Travellers who miss out on Ukraine have a lot to regret. The country has an incredibly rich history and much of that history is still around to peruse. But if you really have to be convinced about travelling to this European delight, we are only glad to do so. Here are the top four reasons you should visit Ukraine.
1. History: Ukraine has a plethora of cities that date back to almost a millennium ago and thousands of villages with hundreds of years of history behind them. These tributes to Ukrainian heritage have maintained a lot of their history and were you to visit, you’d be transported back through the centuries. There are endless fortresses and castle to be looked over as well.
2. Nature: Mountaineering, camping, hiking or simple road trips, this beautiful country offers endless opportunities to get away from the drudgeries of the city. The Carpathian Mountains are beautiful in autumn, when the forests, meadows and riversides explode in natural Technicolor. The 33 national parks and reserves aren’t to be sneezed at either. Among many things to do in Ukraine, the ‘Tunnel of Love’ is an awe-inspiring place that should be on your Itinerary.
3. Festive Spirit: Ukrainians celebrate over a dozen national holidays the National Fair, the SorochintsyYarmarok, the Crimean Jazz festival to the Carpathian HutsulFestival.
4. Culture: Ukraine has both pagan and Christian influences in its spiritual history and when mixed in with it’s multinational heritage, it results in a unique people who are as in tune with the latest twittering trends as they are with their traditions.
Weather and Best Times
Warm and dry summers and severely cold winters characterize Ukraine’s climate. January is the coldest month of the year, frequently touching temperatures of 0°C, and summer temperatures range from the high 20’s to lower 30’s. Rain happens in the summer, mostly as violent and sudden thunderstorms.
Generally, the best times to visit are Spring and Autumn. The weather is mild during both the seasons. In Spring, everything is in full bloom, making Ukraine a very colourful place to visit. If you’re visiting in the summer, check out the coastal areas near the Black Sea for some sun and sand, or head over to the Carpathian Mountains where it’s cooler. In Autumn, the entire country turns red and gold, and it’s much quieter too, as crowds begin to thin. The only reason to visit in winter is of you’re going to ski in the Carpathians. Everywhere else its just too cold to do much of anything.
Chances are good that you’re from one of the many countries that do not require a tourist visa for entry, a wide list covering European Union, United States, Canada, Japan,South Korea, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Vatican City, Monaco, Iceland, Norway, San Marino,Mongolia, Serbia, Montenegro, Georgia, Hong Kong, Israel, Paraguay, and the countries of theCommonwealth of Independent States and Turkey. For other countries, the visa is easily available once you produce an official invitation from your intended place of lodging. Don’t carry too much Ukrainian currency into the country. It’s prohibited for some reason.
The Boryspil International Airport is the easiest route into Ukraine. It’s connected to many prominent international hubs . The Wizzair airline is a low cost option as are Air Baltic and AeroSvit. All these airlines cater to destinations within Ukraine as well. Neighboring and close by countries offer overnight train services into Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine, including Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Belgrade, Budapest, Bucharest, and Sofia. One can additionally come into the country by bus from Poland or by boat to Odessa and Crimea from Turkey (Istanbul) and Verna (Bulgaria). Getting into the country by road is inadvisable.
Be sure to always have you passport and entry papers in hand; the public transportation here is notorious for hosting corrupt police officials. You could incur a large fine otherwise.
Within cities, Marshrutkas (minibuses) make for a great way to get around. You can flag them down anywhere, and ask them to stop generally anywhere. The fare is fixed regardless of distance for buses, trams or Metro. Be sure to tell the driver where you want to get off. The bus network (headed by companies Avtolux and Gunsel) reaches to practically all the cities within the country; you can go anywhere from anywhere. However, for long distance travel, opt for trains, which are generally cheaper and much more comfortable. This makes them a popular option, meaning you’d be well advised to buy a ticket before hand.
If you’re getting around by road, there are a few critical details you MUST adhere to. ALWAYS carry your documentation. ALWAYS travel under speed limit. The Ukrainian police are on constant lookout for tourists to exploit, so don’t become a victim. If by chance you are held up, take a ticket stub for you to pay later.
The speed limits are as follows:
The roads can frequently be shoddy and full of potholes, so drive slow. It’ll also help you avoid hitting animals on the road, a frequent experience in Ukraine. Beware of Ukrainian drivers, who a have a reputation for being reckless. Hitchhiking is popular too.
If you don’t want to spend too much time travelling, then take planes. The Ukrainian International Airlines provides access to most of the country. Choose the cheapest fare. Flights are short.
EAT AND DRINK
Diverse and rich, Ukraine’s cuisine is a culmination of its Russian, Turkish, Hungarian, Polish, German and Austrian heritage. Whether it’s Borscht (vegetable soup),solianka (meat soup)paska( a rich Easter bread), ghoulash or zhele (jellied fruits), the sheer variety in taste and texture will have you visiting the local restaurants over and over again. And Ukraninan vodka with pepper a.k.ahorilka, isn’t too bad. Ukrainian beer too, tends to be off good quality.
A few word of warning. Never buy meat and dairy products off the street. Always check the expiration dates. Never buy alcohol from anywhere but supermarkets.