Ukraine is, in my opinion, the most fascinating destination in Eastern Europe, a country where you can visit from the dreamiest castles and perfectly-shaped old cities to real offbeat places such as a nuclear missile launch facility and one of the most vibrant capitals in the continent, Kiev.
Capital – Kiev, or Kyiv.
Population – 42 million, excluding Crimea (33rd).
Language – Ukrainian is the official language, a Slavic language close to Russian (but very different). Most people also speak Russian and in the Eastern part of the country, a large part of the population use Russian as their primary language.
Visa – Most nationalities can get a 90-day free visa on arrival but some countries, including Australia and New Zealand, need to pre-arrange an e-visa. More information on the MFA website.
When to go – If you don’t mind freezing temperatures, Ukraine can be visited all year long, as most activities are based on visiting cities, so with proper clothes you should be fine. I loved visiting it in autumn because of the beautiful colors. Some parts of Ukraine can be very hot during the summer months.
Travel insurance –Always a must and I recommend World Nomads for the following reasons:
- It is the only company that covers with an unlimited budget
- It provides coverage for a very big bunch of adventure activities, including trekking in high altitudes
- You can hire it while on the road
5 Top experiences in Ukraine – My favorites:
- Trekking in the Ukrainian Carpathians – Mountain villages and very authentic people.
- Pochaiv – The most epic Orthodox Complex in the country, located at the heart of Ukraine.
- Visiting a nuclear missile launch facility – One of the few places in the world where you can do it.
- Exploring Chernobyl – Pay your respects and visit the ghost city of Prypiat. Learn how to visit Chernobyl responsibly.
- Hang out in Kiev – One of the most energetic cities in Europe. Read my Kiev city guide.
Typical costs – Ukraine is relatively cheap (prices outside of Kiev):
- Dorm: 6-8€
- Double room in a budget hotel: 20-25€
- Local meal: 2-3€
- A 3-course meal in a mid-range restaurant: 5-10€
- Soviet train from Lviv to Odesa: around 5€ economical class
Moving around – Most cities are well-connected by train and traveling on a Soviet train is the best way to explore the country, and it’s very cheap. Otherwise, you can travel by marshrutka, but it is always more expensive than going by train.
Accommodation – There are hotels and hostels all across the country and you can find them on booking.com.