Ukraine is an ideal destination for those looking for landscapes, solitude, adventure, and wildlife. You will find all this in the steppes, rivers, mountains, lakes, and forests that decorate the country with a wide range of bright colors.
Cities – like Kiev, the capital, and Lviv – and ancient medieval fortresses to visit in Ukraine balance the balance between nature and monuments created by the hand of man.
However, before entering the field, we want to clear up doubts about the security of a destination that was recently at war with Russia.
Is it safe to visit in Ukraine?
At the end of 2014 Russian soldiers without identification entered Ukrainian territory and occupied strategic positions. This was the beginning of a military confrontation that, to this day, continues to generate tensions in the area.
However, the current situation is calm and you can travel without problems for most of Ukraine. Most Western governments advise their citizens not to travel to Donetsk and Lugansk, territories where separate republics supported by Russia were proclaimed.
The Crimean peninsula – of great natural beauty – is managed and governed by Russian authorities, so you will need a visa to enter the area. The truth is that it is worth doing.
Cities like Kiev, Lviv, Odessa, and Zhovkva are as safe as any other major city in Eastern Europe.
In short, do not go near Donetsk and Lugansk and travel peacefully through Ukraine.
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The main tourist place to visit in Ukraine is Bukovel, the largest ski resort in Eastern Europe.
It is located in the province of Frankvisk Oblast, in the western part of the country, and takes advantage of the slopes of the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains to offer tracks and fun to its visitors. During the winter, tens of thousands of skiers descend through its 61 tracks of different difficulties (13 green, 36 blue, 5 red and 7 black).
When the good weather arrives, the artificial lake and the surrounding forests become the main protagonists of Bukovel. In addition to water sports and hiking, you can also practice mountain biking. There are some 47 kilometers of routes and 5 of them are part of a dangerous downhill route that delights those who seek to release adrenaline.
The capital of the country (since 1991), located on the banks of the Dnieper River, is also one of the main places to visit in Ukraine.
Kiev, with its almost three million inhabitants, is the seventh most populated city in Europe and one of the oldest in its eastern zone. Through it passed the Vikings before reaching a great period of splendor that would end the Mongol invasion of Russia in 1240. After its decline ended up becoming part of Poland, first, and the Russian Empire, after.
Today’s Kiev is a modern city, with avant-garde infrastructures and great cultural and scientific importance. It uses its magnificent metro system to visit the best places in Kiev: the monastery of San Miguel de las Cupulas Doradas (with spectacular frescoes inside), the church of San Andrés (18th century in baroque style), the Plaza de la Independence (Maidan Nezalezhnosti), the Monastery of the Caves (with underground galleries where you can find the bodies of mummified monks), the central market (nothing like a market to take the gastronomic and social pulse of a city) and the Mariinskiy park (one from the green lungs where you can also enjoy a puppet show).
3. Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve
One of the most impressive natural places to visit in Ukraine is the biosphere reserve, recognized by Unesco, Askania-Nova.
It was established by Baron Friedrich Flaz-Fein at the end of the 19th century. It is the oldest steppe reserve in the world and in its 11,000 hectares (five times the size of San Marino) more than 3,000 species of living beings roam freely (six of them extinct in their places of origin). Here you can see, among others, European bison, zebras, African antelopes, Scottish ponies and wild horses of Przewalski.
Flora lovers can take a ‘tour’ on horseback or by car and enjoy the more than 450 different species of plants that populate the reserve.
In addition, there are also old tombs and stone sculptures created by the first settlers of this steppe .
In short, a natural and historical jewel that should appear on your list of places to visit in Ukraine.
4. Reservation of Karadag
The Karadag Reserve has nothing to do with the Askania-Nova Reserve.
Located on the Crimean peninsula, it is a gloomy and dramatic landscape of rocks and cliffs created by nature during millions of years of evolution. Its origin seems to be found in lava spit by a large volcano about 150 million years ago. Wind, rain and sea water have eroded the rocks to form caves and natural sculptures of curious shapes. Visitors to the reserve have given names to some of them: the Devil’s Devil, Ivan the Bandolero, Throne, and Court.
But, undoubtedly, the most famous rock of the Karadag Reserve is the Golden Gate (Zolotie Vorota). It emerges from the water at a short distance from the coast and has the shape of an archway made of yellow basalt that reflects the sunlight every morning.
Although you can explore the Karadag Reserve from the sea, if you choose the route by land (about 7 km long and guided) you can see up close the flora and fauna for which this place is also famous.
One of the most magical and strange places to visit in Ukraine.
The second most beautiful city to visit in Ukraine in Lviv.
With a history that begins in 1240, Leopolis is a kind of open-air museum. Old buildings, numerous museums and aristocratic courtyards and parks come out on your way along a route that you can start at the cobbled Plaza del Mercado. This is the point of intersection of the eight busiest streets of Lviv and it is the building of the City Council, included in the list of World Heritage by Unesco and has a 65-meter high tower.
However, to enjoy the best medieval panorama to see in Ukraine, climb to the top (413 masl) of the hill where the castle was. A squalid ruin is the only thing left of the old castle, destroyed by the Swedish troops in the Great Northern War (1700-1721).
The Potocki Palace (19th century), the baroque church – and monastery – Bernardina (17th century), the Lychakiv cemetery, the Saint George Cathedral, and the Opera and Ballet Theater are other places you can not miss in Lviv.
6. Mount Hoverla
With its 2,061 meters above sea level, Mount Hoverla is the highest peak in Ukraine.
It is part of the Carpathian Mountains and is located in the Chornohora region. Its slopes are covered with beech forests, above which you will find a belt of sub-alpine meadows (called polonyna in Ukrainian).
On its eastern slope rises the stream that gives life to the Prut River, one of the most important in Ukraine, and a tributary of the Danube that also runs through Romania and Moldova.
During the 20th century, Mount Hoverla became fashionable, as it is the best place to visit in Ukraine to enjoy alpine hiking. There are different routes to reach the top, but the most popular is on its east face and faces a gap of 1,100 meters in a short distance and with hardly any respite. Be very careful if you plan to ascend in winter. Although it is not a very high mountain, the cold is intense and there have been cases of freezing and death.
7. The Palanok Castle, Mukachevo
Traveling to Ukraine can mean doing it in time. Not only because nature is here archaic and dominant, but also because of its medieval castles.
Palanok Castle is the main attraction of Mukacheve, a city located in western Ukraine. Originally built in wood (in the fourteenth century), it suffered, over the centuries, a number of extensions and reforms, becoming an almost impregnable fortress made of stone.
In addition, when being in a strategic place, the castle of Palanok changed hands on a good number of occasions. Austrian, Hungarian and French troops occupied the interior of their walls, reinforcing and improving them. Between 1796 and 1897, the castle was used as a prison.
Today, Palanok Castle houses the Mukacheve Historical Museum, a gallery with works by the best painters in western Ukraine and a shop with a cafe.
8. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
One of the most curious and morbid places to visit in Ukraine are the surroundings of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
No one can forget the news about that nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986, after a hydrogen explosion in reactor 4. This caused an ejection of radioactive materials about 500 times greater than that created by the atomic bomb of Hiroshima. It is considered – together with that of the Japanese power station Fukushima I, in 2011 – as the most serious nuclear accident in history, constituting one of the greatest environmental disasters suffered by the planet.
The international community financed the definitive closure of the plant, which occurred on December 15, 2000.
Nowadays, it is possible to return to the place of disaster. The city of Prípiat – located 3 kilometers from the central one – seems to have stopped in time. The Ferris wheel of the amusement park, the bumper cars, shops, and houses … Everything abandoned with haste and fear.
It is allowed to tour the city in groups of ten people with a guide. Some 18,000 tourists do it every year, but only a few get permission to enter the exclusion zone between Prípiat and the nuclear power plant.
A tourism not suitable for all audiences that will make your hair stand on end.
9. Jotin Fortress, Chernivtsi Oblast
This impressive complex of fortifications is located in the region of Chernivtsi Oblast, in western Ukraine.
The construction of the fortress began, on the right bank of the Dniester River, in 1325. New improvements would come at the end of the XIV century and half of the XV, as was also developing the medieval city of Jotin, with more than a thousand years of history.
Originally, it was made of wood, but it would be rebuilt in stone when more modern weapons appeared. In 1621 the fortress played a very important role in one of the bloodiest battles of the time. Here the armies of Poland and Lithuania met on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire on the other. Poles and Lithuanians managed to defeat the 250,000 Ottoman soldiers in front of them.
Today, it is one of the most visited tourist sites in Ukraine and has served as a set for the filming of historical films and documentaries.
10. Gorgany Massif
If you like to walk around the mountain, you have to visit the central part of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains. The Gorgany Massif extends between the Mizunka and Prut rivers, covering an area of about 2,500 km².
It is a very uninhabited area where the walls of sandstone rock are pierced by many paths that cross each other and seem to lead nowhere.
The peaks that are here have altitudes that move between 1,400 and 1,836 meters above sea level. Not being very high, the vegetation is abundant, with 80% of the surface covered by leafy forests. Narrow valleys down rivers that fall into violent rapids are a great natural spectacle.
You can not miss it if you wanted to travel to visit in Ukraine to disconnect from the world in general.
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