Travel to Ukraine? Read real reviews of foreign travelers to Kyiv and Lviv
After reading the reviews of experienced travelers who traveled the world, we are sure: Ukraine does not leave anyone indifferent. Foreigners who have visited our country are always delighted with natural beauties and architecture. Traveling to Ukraine especially they like Kiev and Lviv, travel to Chernivtsi, Odessa and hike and ski in Carpathians. Our prices also make foreign tourists happy. Ukraine has become the cheapest European country. However, many people do not travel to Ukraine, believing that the war is going on all over the country. Those who not so long ago visited us, made sure that this is not true: it is completely safe to travel around the country.
The guy from Arizona: “10 reasons why I fell in love with Kiev”
Drew is from Arizona (USA). In his 20+ he traveled to 74 countries! A graduate economist decided to become an English teacher to travel. Most recently, during his “European vacation”, he traveled all over Europe: 26 countries, 50 cities in 13 weeks.
Drew liked the capital of Ukraine, which he visited in October 2015, so much that he wrote the post “10 reasons why I fell in love with Kiev.” “I have now been to every capital city in Europe and I can proudly say that Kiev is in my Top 3 favorite. It is an exciting city, which I highly recommend to visit.”
- Affordability. This is now the cheapest European country. For example, dinner costs no more than $5, and the food is very tasty.
- Stunning architecture. “I had to pinch myself a few times to believe that what I was seeing was real life.”
- Lively nightlife. Kiev comes electric at night! A lot of parties, fun pubs, bars and inexpensive drinks.
- Open, friendly people. Drew notes that Ukrainians sometimes greeted him better than residents of the neighboring countries did.
- The Motherland Monument. Raising to a height of 102 meters became one of the most exciting moments in the entire life of the traveler. After all, at the top you feel like the ruler of the world!
- Markets in the subway passages, where you can get anything at a reasonable price.
- Pop-up cafe (selling coffee and cocktails directly from cars). “I have never seen a city with more pop-up cafes or pop-up bars than in Kiev.”
- Cleanliness. Kiev is a very clean city!
- Mixture of antiquity and modernity. “Many of the buildings in the city center are several hundred years old, but also, I found a variety of impressive 21st century modern complexes that left me stunned.”
- Beautiful girls. “Ukrainian girls are (without question) the most beautiful in Europe and quite likely in the world.”
A traveler from Poland: “Is it safe to travel around Ukraine? My answer is YES!”
Camilla, or simply Cami is a brave Polish woman, who often travels alone to unfamiliar countries. She already visited Ukraine 5 times, but only the last trip in August 2015 aroused fear among her friends: after all, Cami went to the country on war!
“When I talked about my plan to go to Ukraine, many, just like it was with my trip to Iran, were worried: is this trip safe? After all, the media constantly say that Ukraine is a war zone, and we all remember the tragic history of the Malaysian airliner.” However, after arriving to Ukraine, the Polish girl made sure: life in the country goes on as usual: “Ordinary life, people walk the streets, go to parks, cafes are full, and there are a lot of fantastic weddings. You do not even notice that you are in a country where there are so many problems. I’ve been in Ukraine before this 4 times, and now, and I do not remember that I once felt myself in danger.” What surprised Cami: Ukrainians living in hostels. Staying in Chernivtsi, Cami was the only foreigner in the hotel. “But at the same time the hotel was full. It seemed that people live here!
I read in the newspaper that in big cities of Ukraine today it is cheaper to stay at the hostel than to rent apartment. Therefore, many people who come to such cities to work, live in places that are initially meant for tourists. Quite an unusual situation for travelers, but I have no problems with this: I always rent a separate room.”
What pleased: prices. For example, a reserved seat in the train from Odessa to Lviv cost only $8. A hotel in Chernivtsi – $17. “If you are still wondering whether it is safe to travel in Ukraine, my only answer is yes! Just keep to the Central or Western part of the country and everything will be fine with you. You will have a great time. Ukraine is really beautiful and can offer a lot: undervalued Kiev, the main resort of the country Odessa, Kamenetz-Podolsky with its delightful fortress, Chernivtsi and its multicultural past, and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, my beloved Lviv. In addition, I do not think that you will find another country with such favorable prices in Europe.”
Stephanie from the Philippines: “Kiev brought me closer to the center of the earth”
Stephanie is a beauty from the Philippines, who has been a nomadic way of life for six years. During this time, she visited 61 countries!
What surprised: Steph did not expect to find such a deep subway in Ukraine! “Not knowing that there is one of the deepest stations in the world in the Kiev metro, I was amazed at how long this escalator is and how deep we are underground. I’ve been to other metro stations in the world, but thanks to Kiev I definitely approached the center of the Earth.” What scared her: Steph came to Kiev just when the events on the Maidan were flaring up. Having confused the metro station, the Filipina and her friend were at the epicenter of events. “I was scared just because this place looked so gloomy. The square was surrounded by barricades. Despite the multiple fires, it was dark, and the faces of many people were covered with scarves and other clothes… This apocalyptic spectacle reminded me of one of the scenes of the “Terminator.” I was not sure if I should be here at all. One guy was unhappy with what I was shooting and shouted at me. I pretended not to hear him, but at the same time, I stopped shooting and was scared. Although I do not think someone there was going to hurt me. We went through a small exit in the barricades and headed towards the hotel, which was only 5 minutes away.”
She visited Kiev with her friend, Wade. What upset her: she could not get to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant – it turned out that she had to register in advance. And in the Museum of Chernobyl was very little English-language information – you need to take an audio guide for an extra fee.
What pleased and impressed: the architecture of the city, the grandiose Motherland Monument, the Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War, the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Soviet statues, transferring to another era. Well, and, of course, affordable prices!
Global traveler: “No one here speaks English”
Matt – a guy from Boston who decided to abandon the American dream of a successful career and wealthy life, quit his job and went on a journey. He became famous blogger, whose posts are published by the world’s leading publications. Since 2006, he visited about 80 countries and Ukraine is one of them.
Matt described his visit in 2011 in his post “Utterly amazing Ukraine”. What surprised: the first thing the experienced traveler faced – Ukrainians almost do not speak English! “As a native English speaker, I hit the jackpot. Wherever I go in the world, I never have a problem communicating with people. Even if people are not fluent in English, they are most likely to be able to buy water, get the bill, or find my way to the train station without any problems. At least, until I came and visited Ukraine”.
Matt says that in the tourist industry there are those who understand the language a little. However, ordinary Ukrainians, whom he had met, did not know the most elementary words. “One evening, the owner of my hostel in Kiev recommended me a good Ukrainian restaurant. I asked if they speak English there. He replied: “You are in Ukraine, man. Here no one speaks English.” The journey turned into a fascinating adventure: you had to play pantomimes, depicting a train to get to the station, writing numbers to negotiate prices. In general, he had to show the wonders of ingenuity. Nevertheless, this did not spoil the impressions of the trip and the country as a whole.
What he liked: “I only saw Lviv and Kiev, but they were very interesting. There was this mix of modernity, old Soviet architecture, and beautiful parks. If I can say anything about the communists, it’s that they really love to make parks”. Matt really loved Ukrainian food. Borscht, the potato dumplings, the blintzes, the meat — it was all delicious. What surprised is the amount of alcohol drinks Ukrainians can drink. Once at a student’s party, Matt was simply unable to drink on a par with the hosts of the holiday.
A couple from the US: “The prices are amazing!”
Meet John and Heather, married couple from Florida (USA). For 2 years, they traveled more than 50 countries!
They came to Ukraine by accident. In the summer of 2014, they traveled around Europe, and were planning to go to Slovakia or Romania. However, having decided that from Poland it would be more convenient to get to Ukraine, they decided to risk, despite the frightening news from Ukraine. During their two-week journey, John and Heather visited Lviv, Yaremche, Kolomiya, Chernivtsi, and traveled through the Carpathian Mountains, which looked like the mountains in North Carolina for them.
What surprised: “We discovered that Ukraine is not all “burning on fire” as it is sometimes shown by international media.”
What scared: since the decision to go to Ukraine was spontaneous, Americans did not book accommodation in advance, hoping to decide the issue on the spot. Imagine their surprise when it turned out that there were no empty rooms! After all, there was the Independence Day in Ukraine, and everybody rushed for the holiday in Lviv and the Carpathians. They found the hotel only in Truskavets. In the courtyard of a private spa hotel, foreign guests were shocked to see… the real rocket! The Americans were already thinking about whether the military operations were not being conducted here. Everything turned out to be simpler – the owner was a former Soviet military pilot, who cherished the memory of the past. “Is it safe in Western Ukraine? Absolutely. The biggest danger for us is a sharp increase in the consumption of vodka,” John and Heather joke.
What was pleasant: having started a tour in Ukrainian bars, Americans were simply fascinated by their style and originality: “Los Angeles is probably the only place in the world where we saw more of the chic and stylish restaurants.” They also liked Ukrainian cuisine, delicious meals with meat and mushrooms. However, Ukrainian menu turned out to be a difficulty for them. Cyrillic was difficult to print on a smartphone and translate, so sometimes they had to choose meals at random. What pleased: Ukrainian prices – they spent no more than $60 per day.
“The prices are simply amazing. We were able to afford the luxury that was not available to us in the more expensive European countries. In Ukraine, we could stay in 4- and 5-star hotels. And, for example, in the Carpathians, for only $ 17 we rented a room in a 3-star hotel with a view of the mountains.”
Traveling rangers from Manchester: day in Lviv
A married couple from Manchester, Nick and Paul, has long been living as travelers. They visited 26 countries. In Ukraine, they stayed only one day in the fall of 2014, leaving here from Poland. But for such a short period of time they received a lot of impressions: both positive and negative. What was surprising: after moving across the border, the British were simply shocked by the “beauties” of the Ukrainian abandoned villages: terrible road, dilapidated houses, roaming goats, geese, horse carts, packs of dogs and 30-year-old buses covered with dust… “I was not ready for the view that opened from the bus window,” Nick says. – I was told that Lviv is very similar to Krakow, but really outside the city it was little like the truth. Considering these landscapes, we asked ourselves: did we do the right thing by coming here?” The Englishmen did not like the Lviv bus station, a harsh monster of the Soviet era, rising against the background of a gray, same-type district. The people they met not only did not understand the language, but did not even try to help foreigners.
“Having got to the bus station in Lviv, we realized that this is not the center of the city. At least, we hoped for that.” To settle the price with the taxi drivers, the price had to be drawn on a dusty car window. What they liked: the historical center of Lviv, many churches, the architecture of ancient city.
“Upon arrival in Lviv, we realized it is one of the most beautiful cities that we have ever seen. It feels like you are in a completely different country. Magnificent ancient city with its history and sights. The central part of the old city is worthy of spending time for a walk with cobblestone streets. And it also deserves the status of UNESCO”. The British were also impressed with patriotism of the city, drowning in the yellow and blue flags of Ukraine. There were many shops selling toilet paper with Putin’s image and all sorts of inscriptions. By the way, it turned out that the city of Rochdale, which the British know well, since it is in the county of Greater Manchester, is a twin city of Lviv.
What scared: customs on the way back, when Nick and Paul were returning to the EU. UK residents can travel around the world almost without visas. It seemed that customs officers, both Ukrainian and Polish, forgot about this. Therefore, the travelers had to wait for documents for several hours. The British did not expect such a severe border crossing procedure and were very worried.
What pleased: prices. During the day of wandering around Lviv, the English could hardly spend 35 euros. By the way, they tried to buy the hryvnia in Manchester. However, they could not find it. Even in Poland it was difficult to get any Ukrainian currency. “The country is not having the best times now, but our impressions do not coincide with what is reflected in the media. Of course, one should be careful, avoid zones located on the border with Donetsk or Crimea. However, you should understand that if you refuse to visit Ukraine, then you are depriving yourself of a trip to one of the most intriguing and inspiring countries in the world… Lviv is a great place to start a trip around the country. It will be unforgettable, problem-free trip, which will be virtually free.”
10 Reasons to Visit Ukraine
Nomadic Samuel and Audrey from Canada shared their Travel Tips To Kiev and Lviv:
This is how Ukraine is through the eyes of foreigners. And how do you see it?
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