Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Ukraine? Here you will find information on working in Ukraine, entry visas, Ukraine hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Ukraine
- Things to do in Ukraine
- Entry Visa Requirements for Ukraine
- Foreigner Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Ukraine
- Ukraine Hostels
Facts About Ukraine
Ukraine stepped into the international limelight in 2004 when ten days of mass protests took place in reaction to electoral fraud, leading to a re-run of the presidential election and the declaration of Viktor Yushchenko as President.
Since the instalment of Yushchenko Ukraine, Ukraine has gradually begun to find its place on the tourist map and, although there are still many areas across the country where poverty reigns, the state’s economy continues to improve and there is an air of optimism and liberation amongst the Ukrainian people.
Geographically, Ukraine is an extremely varied country with spectacular landscapes ranging from the Carpathian Mountains in the west, its central plains in the middle and the vineyards and coastal Black Sea views in the south. It is also marked by culture and heritage and has architectural remains dating as far back as the 8th and 9th century when it was a part of the prosperous Kiev Russian state.
Climate in Ukraine
The winters in Ukraine are extremely cold, particularly when the easterly winds blow from Siberia, although further south the weather is milder. The best time to visit Ukraine is in late Spring and Summer. Spring comes earlier in Ukraine than in the European parts of Russia and the snow tends to thaw at the beginning of April.
The south coast of the Crimean Peninsular has relatively warm winter months and during the summer it is a popular holiday destination having ten or more hours of often stifling sunshine each day. Ukraine has high levels of rainfall and in the milder parts where it is too warm for snow, rain falls all year round.
Things to do in Ukraine
Ukraine’s capital Kiev is today witness to the changes that have been made since the 2004 Orange Revolution and the scenic city is marked by emerging Western shops and signs of industrialisation as well as a fresh attitude of rebellion and liberation amongst its younger inhabitants. The city hasn’t lost its signs of ancient prosperity either, and is marked by significant pieces of 11th-century architecture.
Lviv is one of Europe’s oldest and most beautiful cities and provides striking examples of Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Neglected by travellers over the years Lviv is on the crest of a tourist revolution and is well worth visiting before it becomes ‘the new Prague.’
The city boasts a romantic old opera house, a Gallery of Painting with a vast collection of historic and modern artworks and a range of towering grand buildings in its ‘Old Square’ which have avoided being tarnished by the strains of communism over the years.
Odessa is best known for its Potemkin Stairway but is also well-known for housing one of the world’s largest opera houses. As a coastal resort, Odessa has long been a Black Sea shipping centre and was the centre of the 1905 revolution when the battleship Potemkin Tavrichesky was used to support rebellious workers.
The coastal resorts of the Crimea are very popular with tourists, boasting Black Sea views and milder weather conditions. Known as the ‘pearl of the Crimea,’ the town of Yalta attracts the majority of visitors during the summer months and was once a favourite destination for Kremlin leaders.
The Carpathian and Crimean mountains are popular during both the summer and winter months. During the winter the snow falls thickly and a large skiing district has been built up around the Carpathian Mountains. In the summer, locals focus on the great outdoors and theatres are closed until autumn, with Ukrainians and visitors flocking to the mountains to go hiking and make the most of the sunshine after the long harsh winter months.
Carpathian National Park
The Carpathian National Park is Ukraine’s largest expanse of parkland, spanning 503sq km. The park boasts the country’s highest peak, Mount Hoverla, which stands at 2061m high, as well as a vast collection of wild animals including wolves, brown bears, bison, lynx and deer.
Unique Activities in Ukraine
A good way to get an idea of things to do in Ukraine is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
How to Travel Around Ukraine
Ukraine’s major airport is Boryspil International Airport which is approximately 40km south-east of Kiev’s city centre. There is also an airport at Lviv which has connections to London, and another in Odessa, which has flights going to Moscow and to Vienna.
If you’re flying to Ukraine or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Ukraine with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Ukraine to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Train Travel in Ukraine
Kiev’s train station is on the western fringe of downtown Kiev and direct trains travel daily from Kiev to Moscow, Berlin, Warsaw and Brest. There are also good train links from Lviv to Moscow and most major Eastern European cities. A boat is also a viable transport option to Ukraine, with ferries travelling between Odessa or Yalta to the various Mediterranean or the Black Sea locations with the most frequent and reliable being the route from Odessa to Istanbul.
Driving in Ukraine
If you want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities, check AutoEurope or Europcar to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect of driving in Europe.
Health and Safety in Ukraine
As with travel to all other countries abroad, it is vital that you get travel insurance before you leave. Health care professionals usually advise that British nationals travelling to Ukraine are immunised against diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis A.
It is also suggested that visitors are given vaccines for rabies, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, typhoid and tick-borne encephalitis. It is also advised that European nationals carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that entitles visitors to reduced-cost medical care if required.
Entry visa requirements for Ukraine
British nationals may enter Ukraine without a visa providing their stay is for 90 days or less. It is advised that if staying longer than 90 days visitors apply for their visa in their own country before travelling.
Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Ukraine
Finding temporary work in Ukraine is not an easy task given that there is still a great deal of poverty across the country. There are, however, various opportunities for volunteer workers that offer accommodation and food and the chance to get involved with a local project.
Ukraine Hostels and Budget Accommodation
Backpacking hostels can be found in all of Ukraine’s major cities but are most common in Kiev, Lviv and Odessa. Most hostels are very cheap with basic, ‘Soviet-style’ facilities, but there are more Western hostels springing up, particularly in the larger cities and further south in the Crimean region where tourism flourishes.
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Ukraine on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Ukraine is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
Useful Links for Backpacking in Ukraine
- The official Ukrainian Tourist Website
- Auto Europe – Europe’s leading rental car search engine to find a rental car in Ukraine
- Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Ukraine and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and things to do in Ukraine. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major tourist attractions in Ukraine
- G Adventures – guided backpacking tours in Ukraine, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find budget accommodation in Ukraine. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used accommodation booking site in Ukraine. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers for your backpacking trip to Ukraine
There you have it, the ultimate Ukraine backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Ukraine.
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