Whether you travel for incredible scenery to discover stories about the past or to meet people from far outside your social set, you won’t be disappointed in Ukraine. Sure, it’s had its troubles, but that doesn’t change its all-round beauty.
The capital, Kiev, on the Dnierper River, is best known for its vast gold-domed churches, but there’s a definite mix of old and new. Seeing the potential in the tourism dollar, money has been ploughed into luxury hotels, as well as huge nightclubs (the party starts at midnight and goes well into the next day) and fancy restaurants.
The city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, is another city steeped in layers of history. Be sure to visit a banya (Russian-style sauna) while you’re there, and partake of the city’s reinvigorated nightlife, where cavernous clubs and hidden bars are all part of the action. For a bit of film history, head to Odessa, on the Black Sea. Here, in 1925 the famous Odessa Steps massacre sequence was filmed for Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. We don’t suggest you re-create the set-up, but you can certainly see where it was staged, as the steps are the main thoroughfare from the harbour to the city.
For rolling, forested landscapes head to the Carpathians in the country’s southwest. Here, you’ll discover a rural way of life since the mountains are home to the Hutsul people, who maintain may of the traditions – a colourful style of dress, travel by horse, the art of egg decorating known as pysanka – of the Ukraine of old. The area is popular with hikers in summer and skiers in winter, and houses the country’s largest national park.
Make sure, before you make any travel plans to Ukraine, to check the latest travel advice.