Quick question. Name Europe’s second largest country… Stumped? Here are a few hints - think Mediterranean-esque coastlines, soaring mountain ranges, architectural outposts aplenty and a capital city that's often referred to as the Mother of Slavic cities. Given up? That’s okay – a warm welcome is on the cards for those who escape the glare of Ukraine’s flashier European neighbours, and discover a nation that’s quirky, cultured and full of life.
Ukraine Tours & Travel
All our Ukraine trips
Articles on Ukraine
At a glance
|Capital city:||Kyiv (population 2.6 million)|
|Time zone:||(GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius|
|Electricity:||Type C (European 2-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)|
Best time to visit Ukraine
Ukraine, like many of its Eastern European counterparts, boasts a temperate climate that delivers hot summers, mild autumns and icy winters. With the warm summer sending locals and tourists to the Crimea and the Black Sea coast, many theatres and attractions close down or become quite crowded. For those seeking to avoid the crowds, spring (or early autumn) can be an excellent time to visit Ukraine, as the weather is normally quite pleasant and the scenery at its most spectacular.
Winters can be bitterly cold, with temperatures reaching as low as -25C; however, ample snow provides excellent skiing in the Carpathian Mountains.
Geography and environment
As the second largest country in Europe, Ukraine boasts an incredible variety of landscapes, many of which change complexion dramatically with the seasons. To the west lie the Carpathian Mountains, which include the country's highest peak, Mt Hoverla (2,061 m). To the south is the Black Sea coast, the port town of Odessa and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. This popular holiday spot is renowned for its Mediterranean climate and unique landscapes that include limestone plateaux and volcanic rock formations.
Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, is located in the north on the banks of the Dnieper River. The country's north is renowned for its dense forests, while the central region consists of mainly open fields and plains.
Top 5 Ukrainian Pop Stars
Don’t let the movie-star good looks fool you, Ruslana is one of Ukraine’s most talented musicians. Proficient in vocals, piano, guitar, drums, keyboards and of course, the Ukrainian alpine horn, Ruslana channelled her Carpathian Mountain-dwelling roots and became the pride of the nation by winning the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with her original composition ‘Wild Energy’. Currently living in Hollywood and mixing it with the stars, Ruslana’s latest projects include collaborations with T-Pain and Missy Elliot, as well as her new single ‘Wow! (I’m so amazing)’, which features a street dance hip hop battle between her two alter egos: Ruslana-boy and Ruslana-girl.
2. Sofia Rotaru
After honing her vocal skills by singing to her blind sister Zina, Sofia Rotaru rose to fame after winning a ‘festival of popular talents’ in Kyiv. At the age of 17 she performed a closed-door concert in the Kremlin; however, she had to flee to Yalta after her family was persecuted by the Soviets for celebrating Christmas. Her transgressions were eventually forgotten, as she was awarded the one-off ‘Best Ukrainian Pop Singer of the Twentieth Century’ award by the former USSR. Rotaru is a personal favourite of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and she is estimated to be Ukraine’s richest pop star - earning a handy $4.76 million a year!
3. Iryna Bilyk
One of Ukraine’s most celebrated stars, Iryna Bilyk has released 12 albums and continues to attract large crowds to her energetic live shows. At 25, Bilyk had the honour of performing for the President of the United States, Bill Clinton. More recently, she released ‘I Love You’, a duet with Jean-Claude-Van Dam, who is reportedly a huge fan of her music. In 2007, she married her dancing partner from the local TV show Dances with the Stars 2.
4. Taras Petrynenko
Beginning his musical career in 1969 with a televised dance performance with a group of school students, Petrynenko rose to become the undisputed leader of Ukrainian rock music. After serving a brief period in the army, Petrynenko was banned from performing his controversial ‘Song about the Song’, and fled to Russia with his new group, Magic Guitars. After returning to Ukraine and recording a new album, Petrynenko’s newly formed band, Hrono, endured a forced break-up, mainly because the accompanying musicians refused to return from the band’s international tour. Despite this, Petrynenko went on to be crowned a ‘living legend’ of Ukrainian music and played a big part in the Orange Revolution, performing his songs to a passionate crowd in Kyiv.
5. Oleksandr Ponomaryov
Born and bred a boxer, Ponomaryov was devastated when his deteriorating eyesight began to derail his chosen career path. Undeterred by a lack of musical knowledge or training, he decided to follow his other great passion, striking a deal with a prestigious music college which agreed to provide him with tutorage - on the condition that he complete the gruelling 7-year curriculum in the space of 12 months. Apparently he passed, and in 2003 he went on to be the first artist to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest, impressing the judges with an act that combined contortionists with an Apollo spacecraft. He finished 14th.
FAQs on Ukraine
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance, Visa Support letter - Yes
Switzerland: No - Not required
United Kingdom: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Some nationalities are now visa free to Ukraine. Please check your own visa requirements carefully.
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
Some nationalities that require a visa may also need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes known as a Visa Support Letter, in order to apply for a Ukraine visa. As of 2013 travellers from Australia and New Zealand no longer need the LOI in order to apply. Should you require a LOI please notify us at the time of booking and ensure you send the following information no later than 30 days prior to departure:
* Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
* Nominate which embassy you will apply for your visa
Please note that it can take up to 7 business days to receive the LOI from our Ukrainian partners. The LOI is included in the cost of the trip, however should your embassy require other support documents you may be charged an additional fee.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You require a Single Entry Tourist Visa for this trip.
Surname and first name of the inviting person(s) in Ukraine. If not applicable, name of hotel(s) or address of applicant’s temporary accommodation(s) in Ukraine:
1/3, Mikhailovskaya street1
+380 44 279 49 25
Address of inviting person(s)/hotel(s)/temporary accommodation(s) in Ukraine:
Name and address of inviting company/organisation:
If LOI required please use the information on the document. If not required - N/A.
Surname, first name, address, telephone, telefax, and e-mail address of contact person in company/organization:
Beer in a bar or restaurant = 5-15 UAH
Basic, takeaway lunch = 40 UAH
Dinner in an inexpensive restaurant = 100 UAH
For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 7 Orthodox Christmas Day
Mar 8 International Women's Day
May 1-2 Labour Days
May 5 Orthodox Easter Sunday
May 9 Victory Day
Jun 23 Orthodox Pentecost
Jun 28 Constitution Day
Aug 24 Ukrainian Independence Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/ukraine/public-holidays
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Ukraine Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Ukraine
1. Be considerate of Ukraine’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with tap or filtered water.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
5. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
6. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
|Everything is Illuminated||Jonathan Safran Foer|
|Sweet Darusia||Maria Matios|
|Voices from Chernobyl||Svetlana Alexievich|
|Wolves Eat Dogs||Martin Cruz Smith|