1. IT’S AUTHENTIC
Strolling through streets of Kyiv or Lviv that breathe history, culture and local legends, or finding yourself in the countryside, among nature – you will feel how undiscovered and real Ukraine is. Then you will come across Ukrainians, who with their genuine smiles, hospitality and curiosity towards you will make you feel like you are an old friend.
Tip: Venture to the Carpathian Mountains to learn about the Hutsuls – ethnical highlanders of those Ukrainian Mountains. There are a number of “real life” museums – basically, the Hutsul homeowners invite you to learn more about their ways of life.
2. IT’S HISTORY IS EXHILARATING
Ukrainian civilizations date back to 4800 B.C. – Trypillian and Scythian civilizations thrived in this region. Being at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, this country has had a number of major powers influencing its development ever since.
It has seen Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman settlements in its early history. From late 9th to the mid 13th century, it formed Kievan Rus’ – at one point the most powerful state in Europe and an origin to a few modern Slavic nations.
The history that followed was tenser, with centuries of invasions – by the Mongol Empire, The Duchy of Lithuania, Poles, Turks and Russians. At different times, different parts of the country were a part of Austro -Hungarian Empire, The Lithuanian Kingdom, The Polish Commonwealth, The Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire. Majority of the last century Ukraine spent in the shadow of the USSR, meaning that most of its achievements and uniqueness were ascribed to what is still sometimes incorrectly referred to as Russia.
3. IT IS MAKING HISTORY RIGHT NOW
Ukraine is really evolving fast – the events that have shaped it in the past few years have been turbulent, but the fierce perseverance of Ukrainians to change and make changes is as strong as ever. By visiting now you get to see Ukraine in its transformational phase – it is exciting and inspiring.
4. IT IS FULL OF CONTRASTS
You will see ancient fortresses and mysterious castles, Baroque and Neo-Renaissance inspired operas, shiny golden domes on Orthodox churches and intricate details on impressive Greek-Catholic churches’ facades, and you will see the brutalist Soviet-era constructivism. Yes, all in one place.
5. IT’S CULTURE IS INTRIGUING
Due to such eventful history and so many influences, Ukraine’s culture and traditions are incredibly unique, some taking origins in pagan times. The meanings of some rituals are deeply rooted in the folklore and appreciation of family and nature. Pysanka is one of such rituals, symbolizing life and rebirth. Dating back to Trypillian culture (between 5400-2700 BC), pysankartsvo is the art of decorating eggs using wax-resist method.
6. STUNNING HANDCRAFT PRODUCE
In the era of mass production, Ukraine captivates with the vast array of its intricately made handcraft. And all of it is deeply rooted in culture, customs and traditions, often varying by region. Vyshyvanka – a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt now can be seen on models of the most fashionable world brands and designers. Besides vyshyvanka, here you will find beautifully ornamented pottery and ceramics, stunning hand-woven wool carpets, colorful scarfs and exquisite traditional jewelry. And you won’t have to pay a fortune – they are more than affordable. In fact, a lot of travelers are attracted to Ukraine for its extremely low prices, especially for such souvenirs.
Tip: local market in Yaremche in the Carpathians Mountains – you will have a positive impact on the local economy and leave with a number of unique souvenirs.
7. TASTY FOOD
The best way to experience the culture is to taste it. Ukrainian cuisine is incredibly rich and also diverse – gourmands leave the country with a number of recipes to try back home. What is also worth mentioning is that there is an incredible range of ingredients involved in making a particular dish – plenty of vegetables and meat, each meal generously flavored. For instance, the preparation of borsch – the most well-known dish, initially required about 30 ingredients. Ukrainians are also fond of garlic and use it as a seasoning to most of the dishes.
Local tip for the daredevils: try krovyanka – a dish that even some Ukrainians find too gross to try. Somewhat resembling a black pudding, it can be translated as a blood sausage. Ingredients that go into it are a mix of cow’s blood and buckwheat.
Disclaimer: We are sorry if any vegetarians have suffered reading the above.
Ukrainians also like to drink. And no, not just alcohol, as it is mistakenly believed by a lot of travelers. Lviv – the country’s culture capital is claimed to have the most cafes in the world per capita. Its coffee culture, harmoniously blended with arts, literature and history has a certain bohemian vibe. Coffee is not drunk here to rush somewhere or to alert oneself, its taste is meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. And preferably in a company of a good friend.
Tip: in summer, try kvass – a popular Slavic drink taking its origin back in Kievan Rus. Made from rye or barley malt, it is not just tasty, but also incredibly very refreshing on a hot summer day, locals favorite.
9. IT’S IMMENSITY
There is so much to see, so much to do, and so much to discover. Ukraine is evolving, but its traditional values and historical heritage remain of big importance. There are 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ukraine, 6 of which are cultural. One of them – The National University of Chernivtsi, features stunning architecture. Walking through its mesmerising interiors, you will feel as though visited by a muse – it is extraordinarily inspiring. You may start considering getting a degree here – that’s the charm of the Chernivtsi University.
Ukraine never ceases to amaze those who venture here with its unparalleled uniqueness. Everyone leaves with fond memories and great personal discoveries, some come back, and others stay here and decide to call it home. One thing is certain – visiting this truly beautiful inside and out country won’t leave you the same person. So don’t postpone your tour to Ukraine, feel free to choose your adventure among our scheduled group tours for example 10 Day Fantastic Western Ukraine Tour or we will be happy to develop your customized tour as per your wishes and preferences.