Ukraine is definitely one of Europe’s last genuine travel frontiers.
One of Europe’s biggest country (not counting Russia), it is a country full of diversity where travelers can’t shake the feeling of being elsewhere while actually still being in Europe.
It is a country that is known for its hospitable locals, interesting (and yes a little bizarre) Soviet legacy, diverse landscape and gorgeous landmarks that seem frozen in time.
This Ukraine travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Ukraine
- Ukranian power voltage is 220 V 50Hz; Plug C & F
- The Ukrainian currency is the Ukrainian Hryvnia and is around 22 UAH to 1 USD.
- Beware of scam artists. If a “transport inspector” asks to see your ID, ask for your own proof of identification otherwise he may try to fine you for not having the right ticket. Also make sure to watch your wallet, too!
- WARNING: There are risks in traveling to eastern Ukraine because of the war between the Russian irregular forces and the Ukrainian forces in the eastern areas of Luhansk and Donetsk.
- It is illegal to take any items of historical importance out of the country. This includes badges, medals, icons, historical paintings, etc. This law is strictly enforced at all exit points.
- Drink vodka! The Ukrainian specialty is horilka (the local name for vodka) with pepper. Other kinds of vodka that are popular are linden (tilia), honey, birch, wheat.
Things to See and Do in Ukraine
- Hike Mount Hoverla – This is a tough hike out of Yaremche, but you’ll be rewarded with amazing views when you get to the top of the mountain.
- Go paragliding – There are plenty of places in the countryside where you can go paragliding over the land for a fun adventure.
- Learn about Chernobyl – Take a tour to this historic site to see the remains of Chernobyl, the site of a nuclear reactor meltdown in 1986.
- Kiev Planetarium – Space lovers will enjoy exploring the planetarium that has been up since the 1950s. You can learn about space, look for planets at night, and watch movies.
- Museum of Scythian Gold – When you’re in Kyiv, stop by the Museum of Scythian Gold. You’ll see hundreds of beautiful treasures and learn about the mysterious Scythians.
Ukraine Travel Guides
Budget: Ukraine has a variety of hostels for about 140-430 UAH per night. These hostels come with dormitories, shared kitchens, bicycle rentals in the summer, free Wi-Fi, and storage lockers. The Dream House hostel in Kiev even organizes group tourist activities for its members.
Mid-Range: Mid-range hotels will cost around 580-2,400 UAH per night. Enjoy cable TV in your room, free Wi-Fi and breakfast, a hot tub, sauna, a hotel restaurant and bar, and an airport shuttle.
High-End: For five-star hotels, expect to pay around 2,520-7,562 UAH per night. Take in the best with top-of-the-line hospitality, room service, decorated rooms, and suites with terraces and kitchenettes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, multiple hotel restaurants serving fine dining, and playrooms for children.
The cuisine of Ukraine favors grains, dairy, meat, vegetable oil, nuts, and fruits and vegetables as staples. The national dish is borsch (sour soup made with beetroots). Other popular dishes include varenyky (dumplings) and holubtsi (cabbage leaves stuffed with meat or vegetables).
When out and about, look for supkultura (portable soup) in Kiev or go to Odessa for falafel, or head to a restaurant to try more Ukrainian cuisine. In total, expect to pay around 180 UAH per day for food.
The Best Ways to Get Around Ukraine
Getting to Ukraine:
Flights: Ukraine’s main airport is the Kiev Boryspil Airport, located 25 miles from the city center of Kiev. Odessa also has its own international airport and is 7 miles from the downtown area, though it mainly serves European flights. You can check for the best flights to Ukraine on Skyscanner.
Train: The trains in Ukraine link most cities and towns. Go from Kiev to Odessa in roughly 10 hours for 650 UAH. To get the best prices, book in advance by at least a week or two, if not more.
Metro: Kiev has its own metro and is a fast and affordable way to travel throughout the city. Prices start at 2 UAH and trains come every 2-10 minutes. The metro runs daily from 6 AM to midnight.
Buses: Buses are an excellent way to travel, and tickets cost about 8 UAH. Tickets can be bought when boarding or at a kiosk.
Funicular: Kiev has a funicular, which is a type of rapid carriage, and goes from uptown to downtown. This is a scenic, not to mention a unique, way to travel and costs 3 UAH.
Taxis: For major cities like Kiev, taxis have a typical starting fee of 45 UAH and increase 11 UAH per mile traveled, though it varies slightly for each taxi company.
Car Rental: To rent a car, you need to be at least 21-25 years old and have an international driver’s license. A typical price for a standard car is 1010 UAH per day.
Uber: Uber is available throughout Ukraine.
When to go To Ukraine
The best time to visit for good weather is between June through September, where the weather is sunny and perfect for many outdoor activities. If you are looking to save some money, go in April or October.
Both of these months are in the off-season, so there will be fewer crowds, but still fairly pleasant weather for roaming around or heading to a beach by the Black Sea.
Where to Stay in Ukraine
Premier Hotel Rus: When in Kiev, stay at this highly rated hotel. Just a short walk to numerous shops and about a mile from the Golden Gate replica, choose from a variety of rooms (regular to suites with whirlpool tubs and separate rooms), enjoy the hotel restaurant and sushi bar, get a drink at the cocktail bar or at the café, or order room service. St. Sophia’s Cathedral and Independence Square are both a short bus trip away.
Chichikov: Stay at this great hotel in Kharkiv. Just a short walk to the metro station and just a mile from Gorky Park, the hotel comes with rooms and suites with flat-screen TVs and minibars, free breakfast, room service, a Mediterranean restaurant, and a lobby bar.
Panorama De Luxe: If you’re in Odessa, this is a great hotel to stay at. Across from the Black Sea and near many local cafes, this five-star hotel has numerous amenities, including a heated outdoor pool, private rooms with sea views, suites with whirlpool tubs, complimentary breakfast, a spa and sauna, and a rooftop bar.
What to Pack for Ukraine
Ukraine has a temperate continental climate with cold snowy winters and warm summers. The only exception is the southern coast of Crimea, where the climate is subtropical of the Mediterranean type.
The southern coast of Crimea is the warmest place in Ukraine with temperatures reaching 39 – 40 degrees Celsius in the summertime and often not dipping below 20 degrees throughout the year.
- Classic Basic items – You do not need to be a fashionista to blend in. The key is in embracing neutral toned items that can be mixed and matched easily. Avoid logos, baseball caps, shorts, hoodies, flip-flops, and running shoes as these items scream tourist!
- Layers – You could possibly be sweating all afternoon and then be freezing by nightfall! Make sure to stock up on the layers. If you plan on heading to Ukraine during the winter make sure to pack the winter essentials: Warm, high, waterproof, fleece-lined boots big enough to wear with heavy wool socks, hat, waterproof gloves and thermal long underwear.
- Rain boots – It rains a lot during fall and spring and since there aren’t always a lot of sidewalks, make sure to bring a good pair of boots to splash around in.
- Shoes – a good pair of sturdy shoes are a must. Ukraine isn’t known for being a flat country and Kyiv especially has a lot of inclines.
- Personal Safety products – Certain areas in Kyiv are known as pickpocket hotspots. Before leaving for your trip, make sure to pack some personal safety products, like money belts and locks, so that you can keep your valuables safe on your trip.
- Read our Packing for Europe – Tips That Will Make Your Travel Life Easier
Check out our Packing List for more ideas on what to bring with you.
Ukraine Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
- Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It usually has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
- Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
- VRBO: is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
- Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
- Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
- Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs.I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
- Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
- World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Italy you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.