30+ Places to Visit in Ukraine Spotted by Locals
The fuss over Eurovision song contest has already blown over, but still, there are plenty of reasons to visit Ukraine. If you are thinking about opening an R&D office in Ukraine, decide if Ukraine works for you for outsourcing, or simply want to visit your team, it is a great chance to combine business with pleasure.
Traveling by plane will be the cheapest and most convenient way. Most of the European capitals have direct flights to Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv, and Kharkiv.
If you don’t feel like flying, trains are at your disposal. There are daily direct overnight trains from Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Belgrade, Bratislava, Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia to Lviv or Kyiv. An interesting fact – if you travel by train you get a unique chance to watch the bogie exchange since European track gauge differs from Ukrainian one.
Good news for those who travel by bus is that you don’t need to wait in a queue to pass border control since there is a special line.
If you travel from Varna (Bulgaria), Batumi, Poti (Georgia) or Istambul (Turkey), you can buy a ticket to get to Odesa by ferry.
So, plane, train, car or even ship – choose whatever you like.
Hryvnia (local currency) has depreciated significantly since 2013 – the currency rate is about three times lower, which makes local prices ridiculously cheap for foreign tourists. Living in a hotel on the main street of Kyiv will cost you around $60, and the price of a cup of coffee is only $1-2.
Ukraine is one of the best places to “celebrate diversity”.
Why not take a few days off and enjoy posh nightclubs on the Odesa seaside or calmness of emerald forests in Carpathian mountains? Or maybe you are fond of Stalker game, and post-apocalyptic landscape of Chornobyl is what you are looking for? Ukrainian attractions will suit every taste and budget.
Things to Do in Kyiv
All roads lead to… Kyiv. First of all, the majority of tourists prefer to start exploring the country from its capital. Second, it’s easy to get there by plane since Kyiv has two airports – Boryspil and Zhuliany.
Being a modern city with the 1000 year history, Kyiv has lots of activities and places of interest. Avid museum-goers will be impressed by the Second World War Museum with its Motherland monument. The 102m high statue is opened for visiting, which makes it one of the best sightseeing points to admire the Dnipro river with its numerous bridges and islands.
Take a 10 minutes walk, and the next place you’ll find yourself in will be an Orthodox pilgrimage center – Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery complex. Besides enjoying the beauty of overground buildings in Ukrainian Baroque style (yes, Ukraine developed its own branch of this elaborate style in architecture) you can visit underground churches.
Traditional Baroque in Kyiv is represented by St. Andrew Church standing at the beginning of Andrew’s Descent, one of a few Kyiv streets that managed to preserve the atmosphere of fin du siècle. The street is a mixture of wooden houses with lace-like carvings neighboring 100-years old hotels and contemporary theater. Souvenir shops and stalls with antiques and flea market stuff scattered down the descent make this place a local speciality.
Unremarkable yard in the center of Kyiv hides a modern speak-easy bar with no sign at all. Come to know the modern cocktail culture to Loggerhead Bar. The place is usually crowded, so book yourself a chair!
Relax to live blues music sipping drinks from all around the world in BarmanDictat.
Are you a beer lover? Try Ukrainian craft beer in the atmosphere of a sawmill in Lisopylka.
You won’t see a famous Black Square in Malevich bar, but they will definitely offer you a wide choice of Ukrainian wines and cheese.
Visit Kanapa to try 19th-century Ukrainian cuisine with a mixture of molecular gastronomy. They will surprise you with pork fat in chocolate, chestnut soup and black varenyky (dumplings), and these are only a few amazing dishes from their menu.
Tired of popular tourist routes? Or looking for something extraordinary? A trip to Chornobyl is what you need – visit nuclear power plant and abandoned the city of Prypiat. Radiation safety is granted. Place looks creepy, abandoned, unusual, but it’s a perfect trip to get a little thrill.
Things to Do in Lviv
Lviv is a known as a cultural capital of Ukraine hosting 50 different festivals a year, like Chocolate Festival, Alfa Jazz Fest, Publishers Forum, etc. If you seek for genuine Ukrainian traditions and cuisine with Austro-Hungarian flavor, this city is a must visit place.
And speaking of food, Lviv is also a coffee capital of Ukraine with a single coffee mine (!) in the world where you can try extraordinary coffee when they caramelized sugar on top of your coffee with an acetylene torch.
Here you can find confectioneries baking their cakes following old recipes, drink craft beer while listening to the orchestra in Beer Theatre, discover the atmosphere of Sacher-Masoch’s novels behind the keyhole-shaped door of Masoch Cafe.
It’s not only a place for gourmet trip but also a city for seeing places of interest. Like all cities with Medieval history, Lviv can boast about its Market Square and a Town Hall Tower with a sightseeing point on the top.
Besides the beaten tourist attractions, there are also secret places even locals hardly know about. Visit luxurious House of Scientists that used to be a casino a hundred years ago.
Walking down the main street of Lviv to the famous Opera House you won’t even suspect you are strolling a bank of a river. Poltva (name of the river) used to be an ordinary river, but it was turned into a local Styx hidden in a water catch. If you want to feel the smell of Poltva, come to the House of Legends restaurant and press a special button.
Having discovered the underground world of Lviv, it is worth to look up and find a small Statue of Liberty sitting down on the roof.
Did you know that famous Viennese coffee recipe was made by a Ukrainian diplomat Yury Kulchytskyi? And he also founded one of the first coffee houses in Europe – The Blue Bottle coffee house? No need to visit Vienna, you can enjoy a cup of fragrant coffee in Under the Blue Bottle in Lviv.
One more place to drink beer and eat all kinds of meat in Lviv is Mons Pius. It has three rooms decorated in different styles with unique exhibits. Better than a museum 😉
Being among the 100 top restaurants of Ukraine Atlas will please you with delicious dishes, antique interior, and polite service.
A cozy restaurant to drink wine and eat different kinds of bread and pastry cooked according to Greek, Italian, Mexican recipes is called… Bread and Wine.
If you are tired of noisy tourist attractions, stop over in a stomping ground of Lvivates – Virmenka. This coffee house won’t impress you with posh interiors, but they brew the tastiest drink in Lviv.
If you are visiting Western Ukraine, it’d be a crime to miss a chance to see Carpathian mountains. And probably the best place to do this is Bukovel. The greatest advantage of this popular Ukrainian resort is that it is opened 365 days a year; in winter it operates as a ski resort, and in summer people take a break from noisiness of cities and come here to enjoy luxurious water clubs and breathe fresh air in a coniferous forest. A remark for those who don’t mind adventures and climbing mountains – Hoverla, the highest peak of Ukraine is not far from here.
Things to Do in Odesa
If wooden trails are not for you, the seaside of Odesa welcomes you. And the Black Sea isn’t the only perk you’ll get by going to this port city. This is a capital of nightlife. Kyivates flood Odesa on the weekends to enjoy the local clubs even despite the fact that the trip takes about 6 hours. Definitely worth visiting!
Besides, Odesa is an old city with its unique history and culture. Tourists adore this place for its distinctive sense of humor. A monument to a bribe or Museum of smuggling, just to name a few funny places of interest in Odesa.
Now when you know about the Statue of Liberty in Lviv, you will be surprised by one more similarity with the USA – Odesa has its own Flatiron Building. Inside the Flat house you can still find antique furniture and a gorgeous marble staircase.
Odesa nobles used to keep exquisite collections of expensive alcohol, including wine as the region was famous for its vinelands. And the tradition survived till our times in Shustov Cognac Winery Museum, where you can not only learn a lot about local wine production but also taste cognac in a cave.
Odesa is a city to please all the tastes. Savor high European cuisine in one of the best restaurants – Budapest.
Sipping cocktail resting in a pool – is it a dream? No, it’s Ibiza Beach Club! At night it turns into a cool party place with gigs and discos.
Find yourself in a two-century old mansion if you want to know how Odesa noblesse used to rest. Dacha restaurant is at your service.
If you wanna smoke hookah and taste alcohol drinks there is Bukowski bar. One more perk of this place is their friendly bartenders.
Feel tired of wines and beer? Stop over in Kompot, that’s a restaurant where you’ll find home comfort food and breakfasts all day, they serve incredible cacao and kompot =)
Things to Do in Kharkiv
Kharkiv used to be the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic proclaimed only in 1919 while Kyiv remained the capital of Central and Western parts of Ukraine.
Nowadays Kharkiv is a modern Ukrainian city that preserved a bit of the Soviet heritage. It used to be a major industrial center, so there you can find lots of factories, plants, and other facilities. One of the buildings that will bring you back to the USSR atmosphere is Derzhprom (House of State Industry). With its 63 m height, Derzhprom used to be the highest skyscraper in the USSR in the 1920s.
One more record Kharkiv is famous for is Freedom Square which remains the biggest square in Europe.
The true gem is Horkyi Park with a lot of attractions and playgrounds – enjoy the city scenery from a ferris wheel or take a ride on an aerial tram to the local botanical garden.
Also, the city is full of striking monuments. If you are in the city center, find a minute to raise your eyes to see a fiddler on the roof. Or, speaking of IT industry, the one that will be interesting for you is a monument to a programmer. The guy is an average student sitting on a bench by Radio Electronics University, alma mater of coders and sysadmins.
“I’d like some meat!” It is not a simple request if you stay in Kharkiv, it is a name of the steak bar with huge serves of beef, pork and fish.
Dive into the atmosphere of the 20th century in Chekhov restaurant. They are proud of their desserts.
Being a big students city, Kharkiv is a Ukrainian variant of US melting pot. The mixture of cultures reflects in a mixture of exotic cuisines you can try there – Moroccan, Turkish, Iraki, Israeli and many others.
Have you ever been to the attic situated in a basement? Nope? Take your chance and find Attic restaurant downstairs
Mokka is a cocktail paradise, just tell bartender about your preferences, and they will guess what you need right now.
Photo credentials: Motherland, Lviv Statue of Liberty, Coffee Mine
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