Ukrainian Top-17

1. Kyiv-Pecherska Lavra, Kyiv

If you are interested in the mysteries of Eastern Orthodoxy then you should go on an excursion to the holy of holies for all eastern Slavs; there in the catacombs one can see mummies of well-venerated saints. The Lavra was founded as a cave monastery in 1051; it houses golden-domed churches, baroque buildings and orchards. Religious ceremonies and church music concerts of choir singing, which take place in amazingly decorated, icon-filled interiors, attract crowds of pilgrims, monks and other people who seek peace and quiet. Great collections of Scythian gold, micro-miniatures and fine art collections are available in numerous museums of Kyiv-Pecherska Lavra.

2. Carpathian Landscapes

Topographically Ukraine is generally a flat area; however the Carpathian Mountains with its restful wooded slopes, rough stony trails, flower-covered upland pastures and wide, snaky valleys are a great attraction for both Ukrainians and tourists from all over the world. Isn’t it a wonderful place for hiking, biking and skiing? Besides, the Ukrainian Carpathians are world-known for its highest peak Mt Hoverla, which is a relatively easy trek from nearby villages, as well as from ski resorts.


3. Lviv’s Ploscha Rynok

Lviv is a beating heart of Ukraine, square Rynok being its busiest part. A town hall (city ratusha) stands in the middle of the square, there are always people around this magnificent building: tourists with cameras, Lviv residents rushing to their businesses and on errands – they all merged into one lively constant move. The air is enriched with fantastic aroma of grounded coffee beans which comes from legendary coffee-shops scattered all over the city. Paved streets (Habsburg-era), slow trams, cozy cafes, fascinating architecture embrace you with a comforting feeling and you are ready for another cup of delicious coffee in this unforgettable place.


4. Andriyivsky Uzviz, Kyiv

It is here Apostle Andrew climbed the steep ascent and erected a cross to prophesy the rise of Kyiv. Nowadays it is the most favorite place of artists and crafts people, paved Montmartre-like Street: here they exhibit their pieces of art, souvenirs, paintings – everything is on sale. Bohemian charm of St. Andrew’s Descent attracts Kyiv residents and guests of the city. There is the house where Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov lived and wrote “The White Guard”, annually the museum is visited by many fans of the writer.


5. Kamianets-Podilskyi

A lovely Podillian town surrounded by the Smotrych River is another eye-pleasing spot in Ukraine. To see a picturesque fortress of the town, you should take a stroll across a new bridge along the cobbled area of once divided community with beautifully renovated churches and ruins of the past severe defense of the historic place. The fortress is very much visited by the tourists; however if you make off-season travel, you will have the place entirely to yourself.


6. Pyrohovo Museum of Folk Architecture, Kyiv

To get a relatively whole picture of Ukrainian countryside, you should visit Pyrohovo museum which is situated in the outskirts of Kyiv. All parts of the country at different times are represented there: churches, schools, houses, workshops were re-created from the original. This is a wonderful place for the arrangement of folk festivals and various festive events. It is like the whole Ukraine is located in one place, for instance, Trans-Carpathian area is within a walk-distance from Poltava region. Isn’t it exciting and worth visiting?

7. Odesa’s Nightlife

Odesa is well-known for its various museums, beautiful parks and famous Potiomkin Steps. The Black Sea is another huge attraction for the tourists, Arkadia Beach being one of the most loved places for recreation. Night life of the city is also of great interest for those who love different styles of music: an oasitic place full of coolness and delight.

8. Bakhchysaray Culture of the Crimean Tatars

Presently, the Crimean Tatars, after a 50-year exile, do their best to turn the capital Bakhchysaray into a garden city – a true meaning of the name. The best and the cheapest accommodation in the Crimea (guest-houses) is provided by the family-run business; their Asian-influenced cuisine is now popular across the peninsula. Small businesses revive ancient crafts to preserve history and cultural traditions, to share them with the tourists from all over the world. Tatars are wonderful hosts: they will heartily treat you to delicious sweets and fascinating stories.


9. Kolomyia

Kolomyia is a beautiful place to visit: a nice combination of old (Austro-Hungarian time) and new architecture, very informative museums, forested hills, a chance to estimate the heights of the Carpathian Mountains. It is worth mentioning the central city Pysanka (Easter painted egg) Museum among other places of this type: a giant Easter egg houses the museum, where you can learn a lot about the exhibits, their legends, and the technology of making them, their variety and meanings.

10. Sheshory (ArtPole) Festival

An annual three-day gathering of musicians and artists from all over Eastern Europe in mid-July is Sheshory festival. The first festivals took place in Sheshory, a Carpathian village. Later this festive event moved to rural Podillia. If you mistakenly picture Ukraine as the country of unfriendly receptionists and gloomy sales-people, a hippy spirit of the Sheshory festival will change your opinion drastically and for the better.


11. Sofiyivka Park, Uman

About 100 hectares of amazing landscape gardening, grottoes, caves, waterfalls, valleys, pergolas and pavilions, sculptures, thousands of unique trees, shrubs and flowers, arranged in the most beautiful ways – all based on Greek and Rome methodology – it is a marvel of human creation. It is a world-known example of the 18th century landscape gardening created by serfs guided by a skilled and wise architect. The tour-guides will tell you thousands of stories, legends and fairy tales about almost each corner of the park; you may believe all of them or none, but don’t miss one true story – it was a birthday gift to Sophia from her husband Stanislaw Potocki, a Polish Magnate, in a token of his deep love to his heavenly beautiful wife.

12. Sudak’s Crumbling Castle

Long time ago the Crimea was the far corner of the Roman Empire, then it was rediscovered by medieval Genovese traders, who wanted to join the caravans which brought silk and spices from the Orient/East. Mighty fortresses protected their trade outposts; unfortunately almost all of them were ruined by Mongol hordes. However one of them remained intact. Climbing the Consul’s Tower you can imagine yourself surrounded by knights, doges and silk merchants, then look down the vertiginous height of Sudak fortress, you might watch the white sails appear on the horizon.


13. Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve

The largest wetland in Europe located in a huge delta in Ukraine’s far southwest is the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve; here the Danube dumps its water and silt into the Black Sea. This vast area of fertile Ukrainian territory is not visited very much; however the place is known for its surprisingly beautiful scenery, colorful birdlife. One can spend unforgettable time out on the water and serene evenings in drowsy Vylkovo, which has a nickname “Ukrainian Venice” thanks to a number of canals.

14. Crimean Cave Cities

As the story goes, ancient settlers built cave cities to hide and protect themselves from blood thirsty nomads that prompted to carve dwellings out of limestone atop of high plateaus. Hearing the story of Mangup-Kale long-forgotten peoples - Goths, Alans, Feodorites – come to life. Chufut-Kale, the Jewish fortress, is another cave city which remains the Zion of Karaites, i.e., a small Turkic group that managed to preserve its unique culture and religion, the latter for centuries rooted in Judaism.


15. Watching Football

As Ukraine is going to welcome Euro-2012 (Football Championship), a lot of work is being done in the chosen cities and not only. The leading teams of the country which have thousands of fans are Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv. A brand new Donbas arena in Donetsk is a real pride for all the Ukrainians. In the context of Euro-2012 preparation, the Olympic arena in Kyiv and stadiums in Kharkiv and Lviv are under construction and improvement.

16. Train Journey by Ukrainian Railways

An overnight journey by rail is a fascinating experience anywhere in the former USSR. Most trains have sleeping cars with both two-bed or four-bed compartments and open dorms, a dining-car. Pretty soon you will get acquainted with your fellow-travelers: food is shared, stories are told, questions are asked, and in other words, you get growing experience. Trains make numerous stops and you can come out to stretch your legs, to buy some newspapers, magazines, postcards and, if you like, some home-made food. Moving to other places and seeing scenes from the windows is the main advantage of this type of traveling.


17. Colorful Markets

If you look for a place where you can buy anything, then you should go to spontaneous/open markets which are scattered all over the country, in every city or town. These are absolutely amazing places where foodstuff, consumer goods, things for your home and vehicle are on sale. If you are going to have a small or a big party, to go on a picnic or to make a weekly supply for your family – this is the right place to do shopping. It is clear that the largest markets of this type are in big cities, namely, Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and others. The last but not the least, prices are very much negotiable and most likely you will make a good bargain at the markets.


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