch” (ор in Ukrainian), a red beet soup. Borshch with greens and cooked eggs is very popular in western Ukraine. The first, salo, is something you may not force yourself to try, but it is a wonderful side dish, and the soups are a must-have meal.

If you live outside of a major city or are unsure about where to purchase food, proceed with care and common sense. Always purchase food at supermarkets or big grocery shops, verify the expiry date, and never buy meat or dairy items on the street (you can buy them at the market but not near the market).

There are some excellent eateries in almost every Ukrainian town. To assist you in making your selection, read the menu boards placed near the entrances of each restaurant.

You may also discover good places to dine without looking for them, if you follow the smoke from traditional wood fires. These are often locations where traditional Ukrainian cuisine is served, especially extremely delicious shashlyky (алики in Ukrainian). Restaurateurs are very welcoming, and you will almost always be one of their first international guests. In addition to the “borshch,” you may get “varenyky” (вареники in Ukrainian, dumplings stuffed with meat, vegetables, or fruits) or “deruny” (дерyни, potato pancakes). A wonderful meal is varenyky with potatoes and cottage cheese in a sautéed onion and sour cream sauce. These are only appetizers, but they will likely fill you up fast.

You may also utilize certain online services to locate any restaurant you want. They typically offer a lot of choices and an English translation, which makes it simpler to find what you’re looking for. These are free resources that offer information on big cities. If there is no internet access, you may ask individuals for recommendations for restaurants, but keep in mind that understanding of English among Ukrainians is limited, and you may encounter unpleasant people. However, in most instances, speaking English or another foreign language makes individuals more friendly.

Drinks in Ukraine

Horilka (the local term for vodka) with pepper is a Ukrainian specialty. Other types of vodka are also popular, including linden (tilia), honey, birch, and wheat. For 1L, prices vary from €1 to €20. Souvenir bottles are more expensive (some bottles cost up to €35 for 0.5L). There is a wide variety of wine available, both domestic and foreign. Domestic wines are mainly from the south, although wines from the Carpathian area of Uzhorod are also very delicious. Ukraine is also well-known for its sparkling red wines. Prices for local wine range from €2-35 per 0.75L bottle (avoid the cheapest wines, €1 or less, as these are sometimes bottled as house wines but sold as local vintages), but genuine Italian, French, and Australian wines can be found for €50 per bottle or more in large supermarkets and most restaurants. Imported wine prices have fallen substantially in recent years, and trends suggest that they will continue to fall.

There are many drinks available (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Ukrainian beer is of exceptional quality. Beer from barrels or kegs (which are more prevalent in cafés) is often watered down. Canned beer is not widely available in Ukraine, and it is not always of the same quality as the same type offered in bottles. Lvivske, Obolon, and PPB make the finest beers (Persha Privatna Brovarnia). Imported beers are also readily accessible, although they are more costly; for example, a bottle of Austrian Edelweiss may cost up to €2, while the average price of Ukrainian beer is €0.50. Overall, Ukrainian beers are extremely delicious and are gaining appeal in other parts of Europe.

Among non-alcoholic drinks, kvas — a traditional Slavic drink composed of rye or wheat – should be tried. During the summer, it is readily available from authorized street sellers. In the summer, there are a number of yellow barrels filled with kvas strewn around the city. Because the barrel’s cleanliness is uncertain, it’s best to purchase it in bottles. Milk drinks of various kinds are also available, although mostly in supermarkets. Bottles of mineral water, as well as lemonades, beer, and strong beverages, are widely available. If you want to purchase bottled water, be sure to ask for “voda bez hazu” (water without gas), otherwise you will be given a fizzy drink.

Because there are many fakes, only purchase vodka or konjak (the local term for brandy) from supermarkets or liquor shops. Every year, a few people die or become blind as a consequence of methyl alcohol poisoning, a chemical used to manufacture phony vodkas.

It is possible to purchase alcohol manufactured in other former Soviet republics in Ukraine. Moldavian and Armenian cognacs are very excellent and reasonably priced. Georgian wines are unique and aromatic, albeit a little too sweet.

Money & Shopping in Ukraine

The hryvnia is the monetary unit (UAH). In Ukrainian, it is spelled pивн and pronounced hryvnia, whereas in Russian, it is spelled grivna. To add to the confusion, Russian speakers in the east often refer to it as ruble, and it is occasionally displayed as “” both before and after the amount, as well as with and without spaces. Actual rates at the National Bank.

Money

Every fairly large town will have exchange booths and banks that will convert euro, USD, or Russian rubles to UAH; just check for exchange rate indications. British pounds are also often exchangeable, although at low interchange rates. A considerably broader variety of currencies may be exchanged in tourist destinations. Shop around since quoted prices often differ.

Booths and banks will not usually attempt to defraud you, but you should count your notes to be sure. Bank employees in several locations will reject money with even small blemishes or grease stains. A rip in the paper that is longer than five mm may be considered excessive.

ATMs

ATMs (банкомат, bankomat) are widely available across the country and usually accept foreign credit cards. They almost usually provide UAH, but some may offer USD. Foreign cards are usually not subject to fees. (Unless you’re withdrawing cash).

ATMs accept debit cards such as the maestro. Cirrus/Maestro/Plus bank cards may be the most efficient method to get cash in Ukraine. Not all ATMs advertise that they support the Plus system, but if they accept Visa, they usually do. PrivatBank ATMs show that they accept Plus cards, however they do not accept North American cards.

Banks

Changing money in banks takes time and involves a lot of paperwork. Bank employees may be reluctant to go through all of the processes only to change a USD100 note and may attempt to deceive you with an explanation such as “sorry, we don’t have the money.” If you really must exchange money there, you may be able to convince them to alter their views; but, if you can go someplace else, you will most likely save time. You will also be required to present your passport at a bank. Banks may also restrict you from purchasing “hard” money in exchange for UAH.

Even at bigger branches, you should not expect English-speaking personnel. Anything else than money exchange may need the use of a translator or, at the very least, a great deal of patience.

Most banks will lend you money if you have a cash advance from a Visa or MasterCard. In addition to whatever your bank charges, there is a modest service fee of 3% to accomplish this.

Exchange booths

While they may seem unsavoury, exchange booths are usually the finest locations to change money. Their rates are often lower than those of banks (although not always), and you will not be required to provide your passport. Service is prompt, and there is seldom any paperwork or invoices.

Shopping

By law, all transactions must be conducted in hyrvnia, but less formal transactions may be conducted in euros or US dollars.

It is unlawful to remove objects of historical significance from the nation. These include items such as badges, medals, icons, historical artworks, and so on. While a luggage search is unlikely, don’t wear any old badges or flaunt anything that might raise suspicion.

Festivals & Holidays in Ukraine

Date English name Ukrainian name Remarks
January 1 New Year’s Day Новий Рік
January 7 Christmas Різдво Religious holiday
March 8 International Women’s Day Міжнародний жіночий день
moveable Orthodox Easter Великдень Religious holiday
moveableEaster + 49 days Orthodox Pentecost Трійця Religious holiday
May 1 & 2 International Workers’ Day День міжнародної солідарності трудящих
May 9 Victory Day over Nazism in World War II День перемоги над нацизмом у Другій світовій війні To commemorate the end of World War II and the Allied victory over Nazi Germany.
June 28 Constitution Day День Конституції To commemorate Ukraine’s Constitution of 1996.
August 24 Independence Day День Незалежності From the USSR in 1991
October 14 Defender of Ukraine Day День захисника України

The Julian calendar is used to celebrate religious festivals (but here the Gregoriandate of Christmas is written).

When a public holiday occurs on a weekend (for example, Saturday or Sunday), the next working day (for example, Monday) becomes an official day off as well.

If there are just one or two working days between a public holiday and another day off, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers typically issues a proposal to eliminate this gap by relocating these working days to a certain Saturday (that is to have uninterrupted vacations, but to compensate this by work on another day which would be a day off). Typically, such suggestions only apply to workers who have Saturday and Sunday off each week.

Traditions & Customs in Ukraine

Respect the reality that Ukraine is a sovereign state. You may discover that individuals here are wary of being labeled as “Russians.” Ukrainians have their own nationality and dislike being mistaken for Russians.

Don’t use the phrase “the Ukraine,” since it suggests that Ukraine is a territory of Russia rather than a nation.

Ukraine is not a conservative nation in terms of dress or conduct.

Homosexuality is seen with varying degrees of animosity, ranging from conservative to open hatred.

Raising the problem of Ukraine in the context of its former membership in the Soviet Union may not be well received by the locals. The Holodomor, like the Holocaust, is a touchy subject. It is better not to glorify the Soviet Union or Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader during WWII and the architect of the Holodomor. Nonetheless, several Ukrainians recall the former Soviet Union as a time of economic abundance.

Culture Of Ukraine

Ukrainian traditions are strongly influenced by Christianity, the country’s main religion. Gender roles are considerably more conventional, and grandparents play a larger part in child rearing than in the West. Ukraine’s culture has also been affected by its eastern and western neighbors, as shown by its architecture, music, and art.

The Communist period had a significant impact on Ukrainian art and literature. When Stalin issued the order “On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organizations” in 1932, he established socialist realism as official policy in the Soviet Union. This severely hampered creativity. During the 1980s, glasnost (openness) was established, and Soviet artists and authors were once again allowed to express themselves freely.

The Easter egg custom, known as pysanky, has deep origins in Ukraine. These eggs were wax-coated to form a design, and then dye was added to give the eggs their pleasing colors; the dye had no effect on the previously wax-coated portions of the egg. The wax was removed once the whole egg had been colored, leaving just the colorful design. This custom dates back thousands of years, predating the advent of Christianity in Ukraine. In the city of Kolomyia, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, the museum of Pysanka was constructed in 2000 and was nominated as a landmark of contemporary Ukraine in 2007, as part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine campaign.

Weaving and embroidery

The artisan textile arts are significant in Ukrainian culture, particularly in Ukrainian wedding customs. Ukrainian embroidery, weaving, and lacemaking are utilized in traditional folk clothing and festivities. Ukrainian embroidery differs according to area of origin, and the patterns have a long history of motifs, compositions, color choices, and stitch kinds. Color is very significant and has deep origins in Ukrainian culture. The Rushnyk Museum in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi preserves embroidery themes prevalent across Ukraine.

The national costume is woven and beautifully ornamented. Weaving on handmade looms is still practiced in the Rivne Oblast hamlet of Krupove. The hamlet is the birthplace of two well-known figures in the national crafts manufacturing scene. Nina Myhailivna and Uliana Petrivna have received worldwide acclaim. To conserve this ancient expertise, the town intends to establish a weaving center, a museum, and a weaving school.

Literature

Ukrainian literature has a history that goes back to the 11th century, after the Christianization of the Kievan Rus’. The majority of the works at the period were liturgical in nature and were written in Old Church Slavonic. The most important historical accounts of the period were known as chronicles, the most important of which was the Primary Chronicle. During the Mongol conquest of Rus’, literary output fell precipitously.

Ukrainian literature started to flourish again in the 14th century, and progressed considerably in the 16th century with the advent of print and the commencement of the Cossack period, both under Russian and Polish domination. The Cossacks created an autonomous society and promoted a new kind of epic poetry, ushering in a golden age of Ukrainian oral literature. These advancements were subsequently reversed in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when printing in Ukrainian was became illegal and banned. Despite this, by the late 18th century, contemporary literary Ukrainian had developed.

The first book published in contemporary Ukrainian, Eneyida by Ivan Kotliarevsky, launched a vernacular era in Ukraine in the nineteenth century. By the 1830s, Ukrainian romanticism was gaining traction, and Taras Shevchenko, the nation’s most famous cultural icon, emerged as a romanticist poet-painter. Whereas Ivan Kotliarevsky is regarded as the founder of Ukrainian vernacular literature, Shevchenko is regarded as the father of a national renaissance.

The Russian Empire essentially banned the use of the Ukrainian language in print in 1863. This severely limited literary activity in the region, forcing Ukrainian authors to either publish in Russian or distribute their works in Austrian-controlled Galicia. The prohibition was never formally removed, but it became outdated following the revolution and the rise of the Bolsheviks to power.

Ukrainian literature flourished during the early Soviet years, when virtually all literary styles were sanctioned (the most important literary figures of that time were Mykola Khvylovy, Valerian Pidmohylny, Mykola Kulish, Mykhayl Semenko and some others). These policies suffered a sharp fall in the 1930s, when the NKVD executed important representatives and many others as part of the Great Purge. In all, 223 authors were persecuted during what was known as the Executed Renaissance. These repressions were part of Stalin’s socialist realism doctrine. The ideology did not necessarily forbid the use of the Ukrainian language, but it did compel authors to write in a particular manner.

Literary activity were relatively restricted in post-Stalinist periods under the Communist Party. Lina Kostenko, Dmytro Pavlychko, Borys Oliynyk (uk), Ivan Drach, Oles Honchar, Vasyl Stus, and Vasyl Symonenko were among the most well-known personalities in Ukrainian postwar Soviet literature.

With the fall of the USSR and the re-establishment of Ukrainian independence in 1991, literary freedom emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Oksana Zabuzhko, Yurii Andrukhovych, Oleksandr Irvanets (uk), Serhiy Zhadan, Taras Prokhasko, Jaroslav Melnik, Yuriy Izdryk (uk), Yuriy Pokalchuk, Yuriy Vynnychuk, and Andrey Kurkov are among the most renowned post-Soviet authors.

Architecture

Ukrainian architecture is a phrase used to describe the themes and styles seen in buildings constructed in contemporary Ukraine and by Ukrainians all over the globe. These include the first roots planted in the Eastern Slavic polity of Kievan Rus’. The unique architectural history remained in the principalities of Galicia-Volhynia beyond the 12th century. Under the western influences of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, a new style peculiar to Ukraine emerged during the period of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. Following the union with the Tsardom of Russia, numerous buildings in the greater eastern, Russian-ruled region were constructed in Russian architectural styles of the day, while western Galicia was developed under Austro-Hungarian architectural influences. Ukrainian national themes would eventually be utilized throughout the Soviet Union’s reign and in contemporary independent Ukraine.

After the introduction of Christianity in 988, the magnificent churches of the Rus’ were the earliest instances of monumental architecture in the East Slavic countries. Byzantine architecture heavily impacted the Kievan state’s architectural style. Early Eastern Orthodox churches were mostly constructed of wood, with the most basic kind being known as a cell church. Major cathedrals often had a slew of tiny domes, prompting some art historians to speculate that this was a precursor to the emergence of pre-Christian pagan Slavic temples.

Several instances of these churches still exist; however, many were externally rebuilt in the Ukrainian Baroque style throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The magnificent St. Sophia of Kiev – the year 1017 is the oldest record of foundation placed – Church of the Saviour at Berestove – constructed from 1113 to 1125 – and St. Cyril’s Church, approximately 12th-century are examples. All of these things may still be found in Ukraine’s capital. Several buildings were reconstructed in the late nineteenth century, including the Assumption Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi, which was built in 1160 and reconstructed in 1896–1900, the Paraskevi church in Chernihiv, which was built in 1201 and reconstructed in the late 1940s, and the Golden Gates in Kiev, which were built in 1037 and reconstructed in 1982. Some art and architecture historians criticized the latter’s rebuilding as a revivalist dream. Unfortunately, little little secular or vernacular Kievan Rus’ architecture has survived.

Russian architects had the chance to realize their ideas amid the beautiful environment that many Ukrainian towns and areas provided as Ukraine grew more incorporated into the Russian Empire. St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev (1747–1754), designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, is a noteworthy example of Baroque architecture, and its position on top of the Kievan mountain has made it a city landmark. Rasetrelli’s other noteworthy contribution was the Mariyinsky Palace, which was constructed as a vacation home for Russian Empress Elizabeth. Andrey Kvasov constructed magnificent constructions in several of the Cossack Hetmanate’s cities, including Hlukhiv, Baturyn, and Koselets, during the reign of Ukraine’s final Hetman, Kirill Razumovsky. Russia ultimately seized Ukraine’s south and Crimea, renaming them New Russia. New cities were established, including Nikolayev, Odessa, Kherson, and Sevastopol. There would be noteworthy instances of Imperial Russian architecture in these.

The capital of Soviet Ukraine was relocated from Kharkiv to Kiev in 1934. Previously, the city was seen as just a regional center, and therefore got little attention. All of that was about to change, at a high cost. The first instances of Stalinist architecture were already visible, and in accordance with state doctrine, a new metropolis was to be constructed on top of the old. This meant that well-known examples, such as St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, were demolished. Even the St. Sophia Cathedral was under jeopardy. The wreckage was also influenced by the Second World War. Following the war, a new concept for downtown Kiev rebuilding turned Khreshchatyk avenue into a noteworthy example of Stalinism in Architecture. However, by 1955, the new architectural politics had once again prevented the idea from being completely realized.

The goal of contemporary Ukrainian architecture is to apply modern aesthetics in a variety of ways, to find one’s own creative style, and to include the existing historico-cultural context. The restoration and renewal of the Maidan Nezalezhnosti in downtown Kiev is an example of contemporary Ukrainian architecture. Despite the limitations imposed by the plaza’s limited area, the engineers were able to integrate together the uneven terrain and utilize subterranean space for a new retail center.

The development of the Kiev City-Centre on the Rybalskyi Peninsula, which, when completed, would feature a dense skyscraper park among the beautiful Dnieper scenery, is a significant project that may take up the majority of the twenty-first century.

Music

Music is an important element of Ukrainian culture, having a lengthy history and a wide range of influences. Ukraine has produced many globally recognized artists, including Kirill Karabits, Okean Elzy, and Ruslana, in genres ranging from traditional folk music to classical and contemporary rock. Traditional Ukrainian folk music elements have found their way into Western music and even contemporary jazz.

Ukrainian music may be confusing at times, combining exotic melismatic singing with chordal harmony. The most noticeable general feature of genuine ethnic Ukrainian folk music is the extensive usage of minor modes or keys with augmented 2nd intervals.

Music was an essential discipline for individuals who had acquired a higher education in Ukraine throughout the Baroque era. It had a significant position in the curriculum of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Many Ukrainian Cossack commanders, such as (Mazepa, Paliy, Holovatyj, Sirko), were excellent musicians of the kobza, bandura, or torban.

In 1738, the first specialized musical school was established in Hlukhiv, Ukraine, where pupils were taught to sing, play the violin, and bandura from manuscripts. As a consequence, many of the first composers and performers in the Russian empire were ethnically Ukrainian, having been born or trained in Hlukhiv or been intimately connected with this music school. Dmytro Bortniansky, Maksym Berezovsky, and Artemiy Vedel are examples.

Ukrainian classical music is divided into three categories based on whether the composer was of Ukrainian ethnicity and lived in Ukraine, a composer of non-Ukrainian ethnicity who was born or was a citizen of Ukraine at some point, or an ethnic Ukrainian living outside of Ukraine as part of the Ukrainian diaspora. The music of these three ensembles is very different, as are the audiences to which they appeal.

Western-influenced pop music has grown in popularity in Ukraine since the mid-1960s. Mariana Sadovska, a folk singer and harmonium player, is well-known. Ukrainian pop and folk music grew in popularity as a result of the worldwide success of groups and singers such as Vopli Vidoplyasova, Dakh Daughters, Dakha Brakha, Ivan Dorn, and Okean Elzy.

Cinema

Ukraine has made an impact on the history of film. Ukrainian directors Alexander Dovzhenko, a pioneer of Soviet montage theory as well as one of the most prominent early Soviet filmmakers, Dovzhenko Film Studios, and Sergei Parajanov, an Armenian film director and artist who made major contributions to Ukrainian, Armenian, and Georgian cinema. He developed his own cinematic style, Ukrainian poetic cinema, which contradicted the guiding principles of socialist realism.

Kira Muratova, Larisa Shepitko, Sergei Bondarchuk, Leonid Bykov, Yuri Ilyenko, Leonid Osyka, Ihor Podolchak with his Delirium, and Maryna Vroda are among the other notable directors. Many Ukrainian performers, notably Vera Kholodnaya, Bohdan Stupka, Milla Jovovich, Olga Kurylenko, and Mila Kunis, have gained worldwide acclaim and critical acclaim.

Despite a long history of significant and profitable works, the industry has often been defined by a dispute about its identity and the extent of European and Russian influence. Ukrainian producers are involved in foreign co-productions, and Ukrainian actors, directors, and crew members appear often in Russian (Soviet in the past) films. Battleship Potemkin, Man with a Movie Camera, and Everything Is Illuminated are examples of successful films based on Ukrainian personalities, stories, or events.

The Ukrainian State Film Agency owns the National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Film Centre, a film copying laboratory and archive, and participates in the hosting of the Odessa International Film Festival. Molodist is the only FIAPF accredited International Film Festival held in Ukraine; the competition program is devoted to student, first short, and first feature films from around the world. Every year in October.

Media

Georgiy Gongadze established Ukrainska Pravda in April 2000. (the day of the Ukrainian constitutional referendum). The newspaper is mostly published in Ukrainian, with selected pieces published in or translated into Russian and English. It focuses on Ukrainian politics. Ukraine’s press freedom is regarded as among the freest of the post-Soviet nations other than the Baltic states. The Internet in Ukraine is classified as “free,” while the press is classified as “somewhat free” by Freedom House. Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, press freedom has increased considerably. However, Freedom House saw “bad developments in Ukraine” in 2010.

Kiev leads Ukraine’s media sector: the Kyiv Post is the country’s main English-language daily. Although Lviv is also a major national media center, national newspapers Den and Mirror Weekly, tabloids like as The Ukrainian Week and Focus (Russian), and television and radio are mostly located there. Ukrinform, Ukraine’s National News Agency, was established here in 1918. The Ukraine publishing industry, which includes books, directories, and databases, journals, magazines, and business media, as well as newspapers and news agencies, has a total revenue of $1 billion. Sanoma publishes Ukrainian versions of publications such as Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and National Geographic. BBC Ukrainian began broadcasting in 1992.

On average, Ukrainians listen to commercial radio programs, such as Radio Ukraine or Radio Liberty, for little over two and a half hours each day. Several television stations are in operation, and several websites are popular.

Sport

The Soviet focus on physical education benefitted Ukraine tremendously. As a result of such initiatives, Ukraine now has hundreds of stadiums, swimming pools, gymnasiums, and other sports facilities. Football is the most popular sport. The Vyscha Liha is the highest professional league (“premier league”).

Many Ukrainians also played for the Soviet national football team, including Golden Ball Award winners Ihor Belanov and Oleh Blokhin. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this medal was only given to one Ukrainian, Andriy Shevchenko. The national squad made their FIFA World Cup debut in 2006, reaching the semifinals before falling to eventual winners Italy. Ukrainians have also done well in boxing, as Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko have won world heavyweight titles.

From 1993 until 2014, Sergey Bubka held the Pole vault world record; with tremendous power, speed, and gymnastic skills, he was named the world’s greatest athlete on numerous times.

Basketball is getting more popular in Ukraine. Ukraine was awarded the opportunity to host EuroBasket 2015 in 2011. Two years later, the Ukraine national basketball team placed sixth at EuroBasket 2013 and qualified for the first time in its history for the FIBA World Cup. Budivelnyk Kyiv, a Euroleague participant, is Ukraine’s most powerful professional basketball team.

In Ukraine, chess is a popular sport. Former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov In Ukraine, there are about 85 Grandmasters and 198 International Masters.

Ukraine made its Olympic debut in the Winter Olympics in 1994. So far, Ukraine has fared much better in the Summer Olympics (115 medals in five visits) than in the Winter Olympics. Ukraine is presently placed 35th in the All-Time Olympic Games medal total, with every nation above it having more appearances except Russia.

Cuisine

Traditional Ukrainian cuisine consists of chicken, pig, beef, fish, and mushrooms. Ukrainians consume a lot of potatoes, cereals, raw, cooked, or pickled veggies, and so on. Traditional dishes include varenyky (boiled dumplings with mushrooms, potatoes, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, cherries or berries), nalysnyky (pancakes with cottage cheese, poppy seeds, mushrooms, caviar or meat), kapuniak (soup made with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, millet, tomato paste, spices and fresh herbs), borsch (soup made with beets, cabbage and mushrooms or meat) (dumplings filled with boiled potatoes and cheese or meat). Chicken Kiev and Kiev cake are two more Ukrainian specialities. Ukrainians consume stewed fruit, juices, milk, buttermilk (from which cottage cheese is made), mineral water, tea and coffee, beer, wine, and horilka.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Ukraine

Stay Safe in Ukraine

Many individuals would advise you to bring a copy of your visa with you. Unfortunately, some individuals have difficulty with this. It’s usually a good idea to have your passport on hand. As evidence of identification, a photocopy may be rejected. A phone call to a local who can assist may be very beneficial.

Get the contact information for your local embassy and/or consulate ahead of time, and make a note of their emergency phone numbers.

It’s a good idea to have a multilingual friend on hand in case of an emergency or if you run into trouble. If you plan on remaining for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to acquire a local SIM card for your phone for emergencies and cheaper local calls/texts. These are commonly accessible, inexpensive (sometimes free), and simple to ‘top-up.’

Crime issues

Using common sense while traveling in Ukraine, like in any other nation, can reduce your chances of being a victim of petty crime and theft. Try not to draw attention to the fact that you are a foreigner or to flaunt your riches, whether via your clothes or otherwise. Western visitors are still uncommon in Ukraine, with the exception of Kiev, Odessa, and other major cities. Petty thievery is possible, just as it is in any other nation. Pickpocketing is prevalent in Kiev, particularly at busy metro stations, so keep an eye on your belongings and yourself. Guides have advised visitors to keep an eye on certain individuals after hearing someone remark, “They seem like Americans: let’s follow them for a bit and see what we can obtain.”

Tourist robberies and frauds are very frequent, particularly the pocketbook scam in Kiev.

However, if you are detained by police or other law enforcement, make every effort to tell them that you are a foreign tourist. Although few police officers openly speak other languages, many individuals are willing to help with translation.

Don’t consume alcohol in the presence of strangers (which may be suggested more freely than in the West). You have no idea how much they will drink (and persuade you to drink with them) or what problems may develop as a result. Furthermore, many Ukrainians, renowned for their love of a good drink, can consume amounts of vodka that would be deemed deadly to the typical beer-drinking Westerner.

Financial security

Ukraine’s economy is mostly based on cash. The network of bank branches and ATMs (Bankomats) has expanded rapidly and is now accessible in all but the tiniest settlements. Check the machine’s security – it’s best to use one that’s clearly at a bank rather than another business. The nation does not accept V PAY-cards. You may simply use your credit cards (mainly MasterCard and Visa) or cash traveler’s checks. The supermarkets accept credit and debit cards. However, avoid using your credit/debit card to pay at businesses in smaller towns since merchants are not adequately educated and regulated to guarantee your card privacy. Instead, paying with cash is commonly accepted. Locals (particularly businessmen) sometimes carry and pay in cash sums that would be regarded abnormally big in other nations. Don’t automatically presume criminal behavior in every such situation.

It is also highly advised to avoid individual (street) currency exchangers since there are criminals among them who may instead offer you outdated, Soviet-era money or coupons that have been out of circulation since the mid-1990s. Use specific exchange booths and banks (which are readily accessible); be cautious of exchange rate gimmicks such as 5.059/5.62 buy/sell instead of 5.59/5.62.

The euro and the US dollar are often recognized as other currencies, especially in tourist regions. They are also the most often accepted convertible currency at exchange booths, with English pounds sterling coming in third.

Racism

Provocateur groups targeting black individuals have been reported in the area surrounding the American embassy in Kiev, and there have been allegations of similar assaults on Andriyivski, the major tourist boulevard that runs from Mykhailivska down into Podil. Having dark complexion is often a cause of discrimination, particularly in rural regions. Antisemitism remains an issue in certain Western areas and/or other parts of Ukraine. However, two Jewish mayors have been elected in Kherson and Vinnitsa.

Russophobia is on the increase as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Crimea in early 2014, particularly in the country’s European Union-friendly western provinces. Russian nationals may face unfavorable views as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine fought (as of 2014) by Russian-backed separatist rebels in the country’s east. In Odessa, there have been ethnic conflicts between Russians and Ukrainians. A civilian aircraft was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, resulting in an intensification of economic penalties and polarization of an already difficult situation on the ground.

According to anecdotal evidence, individuals from Middle and Central Asia, as well as Romani/Sinti people, get considerably closer and more regular attention from the militsiya in Ukraine, and indeed most of the former Soviet Union (police). Always carry your passport with you (or a photocopy of the key pages if you’re worried about losing it or if you’re staying at a hotel that keeps it) since foreigners are treated better than others. This is not to suggest anything is dangerous or frightening, but it is best to be aware of the facts.

Accidents

While there are several swimming and diving attractions in Ukraine, local water rescue is severely underfunded. You are unlikely to be spotted when drowning, particularly on a river. Use only beaches that have been designated as such.

Ukraine has among of the world’s worst records for road fatalities and injuries, so behave appropriately. Crossing the street with caution; walk and drive cautiously; and be aware that traffic overtakes on both the inside and outside lanes. In rush-hours, the black, slab-sided Audi/BMW/Mercedes occasionally choose to escape traffic by utilizing the broad sidewalks, people or not. Owners/drivers of luxury vehicles have been known to be more negligent with pedestrian safety at times. Unless there are pedestrian signals, drivers seldom give people crossing the street precedence. Always keep an eye out for your own safety.

Be aware that crumbling infrastructure affects pavements in the same manner that it affects roadways. Take caution while strolling, particularly after dark and away from the downtown sections of the major cities (a torch is a good item), since the streets are poorly lighted, as are most of the building entries/stairwells, and the street and pavement surfaces are often dangerously pot-holed. Don’t walk on man-hole covers because they may ’tilt,’ lowering your leg into the hole and causing injury!

Prohibitions

In Ukraine, it is prohibited to smoke cigarettes or consume alcohol in public areas. Despite the ban, you may observe some local residents doing so, but don’t be fooled. These are not good examples. If they observe a foreigner violating the law, local cops may demand a bribe. So be smart and avoid issues that aren’t required.

Emergencies

112 – common
101 – fire brigade
102 – police
103 – ambulance
104 – gas leaks

Stay Healthy in Ukraine

Water

Drinking tap water should be avoided as a general rule. The main reason for this is because chlorine is used to clean water in many areas, thus the taste is terrible. Buy bottled water whenever feasible, since it is readily accessible and usually safe.

Infectious Diseases

Ukraine has the highest adult HIV prevalence rate in Europe, with almost 1.5 percent, or one in every 66 people infected. Take precautions.

Radiation

The northeast has been contaminated by radioactivity from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. However, unless you reside continuously in the Chernobyl region, the impact is minimal. There are also excursions to Pripyat’, the town nearest to the station. The town is well-known for its eerie landscape, which includes blocks of apartment buildings that were abandoned in 1986 and now stand out among the greenery that grew as a result of years of neglect.

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Read Next

Bukovel

Bukovel is Ukraine’s biggest ski resort, located in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (province) in western Ukraine. The resort lies virtually on the Carpathian Mountains’ ridge-lines,...

Kharkiv

Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second-largest city. It is the biggest city in the Slobozhanshchyna historical area and is located in the country’s north-east. The population...

Kiev

Kiev is Ukraine’s capital and biggest city, situated on the Dnieper River in the country’s north center region. The population was 2,887,974 in July...

Odessa

Odessa is an international city in Ukraine and a significant seaport and transportation center situated on the Black Sea’s northwestern coast. Odessa is both...