A large country located in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is a stunning patchwork of eclectic cityscapes, long standing tradition, and unforgettable horizons. The country is well known for gorgeously built Orthodox churches as well as its far-flung forest-covered mountains and the magnificent Black Sea coastline. The capital of Kiev is particularly well visited thanks to its rich 11th century history. From Scythian tomb relics to incredible displays of Ukrainian architecture, there’s certainly a lot to see and do in this European gem of a country.
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Beautiful beyond description, the Askania Nova Biosphere Reserve is the world’s oldest steppe reserve and perhaps one of the most fiercely protected natural wonders on the planet. The reserve was founded in the late 19th century by Friedrich Falz-Fein and is located in a remote area of the Kherson steppe. Today, it’s a haven for nature lovers and is a veritable outdoor museum. The whole reserve is 11,000 hectares large and is home to over 500 plant species, most of which are endangered. The reserve is also home to a zoo, which houses 450 species of exotic birds and animals, six of which have actually gone extinct in their homelands and can now only be found in Askania-Nova.
Frunze Street 13, Askania-Nova, Ukraine 75230, Phone: 3-80-09-96-56-23-44
2.Golden Gate of Kiev
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Dating back to 1037, the Golden Gate of Kiev is a reconstructed medieval gateway that served as the awe-inspiring entrance to Ukraine’s capital city. Interestingly, the gate that stands today has been completely rebuilt and may not even look anything like the original structure that stood in its place hundreds of years ago. This is because no images of the original gate have survived the test of time. When visiting the gate, make sure to view it from all sides to take in the greatness of its architecture and to explore the ancient Ruthenian church decorations that adorn its interiors. There is also a monument for Yaroslav the Wise that sits on the west end of the Golden Gate, which is bound to strike the fancy of your history-loving companions.
40A Volodymyrska Street, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: 38-04-42-78-69-19
3.A.V. Fomin Botanical Garden
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Found in Ukraine’s beautiful capital city of Kiev, the A.V. Fomin Botanical Garden is the oldest of its kind in the country. Covering 22.5 hectares of land, the garden is a treat for anyone who wants to retreat into a quiet and relaxing world of greenery and exotic plants. The A.V. Fomin Botanical Garden is home to over 8,000 different plants species, 143 of which are recorded in Ukraine’s Red Book of Rare Species. It is also famous for having the largest collection of succulents amongst the countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Make sure to visit the Klimatron Conservatory as well as their greenhouse, which houses the largest and oldest palm trees in the whole of northern Eurasia.
Symona Petlyury Street, 1, Kiev, Ukraine 01032, Phone: 3-80-04-42-39-31-90
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If you’re looking for some of the best the world has to offer in terms of gardening design and landscaping, you will definitely find it at the Arboretum Sofiyivka, also known as Sofiyivsky Park. More than an arboretum, Sofiyivka is also a scientific research institute for the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Located near the Kamianka River, the park is visited by 500,000 people yearly and is one of the most popular recreational spots in the nation. It is reminiscent of an English garden and is adorned with over 2,000 different types of trees and bushes like ginkgo, taxodium, tulip trees, and the Weymouth pine. Truly, a day spent here is not wasted.
12A Kyivs’ka Street, Uman, Cherkas’ka Oblast, Ukraine 20300
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Perhaps the most famous of Ukraine’s ski resorts, Bukovel is a relatively young and ultramodern recreational destination in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Perched at an altitude of 930 meters, Bukovel is an exciting destination for locals and foreign visitors alike. The skiing and snowboarding season at Bukovel lasts from November to April thanks to early snowfall. All of this lends itself well to the many ski routes and 16 ski lifts of the resort. With over 50 kilometers of ski trails spanning across five mountains, Bukovel is one of the largest ski resorts in the whole of Eastern Europe. It’s not over when the snow melts and summer rolls around, though! Come visit in the summer months for a dip in the mineral sprints, mountain climbing, river explorations, and more.
Bukovel, Ivano-Frankivs’kaoblast, Ukraine, Phone: 38-03-42-59-55-46
6.Carpathian National Nature Park
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It’s all about recreational fun at Carpathian National Nature Park. Located in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, the park is 515.7 square kilometers of absolute gorgeousness and the largest of Ukraine’s national parks. The park features many diverse landscapes that are treats for the eyes, heart, and mind, such as sweeping Alpine meadows and forests. Some sights that shouldn’t be missed are that of the Hulk Water, the highest single-drop waterfall in the Carpathians, and two glacial lakes. Go on a hike along the eastern slope to see the drainage basins of the Prut River or trek along the banks of the mighty Cheremosh River.
6 Yaremcha, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine 78500, Phone: 38-03-43-42-27-31
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Ethereal and breathtaking is an accurate description of just how incredible Feofaniya is. Found in a historical neighborhood within the capital city of Kiev, Feofaniya Park is about 1.5 kilometers square and was declared a park in 1992. Today, it is one of Kiev’s most popular tourist attractions and is known for the fragrant and herby scent that permeates its air. Visitors to the park can enjoy a walk around the area under the shade of a canopy of century-old oak trees. Once an ancient monastery, the park also lends an Old World charm with sites like the St. Panteleimon’s Convent, the St. Panteleimon Cathedral, and Scythian remains.
21 Academic Zabolotny Street, Kiev, Ukraine 03143, Phone: 38-04-42-59-69-77
8.The House with Chimaeras
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One of the weirdest and yet most frequently visited buildings in Kiev is undoubtedly the House with Chimaeras. Known also as the Gorodetsky House, the House with Chimaeras was designed by its namesake, the eccentric Vladislav Gorodetsky, in 1902. The building features a distinctly art nouveau style of architecture and has been used as a presidential residence for both diplomatic and official ceremonies since 2005. As can be inferred from its name, the main draw for the House with Chimaeras are the ornate and curious decorations that sit on its façade. An interesting fact to note, however, is that for this house “chimaeras” does not refer to the mythological creature but to the decoration style, in which animal figures are the primary decorative elements. As such, the structures depict hunting scenes and exotic animals.
10 Bankova Street, Kiev, Ukraine 02000, Phone: 38-04-42-55-73-33
9.Hryshko National Botanical Garden
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Founded in 1936, the Hryshko National Botanical Garden was named after Mykola Hryshko, a Soviet botanist of Poltavan origin. Now a public botanical garden under the care of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, it is home to over 13,000 different kinds of trees, flowers, and other such fauna. This breathtaking attraction covers over 120 hectares of land and is divided into over 20 different sections, each with its own charms and features. The sections are actually themed according to floristic complexes, and each zone also carries a theme in terms of the particular region from which the flora originate. Must-see spots in the garden include the Vydubychi Monastery and the Trinity Monastery of St. Jonas.
1 Timiryazevska Street, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: 38-04-42-85-41-05
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If you were to approach any Ukrainian and ask what the most impressive castle in the country was, we’re pretty sure that the majority would point you towards the Khotyn Fortress. A trip to the fortress will send you on a trip to the country’s medieval era, with its impressive structures and mighty walls. Apart from being breathtaking as well as a fantastic spot for multiple photo opportunities, visitors can also enter the fortress and explore what lies within the castle walls. Clamber up the fortress walls and get a magnificent view of the river and the town of Khotyn, or set your picnic blankets along the surrounding green hills for a scenic and lazy afternoon.
40A, St. Pokrovska Street, Khotyn, Ukraine, Phone: 38-03-73-12-29-32
11.Kiev Pechersk Lavra
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There is something mysterious and almost otherworldly about the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. Also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, this historic site and popular tourist attraction is, at its core, an Orthodox Christian monastery. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Kiev’s largest museums, the monastery is over 1,000 years old and features some stunning relics from a colorful past. A visit to the Kiev Pechersk Lavra will give guests a glimpse into a massive and dizzying series of tunnels that lie below the monastery grounds, which once served as the monks’ living quarters. Other interesting items to behold are hundreds of relics and burials. The Kiev Pechersk Lavra is also where curious visitors can see the bodies of several mummified saints like Nestor the Chronicler, Alipy of the Caves, and Saitn Kuksha.
15 Lavrska Street, Kiev, Ukraine 01015, Phone: 8-04-42-80-30-71
12.Kiev Microminiature Museum
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Found within the well-visited and travelled grounds of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the Kiev Microminiature Museum is but one of several other aboveground attractions, but it is by far the most curious of them all. The museum is, essentially, a collection of works by the world microminiature master Mykoly Syadristy. Born in Ukraine in 1937, Syadristy’s work with micro-miniature art started when he was in his 20s. Some of his work that just begs to be seen includes a human hair engraved with the phrase “Long Live Peace” and a tiny portrait of Yuri Gagarin. There are also miniscule portraits of Ernest Hemingway and the artist himself and even what is arguably the smallest book in the world.
15 Lavrska Street, Kiev, Ukraine 01015, Phone: 38-04-42-80-30-71
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There’s no question that Ukraine has had a colorful past filled with historic clashes of power and great shows of grandeur and might. When it comes to exploring this past, one of the best places to do so is at the oldest of three historic arsenal buildings in the city of Lviv, the Lviv Arsenal. Although it may look quite a lot like your run-of-the-mill old building, this rectangular two-story structure has seen a lot of violence and action in the past. Apart from being home to a torture chamber, the Lviv Arsenal has also been blown up in the past by the Swedes in the Great Northern War. Visitors can learn more about the Lviv Arsenal’s history through the armory museum housed within its walls.
5 Pidvalna Vul, Lviv, Ukraine 79008, Phone: 38-03-22-72-19-01
14.Multimedia Fountain Roshen
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Built in the Southern Buh River in Vinnytsia City, the Multimedia Fountain Roshen is the only fountain of its kind in Ukraine and also Europe’s largest floating fountain. The fountain is operational from April to October while the lightshow itself is produced and performed by the same brilliant minds behind Thailand’s Chiang Mai Night Safari Park and South Korea’s Kangwon Land. Truly, no visit to Oblast will be complete without a visit to the Multimedia Fountain Roshen as it has been received tons of praise and accolades from critics in addition to winning the title of Best Building and Construction in 2012.
9532 Karmelyuka Street, Vinnytsia, Vinnyts’ka Oblast, Ukraine 21000, Phone: 38-06-74-30-11-55
15.Museum of the Great Patriotic War
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Dedicated to remembering the stories and events of the German-Soviet War, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War is, without a doubt, one of the largest museums in Ukraine. The museum pays tribute to the monumental conflict between the German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front in an iconic and brutalist fashion. There are more than 300,000 items on display at the museum, with more memorials covering about 25 acres of hills in the heart of Kiev. Each exhibit is a reminder of the terrible brutality of war as both Russian and German armaments, artwork, propaganda, equipment, and models are on full display at this museum.
24 Lavrska Vul, Kiev, Ukraine 01015, Phone: 38-04-42-85-94-52
16.National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War
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There is no one in this world who can deny how much destruction occurred during the second world war. In Ukraine, there were over 3,300,000 deaths reported during that time, while hundreds and thousands of refugees and millions of artillery shells laid waste to the land. It is this devastation that the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War strives to memorialize so that all visitors can walk away knowing and understanding in their hearts that a war like this should never happen again. Each exhibition of the museum is well curated and very informational. The museum also contains a digital collection of 37 museum artifacts from between the years of 1941 and 1943.
24 Lavrska Street, Kiev, Ukraine 01015, Phone: 38-04-42-85-94-52
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Some people describe the Odessa Catacombs as eerie, while others describe them as astonishing, but one thing is for sure: The catacombs are definitely a historical site in Odessa that you absolutely cannot skip. Spanning over 2,500 kilometers in length (that’s longer than the distance between Odessa and Paris) the Odessa Catacombs are estimated to date back to the 1600s or possibly even later. This labyrinth of tunnels is carved into the limestone on which the whole city stands and eventually played a significant role during the second world war. To this day, more and more relics from the past can be found within the catacombs, like partisan weapon caches and even the perfectly mummified bodies of forgotten soldiers.
Nerubayskoye, Ukraine 67661, Phone: 38-09-49-97-96-01
18.Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater
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A towering symbol of opulence and luxury, the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater is the oldest theatre in Odessa, having first been opened in 1810. The theater was then rebuilt in 1887 by Fellner & Helmer after the original structure was destroyed by a fire in 1873. Its most well-known features are its main theater and the Potemkin Stairs, both of which are beautiful and standout examples of the entire theater’s neo-baroque style. Guests to the theater shouldn’t miss out on a stroll through the gorgeous audience hall, which is inspired by late French Rococo architecture. Meanwhile, the intricate and awe-inspiring design of the horseshoe-shaped main hall will surely bring amazement to all those who gaze upon it.
1 Chaikovs’koho Lane, Odesa, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine 65000, Phone: 38-04-87-80-15-09
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Dating back as far as 1327, Olesko Castle had its first historical documentation in the 13th century, when Pope Boniface IX gifted the castle to a Catholic bishop. It later became the home of Polish King Jan III Sobieski, who was famous for stopping the movement of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. Standing on top of a small hill, visitors to Olesko Castle can explore the oval-shaped castle, the moat that surrounds its walls, and even a dense swamp. There are many historical artifacts that are showcased inside the castle, while many of the historical rooms still remain largely the same as when they were used by the Polish monarchy and Ukrainian leaders.
Olesko, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, Phone: 38-03-26-42-51-93
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A beautiful and mighty relic of ancient Mukacheve, Palanok Castle sits dramatically atop a 68-meter-tall volcano, surrounded by gorgeous emerald plains and hills. All of these scenes work together to create an almost fairytale-like visit for tourists and locals alike. Palanok Castle dates back to the 14th century and is famous for the 3-year-long stand-off between the Austrian emperor’s army and Countess Ilona Zrínyi, a royal of Croatian-Hungarian descent. While the views are the undoubtedly the best part of a visit to the castle and getting lost in the various levels and halls is incredibly fun, visitors can also peruse a few exhibits and visit some souvenir stalls as well.
5 Kurucev Lane, Mukacheve, Ukraine 89600, Phone: 38-03-13-14-40-53
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A unique open-air museum in Kiev, Pyrohiv comprises of over 300 traditional structures that showcase different methods and types of Ukrainian architecture. While it’s odd to think that many, if not all, of the pieces in the museum were transported from other far-flung regions of the country, they all come together in an interesting exhibit that covers 370 acres of land. Some of the buildings on display in Pyrohiv include structures from the Middles Ages all the way up to the 20th century. For example, there is a church in the museum that was built in 1742, while a house from 1587 is one of the oldest exhibits in this folk museum.
Krasnozemnaya Street, Pirohiv, Kiev, Ukraine 02000, Phone: 38-04-45-26-25-27
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The Rodina Mat, otherwise known as the Motherland Monument, is a 340-foot-tall statue that honors the heroes of the Soviet Union. The statue, standing proudly over Kiev’s skyline as a beacon of strength and hope, is actually the 18th tallest statue in the world, beating out iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty. Head to the top of the statue to get a gorgeous view of Kiev’s stunning skyline or visit to the base of the statue, where a memorial hall displays the names of 11,600 soldiers and 200 workers who gave their all during the second world war. The statue is actually part of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, so make sure to give yourself enough time to explore everything that the museum has to offer.
Zapeshchernaya Street, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: 38-04-42-85-94-52
23.The Swallow' Nest
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Stunning, brilliant, and absolutely breathtaking, the Swallow’s Nest is a neo-Gothic style castle that sits precariously on the edge of a cliff at the Crimean Sea. While this spot would probably be the last place you would ever think to find this kind of castle, it is a peculiar remnant of imperial Russia within Ukraine’s capital city. Despite being called a castle, the Swallow’s Nest is actually more of a cottage than anything else as its turrets and battlements are more for decoration. Come to enjoy a fantastic view from the top of the Aurora Cliff and the vistas of the sea and the town of Gaspra.
9 Alupkinskoye Highway, Gaspra, Ukraine 98300, Phone: 7-97-80-04-91-22
24.Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum
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This museum may seem small and relatively uninteresting to some, but the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum actually documents the most catastrophic nuclear incident of Ukraine in great detail. Visitors to the museum can visit three different exhibit halls that aim to inform, remind, and warn about the need to be very cautious with the science and technology that endanger and threaten all the things we hold dear on this Earth. One of the most powerful parts of the exhibit, perhaps, would be the entrance way, which is lined with the street signs and the name of every village that was left devastated by the disaster.
1 Kharyvyj Pereulok, Kiev, Ukraine 04071, Phone: 38-04-44-82-56-27
25.Underwater Museum at Sape Tarkhankut
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Perhaps one of the most peculiar and unique museums in the entire nation of Ukraine, the Underwater Museum at Sape Tarkhankut features a relatively sizable collection of busts of various communist leaders and socialism heads from the USSR’s colorful history. What exactly is so peculiar about a bunch of busts, you may be wondering. Well, how about the fact that they’re all lined up on shelves and racks made of stones and the fact that they’re buried underwater. The museum features over 50 different busts, which are referred to as the Alley of Leaders, and more busts are regularly added to the collection.
Cape Tarkhankut, Olenivska, Ukraine 96440
25 Best Things to Do in Ukraine
- Askania-Nova, Photo: Courtesy of An-T - Fotolia.com
- Golden Gate of Kiev, Photo: Courtesy of tverkhovinets - Fotolia.com
- A.V. Fomin Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of vector_master - Fotolia.com
- Arboretum Sofiyivka, Photo: Courtesy of Olga Iljinich - Fotolia.com
- Bukovel, Photo: Courtesy of Scanrail - Fotolia.com
- Carpathian National Nature Park, Photo: Courtesy of Sergey - Fotolia.com
- Feofaniya, Photo: Courtesy of oksmit - Fotolia.com
- The House with Chimaeras, Photo: Courtesy of oscity - Fotolia.com
- Hryshko National Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of karnizz - Fotolia.com
- Khotyn Fortress, Photo: Courtesy of kariochi - Fotolia.com
- Kiev Pechersk Lavra, Photo: Courtesy of Vlada Z - Fotolia.com
- Kiev Microminiature Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Bill Perry - Fotolia.com
- Lviv Arsenal, Photo: Courtesy of Mny-Jhee - Fotolia.com
- Multimedia Fountain Roshen, Photo: Courtesy of ggaallaa - Fotolia.com
- Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Photo: Courtesy of sergiy1975 - Fotolia.com
- National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Odessa Catacombs, Photo: Courtesy of Artem Merzlenko - Fotolia.com
- Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, Photo: Courtesy of Pavel Parmenov - Fotolia.com
- Olesko Castle, Photo: Courtesy of Yuriy Kulik - Fotolia.com
- Palanok Castle, Photo: Courtesy of Talli - Fotolia.com
- Pyrohiv, Photo: Courtesy of baluzek - Fotolia.com
- Rodina Mat, Photo: Courtesy of LALSSTOCK - Fotolia.com
- The Swallow' Nest, Photo: Courtesy of andrew - Fotolia.com
- Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Sergey Kamshylin - Fotolia.com
- Underwater Museum at Sape Tarkhankut, Photo: Courtesy of sergemi - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Iuliia Sokolovska - Fotolia.com