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Ukraine - Top Tips

Super Seven

Kiev Kiev isn't the most walkable city due to poorly maintained pedestrian streets, but there's plenty of ways to get around. I actually used Kiev Walking Tours as I wanted a local insight to what I'd actually be seeing. The standard tour covers Independence Square, St Sophia's Cathedral, St Andrew's Church, Ukrainian Motherland Monument, Golden Gate, The National Opera of Ukraine, and Mariyinski Palace. Other worthwhile tours were the Street Art Tour and Soviet Kiev Tour. Additionally, The Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People is easy enough to visit yourself, as is Kiev Pechersk Lavra, which is the oldest and most beautiful cathedral in the city. If you have further free time, buy a metro pass and admire the architectural beauty of the stations, which are truly "WOW".

Chernobyl The site of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 can now safely be visited by tourists under the supervision of an approved company. I chose to book with Solo East Travel who are one of the original founding tourism companies and they didn't disappoint. What an eye-opening experience from start to finish of the area dubbed the "post-Apocalyptic world". It's hard to explain the emotions you feel when walking through abandoned rooms seeing piles of gas masks, children's toys, classrooms, and family homes. The tour continues walking through the Pripyat Amusement Park where the ferris wheel has became a symbol of the disaster, then finishes up walking the perimeter of the nuclear power plant itself. Some facts that have stuck with me since... the level of radiation was similar to Hiroshima, the greatest harm ended within weeks of the blast, the eventual death toll is still unknown, and the disaster may have actually been a boon for wildlife in the area.


The western city of Lviv is close to the Polish border, has a European feel, and is very walkable when it comes to the attractions on offer. Use Lviv City Hall as your central start point and cover off Rynok Square, The Lviv National Opera, Italian Courtyard, Taras Shevchenko Monument, Armenian Cathedral, and finish up at the very unique Pharmacy Museum. Appreciate it's not for everyone, but Lychakiv Cemetery is also worth checking out. If you like coffee, there's a great coffee scene in the city with Cheese Bakery being a fave of mine due to its extensive cheesecake collection.

Ternopil Ternopil is also a city in the west and is referred to as "Fine City" due to the fact that it hosts more festivals and fairs than any other city in the country, with the largest being a music festival called "Fine City". Start off at the Stepan Bandera Monument, before visiting The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (go inside too), then take a walk along the waterfront past Ternopil Castle to the "I Heart Ternopil" sign. From here, head to Shevchenko Boulevard to see the Academic Theater and many of the city monuments like Taras Shevchenko and "Random Meeting" which was a gift by American John Stuart Johnson (owner of Johnson & Johnson). My personal fave was "Monument to the Plumber" which reminded me of Bratislava. See if you can find it! As you're leaving the city, drive to National Revival Park and take a quick 20 min walk around.

Lutsk I went 150km north of Lviv to visit a city I hadn't even heard of prior to my visit, but Lutsk was a pleasant surprise. Lubart Castle was built in the 14th Century by Lubart , the Lithuanian prince, and is one of the best preserved fortifications I've seen for a long time. Within the walls, you also have the Museum of Books and the Museum of Bells, which are both worth a visit. There's also a unique attraction called "House of Architect Golovan", who's a sculptor and local cult hero. His home is just past the Lutheran Church and is a work of art in remembrance of his past wife and children. When you take a stroll down the main high street towards Theatrical Square, there's plenty of interesting monuments and murals. One of my fave murals was a simple one, grain in a farming field painted in the colours of the Ukrainian Flag. Very appropriate given that Ukraine are the largest grain exporter in the world. As you're leaving the city, drop into the Korsak Art Museum to gain an insight into Ukrainian Contemporary Art, as well as an interesting room focussed on different methods of technology in years gone by.

Tunnel of Love The Tunnel of Love is fast becoming an Instagram hotspot of Ukraine, but thankfully, I visited "off season" so there were no crowds. This place is actually a section of an industrial railway line, but the unique feature is that there's 5km of train track that's surrounded by arched trees which forms a natural tunnel. I visited at the end of winter season, so the trees were bare, which gave the place more of an "eerie feel" but still picturesque. I did contemplate visiting during the greenery of summer, but the swarms of influencers were enough to put me off. Be aware that this is an active train track so a handful of trains through most days.

Soviet Architecture Appreciate this is a very specific recommendation, but there's some fascinating Soviet architecture spread across the country from the USSR era. As you're leaving the city of Lutsk there's a pair of beautiful mosaics on Molodi Avenue that are on the side walls of some local stores. Follow that same street another 1km and you'll see an abandoned Ilyushin 18B plane in the middle of a housing estate. As for Lviv, pass by the Museum of the Academies of Veterinary Medicine for some impressive mosaics and continue walking down Pekarska Street. As you're entering the city, there's also multiple Soviet bus stops all individually designed.

Accommodation Advice

I want to recommend On The Square Hotel in Lviv, which is directly on Rynok Square opposite City Hall. The location is perfect, as there's so much within walking distance, as well as a tram stop on the doorstep. The rooms are modern and spacious, WiFi is fast, the staff are English speaking and very helpful, and the price represents good value for money. At the time of writing this, there's still ongoing conflict across Ukraine, so it's worth noting that the hotel also has its own shelter.

Food Factor

For a unique experience, I'd definitely recommend Kryivka, which is a local Ukrainian restaurant in Lviv. Part of the draw is the "fun factor" as the restaurant is hard to find even with GoogleMaps (look for the large wooden door down the alleyway), then you have to give a password "Slava Ukraini" to enter. Once that's out of the way, a military doorman will take you deep into a basement where the actual restaurant is. The whole concept is fascinating, just like the decor and the workers, but the food on the menu backs it up. Great local dishes with the potato pancakes essential to order. You'll also be very amused by the local beer bottles. There's even a "Shoot Putin" area where you fire a gun, so it's hard to beat the overall experience.

Good Guide

If you're sticking to the major cities, then the use of a guide definitely isn't essential, but if you're looking to head further afield, there's definitely a benefit. I used Oleksandr Ruchko to visit smaller cities in the west and also Tunnel of Love. He was a pleasure to deal with, has 30 years experience, speaks perfect English, is affordable and an overall a genuinely nice guy. You can reach Oleksandr directly via Whatsapp on +380 67 924 3309.


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