Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. Although Ukraine is not the first country in Europe that comes to people’s mind when thinking of travel, it is certainly worth a visit. From cities with typical Soviet architecture to beautiful old towns in European style and from mountains in the West to great beach destinations in the south, Ukraine is cheap and has a lot of places to see.
Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, traveling in the country has become a lot cheaper than it already used to be. Nowadays, the cost of traveling in Ukraine is competitive with, for example, traveling around Southeast Asia. Hostels in Kiev’s city centre only require a handful of dollars, while a bus or metro ride to anywhere in the city won’t cost more than some change. Traveling in Ukraine is a great value.
In basically all big cities, there are many hostels to choose from. Hostels in Ukraine are cheap compared to other European countries, just like the cost of travel. Many hostels offer both dorm and private rooms. In smaller towns and in the mountains, there might be fewer hostels, but other budget accommodations are easy to find since Ukraine is a poor country.
While traveling around Ukraine via overnight trains and unscheduled minivans might not be for everyone, a city trip to Kiev or Lviv is recommended for everyone. Lviv is unlike what you would expect from Ukraine. It has a beautiful, European-style old town, arguably even one of the most beautiful old towns. Ivano-Frankivsk is another beautiful city in the western part of Ukraine with a beautiful old-time charm. The architecture in Kiev is much more like what you would expect to find in a former USSR country, including many high and grey residential buildings. The city centre, however, is very pleasant to walk around. Many Western stores can be found mixed in with local brands and the architecture is certainly not as boring as in the suburbs. The Soviet residential buildings in the suburbs can, however, be of interest to some visitors. Kiev is also a very green city. There are many parks throughout the city where you can relax and buy an ice cream or a drink. In particular, the park on the river bank is enchanting and large. From Kiev, you can also book a trip for 1 or 2 days to the nuclear accident-site of Chernobyl as well as the abandoned city of Pripyat.
As a rule of thumb, you can say that the further east you travel in Ukraine, the less developed the country is and the more you will stumble upon architecture from the Soviet times. For those interested in this type of architecture, a visit to cities like Kharkiv (Kharkov in Russian) might be of interest.
In the south, Odessa is the city most worthy a visit. It’s a big city with an enormous sand beach which serves as a popular summer beach destination for citizens of several countries in the region. It’s also well known for its nightlife and many popular clubs. In addition, Odessa is one of Europe’s biggest sex tourism destinations; many girls from Ukraine’s countryside come to Odessa to find Western men to marry and be able to leave Ukraine. Fake marriage is not unheard of.
Finally, for those who want to see something besides cities, the Karpaty mountains in the west are a nice destination for hiking and spending time in nature.
Hi, I'm Martin Straatman,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Ukraine hostels. Welcome.
Kiev is great, but has nothing in common with Prague. It is very interesting, cheap, and safe, but I would not really call it beautiful except for the Orthodox churches. Those make it an Orthodox Rome and the monastery is superb. The city itself reminded me more of Moscow but smaller. English usually does not help …
Simferopol a beautiful city with spacious parks and gardens, ideal as a central point for the Crimea. Plenty of busses to all towns on the Crimea cheap and very frequent.