Many travelers skip Ukraine from their list of destinations thinking it is not worth a visit, but it has so much to offer! And with more and more cheap flights to Ukraine available daily, plus affordable train and bus services connecting most cities across the country, it is becoming easier than ever to explore Ukraine.
It is a huge, beautiful, and very diverse country with a rich history and some of the best food in Europe. The capital city of Kyiv has plenty to see and do, but most of the best places to visit in Ukraine are outside the capital. The most popular tourist destinations in Ukraine include the Carpathians, Odesa on the Black Sea, and Lviv, which is a must-visit for anyone visiting Eastern Europe.
The conflict with Russia has galvanized support for Ukraine’s pro-Western leanings. Following Euromaidan protests in 2014, the president at the time, Petro Poroshenko, vowed to continue the fight against corruption and oligarchic influence and push for EU and NATO membership. In 2019, billionaire businessman Volodymyr Zelensky won the presidency, defeating Poroshenko in a sign of deep public dissatisfaction with the political establishment. While the new president, whose policies are still being fleshed out, has yet to fully deliver on his promises, the public remains united behind Ukraine’s goal of ending the war by regaining as much territory as possible and advancing its membership in the EU and NATO.
While the conflict in Ukraine has displaced millions of people both inside and outside of the country, it is also encouraging greater solidarity with marginalized groups. As the war has escalated, more and more refugees have crossed into Poland and other European countries, and communities have opened their homes to those in need. It has also led to more acceptance of LGBTI people within the Ukrainian military, as well as a public petition calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized in the country.
If you’re planning on visiting Ukraine, make sure to brush up on some basic Ukrainian phrases before arriving. When dining, it is customary to say bon appetit (smachnogo, Ukrainian) or priiatnogo appetit (priyatnogo appetit, Russian) before starting your meal. Also, be sure to give your seat to pregnant women, elderly people, and children on public transportation.
When traveling in Ukraine, it’s important to remember that while everything might seem cheap to you, locals saw their purchasing power disappear and are struggling. Be mindful of how you spend your money and don’t rave about how cheap things are in Ukraine, as this can offend some people.