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Things To Do In Ukraine
Many wouldn’t believe but Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe, coming second to only Russia in size. This mass of land holds culture and language and rich heritage that is centuries old, snuggled in the East European region between countries like Russia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Belarus. From mountains to refreshing sub-tropical beaches, Nuclear reactor plants to ancient squares of old cities, Ukraine shows you a plethora of fun. Here are some of the most coveted things to do when you visit Ukraine.
Go Trolley-Riding in Kiev
If you are one for adventure, go for the trolley ride that stretches from the right bank of River Dnieper to its left bank. In around 40 seconds you would cross the river and be on the brightly sandy beach on the other end of Trukhaniv Island. The trolley operates from Podol area in Kiev. The journey on the trolley may be short but the the views on the other end stretch for an eternity as you get to see the sun go down the horizon and the twinkling lights come on the Arch of Diversity.
Visit Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle
The Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle might be a tongue twister to pronounce but it is a stunning site of Ukrainian history and architectural brilliance. The fort is a medieval build, started sometime in the 12th Century. Today it is almost as big as a fortified city that houses an open air museum with 175 buildings inside. The castle is also blessed with some of the greenest meadows surrounding it so when you climb up, you get the view of a lifetime. Also, this is the perfect place to ride a Hot Air Balloon.
Chill in Odesa
Contrary to popular belief, Ukraine is a very chill country. On one hand you may have castles and forts and ancient city squares, but on the other you have cities like Odesa that make for a party hub. Here you can swim in the legendary Black Sea, enjoy the bars and pubs and the vivid nightlife, enjoy the International Film Festival every summer and participate in workshops as well. Odesa’s lovely city centre is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s Tentative List, so that’s another spot to chill.
Stroll down the Cobbled Streets of Lviv
Lviv originally belonged to Poland for many centuries, and was then passed onto the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This makes Lviv such a western-influenced city, not only in its culture and outlook but also its architecture and art. You won’t be walking down any street without the scent of freshly made coffee wafting by you from one cafe or another, you won’t find any square or corner without a coffee house. You can stroll across the Rynok Square and shop from its local boutiques, check out St. George’s Cathedral or go to Lviv Opera House for a show followed by a late night stroll outside.
Climb the Carpathians
The Carpathian Mountains make for a nice nature and adventure trip in Ukraine, one where you can go hiking, riding your bicycles, catch fish in the lakes or just enjoy a picnic after a long trek. There are also many small mountain villages that put you up for the night if you are pulling an overnighter; and they are any day better than the hotels because you get a taste of the traditional Ukrainian hospitality and homeliness.
The Chernobyl Plant Disaster is one of the world’s most infamous manmade disasters, one that claimed the life, land and years of its surroundings. The Nuclear Reactor leaked one day back in 1986 and not only the factory workers but even the villagers of the Pripyat town nearby bore the brunt of the leak. The town today is a ghost town, almost frozen in time, homes just the way they were abandoned by half dead people. Tours are arranged for visitors to see Chernobyl and Pripyat from Kiev. Do not visit without consulting experts or tour agents as the radiations are still very strong in certain areas.
Get Romantic in Sunflower Fields and Love Tunnels
Yes, you heard it right. Ukraine boasts of some of the most romantic sites and no, they are not the cliche ones. Forget the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal, here you will find that the billowing fields of sunflowers along the Slovenia-Ukraine area make for the perfect spot to enjoy with your beloved. July is the best time to visit as it is then when the sunflowers come to bloom. Another beautiful place for lovers is the Tunnel of Love in Klevan village. It is a naturally formed tunnel-like walk, made by the interweaving of tree covers to form a canopy. It is said that if you kiss under the tunnel, your love will be strengthened.
Eat Borscht, Salo and Drink $2 Vodka
When in Ukraine, eat like the Ukrainians do. Which means you should eat the two main dishes of their traditional hospitality - the heart-warming Borscht or veggie soup, and try the Salo or tender pork fat. Borscht is made from beets, potatoes, cabbages, tomatoes and meat and makes for a staple in every household. You must visit Tsarske Selo in Kiev to try the best borscht around.
Also, drink like the Ukrainians and you will find some of the cheapest vodka at barely $2 a bottle. How cool is that? Of course, the good stuff like Nemiroff Vodka may cost $3, but hey, that’s still cheap, right?