Have time to explore Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, at your own pace. With so many museums, cathedrals and historic neighbourhoods to explore, pick and choose to suit your day.. Wander the eerie streets and among the buildings of the ghost town of Pripyat in the abandoned and devastated Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, on a guided tour.. Visit Ukraine’s section of the sprawling Carpathian mountain range. Head up high to spot the traditional Hutsul cottages dotted in the fields.. Interact with a local family on a two-night guesthouse experience in the hills of the Carpathians – staying in traditional accommodation and learning Ukrainian specialties at a cooking class.
Ukraine may be off the tourist trail, but it certainly piques your interest – a confronting nuclear history, beautiful natural scenery and a charm that permeates through each place you explore. Spend time on this eight-day exploration of Ukraine to meander your way through laneways and boulevards teeming with history, culture and traditional cuisine. You’ll see Chernobyl’s abandoned ghost towns, the Carpathians’ charming villages, and two cities similar in spelling but unique in style: Kiev and Lviv. Put the ‘u’ in Ukraine while you journey the essentials of this far-flung nation.
Breakfast Included: 6 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 2
Pryvit! Welcome to Kiev in Ukraine. There will be an important welcome meeting at 6 pm where you will meet your group leader and fellow travellers. If you do happen to arrive early, why not stroll along Khreschatyk Boulevard, spending time at Maidan square, where evidence of the recent historic events (like the 2014 revolution) are still visible, and then an amble down church lined Andriivsky Descent. This street lined with vintage stalls, arts and crafts shops, small restaurants and hidden bars is sometimes called Kiev’s Montmartre, and is one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city. Kiev has great places to try Ukrainian food, and is a city that knows how to party, so get out and experience it tonight.
Chernobyl / Kiev
Head out of town on a full-day trip to Chernobyl. At Dytyatky, which sits on the edge of the 30-kilometre exclusion zone (the circle drawn around the town after the 1986 accident), you'll pass the first checkpoint. After a short introductory and safety briefing, embark on a tour of Chernobyl town, passing the robots and vehicles used to clean the radioactive fallout. Then, after another checkpoint, hear the slight click-click of the Geiger counter while you stand in front of Reactor Number 4, now covered by the huge new sarcophagus – the largest moveable land-based object in the world. The undisputed highlight of today is the visit to the ghost town of Pripyat, where Chernobyl workers were rapidly evacuated 36 hours after the disaster. There’ll be time to explore Lenin Street, the main square, the Palace of Culture, Polissya Hotel, a supermarket, the famous ferris wheel, a school and a swimming pool. Wander the eerie, abandoned streets and get a real sense for what happened here. After lunch at the Chernobyl canteen – all ingredients are brought from outside the zone and are ecologically clean – visit the village of Paryshiv to meet the self-settlers (people who chose to come back to their homes after the evacuation), and see the once top-secret Duga 3 (the so-called 'Russian Woodpecker', a military radar). Return to Kiev for tonight.
Kiev / Overnight Train
Today, you can choose how to spend your time exploring Kiev and surrounds. There is so much to see and do, so you won’t have a problem finding something that takes your fancy. You could go read up on the history of what you saw yesterday at the Chernobyl Museum, head to the golden-domed St Michael’s cathedral or St Sofia cathedral, spend some time in the lively Bessarabsky Rynok neighbourhood or explore the Dnipro islands with their outdoor activities on offer. Tonight, you’ll board an overnight train to the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk (approximately 9 hours).
Arrive early in the morning from your overnight train journey in Ivano-Frankivsk. Then, take a local bus deep into the Carpathian Mountains, to our guesthouse beautifully located among green rolling hills. Tonight is a special experience, staying with some local friends – you’ll be chatting and laughing with them in no time! The host mother, will lead the group in a cooking class in the afternoon where you’ll learn to make some traditional signature dishes from Ukraine, followed by the best part – eating your creations! Enjoy dinner and spend the night at the homestay.
You are deep in the Carpathian Mountains – a range spanning many Central and Eastern European countries, with most lying in Romania. Spend the day relaxing and enjoying the beautiful countryside, admiring the lovingly decorated Hutsul houses with their private chapels and ornate wells. A traditional Hutsul expression says that a good house is one from which you cannot see the other houses, and you’ll notice these traditional thatched cottages dotted over the countryside, few and far between. Return back to our guesthouse in the early evening for dinner and another night in beautiful surrounds.
Leave the sprawling Carpathians behind and travel to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. This 5-hour journey will either be taken by bus or train. This charming hub is only 70 kilometres from the Polish border and its Polish and Austro-Hungarian heritage can be seen in the distinct architecture that makes up much of the city. There's much to see and do in Lviv, so it's a good idea to get a head start. Or simply just chill out in Rynok Square and do some people watching, accompanied by cheese crepes or a slice of apple pie.
This morning, meet a local guide for a walking tour of the Old Town. You’ll pass by Rynok Square, and your guide will point out some of the more interesting locations, like the Arsenal museum – an amazing collection of medieval weapons, armour and tools, as well as the Old Town Book Market and the famous street with seven names. Lviv is also Ukraine’s undisputed coffee capital, and so you should take a seat at one of the cafes in and around the Old Town. For a more unique experience, head to Kopalnya Kavy – Lviv’s ‘Coffee Mine’. It sure is an experience.
As there are no activities planned for today, you are free to leave at any time. That does not mean your adventure has to end! If you would like to spend more time in Lviv, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).