Where colourful domed churches meet hipster cafes and friendly locals are waiting to greet you with a zesty bowl of borsch
Post-Soviet Ukraine is often misunderstood thanks to recent political turmoil, but in fact it’s a country of lush green scenery, vibrant cities and incredible sites. One day you might be skiing in the Carpathian Mountains, the next you’re soaking up the sun on the lively beaches of Odessa, or sipping a Viennese coffee in the back-alley cafes of Lviv. You can still visit traditional folk villages where horse-drawn carriages outnumber cars, or join couples making wishes in the lusciously green Tunnel of Love (psst, they say your wishes come true if you’re really in love).
As the second largest country in the continent and the wedge between Russia and the rest of Europe, Ukraine is neither east nor west – it’s uniquely its own.
Ukraine travel highlights
With its historic architecture, thriving food scene and coffeehouse culture, there’s a reason why Lviv’s charming old town is UNESCO-protected.
Tunnel of Love
Even though it’s still an active rail line, loved-up couples flock to this leafy green tunnel to make their wishes come true.
Kyivo-Pecherskaya Lavra in Kyiv
You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the gold-domed churches and underground labyrinth of this revered monastery, also known as the Monastery of Caves.
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Ukraine holiday information
Local Culture of Ukraine
Food and Drink in Ukraine
Festivals and Events in Ukraine
Geography and Environment
Shopping guide to Ukraine
Ukraine travel FAQs
Australia: Yes – apply at least 30 days in advance
Belgium: No – not required
Canada: No – not required
Germany: No – not required
Ireland: No – not required
Netherlands: No – not required
New Zealand: Yes – apply at least 30 days in advance
South Africa: Yes – apply at least 30 days in advance
Switzerland: No – not required
United Kingdom: No – not required
USA: No – not required
Travellers from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa need to apply for a short-term visa at least 30 days in advance to ensure it is processed before your departure. See http://mfa.gov.ua/en/consular-affairs/con/visa for more information about application requirements or contact your local embassy or consulate.
Visitors from most other nations do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. It’s generally a good idea to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months after your arrival date in Ukraine.
Tipping is not common in Ukraine.
Internet can be accessed at internet cafes and hotels in most larger cities and towns, but is limited in rural areas.
Roaming agreements exist with major mobile phone companies. Check your service provider for more information.
Western-style flushable toilets are the norm in larger cities. Simple squat toilets are more common in rural areas.
Cup of coffee at a cafe = USD 0.40
Bottle of local beer = USD 0.20 – USD 0.60
Cafeteria-style meal = USD 1
Sit-down dinner at a nice restaurant = USD 4
Drinking water isn’t recommended in Ukraine. Avoid drinks with ice and make sure to peel fruit before eating it. Help the environment and try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle with filtered water. Your leader or hotel can tell you where to find filtered water.
Credit cards are usually accepted by large shops and hotels but are less commonly accepted by smaller vendors. Always carry enough cash for smaller purchases in case credit cards are not an option.
ATMs are widely available in larger cities but are less common in small villages or rural areas. Make sure you have enough cash before leaving urban areas.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Geckos are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1: New Year’s Day
Jan 7: Orthodox Christmas
Mar 8: International Women’s Day
Apr 16: Orthodox Easter Sunday
Apr 17: Orthodox Easter Monday
May 1-2: Labour Day
May 9: Victory Day
June 28: Constitution Day
Aug 24: Independence Day
For a current list of public holidays in Ukraine go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/europe/Ukraine/public-holidays/
Discretion is advised for LGBTQI-travellers in Ukraine. Though same-sex relationships are legal, homophobic rhetoric is common and acts of violence can occur against those thought to be homosexual. Few people are openly out and the gay scene is largely underground. Gay clubs do exist, with the biggest scene being in Kyiv.