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10 Best Things to Do in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Kharkiv may not be as popular as Lviv or Kyiv when it comes to traveling but Kharkiv didn't earn the second biggest city in Ukraine and a former capital city position for nothing. Kharkiv is an amazing destination for travelers who are looking to go off the beaten path in Ukraine and experience what a true Ukraine city without external influence is like.
With a ton of stunning Orthodox Churches, beautiful metro stations, and many beautiful parks all across the city waiting for you to explore, here is a complete 2-days itinerary and travel guide on things to do, what tourist attractions to see, and where to stay in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Without further ado, let's begin with Kharkiv Things to Do Itinerary Map:Table of Contents
- Kharkiv Things to Do Itinerary Map
- Ukraine Travel Video
- When to Visit Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Where to Stay in Kharkiv, Ukraine
- How to Get to Kharkiv, Ukraine
- When to Get Around Kharkiv, Ukraine
- How Many Days to Spend in Kharkiv, Ukraine
- How Much Money Do I Need for Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Is it Safe in Kharkiv, Ukraine?
- Internet of Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Travel Insurance
Things to Do in Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Visit the Holy Annunciation Cathedral
- Stroll Around the Dormition Cathedral
- Visit the Holy Virgin Monastery
- Check Out the "Ukraine Flying" Independence Monument at Constitution Square
- Admire the Mirror Stream Fountain
- Look Up at the Church of the Holy Myrrh-Bearers
- Be Blown Away by the Scale Derzhprom Complex
- Check Out All the Beautiful Metro Stations in Kharkiv
- Explore Other Brutalism and Soviet Architecture in Kharkiv
- Get on a Cable Car and Explore all the Parks in Kharkiv
- What to Eat and Drink in Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Other Things to Do in Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Further Reading for Ukraine
Kharkiv Things to Do Itinerary Map
Ukraine Travel Video
When to Visit Kharkiv, Ukraine
The best time to visit Kharkiv is from June - September. Kharkiv rarely gets foreign tourist visits unlike Kyiv or Lviv, so you won't find it to be overwhelming to visit Kharkiv during the midsummer months.
It gets quite cold from October to March where the temperature may dip down to the negative so I would avoid that period if you can.
Where to Stay in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Budget - Hostel 11 - 8 USD/Night (Dorm) | 21 USD/Night (Double Room with Shared Bathroom)
Mid-Range - Nordian - 33 USD / Night (Studio Apartment)
How to Get to Kharkiv, Ukraine
Getting to Kyiv, Ukraine
In order to get to Kharkiv, first you will have to get to Kyiv first and there are several airlines that fly to Kyiv International Airport you can pick from.
If you are coming from the US, there is a direct flight from New York to Kyiv via Ukrainian Airline that you can take directly to Ukraine or you can fly via several European airlines like KLM, Lufthansa, and Air France.
If you are in Europe, you can either fly with a low-cost airline like Ryanair, or you can simply travel by train from any of the main European hubs like Berlin, etc. Although, the time it takes to travel will increase considerably if you chose to use trains (24 hours from Berlin to Kyiv).
Last but not least, if you are in Asia, the simplest option is to fly directly from Bangkok to Kyiv via Ukrainian Airline. They are cheap and fly direct to Kyiv in 11 hours.
Getting from Kyiv Airport to Kyiv Central Train Station
Skybus will take you from the airport bus terminal (follow the BUS sign and you will find Skybus waiting for you outside the terminal) to Kyiv Central Train Station. The bus number is 322 so make sure you get on the right one.
Skybus operates from 5:40 - 23:30 and it runs every 30 - 60 minutes or so. The bus will cost you around 100 UAH and they only accept cash. The journey will take you around 1 hour depending on the traffic and the time you arrive.
Getting from Kyiv to Kharkiv
The good news is the connection between the 2 biggest cities in the country is very good and so you will have no trouble finding a train that connects these 2 cities together.
There are over 10 daily trains from 12 AM to 11 PM with the fastest one taking only 5 hours. The train usually cost from 180 - 500 UAH and more depending on the class you pick.
You can book your trains online through the official website here: Book Ukraine Train Online or through Tickets.ua. You can simply pay with your credit card and you will receive an email with a QR code and all you have to do is show it to the ticket master when you are on the train.
There are also many daily buses leaving Kyiv for Kharkiv but I wouldn't recommend as most of these buses are marshrutkas (mini-van) and it is not as comfortable, not as easy to find as everything is in Cyrillic, and as expensive as the train.
Getting from Lviv or Odesa to Kharkiv
Kharkiv is very well-connected so you can take an overnight train from any big cities in Ukraine you have just visited like Lviv or Odesa to Kharkiv easily.
Getting from Odesa to Kharkiv
I personally took a night train from Odesa to Kharkiv and it had a great experience doing it. The train was new and modern with a clean cabin, sheets, and power sockets available. I shared with a family and had a good night sleep throughout the 13 hours train journey
The train from Odesa to Kharkiv leaves at 19:21 and arrives in Kharkiv at 8:21 the next day. It costs from 250 - 400 UAH depending on the class you pick. There is another train that runs every day unlike the one I took and leaves around 9 PM, arriving in Kharkiv around 8 AM. It's a bit pricier though.
Getting from Lviv to Kharkiv
From Lviv, there are a few more trains you can get. It takes from 13 hours to 24 hours as you will be traveling from Western Ukraine to Eastern Ukraine. The cost of the ticket is from 300 - 2000 UAH depending on the class you pick and there are 5 trains a day leaving from 3:23 - 22:00.
Getting from Kharkiv Train Station to Kharkiv City Center
Kharkiv Train Station is only 30 minutes easy walk away from the city center so there is no need to take any public transportation. If you are staying at the hostel I recommended, the hostel is right next to Kharkiv Central Station, so you can simply drop your bag there and walk another 20 - 30 minutes to explore the city center.
When to Get Around Kharkiv, Ukraine
Almost every tourist attractions that I recommended here are all within walking distance so you do not have to deal with the local transportation except one thing that I highly recommend you to do, checking out all the beautiful metro stations in Kharkiv.
The Kharkiv Metro Station is pretty much the same like everywhere in Ukraine where all you have to do is buy a token from the ticket booth once you enter the station, pay 8 UA per one trip, go down the escalator, and walk to the train platform.
For more information on how to navigate the Kharkiv Metro System, check out: How Does The Metro System In Kharkiv Work - The Ultimate Kharkiv Metro System Guide.
How Many Days to Spend in Kharkiv, Ukraine
There are quite a few things to see in Kharkiv and I would recommend you spend at least 2 full days (3 nights) when you are visiting Kharkiv. Here's a simple breakdown on what you would do each day for 2 days in Kharkiv:
Day 1: Visit all the beautiful churches in cathedrals in Kharkiv like Holy Annunciation Cathedral and Holy Virgin Monastery. Also, check out all cool soviet-era architecture like the massive Derzhprom Complex, and that should take you the whole day to do.
Day 2: We go underground and hop on a metro to see all the beautiful metro stations in Kharkiv. There are 8 metro stations worth visiting, spread out across 3 metro lines and so it will take you around 2 - 3 hours to cover them all.
After exploring the metro system, you can spend the rest of the day, going to beautiful parks like the Gorky park or indulge yourself in one of the many hip cafes and restaurants in Kharkiv.
How Much Money Do I Need for Kharkiv, Ukraine
With the brief 2-days itinerary above, we can calculate the minimum amount of money you will be spending in Kharkiv.
Accommodation: If you are staying in a hostel, you will be spending 18 USD for 3 nights in a dorm which is around 440 UAH in total for accommodation.
Food: For eating out in Kharkiv, you will likely spend around 120 UAH per meal so that will be 360 UAH for a day and 720 UAH for 2 full days.
Transportation: With this itinerary, you will only be paying 8 UAH for a metro ticket to see all the metro stations. What a bargain!
Activities: Most of the things you will do and see are all free except for the cable car at Gorky Park which will cost you 30 UAH per person.
Total Budget for 2 Days in Kharkiv: 1198 UAH (49 USD)
Is it Safe in Kharkiv, Ukraine?
As we travel east from Kyiv, the safety question in Ukraine can be a bit of a question mark but from my personal experience, Kharkiv is still very safe to travel to.
Although, maybe not as freely as in Western Ukraine as you might get searched at a metro station as I did where they took me to a room and asked me to unpack my bag.
If you find yourself in that situation, be calm and just follow whatever they ask you to do. It is also a good idea to carry a copy of your visa and your entry stamp with a date on the passport as they will check if you are overstaying the tourist visa or not.
Other than being searched at a metro station, I had no problem at all exploring above ground in Kharkiv.
Internet of Kharkiv, Ukraine
WIFI is available everywhere in most cafes and restaurants. Your accommodation should also have a reliable internet connection for you to stay connected, but if you are looking to stay connected while exploring, I would recommend you get a local sim card.
You can get a local sim card from Vodafone or Kyivstar. They both offer similar plans with data ranging from 2GB to unlimited costing between 55 UAH - 220 UAH.
For more information about Ukraine local sim card: Ukraine Prepaid Data Sim Card.
If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Ukraine, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure.
Things to Do in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Visit the Holy Annunciation Cathedral
One of the most iconic cathedrals in the city, the Holy Annunciation Cathedral is the first tourist attraction you will see coming from Kharkiv Central Train Station.
The candy-striped painting, the iconic 80 meters tall Bell Tower, and the Neo-Byzantine architecture-style of the Holy Annunciation Cathedral can be seen from everywhere in the city. You can't miss it.
When I was there, it was a Sunday morning and there was a service happening inside so I had to go back the next day to get a photo of the interior but the amount of detail on the exterior of this cathedral kept me occupied for most of my time there that day.
The Cathedral is also located right by the Lopan River and you will get a better view of the Cathedral from afar if you walk across the Kupetskyi Bridge, up on to the University Hill via Sobornyi Descent, and to Ohlyadovyy Maydanchyk Vista Point.
The Ohlyadovyy Maydanchyk Vista Point is also one of the best places to watch the sunset behind the Holy Annunciation Cathedral and Kharkiv cityscape. Wait a little longer and you will get to see the cathedral at night where the structure is beautifully illuminated by artificial light.
Stroll Around the Dormition Cathedral
Right around the corner near the Ohlyadovyy Maydanchyk Vista Point, you will find another beautiful cathedral to check out. The Dormition Cathedral, one of the oldest structures in the city built in the 19th Century, is a stunning Neo-Classical structure featuring a 90 meters free-standing Bell Tower that dominates the entire city center.
Unlike its colorful neighbor (the Holy Annunciation Cathedral), the Dormition Cathedral exterior is a little similar to other Eastern Orthodox Church you find in Ukraine, with classic white paint and several golden domes, but at a larger scale.
The free-standing bell tower was built later to commemorate Napoleon's expulsion from Russia in the mid-19th Century and used to be the second tallest tower in Ukraine until they built the Great Lavra Bell Tower in Kyiv.
Visit the Holy Virgin Monastery
Another beautiful and important religious structure to check out while in Kharkiv is the Holy Virgin Monastery, located just west from the Constitution Square where we will be checking out next.
This monastery was built in the 17th Century and still active and attended by the locals today. What set this monastery apart from any other religious sites is that within the temple ground, you will find a delicious bakery where you can sample their warm homemade bread with sweet fillings.
If you are looking for a quick delicious bite while you walk through a beautiful garden and enjoying the stunning Eastern Orthodox architecture, be sure to check out the Holy Virgin Monastery when you are in Kharkiv.
Check Out the "Ukraine Flying" Independence Monument at Constitution Square
The "Ukraine Flying" Independence Monument is a stunning and proud representation of the undying fight for independence for all Ukrainians. Located right at the heart of Kharkiv historical city center at the Constitution Square, the monument makes a great starting point for you to explore all the tourist attractions in the city center.
In the evening, the square comes to life as the locals come and hang out with their friends and families while enjoying all the wonderful street performances.
There are also quite a few nice cafes and restaurants in Kharkiv that is near the Constitution Square such as my favorite Ukrainian restaurant, Puzata Hata, and other cafes that I will highlight under the food and drink section of this guide.
Admire the Mirror Stream Fountain
From the Constitution Square, walk north for about 15 minutes and you will find a beautiful Brutalist architecture on your left which is the Kharkiv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, and on its right, across the road, you will find the most important landmark of Kharkiv, the Mirror Stream Fountain.
This romantic fountain surrounded by water and a park filled with big trees was built in the 40s and it is popular among newlyweds who want to get that iconic shots of them and the fountain.
It is especially beautiful at night when they turn on the light illuminating the fountain and the stunning structure of the Church of the Holy Myrrh-Bearers, another church you will be visiting next.
Look Up at the Church of the Holy Myrrh-Bearers
It is especially beautiful in the morning when the sun shines behind the church and the city is still quiet and peaceful, making it one of my favorite places to stroll in the morning before I get my coffee at Krendel.
Be Blown Away by the Scale Derzhprom Complex
Next up, you are probably getting bored of all the classical style of the churches and cathedrals in Kharkiv, so now it is a good time to spice things up and check out a more brutal-take on architecture and nothing is more brutal than the Derzhprom Complex.
Derzhprom Complex is a stunning brutalist-style architecture built in the 1920s when Kharkiv was the capital city of Ukrainian SSR. It was designed to look and feel random but if you stand right at the center of the Freedom Square, the symmetry of the structure will become apparent to you.
For me, this is something out of a cult film, Metropolis, a German science-fiction film that shows what people in the 1920s think the future would look like. Derzhprom Complex represents that highly-stylized futuristic city the movie was trying to create.
Check Out All the Beautiful Metro Stations in Kharkiv
One of the highlights of visiting Kharkiv for me was a chance to see their metro stations, known to be the prettiest in the country. I went underground on one rainy day in Kharkiv, and I was not disappointed.
I spent around 3 hours jumping from one metro station to another in order to recommend you which one is worth a visit and I was able to narrow it down to 8 metro stations.
To explore Kharkiv metro system, all you have to do is buy a ticket for 8 UAH and you can go to any station you want, and transfer to any metro line you like without having to pay for another ticket.
Explore Other Brutalism and Soviet Architecture in Kharkiv
There are many other Brutalist and Soviet-era structures in Kharkiv that you should check out so much so that I decided to combine them all into one thing to do. While you are in Kharkiv, keep an eye out for these stunning buildings.
As mentioned earlier, right across the road from Kharkiv, you will find one stunning-looking Brutalist architecture, the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. The beehive-like ceiling of this building is so weird and psychedelic that it doesn't seem to fit well with the art market that can be found in front of the theater.
Budynok Zi Shpilem or The House with a Spire is a 12-story skyscraper designed in a Stalinist architectural-style that is quite common to see throughout the Soviet Union back in the days. You can find this kind of skyscraper all the way from Moscow to Riga to Warsaw. Be sure to keep an eye out for this skyscraper when you are in Kharkiv.
Kharkiv Post Office (Ukrposhta) is another weird-looking architecture that you can only find in a previous Soviet state like Ukraine. It is located right at the square near Kharkiv Central Station. When you arrive in Kharkiv, be sure to look to your left and you will find this rundown yet beautiful Post Office.
Get on a Cable Car and Explore all the Parks in Kharkiv
Photos by Viktor O. Ledenyov.
Last but not least, be sure to spend some times in one of the many huge parks you can find in Kharkiv. Parks like Gorky Park or Shevchenko Park are great places to spend the evening or weekends among the locals as they come out with their friends and family to socialize in these parks.
The cable car system was built in 1971 and it runs for around 1300 meters, cost 30 UAH and takes 18 minutes per trip. It is definitely one of the best ways to see a park as big as Gorky Park.
What to Eat and Drink in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Have a Coffee and Pastries at Krendel Cafe (Крендель)
Krendel Cafe is one of my favorite cafes in Kharkiv that I like to frequent for breakfast. It opens at 8 AM and they also have a bakery serving all kinds of cakes and pastries as well as coffee.
They also have great WIFI as well as power sockets near a few tables inside making it the perfect place for me to whip out my laptop and work. They have delicious eclairs, jam-filled sugar-crusted donuts, and a hot cup of mouth-watering latte so be sure to try them out when you are there.
Eat at the Hip Misʹke Kafe 1654
Another great and hip cafe with a more modern take on coffee as well as a proper meal that I really like is Misʹke Kafe 1654. They have many delicious desserts as well as all-day breakfast, and some really creative main dishes like the one called Bangkok which was interesting to try to say the least 😂.
Other Things to Do in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Learn About the History at the Sumtsov Kharkiv Historical Museum
If you are interested in the history of Kharkiv, be sure to visit Sumtsov Kharkiv Historical Museum, located in the Glass Building right by the Constitution Square near the Ukraine Flying Monument.
There are exhibitions from World War 1 and 2 period as well as the traditional life of the people in the region before modernization. Most of the text is in Russian but you can get an English-speaking guide with you and he/she will explain room by room.
Stand Right at the 50th Parallel North Latitude
One of the fun fact I discovered when I was in Kharkiv was the fact that the 50th Parallel North Latitude, a circle of latitude that is 50 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane that crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean, runs through Kharkiv city center.
It might not sound that interesting, and if you don't pay attention, you might even miss it but now that you know, keen an eye out for it when you are walking around Shevchenko Park in Kharkiv.
And that is all for Kharkiv and all the cool things the city has to offer. If you are planning to visit Kharkiv and have some questions, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments below. Have a great time in Kharkiv.
Further Reading for Ukraine
Looking for more information for your trip to Ukraine? Here is a collection of articles about Ukraine that might help you with your trip planning:
- Ukraine is one of the few hidden gems left in Europe and in order to see the country and all it has to offer, you will need a complete travel guide. Here is a One Month Itinerary for Ukraine.
- Ukraine has recently loosened up their borders a little to non-European travelers with an E-Visa program. Here is my experience applying for an E-Visa for Ukraine and things I wish I knew before applying.
- Of course, one of the reasons why you are visiting Ukraine is to learn more about Chernobyl nuclear disaster and what better way to learn about it than to go in the field and see it with your own eyes. Here is a complete guide on how to visit Chernobyl.
- If you think Kyiv is just good for Chernobyl and Brutalist architecture enthusiasts, then you are in for a big surprise when you find out how awesome the city is. Here are top 18 things to do in Kyiv, Ukraine.
- Are you a coffee snob like I do? If so, then you will love Kyiv and its unmatched indie cafe-culture. Here are 8 best indie cafes you should check out in Kyiv, Ukraine.
- The Tunnel of Love is one of the most photogenic attractions in Ukraine, and it would be a shame to miss it on your trip to Ukraine. Here’s a complete guide on how to visit the Tunnel of Love independently.
- Thinking of visiting the Tunnel of Love and not sure where to base yourself out of? I would recommend Lutsk and here are 8 best things to do that will make you fall in love with Lutsk.
- Lviv is the cultural capital city of Ukraine. It is what St. Petersburg is to Russia, Prague is to Czechia, and Krakow is to Poland. It is the most European city out of all Ukraine and it has so many things to do, you will need a great guide to navigate it. Here are 10 Best Things you should do in Lviv, Ukraine.
- Lviv is another great city to go cafe-hopping if you love coffee and here are my Top 10 Cozy Cafes in Lviv you should check out.
- Getting bored of cities? How about we go and hike some of the stunning trails in the Carpathian Mountains? Here is a complete hiking guide to Yaremche and Ukraine Carpathian Mountains.
- One of the most impressive architectural wonders in Ukraine is Chernivtsi National University in Chernivtsi, a remnant from the Austro-Hungarian Empire time that still survives today. Here are 7 Best Things to Do in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.
- Kamianets-Podilskyi, an island city home to Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in Ukraine, is a place that seems like it came straight out of a fairy tale and a place that you should not miss. Here’s a backpacking guide and top 8 things to do in Kamianets-Podilskyi.
- Odesa is known as the Pearl of the Black Sea and in order to understand why you will need to dive deep into its history and even further down underground into its infamous catacomb. Here is a complete guide on tourist attractions and 8 great things to do in Odesa.
- Did you know that Kharkiv is also home to the prettiest metro stations in Ukraine? Here are 8 most beautiful metro stations to check out in Kharkiv.
- My words are not convincing you about traveling to Ukraine? How about you see it for yourself with my Ukraine travel video? Ukraine Beyond Travel Video
- Want to know where to go after Ukraine? How about visiting Poland, drop by Kosice in Slovakia or go bar-hopping in Budapest, Hungary? We have travel guides for those too.
- For all articles about Ukraine, visit Ukraine Travel Guide page.
- You can see all my Eastern Europe related articles on my Eastern Europe Travel Guide page.
- You can also see all my Europe related articles here: Europe Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides like this, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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