- Eastern europe
One Month Itinerary for Ukraine
Ukraine may not be known as a popular travel destination in Europe but that is what makes the country worth visiting. Did you know that Ukraine is a country that strikes a perfect balance between familiarity and uniqueness unlike any other countries in Europe? No one big cities in Ukraine is the same.
Due to its close proximity to Western Europe, Romania, and Russia, Ukrainian cities like Lviv has that familiarity to its neighboring Poland. Kyiv and Kharkiv lend its vibe from its Soviet past while fostering and breaking its way out for a new and unique identity of its own.
Odesa is also its own thing with a perfect blend between cultures from the people (Turks, Slavs, etc.) that inhabited the place, while Yaremche maintains their folk culture shared among several countries in the Carpathian Mountains.
If you really want to experience Ukraine and all it has to offer, you will need at least a month to see them all, and that is why I am writing this travel guide. Here is the ultimate backpacking guide with a one-month itinerary on things to do, what tourist attractions to see, and how to travel around Ukraine. As usual, let's begin with a look of our itinerary on a map:Table of Contents
- One Month in Ukraine Itinerary Map
- Ukraine Travel Video
- When to Visit Ukraine
- Where to Stay in Ukraine
- How to Get to Ukraine
- How to Get Around Ukraine
- How Much Money Do I Need for Ukraine
- Is it Safe in Ukraine?
- Visa for Ukraine
- Internet in Ukraine
- Travel Insurance
One Month Itinerary for Ukraine
- Yaremche - The Carpathians
- Further Reading for Ukraine
One Month in Ukraine Itinerary Map
Ukraine Travel Video
When to Visit Ukraine
The best time to visit Ukraine is from June - September where the weather is nice and warm while the summer activities are in full-swing in vibrant cities like Kyiv and Lviv.
Usually, I do not recommend traveling in the mid-summer months in Europe due to the number of tourists you will encounter but thankfully, Ukraine is not suffering from overtourism and in order to maximize sunny days while you are in Ukraine, it is best to travel around this period.
That said, the locals do still travel in their own country and so if you want to avoid the local crowd, be sure to visit touristic towns like Chernivtsi and Kamianets-Podilskyi on weekdays and spend your weekends in cities like Lviv and Kyiv where all the cool events are happening.
Where to Stay in Ukraine
How to Get to Ukraine
There are several ways you can get to Ukraine from flying directly to Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, taking an overnight train across from Poland to Lviv, or hop on an international bus from Modolva or Romania to Odesa.
Depending on where you are coming from, you can use this itinerary and travel in a circle from any of these 3 big cities but for the sake of this one-month itinerary, I will recommend you start from Kyiv and go from there.
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 and transit through European airports to go to Kyiv.
From Europe, you can either fly with a low-cost airline like Ryanair, WizzAir, or you can simply travel by train from any of the main European hubs like Berlin through Poland. Although, the time it takes to travel will increase considerably if you chose trains (24 hours from Berlin to Kyiv).
From Asia, the simplest option is to fly directly from Bangkok to Kyiv via Ukrainian Airline. They are cheap (costs me 300 USD) and fly direct to Kyiv in 11 hours.
Getting from Kyiv Airport to Kyiv Central Train Station
Kyiv Airport has an easy and cheap connection to the city center (Kyiv Central Train Station) right from the airport via Skybus.
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.
How to Get Around Ukraine
Getting Around in Cities
Walking is free and fun to do when you arrive in a new city in Ukraine. In most cases, the tourist attractions in Ukraine are within walking distance to the accommodation I recommended here so you won't need to take any local transportation, but if you want to, there are a few options available for you/
Local Buses/Marshrutkas are the main way you can get around in most cities in Ukraine. They are cheap and easily navigatable with Google Maps even if you don't read Cyrillic, but you will need a local sim card to navigate the Ukrainian bus lines.
To find the right bus/marshrutkas number to take in every city in Ukraine, you will have to punch in your destination on Google Maps and the app will recommend you which route to take and which bus stop to get to, given that you have access to the Internet which I recommend if you are going to travel by local bus.
The way local buses work in Ukraine is pretty straight forward. It usually costs around 3 - 7 UAH per trip (depending on the city you are in). You get on, take a seat, and when you are about to arrive at your destination (use Google Maps to know where to get off), press the red stop button by the door, pay the driver and get off.
Sometimes, there might be a person coming to collect the money while you are on the bus so keep an eye out for that. If not, just pay the driver as you get off. They accept only cash.
For marshrutkas (minivans), you will have to tell the driver to stop. Just tap the driver on the shoulder and say stop and they will drop you off at the next stop.
Metro is a great way to get around a large city like Kyiv and Kharkiv. It's easy, straightforward, and you get to see the beautiful metro stations that you can often find in post-Soviet cities like Kharkiv.
Trams/Trolleybuses are also a great way to get around a city. The Trolleybus works the same way as the regular bus where you can pay the driver at the end whereas, for trams, you will get the ticket from the driver when you get on and you will have to stamp the time yourself with a manual stamp lever inside the tram. Both cost around the same price as the local bus (3 - 7 UAH per trip depending on which city).
Uber and Uklon are also a great way to travel around the city if the places you are going are a bit further or you are in a rush. It's very cheap and quite reliable. Uber and Uklon are available in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Kharkiv.
Traveling Between Cities in Ukraine
Trains are my recommended way to travel long distances from one city to another. It's cheap, easy to book online, and Ukraine's train station are very easy to navigate with clear main schedule board that includes a clear platform number and time. Most of the signs at all train stations are also in English as well as the ticket you get should have all the information you need.
Unfortunately, the ticket is in Cyrillic but do not sweat, I have mastered the ticket-reading skills through trial and error (lots of errors) and the image above shows you how to read the Ukrainian train ticket properly.
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.
That said, trains may not run as often to some of the cities I recommended here and as I had hoped and some route, the train may only run overnight which is not ideal, that where the intercity Marshrutka/bus comes in.
Marshrutkas/Buses are an interesting and alternative way to travel short distances around Ukraine. It is a little harder to navigate especially when it comes to finding the right marshrutkas/buses to get on at a busy bus station like Kyiv but it is not impossible. You just need to be patient and spare some time for confusion and panic (just kidding 😂).
You can book your bus ticket online from BusRadar.com and depending on which bus you take, you will have to get to the right one and get on the right bus. Be sure to be at the bus station at least 30 minutes before your bus departure time as you will have to spend time asking locals, who rarely speak English, where your bus is.
I found that learning what your destination name in Cyrillic, write it down, and asking other bus drivers where your bus is by showing the bus company name, destination, and time shown on your bus ticket is the most effective way to get around their chaotic bus system.
This is why I recommend you to take the train instead if you have the option but if not, for example for the route from Kyiv to Lutsk and Lutsk to Lviv, simply follow the instruction above and you should be fine.
Planes are also an option if you do not fancy traveling overnight on a train but it will be more expensive. Fortunately, with my itinerary breaking your trip into many stops, you won't be required to take a plane at all if you don't want to.
How Much Money Do I Need for Ukraine
Ukraine is pretty cheap and with a one-month itinerary I proposed in mind, we can calculate how much money you will roughly need for the entire trip. Let's begin with the basics:
Accommodation: 25 nights x 10 USD = 250 USD (6,043 UAH)
Food: (100 UAH x 3 meals per day) x 26 days = 7,600 UAH (322 USD)
Transportation:1,912 UAH (6 trains) + 485 UAH (2 buses) + 100 UAH (local transportation) = 2,497 UAH (100 USD)
Activities: 3,825 UAH (158 USD)
Total Budget for 30 Days in Ukraine: 21,877 UAH (905 USD)
Keep in mind that these are a very rough estimate and may vary depending on activities (I've included Chernobyl as well as Wild Odesa Catacomb tours under activities) you want to do and where you choose to stay. Please use this only as a guide to your budget for spending one month in Ukraine.
Is it Safe in Ukraine?
You may have heard many bad things about what was happening in Ukraine from the news of the revolution that broke out in 2014 but that was a long time ago and most of the conflicts are contained only in the most Eastern front of the country where we are not going so rest assured, traveling Ukraine is very safe, even more so than Western Europe as pickpockets and petty thefts are not as rampant as in big cities like Cologne and Prague.
Just keep in mind about the dropping money scam in Kyiv where someone will walk in front of you, drop a stack of money, and he will ask you if you want to share the money with him.
Someone will then approach you and claim you stole his money and will ask to see your wallet as proof. He will then empty all the content of your wallet and disappear. When this happens, simply ignore, and continue on.
As mean as it sounds, if someone drops something in front of you, do not stop and pick it up. Just walk on as nothing happens and you will be fine.
Visa for Ukraine
Ukraine has recently opened up the country a little to non-European visitors with an E-Visa process and so if you are among those from countries listed here, you can get your e-visa from their official website.
Internet in Ukraine
WIFI is widely available and reliable in big cities like Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Kharkiv, where you can simply go to a cafe and be at your hostel/hotels to stay connected.
In places like the Carpathians, you will be a little harder to find a place WIFI but it is not impossible. Most touristic restaurants and cafes have reliable WIFI so you can always rely on them, but if you want a more self-reliant solution, I would recommend you get a local sim card. This will also help you navigate the bus system in Ukraine as Google Maps works very well in the country.
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.
One Month Itinerary for Ukraine
Kyiv (5 - 6 Nights)
We first begin our journey in one of the most vibrant and my favorite city out of all, Kyiv, a city with so many awesome things do you, you would need at least 5 days to properly experience all the city has to offer, and do not worry, we will be going to Chernobyl as well.
When you arrive at your accommodation, I would recommend you first book your Chernobyl tour for your last day in Kyiv to avoid paying the last-minute price. The tour to Chernobyl will cost you 125 USD if you want to visit in the next 3 days, but the price will go down to 100 USD if you reserve it 4 days prior.
Eastern Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in Ukraine and you will find many stunning religious buildings and structures dedicated to the belief all over Kyiv. You can spend your first day in Kyiv, visiting all the cathedrals and churches all around the city.
St. Sophia's Cathedral and its Bell Tower is a great place to visit if you are looking for a tower to go up and see Kyiv from above. You will have to pay to go into the cathedral and up the tower, but I can assure you, it is worth the 160 UAH (that will give access to the Cathedral and the Bell Tower) price tag.
From the Bell Tower, you may see another religious structure located not too far from it. That is St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, which is another stunning architecture to check out while you are in Kyiv. It's free to enter and it is connected to a park that connects to another popular tourist attraction, Andriivs'kyi Descent.
Andriivs'kyi Descent is a historic descent connecting Old Kyiv to the more hip neighborhood of Podil. Several souvenir shops and restaurants are sandwiched along both sides of the descent making it a great place to hang out for the rest of the day.
On your second day, you can visit the lively Khreschatyk Shopping Street where you will find many awesome cafes and one of my favorite restaurants in Ukraine, the Puzata Hata which I highly recommend.
From Khreschatyk Shopping Street, you can walk to the Independence Square, a place infamously known for where the Ukrainian Revolution in 2014 took place. It is nothing like the photo you may have seen from the media of the aftermath though as now, you will find a ton of locals gathering around the square to socialize, relax, and enjoy each other's company.
From the Independence Square, you can continue toward the Friendship of Nations Arch located high up in the hills along the Dnieper River where you will be able to see the other side of Kyiv. It is also a great way to walk to one of my favorite monastery, the Cave Monastery At Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra contains several monuments like the Cathedral of the Dormition, the Bell Towers, Refectory Church, the Church of All Saints, and best of all, the cave system where pilgrims still use to pay respect to the dead monks inside.
You can spend at least 2 hours walking and exploring all the monuments inside the area before you go to The Motherland Monument, a perfect place to be at sunset.
The Motherland Monument is surrounded by parks and museums and so if you want to spend more time there, I would recommend visiting both Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and the Motherland Monument on your third day since visiting both can take more than 5 hours to see them all.
You can spend your fourth day in Kyiv to explore the hip district of Podil where you will be able to find many shops and restaurants as well as a giant Ferris Wheel and the Chernobyl Museum dedicated to telling the story of what actually happened in Chernobyl that night in 1986.
On your fifth day in Kyiv, you can go with the Chernobyl tour you booked previously and spend the day learning about the incident and exploring Pripyat on foot. There is nothing more memorable than actually experiencing and seeing the real-life post-apocalyptic wasteland with your own eyes.
If you have a day to spare, I would recommend you go out into the city and explore all the cool cafes in Kyiv. There are countless amazing themed cafes, hipster cafes hidden in Kyiv rustic alleyways, and a ton of great indie cafes with outdoor spaces for one to sit in the sunlight. A great way to relax and end your trip in a wonderful city like Kyiv.
Getting from Kyiv to Lutsk
You can get a marshrutka operated by Voyag-Luks that leaves at 11 AM, arrives in Lutsk at 17:00~, and cost 350 UAH.
I would recommend you arrive 30 minutes earlier so that you will have time to figure out where your marshrutka leaves from. Keep in mind that they use Cyrillic alphabets here in Ukraine and if you can't read it (like me), keep an eye out for Луцьк (Lutsk) or Ковель (Kovel) (most bus that goes to Kovel will pass through Lutsk) signs in front of a marshrutka.
Lutsk (2 Nights)
Not many Ukraine itinerary you find will recommend Lutsk but since we are all about DIY and traveling as independently as one can, Lutsk is a great base to break your trip between Kyiv and Lviv while allowing you to visit one of the most photogenic places in Ukraine, the Tunnel of Love.
Since we only have one day in Lutsk, I would recommend you spend the first half of the day visiting the Tunnel of Love. To do it independently, you will have to rely on a bus that connects Lutsk to Rivne, the 2 big cities in the area, and you will have to get off at Klevan, where the train track is and walk from there.
After spending the first half of your day, visiting the Tunnel of Love, you can spend the rest exploring Lutsk and all that the city has to offer. One of the most prominent landmarks in the city is Lubart's Castle, which I highly recommend you visit.
Other than the castle, there are many interesting sights in Lutsk that you should check out while there such as the Cathedral Of The St. Peter And Paul, the House With Chimeras, Lesi Ukrainky Main Street, and many more things to do.
Getting from Lutsk to Lviv
There are many marshrutkas that leave from Lutsk to Lviv daily so you can take one of them from Lutsk Bus Station.
I took the one at 7:30 AM from Lutsk Bus Station and I arrived in Lviv at 11:15 AM where the driver dropped me off in front of the Lviv Opera House where it is only 2 minutes walk to Lviv Old Town. The bus costs 6 USD.
Lviv (5 - 6 Nights)
Lviv, to Ukraine, is like Saint Petersburg to Russia, Prague to Czechia, and Krakow to Poland, full of history, incredible architecture, and countless things to do.
As I mentioned before, every city in Ukraine has its own identity, and Lviv is one such city that has the most European vibe of all. The city has the familiarity of what you would come to expect from Eastern European cities with tourist attractions all concentrated around an Old Town area, plenty of Catholic Churches to visit, and full of events and activities to do in the summer months.
On your first day in Lviv, you can spend the day exploring all the beautiful architecture you can find in the Old Town area. Lviv Latin Cathedral, Dominican Cathedral, Bernadine Church and Monastery, and Armenian Cathedral of Lviv are some of the most stunning architecture you will find in Lviv.
Be sure to also go up to the Observation Deck atop Lviv Town Hall in the middle of Rynok Square where you will be able to see Lviv and its surrounding from above.
If you are able to align your trip in Lviv on the weekends, you will be greeted with activities and music festivals in the middle of Rynok Square. One of the most popular events that happen annually in Lviv is the Leopolis Jazz Fest that goes on for 4 days at the end of June.
If you are not able to be there in June, you might still be able to experience a random event that may happen at Rynok Square as I did with my trip in Lviv. When I was there, there was a Yoga Music Fest and brought in some really cool Ukrainian indie bands for us to dance our nights away. Plus, it was free to attend!
If you have the flexibility, I would highly recommend you align your travel to one of these events in Lviv. To check the event schedule, check out Lviv Official Event Page and see what is happening during the weekend you will be in the city.
There are also the Medieval Pharmacy museum where you can walk around the Alchemist lab from the ancient time, the stunning stairways of the House of Scientists, and Lviv High Castle where you can hike up for sunset. That's already 2 days worth of activities right there, and we barely scratch the surface.
Lviv is also well-known for its colorful themed cafe-culture and it would be a crime if you are in Lviv and not visit Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture, where you will go into a cave and have the famous Flaming Coffee while the waiter sets your coffee on fire.
There is also a Folk Village Museum where you can spend at least 3 hours to walk around and learn about the rich culture of the people who lived by the Carpathian mountains in the olden days.
You can walk through an open-air museum that was built to simulate a Folk Village full of wooden churches and houses with different function for you to discover.
If the sight of Lviv is getting a little too repetitive, you can also spend another full day and explore the 3 ancient castles that are scattered across the beautiful landscape surrounding Lviv.
The 3 Castles Tour can be booked via Lviv Tourist Information Center for 350 UAH. Unfortunately, the guide can only speak Ukrainian but you will at least have a chance to see what the landscape around Lviv is like while visiting Oleskiy Castle, Pidhirtsi Castle, and Zolochivsʹkyy Castle all in one go.
Getting from Lviv to Yaremche
From Lviv, there are 3 direct trains that you can take. I took the one that leaves at 06:35 and arrives at 11:01. The journey took 4.5 hours and cost around 150 UAH.
You can book your trains online through their official website here: Book Ukraine Train Online or through Tickets.ua. If you can't find Yaremche as a destination, try typing in Яремче and the right destination should come up.
Yaremche - The Carpathians (3 Nights)
After spending so many days in cities, it is time to change things up a little and visit the Ukraine Carpathian Mountains and go hike some epic trails.
The first hike I would recommend you to do is the Mt. Makovytsia trail which begins right from Yaremche and goes all the way up almost 1 km above sea level.
The Mt. Makovytsia trail is one of the most rewarding hikes you can do in Yaremche. It will take you around 2.5 hours to reach the summit and 2 to get down but when you are up there, you will get a 360° panoramic view of the mountains and valleys surrounding Yaremche.
The hike is easy to moderate and you can do it on your own by simply following the trail available on Maps.me. While along the trail, you will also have the option to do a side trail to Dovbush rocks, a sacred rock to the people living in the Carpathians back in the days.
After a day hiking Mt. Makovytsia, you can spend the rest of the day and reward yourself by having a nice local cuisine at Krasna Sadyba Restaurant, my favorite restaurant in Yaremche.
The next day, I would recommend you go and hike Mt. Hoverla, the highest mountain in all of Ukraine. You can go there via daily excursion that you can book from Yaremche the day before.
The tour will take you to the trailhead and a non-English-speaking guide will accompany your group to the top. You don't have to go with them though as the group is often quite slow. You can simply tell your guide that you are going to go ahead first and you can hike on your own.
The entire hike takes 5 hours with 2 hours going up a moderate to steep trail, 1 hour at the top and 2 hours coming down. After everyone is down, the bus will take you back to Yaremche. The entire trip starts at 9 AM and finishes at 6 PM.
The view from the top of Mt. Hoverla is definitely worth it as you will be able to see the Carpathian mountains and its infinite number of rolling green hills from all directions.
Be aware that it gets quite cold and windy at the top even in the mid-summer months so be sure to pack layers for the hike as well some snacks for the trail.
Getting from Yaremche to Chernivtsi
To get from Yaremche to Chernivtsi, you will have to first take a train to Ivano-Frankivsk, and depending on your connection time, you might have a few hours to explore Ivano-Frankivsk for 3 hours before you get on another train to Chernivtsi.
I took a 14:38 train from Yaremche which arrived in Ivano-Frankivsk at 16:18 and cost 140 UAH and then I took another train from that leaves from Ivano-Frankivsk at 19:58 and I arrived in Chernivtsi by 22:05. The total cost for the ticket is 220 UAH (140 + 80 UAH).
With 3 hours between the 2 trains, you can leave your backpack at the train station luggage storage and go out and explore Ivano-Frankivsk as I did. Be sure to go up the Tower in Ivano-Frankivsk's Rynok Square for a panoramic view of the city.
Chernivtsi (2 Nights)
Chernivtsi is home to one of the most beautiful and photogenic architectures in the country, the Chernivtsi National University. The university was built in 1875 when Chernivtsi was the capital of Bukovina, which was a part of Austro-Hungarian Empire back in the days.
You can see the outside influence that affected Chernivtsi from the architectural-style of the University which reflects the Baroque-Romanesque style that is common in Vienna, Austria. It's the Hogwart of Ukraine.
You can spend an hour or 2 exploring the university ground or you can go with a tour group to get access to the interior of the University.
Unfortunately, when I was there, there were only Ukrainian guides and so I don't it would be worthwhile to go in and not understand what each room is for. Nevertheless, the outside was worth a visit in itself.
There are many other things to do in Chernivtsi that should occupy you for the rest of the day such as the Massive Cathedral Of Holy Spirit, the Armenian Church, Kobylyanskoi Shopping Street where you can find many cafes and restaurants to indulge yourself in, and Teatralna Square, an great spot to hang out and go people-watching during the sunset.
Getting from Chernivtsi to Kamianets-Podilskyi
It only takes around 2 hours to get from Chernivtsi to Kamianets-Podilskyi so you can rely on a marshrutka for this route.
To get from Chernivtsi city center to the Chernivtsi bus station, you can take a bus #1 from (Zaliznychnyi vokzal), the one in front of Chernivtsi National University, and it will take you around 45 minutes to reach Chernivtsi bus station and cost 3 UAH.
You can book your bus ticket from BusRadar.com, go to the bus station 30 minutes earlier, find the bus that has the sign "Кам'янець-Подільський" (Kamianets-Podilskyi), ask them if it's the right bus, and if it is, show them the ticket and you will be on your way.
Kamianets-Podilskyi (2 Nights)
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.
The main attraction and the sole reason why one visits Kamianets-Podilskyi is the photogenic 11th-Century Castle that is located on a giant rock surrounded by a 40 meters deep Smotrych River Canyon.
The best time to visit Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle is either in the early morning before 10 AM where the light shines directly at the castle or at sunset and the night as the landscape becomes like a fairy-tale while hot air balloons are flying above the castle.
Stay a little longer after the sunset and you will see the castle under a new light, literally. Right after the sunset, the castle will be illuminated by colorful artificial light that is as stunning if not more mythical than when you see it during the day.
You can spend the day exploring the inside of the castle where there are quite a few museums and viewpoints you can check out or go and explore the Old Town area, visiting the Dominican Monastery, Saints Peter And Paul Cathedral, and all the stunning abandoned forts and towers scattered throughout the Old Town.
Getting from Kamianets-Podilskyi to Odesa
Odesa is a long way from Kamianets-Podilskyi but thankfully, with a clever transit, you can get there in one day without having to break your trip down into multiple days.
First, you will have to take the earliest marshrutka from Kamianets-Podilskyi to Khmelnytskyi, a hub city 2 hours away from Kamianets-Podilskyi. From there, you can then get on a train to Odesa, all in one day.
I took a 10 AM bus from Kamianets-Podilskyi bus station which is within walking distance from the Old Town, arrived in Khmelnytskyi bus station at 12:05 where I then flagged down a marshrutka #8 to get to Khmelnytskyi Train Station.
The whole transit took only 30 minutes, cost 100 UAH, and I was at Khmelnytskyi Train Station by 12:30, ready for my 13:48 connection train bound for Odesa. The train from Khmelnytskyi to Odesa costs 550 UAH and I arrived in Odesa at 20:39 just after sunset.
Odesa (3 Nights)
Odesa is the type of cities you don't see very often. Elsewhere, having a Gothic-style building in one corner, a Soviet-era apartment in another, and a colorful Turkish-inspired house in between would be such a mess but somehow, in Odesa, it works.
Built by foreigners and refugees, the city's identity began to shape itself overtime creating this chaotic yet beautiful blend of cultures that we will be exploring for 2 full days.
You can see almost all the tourist attractions in Odesa in one day, thanks to them being all located in the city center. You can start your day walking down the Derybasivska Main Street, checking out the Odesa Opera House, hop on a funicular down the Potemkin Stairs to check out its optical illusion, and stroll through Tarasa Shevchenka Park before spending your evening at the Lanzheron beach.
One of the things you must do in Odesa is to try their delicious seafood and the restaurant I would recommend is Kotelok located near Cathedral Square.
For 240 UAH, you will get a bucket of mussels in whichever flavor you choose to indulge yourself in. I can not stress how delicious the food at Kotelok is, so if you are in Odesa, be sure to drop by there.
Did you know that there is a nextensive network of catacomb under Odesa, just like in Paris but way bigger? That is what we are going to explore on our second day in the city.
Wild Catacomb tour is one of the highlights of extreme things to do in Odesa where you will go explore the man-made labyrinths with a local catacomb enthusiast. You can book the Wild Catacomb Tour through Tripadvisor in advanced for 450 UAH.
The guide will take you to a town called Usatove where from the outside, you wouldn't think that there would be an extensive network of catacomb under it and yet there is.
Even the entrance doesn't look like it would lead to anywhere interesting but then when you get in and the guide takes you to see a room full of writings, living rooms, and a small church, you will realize how big and elaborate the catacomb actually is.
Exploring the catacomb in Odesa was definitely the highlight for me so if you are interested in doing something unique and you do not have claustrophobia, be sure to book a trip with Wild Catacomb before you visit Odesa.
Getting from Odesa to Kharkiv
There is an overnight train the leaves at 19:21 from Odesa and arrives in Kharkiv at 8:21 AM that you can take. I took that train and it costs 250 UAH and takes around 13 hours before arriving in Kharkiv.
From Odesa center, I would recommend you call an Uber or Uklon to get to the Odesa train station in time for your overnight train. When you arrive in Kharkiv, the train station is centrally located so you can simply walk to your accommodation, no problem.
Kharkiv (3 Nights)
Last but not least, we are traveling a little east to the second-largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv. Kharkiv is often overlooked when it comes to traveling in Ukraine, but like most rewarding beauty, you gotta look deeper to appreciate it, and I mean really deep, like underground deep.
As it turned out, Kharkiv's metro stations are the prettiest metro stations you will find in Ukraine. You can spend almost half a day just by jumping from one metro station to another. I did just that when it was pouring outside and I found 8 metro stations that you might like.
Other than the metro stations, there are also several really beautiful and standout architecture that you should not miss such as the candy-striped Cathedral of Holy Annunciation, the Dormition Cathedral and its free-standing tower, the Holy Virgin Monastery, and many more.
There are also many cool brutalist-style architectures such the massive Derzhprom, a complex of blocks of grey buildings with many windows built in the 1920s.
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.
Other than that, you can spend the rest of your days checking out all the beautiful parks such as the romantic Mirror Stream, Gorky Park where you can take one of these colorful small Soviet-era cable car, or Shevchenko Park where the 50th Parallel North Latitude passes through.
Getting from Kharkiv to Kyiv
The 2 cities are very well-connected together so you will have no problem finding a day train to Kyiv from Kharkiv as well as an overnight one.
I personally took the day train as it is often shorter than the overnight one. I went with the one that leaves Kharkiv at 13:15 and arrives in Kyiv at 18:00. The journey took around 5 hours and it cost me 404 UAH.
Kyiv (1 Night)
After 25 days in Ukraine, you deserve a good break. You can spend your last day in Ukraine indulging yourself all the delicious local food from Puzata Hata, or simply relax and enjoy the chill vibe in one of the many awesome cafes around the city.
And there you have it, a complete one-month itinerary for Ukraine. I hope you will find this Ukraine travel guide useful, and if you do, or you have any question about traveling in Ukraine, do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below. Safe travel!
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 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.
- You may not have heard of Kharkiv before, but once you see what I saw when I was traveling in that city, your mind will be blown away at how beautiful it is. Here are the 10 best things to do in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
- 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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