Ukraine tour highlights
Ukraine is a vast country, but very little is known about it. Its larger cities, such as Lviv and Kiev, are fabulously ornate and have more than a hint of Parisian elegance and Russian ostentation, while the countryside is as rustic and wild as you might imagine. No visit to Ukraine is complete without a trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the mostly-uninhabited area surrounding Reactor 4, where you can walk among the eerie abandoned city of Pripyat and the slowly encroaching forest.
Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev is a wonderful introduction to a country that feels like one of Europe’s last frontiers. Set on the banks of the Dnieper River, the city is easy to explore by metro yet thanks to the near-impenetrable language – Ukrainian and Russian are both widely spoken – travelling around still feels fantastically adventurous. Kiev is one of Europe’s most underrated capitals, with its mix of centuries-old religious architecture, wide boulevards and gilded domes. While exploring, you might like to visit the warren of underground malls to pick up a hot corn on the cob (a local delicacy) or traditional ceramics to take home. In the evening, visiting a traditional restaurant is a great opportunity to sample the varenyky dumplings, which come filled with meats and vegetables, or try a sweeter version with cherries. On our Ukraine In Depth tour your guide can recommend the best Soviet-style canteens and fast-food places where you can get a dough-encased deep-fried sausage (much better than it sounds!) perhaps with a chaser of nastoyanka liqueur, made from honey and herbs.
After the explosion of the Number 4 nuclear reactor in 1986, the area surrounding Chernobyl was evacuated and became an eerie, abandoned place where nature reclaimed the towns and vehicles left behind. In 2011 the area was declared safe to visit, and since tours have commenced leading intrepid travellers into the Exclusion Zone. Our Discover Chernobyl tour gives you two days to explore the Exclusion Zone, including the city of Pripyat which affords perhaps some of the most haunting photographs of the disaster. Built three kilometres from the nuclear site, the city was built to house the plant’s workers and families; now it all lies abandoned, including the fairground, hospital, hotel and sports centre. During the trip you’ll even get to stay within the Exclusion Zone at a small hotel, where you’ll enjoy a traditional Ukrainian meal.
Strategic Missile Force Museum, Pervomaysk
Join a local guide for a tour of the Strategic Missile Force Museum on our Ukraine Discovery Trip. Descend into the depths of this decommissioned military base to discover the original control room of the most powerful Cold War Soviet missile, the R-36M2 'Governor' bomb, which was nicknamed 'Satan' by the Americans. Part of a 150-metre subterranean tunnel network, take a seat in the commander’s chair and push the red button that would have once launched fatal missiles from their underground silos located within the museum’s grounds. Today, we are grateful that only alarms and lights are activated from this nerve-centre, no weapons. But this is a stark visualisation of the grave power that this former USSR republic once had.
Solo travel in Ukraine
Travelling solo doesn’t mean travelling alone, as you’ll discover on our small group holidays to Ukraine. Each of our trips is designed to suit solo travellers and on most trips, you’ll find that around half of all guests are travelling solo. Visiting Ukraine as part of a small group means you’ll get to explore with the guidance of an experienced tour leader to illuminate all the fascinating highlights of the country, while enjoying the company of like-minded fellow travellers.