Ukraine is a beautiful corner of Eastern Europe that many tourists overlook. It’s a large country and therefore has an abundance of exciting things to see and do different kinds of things to do, from admiring the Black Sea coastline to its awe-inspiring gold-domed Cathedrals and ancient-old capital. We’ve got the latest if you’re a backpacker looking to soak up the sights, sounds and scenery in Ukraine, for less…
Where to stay and when to visit
Ukraine fits perfectly in the travelogue of a backpacker since the daily cost is the bare minimum (depending on your necessities). You can easily discover a different kind of rooms, guesthouses, hostels, resorts and more – even in popular cities like Kyiv.
Be mindful about staying in a hostel if you prefer to keep to yourself, since there’s a mixture of different people, aside from tourists, who may be sharing a room with you. If you’re open to meeting new people though, hostels can be your best bet for both experience and cost.
The food is pretty cheap in Ukraine too, so you can easily fix up a bite to eat for breakfast or lunch in a cafeteria for no price at all.
The climate in Ukraine is continental, meaning freezing winters and toasty summers (which are progressively warmer the further south you move). Do not visit in the winter since the average temperatures plummet below 0°C, and while spring brings the warms, it turns the ice and snow into mud – not ideal for backpackers to explore in! From May onwards, the summer months boast pleasant temperatures averaging at 25°C – but there is the possibility of thunderstorms throughout these peak months. The autumn month of September sees a drop in temperature but pleasant blue skies remain, with highs around 23°C – making this time of year the best for tourists to get the most out of the country and all it has to offer.
What to do
There are plenty of cheap things to do in Ukraine, which is ideal for savvy backpackers to save on money while exploring at the same time. We’ve highlighted a few of our favourite pastimes that are either free or totally affordable:
The capital of Ukraine, Kyiv is one of the best and cheapest places to visit in the country, with plenty of history, sights, shops and tours to discover if you’re new to the area.
- Chernobyl Tour: Discover the site of the worst nuclear disaster in human history with a guided tour.
- Kyivo-Pechers’ka Lavra: Built by monks, you won’t find another holy place quite like this.
- Andriyivski Uzviz: Connecting two neighbourhoods, this street is bursting with wonderful architecture to admire.
Odesa is a vast and beautiful city sure to keep you entertained while you’re visiting, with some pretty landmarks to tick off.
- Deribasovskaya Street: A bustling pedestrian walkway full of food, drinks and entertainment.
- Primorsky Boulevard: Take in the architectural wonders along the boulevard and towards the seafront.
- Potemkin stairs: Enter the city through these iconic stairs, symbolic to Odesa.
This city has panoramic views that’s why tourists don’t leave this city unexplored if they land in Ukraine. If you visit Uman in autumn then you are not going to leave this place easily as it looks breathtakingly awesome.
- Sofiyivka Park: An English garden hidden in the heart of Uman.
- Tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev: If you’re spiritual, it’s the best place to visit in Uman.
- Ostashivskiy Lake: A pretty spot for picnics, with beer tents and pop-up food stalls.
There is a whole UNESCO protected town in Lviv, which is the main reason this place is our highlights – a must-visit for history-lovers. There’s more to Lviv than it’s history and culture though, this town is quirky and vibrant in the right balance – so you’ll find something to suit everyone here.
- Rynok square: A 13th-century square that can’t be missed for its intricate architecture.
- Old Town: This quaint square is bursting with local food and drink, shops, cafes and more.
- High castle: Take the small walk up the hill for some amazing food and views to match.
If you want to explore the more rural areas and uncover the real Ukraine, visit Mezyn, Dzembronya, Strusiv, Grushevka, Opishnya, Iza and more.
How to explore
There’s no better place than Ukraine for a backpacker because everything is so cheap and convenient. The public transport in Ukraine is easy to navigate, economical and efficient, so you won’t have to worry about walking from A to B!
Here are the different modes of transport that you can take in Ukraine:
The cheapest mode of transportation that you can find in Ukraine is a train ride. But if you have a time crunch, then it might not be the right option for you, since the trains are pretty slow here. If you know where you’re heading, there are newer express trains available which run between different destinations – but you’ll need to book tickets in advance.
If you don’t mind a little exercise then why not hire a bike to explore the place at your own pace? Plus, it all adds to the backpacking experience, right? You’ll pass bustling markets and have a chance to stop and mingle with the locals.
Buses come in handy when you don’t want to take the train, however, they can be a little crowded – so if you get claustrophobic it might not be the best option for you. If you’ve ever been on the London Underground, we’re sure it’ll be a doddle.
Taxi services are available around Ukraine and you can order an Uber from 7 major cities, but it’s worth noting that travelling by taxi here can be an unpleasant experience for foreign tourists and service can be patchy, so it might be best to take the train instead?
Try not to hitchhike while you’re in Ukraine; while the destination is safe for tourists it’s sensible to not get into a vehicle with other strangers if it can be avoided.
Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your Ukraine holiday
Here are some of our top tips that can come handy if it’s your first time in Ukraine.
- Forgot something essential? You can always buy in the small underground shops.
- Inside an orthodox church, it’s respectful to cover your head if you are a female and uncover it if you are a male.
- You can’t use any other currency in Ukraine, so you’ll have to use ATMs where you can.
- Carry proper documents while you’re here
If you go on backpacking tours often, then you may already have this wonderful destination on your list. But if you’re new to the whole spontaneous thing, then Ukraine is definitely the best place to start your journey. Fancy booking a last-minute trip? We’ve got fantastic flight deals available to book with Crystal Travel, simply give us a call and we’ll do the hard work for you.
Grab your bags!