5 FAQs About Travel to Ukraine

5 FAQs About Travel to Ukraine

Bigger than either France or Germany, Ukraine is much less frequented and more unspoiled. A visit to Ukraine is packed with contrasting experiences. The region has for centuries been known for its rich soil and farmlands. But there is far more to Ukraine than tractors, sunflowers and wheat fields.

Ukraine is the cradle of Slavic civilization. Its complex history encompasses the beginnings of the great Eastern Slavic civilization in the 9th century; the introduction of Orthodox Christianity, which changed the face of Slavic culture; the rise of the Cossacks; the riveting winter of the Orange Revolution in 2004, when Ukrainians camped and demonstrated in the frozen streets; and the events of February, 2014, when the balance of power tipped in favor of Ukrainian loyalists.

Sunflowers in Ukraine. Photo credit: Luba Rudenko

Sunflowers in Ukraine
Photo credit: Luba Rudenko

Popular questions about Ukraine:

1. Is it “Ukraine,” or “the Ukraine?”Answer: “Ukraine” means “at the border,” so for years Americans called it “the Ukraine” – the border of the Soviet Union. It’s been a separate sovereign country for more than 25 years now, so it’s past time to drop the “the.” It’s simply “Ukraine.”

2. What’s to see in Ukraine?Answer: Ukraine is a verdant country abundant in historic towns, fine architecture and glorious cathedrals. Western Ukraine has UNESCO-listed Lviv, a wonderfully preserved 14th century medieval town, as well as the gorgeous green Carpathian Mountains where you can find the Hutsul people, high mountain pastoralists whose woodcarving, embroidery, weaving and leatherwork is highly prized.

Kiev draws you in with sites such as beautiful St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Kiev’s oldest church, and the Monastery of the Caves, its underground labyrinths lined with mummified monks. Both of these are UNESCO sites.

St. Sophia Cathedral shines on a beautiful dayPhoto: Jessica Clark

St. Sophia Cathedral stands out on a beautiful day
Photo: Jessica Clark

In Odessa, shiver inside the Partisan Caves, the hiding place for WWII resistance fighters, and marvel at the size of the famous staircase from Eisenstein’s classic 1925 Soviet film, Battleship Potemkin.

Potemkin Steps in Odessa, Ukraine Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Potemkin Steps in Odessa, Ukraine
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

3. Can I visit Chernobyl?Answer: For some, the desire to revisit cataclysmic history – the April 26, 1986 nuclear plant meltdown – is as important as visiting a World War II site. MIR can create custom journeys for those wishing to visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, including the ghost town of Pripyat, evacuated after the nuclear accident and still mostly uninhabited.

But you don’t have to go all the way to Chernobyl to learn about this nuclear turning point; instead visit the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, with English audio sets and guides available to explain the events of that time.

Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, Ukraine

A few of the exhibits in the Chernobyl Museum
Photo: Douglas Grimes

4. Why do Ukrainians paint eggs? Are they good souvenirs?Answer: They’re not painted, but instead dyed with a batik process. Using a stylus dipped into hot wax, simple and complex designs are etched on the raw, blown-out egg, which is then dipped into a variety of dyes. The last step is to melt off the wax, unveiling the egg’s designs. Painted eggs make great souvenirs.

More photos and info about the ancient art of Ukrainian painted eggs.

Perfectly designed Ukrainian eggs<br>Photo: Joanna Millick

Perfectly designed Ukrainian eggs
Photo: Joanna Millick

5. Do I need a visa to enter Ukraine?Answer: No, not for passport holders of most countries, including the U.S. and Canada. You can visit as a tourist, visa-free, if you stay less than 90 days.

Lviv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Gerhard Bartsch.

Lviv, Ukraine, the “capital” of Western Ukraine, is one of the country’s most exhilarating cities
Photo credit: Gerhard Bartsch

Travel with MIR to Ukraine

MIR has more than 30 years of travel experience in Ukraine and has an affiliate office in Kiev. We have a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.” 

Experience Ukraine on MIR’s small group tour, Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova, or on the private itinerary, Essential Ukraine. You can also create your own Ukrainian exploration with the help of our custom and private specialists. 

Chat with one of our destination specialists by email or by phone at 1-800-424-7289 to start planning your 2016 travels now.

Top Photo: Ukrainian pride is displayed everywhere in Kiev. Photo: Jered Gorman

PUBLISHED: February 18, 2016

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