Although its image has been marred by conflicts over Crimea and in the Donbas region, Ukraine remains a wonderful tourist destination. Most of the country is safe and peaceful, and yours to explore. Ukraine is large, and still somewhat undiscovered, with plenty new to be seen and experienced. Here are top places to visit in Ukraine.
Kyiv, the country’s capital and the largest city in Ukraine, is home to almost 3 million people. A haven of fascinating architecture, the city is packed with famous landmarks, castles, fortresses and all kinds of museums. A good place to start a tour is the famous Independence Square, located on the west bank of Dnipro River, and the base of the Ukrainian popular “EuroMaidan” revolution against its corrupt former president, Viktor Yanukovych. From there, head to Andriyivskyy Descent, the “Montmartre of Kiev”, a major tourist location that has a host of historic attractions and museums. And don’t miss Kyiv-PecherskLavra, a monastic complex included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, with its network of underground tunnels. Another UNESCO heritage site is Saint Sophia Cathedral, one of the most popular landmarks in Kyiv. Another must-see is Pyrohova, an outdoor museum of folk life and architecture located just on the edge of the city.
One of Ukraine’s main cultural centers, Lviv is home to a number of world-famous cultural institutions such as the city’s philharmonic orchestra and its magnificent Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The city center’s main attraction is PloshchaRynok, or Market Square, inLviv’s historical and architectural center. Along with the Old Town, the historic city center of Lviv, this is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. Also worth visiting is Shevchenkivskyy Park, an open-air museum of folk architecture. An hour’s drive away is Olesko Castle, the most famous castle in Lviv region.
Often referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea,” Odesa is a major port and resort. It’s a popular destination because of its warm climate and “Riviera” architectural style, which echoes that of the Mediterranean and is unique in Ukraine. The city’s most iconic symbol is the Potemkin Steps, a giant stairway so designed as to create an “optical illusion” (from the top, only the landings, and not the stairs are visible, and from the bottom, only the stairs and not the landings are visible.) For those taking a stroll alongDeribasivska Street or the promenade at Arkadia beach, Odesa oozes with sense of relaxation and calm.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Ukraine, the Carpathian Mountains are often called the Green Pearl of Ukraine. While they may not be the highest of Europe’s mountain ranges (the highest peak is Mt. Hoverla at 2,061 meters), the mountains are among the best in terms of their sheer natural beauty. With an uncharacteristically mild climate, they make for an ideal adventure place, especially for hiking and biking.
With its perfect blend of natural landscapes and mixed architecture, Kamyanets-Podilsky is one of the highlights of Ukraine. Being one of the oldest cities in the country,it has beendecalred a national historical and architectural reserve. Boasting over 200 monuments, the focal point is the city’s fortress and its unique fortification system.
While its long, cold winters may deter some, there is no doubt that Ukraine offers something for everyone. Its vast landscapes, marvelous architecture and mix of Central European and Slavic culture make it a great travel destination and experience.
Johayer Mahtab is the staff writer for Dhaka Insider.