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A Backpacker’s Travel Guide To Ukraine

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.

National Natural Park Synevir, the Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine

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:

KYIV

Autumn view of Kiev

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

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.

UMAN

Sofiyivka park in Uman, Ukraine

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.

LVIV

Lviv, Ukraine

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

Tourist girl with a backpack and camera standing in the meadow at the mountains. Carpathians. Ukraine

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:

  • Train
Train on the railway bridge in Carpathian mountains, 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.

  • Bicycle
Explore Ukraine by bicycle

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.

  • Bus
Explore Ukraine by Bus

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
Explore Ukraine by Taxi

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

Holidays to Ukraine

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!

A Backpacker’s Travel Guide To The Bahamas

Long gone is the era of well-crafted itineraries, today, travellers are all about spontaneous travel and impromptu plans – adding to the overall excitement. And why not?! We got in touch with a nomad who lives for the moment and spoke about their latest travels in the beautiful Bahamas…

Bahamas Beaches

Where to Stay

Enjoy your stay in Bahamas

The Bahamas is not exclusively cheap in terms of travel or living, but if you know where to look you’re in luck. There are a few islands that are somewhat untouched by the prying eyes of abundant tourists, but if you look hard enough, you can find accommodation here to be extremely cheap – plus you won’t have to fight for a space on the beach!

Such islands include Cat Island, Andros, Abaco, Long Island, Crooked Island and Inagua, where you can experience total R&R amid the Bahamian beauty. On these islands, you’ll find that seafood is fairly cheap – and of course delicious – helping you to keep your pockets fuller for longer. It’s worth noting however that if there’s a popular upcoming festival, the islands prices will shoot up in anticipation of partygoers visiting to celebrate – so it’s best to avoid these dates if you’re trying to travel on the cheap.

when to visit the bahamas

Best time to visit Bahamas

The best time of year to visit the Bahamas if you want to soak up the Caribbean sun, is between the months of November to April when the weather is pleasantly warm yet with less rain than the summer months. The average temperature is around 24°C, which is ideal if you want to explore without overheating!

What to do

Want to explore the island without spending a small fortune on attraction tickets and tours? We’ve rounded up some of the best things to see and do in the Bahamas, that won’t cost you so much as a penny.

Pristine Beaches

Pristine Beaches in Bahamas

The Bahamas is brimming with exotic white-sand beaches, so you’ll have your fair share of time spent on the sand. As a backpacker, you have total freedom and flexibility with regards to where you go and when, but we have a few favourite beaches we’re sure you won’t want to miss while you’re here. A few of these best public, free beaches include Cabbage beach, Cable Beach, Coco Plum beach, Lighthouse beach, Pink Sands beach, Jaws beach and beyond.

Queen’s Staircase

Queen’s Staircase in Bahamas

If you want a change of scenery beyond azure blue waters (we could personally stare at them for weeks on end!), then you need to visit Queen’s Staircase. This historical landmark in Nassau – the capital city of Bahamas – consists of 65 steps, carved out of solid limestone by slaves in the late 1700s. If you like history and culture, this attraction is free to visit – however you can hire someone if you wish to know more about the history of this place.

John Watling’s Distillery

JOHN WATLING’S DISTILLERY

If you fancy a tipple, take a free independent or guided tour of the John Watling’s Distillery. You’ll see barrels of rum lined up and discover the processes of rum making. There is a minimal charge for tasting their in-house rum, where the waiter explains the art of tasting and how to do it properly!

Port Lucaya Marketplace

PORT LUCAYA MARKETPLACE

It’s one of the top open-air marketplaces in Freeport, which you can visit while you are in the Bahamas. There are many opportunities for dining, entertainment and shopping within this bustling market; and in addition to local shops, there are boutiques too, which offer something different yet local. If you get tired of all the exploration, take a seat and unwind in the bars or diners within the market.

Dean’s Blue Hole

Dean’s Blue Hole

If you’re after a dive-in experience in paradise, you’ll find one at the Long Island area of the Bahamas. Dean’s Blue Hole is believed to be the deepest blue hole in the world, where the water plunges to a depth of 663 feet (202 metres) sure to test your adrenaline! Not into watersports? Lace up and go for a climb up one of the rugged cliffs, the effort will be worth it when you’re rewarded with breathtaking views at the top.

How to Explore

Explore Bahamas

Another way of living like a local on your Bahamas holidays is by using the local transportation. If you want to explore the roots of the place, interact with locals and join them on the public commute – you’ll soon get talking about the best places to visit unknown to tourists.

The cheapest and easiest modes of transport in the Bahamas are:

Jitney

This bus has a capacity of around 30 people, making it a spacious way to travel from A to B. However, these are not available on all of the islands, so be sure to check in advance.

Water Taxis

Water Taxis in Bahamas

The Bahamas houses around 700 islands, and taking the road can rack up some serious dough. There are plenty of ferries available with a variety of different routes – the prices vary depending on your destination, availability of seats and age.

Taxi

Taxi services in Bahamas

If you can’t flag down a Jitney, taxis are the next best way to travel if you’re not comfortable with driving in another country. The rates may vary but be careful as some journey costs may be fixed.

Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Bahamas Holiday

Holidays to Bahamas
  • Seafood is cheap and fresh, so you’ll want to indulge in local food at local eateries as much as you can.
  • Don’t get in a vehicle with strangers, especially at night time
  • You can camp at the beach if you don’t fancy renting accommodation.
  • If you want to explore nearby places, hire/buy a bike for a cheaper way to travel.
  • Travel off-season, avoid crowds and lap up the island’s natural beauty yourself!

Inspired by this carefree way of travelling? You can catch a last-minute flight to this Caribbean Isle for fantastic prices when you book with Crystal Travel. Explore our deals today and call to tailor your backpacking adventure…