Things to do on vacation in Ukraine beyond Kiev

Touring the Chernobyl site and visiting Kiev’s museums are probably two of the most popular things to do in Ukraine.
Things to do on vacation in Ukraine beyond Kiev

However, if you’re prepared to venture a little off the tourist trail you’ll be rewarded with many more opportunities of things to do on vacation in Ukraine besides visiting the typical sights in Kiev:

Get to know Ukraine

As any seasoned traveler would tell you…if you want to get to know a country you need to head into the countryside. This couldn’t be especially more true about Ukraine whose culture, traditions and heritage are most appreciated in the rural parts of the country and not Kiev.

If you’re visiting Ukraine for a vacation for the first time, you wouldn’t want to pass the opportunity to get to know the “real” Ukraine and explore the beautiful Ukrainian countryside. The best places to experience the culture of Ukraine would be in villages such as the ones near Poltava (i.e. Gogolevo, Velyki Sorochyntsi and Mirgorod, which aren’t far from one another).

During the month of august, these villages host a huge arts and crafts festival (Sorochinsky fair) where local villagers get to show-off their handmade crafts and culinary skills. Exploring this part of Ukraine during the Sorochinsky fair is definitely the best time for a cultural experience because you’ll get to soak the amazing culture, the music and folk dancing. Also, while on the fair you’ll be able to buy unique rugs, embroideries, and foods that you wouldn’t normally find any other time of the year.

Boat ride the Dnipro River

A trip to Ukraine wouldn’t be the same without riding the famous Dnipro (Dnieper) River, which is the largest river in Ukraine and one of the largest rivers in the whole of Europe. The Dnipro River flows out into the Black Sea and runs through the heart of Kiev, which means you get a fantastic opportunity to see and photograph Kiev’s top tourist sights such as the Pechersk Lavra Monastery, the Friendship Arch and the column of Magdeburg Rights.

One popular way to go about exploring the Dnipro River is onboard a cruise with companies like “MS Dnieper Princess cruise” and “Viking Cruises”, which caters to English-speaking tourists. These type of cruises normally last 10 to 12 days and cost anything between 1140 and 3600 euros.

Saying this, you can book inexpensive sightseeing boat tours or hire a boat (for around 200 euros per hour) with tour operators like “Prime Tour Ukraine” and “In Tourist Uk”.

Hop on a train

One of the top things to do on vacation in Ukraine is traveling by train in Ukraine, which isn’t only one of the cheap but it’s also a fantastic way as a tourist to experience the scenic beauty of the country. The most popular train travel route in Ukraine is between Kiev (Kyiv) and Simferopol (Crimea). The train ride is fairly lengthy (over 12 hours) so it’s best buying a sleeper train ticket, which only costs around 22 euros (including bedding).

You can buy train tickets from the railway ticket offices in Kiev or Simferopol. It's best to buy the tickets in advance and through an English-speaking agency like “Go 2 Kiev” if you can't speak any Russian.

Ride the Crimean Trolleybus

The Crimea region of southern Ukraine is without a doubt, one of the most popular destinations in Eastern Europe for history buffs and anyone interested in Russian history and the Crimean war.

If you plan to visit or stay in Crimea, you can’t miss riding what they call the “longest trolley line in the world”. The Crimean trolleybus service is a cheap way to get around and offers stunning views of the Crimean Mountains and the beautiful waters of the Black Sea.

The trolleybus runs between the cities of Simferopol and Yalta and takes about 4 hours in total, but you get the opportunity to stop off to explore some of the tourist sights along the way.

Visit Ukraine’s Venice

If you’ve got time to spare during your vacation, the village of Vilkovo is one of the off-the-beaten-path destinations in Ukraine that you have to add to your itinerary. Vilkovo is located on the Danube Delta (right on the border with Romania) and it’s known as the Venice of Ukraine.

Vilkovo certainly reminds you a bit of Venice because of the houses built along the canals, the crossing bridges and boats which locals use to get around.

Experience a banya

If you aren’t already aware of what a “banya” is, a banya is basically a super steamy sauna experience like you've never seen before. Joining a “banya” is definitely one of the coolest things to do on vacation in Ukraine mainly because of the traditional ritual behind it.

There are different stages to a “banya” ritual but the proper Russian banya experience includes vodka and girls. Saying this, the typical banya experience in Ukraine consists of stepping inside a hot steaming room for as long as possible, while being lashed with burning twigs. Then, a bucket of icy cold water gets poured over your head to complete the whole ritual.

Banyas are really popular among Ukrainians, though if you’re a tourist you’ll love the whole experience especially since going to a proper banya only costs around 5 euros. Kiev has one large public banya bath near the Independence Square, and another one not far from Solomenska Square.

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