Ukraine, in the heart of Europe, is home to UNESCO-listed ancient cities, majestic mountain scenery, and a rich cultural heritage. The country is also a popular destination for travelers seeking to learn about its recent troubled past, from the annexation of Crimea in 2014 to the ongoing violence in the east that has killed more than 14,000 people since then.
Amid the tumult, the country’s people have turned toward the West and are eager to join Western alliances like NATO and the European Union. Amid the conflict, Russia has sent troops into eastern Ukraine to help separatists backed by Moscow take control of two regions.
In an effort to bolster its economy, the government is pursuing a series of reforms. This includes deregulation of the private sector, tax cuts, and a push for privatization. The country has also taken steps to improve the business environment and reduce corruption.
During your stay in Ukraine, you should be aware of the risks to your safety and security, including increased border controls, transport restrictions and heightened security measures in public places, such as airports, museums and monuments. You may also experience disruptions to phone, internet and broadcasting services. See our returning to the UK page for information on exiting the country, including requirements for documentation and travel restrictions.
A resurgence of independence movements in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics has brought about new freedoms for Ukrainian citizens, but many remain worried about their future. The country faces a range of challenges, including the need to address high unemployment, the challenge of finding sustainable energy sources and the continuing threat of Russian military intervention along its borders.
In spite of their glum reticence and initial distrust of strangers, travellers to Ukraine soon discover that Ukrainians are among Europe’s most open and hospitable people. Break down their initial reserve, and you may find yourself slurping borshch in a fellow train passenger’s Soviet-era kitchen or being given an impromptu tour of a town’s sights by the guy who offered directions. Much social interaction revolves around Ukraine’s belly-bustingly delicious food, served in belt-stretching quantities. Learn a few words of Ukrainian and you’ll find it even easier to get in on the action.
Ukraine offers a variety of unique and fun activities, from exploring the spooky underground caves of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra to sampling some of the city’s best street foods. In Lviv, you can visit the country’s first cat cafe or rummage through the underground caves of Odessa’s catacombs, once used as a hiding place for criminals, eccentrics and partisans during World War II. The craggy, forested Carpathian Mountains offer some of the country’s most impressive scenery and hiking opportunities. There are plenty of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding and hiking in the winter, while summer is a good time to enjoy rafting, kayaking and swimming in the area’s many lakes. In addition, the region is dotted with beautiful old castles. One of the most famous is at Kamianets-Podilskyi, which is surrounded by towering cliffs and ancient ruins that have stood for more than 900 years.