Custom Ukraine Tours

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Ukraine is a big diverse and largely undiscovered country riched in colorful tradition. It is one of Europe’s last genuine travel frontiers that encourage to look beyond the natural beauty and energy of the place. Talking about the history of ancient art and culture, it can be seen through the Gothic churches of Lviv, the Stalinist facades of Kyiv, the remnants of the Jewish culture or the ubiquitous Soviet high-rises.

 

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Ukraine

Leisure provides a wide array of meticulously planned Ukraine tours. We make all the plans so that you can completely enjoy your dream vacation! The entire trips can be customized to specific class and requirements, or can be completely tailor-made around particular destinations and special interests. To start your amazing journey for Customized Ukraine tours, let us know your interests by filling out a Trip Request. We would then match your requirements with two or three specialist travel agents who will work with you to provide you the best vacation.

Culture

The Ukrainians are remarkably open people. They have gone through a lot in the last three decades, so it is doubtful that you will cause offense, other than perhaps getting too deep into a political conversation – this can occur because it is an interesting topic and Ukrainians will speak passionately about local and international politics. While the churches are a symbol of their Orthodox Christianity, religion is mostly something g for private conversation rather than public. You will be expected to dress modestly when visiting churches and cathedrals.  Slavic folk traditions continue to be celebrated across the country, most visibly during festivals that take place during summer and fall. Strange guitars and surreal chanting are one manifestation, with ornate weaving and handicrafts another. The Cossacks are another ethnic group holding a certain mystery, their impressive horsemanship part of the show when you visit the plains towards the south of the country.

Food And Drinks

Spend just a week in Ukraine and you will need to loosen the belt a little. The people like to eat and they love big portions, which become even bigger when hosted by a Ukrainian. The food is heavy, thick chunks of meat – mostly pork – along with potatoes and whatever are in season. Mains are often preceded by a bowl of bubbling borsch, the ubiquitous symbol of Ukrainian cuisine, and accompanied by thick slabs of heavy bread. The country is somewhat of a breadbasket for feeding Europe and produces an enormous amount of wheat, which ends up adorning every dining table you ever sit at.  Outside the main cities, there is only one kind of restaurant, a simple affair serving up filling but mostly mundane local dishes. The major cities have always had upmarket restaurants, which served foreign businesspeople and high-ranking government officials during the communist era. These remain in operation, but the highlight of Ukrainian dining is the upsurge in contemporary restaurants, like those found in breweries, themed around the revolution, or specializing in bringing regional dishes into one kitchen. There is truth to the stereotype that Ukrainians like to drink. Frothy local beers and high-quality vodka are most common on the menu, drunk by some people from breakfast time onwards. However, while a proportion of locals drink a lot, public drunkenness is heavily frowned upon. It is a sign of bad taste to be stumbling around in a country where the ability to carry your drink can be revered. Do not get too carried away when you get the inevitable invitation to share drinks with the locals. 

The widely considered best time to be in Ukraine is during spring or fall. The country has a wonderful bloom, blossoms carpeting the trees, so much energy as the days grow longer and people return to the outdoors. Fall has different colors, admired on journeys across the country. May, June, and September are arguably the very best months with good weather, long days and the chance to experience a local festival.  July and August are hot, with the Black Sea Coast sweltering beneath the sun. These are busy months for Russian and Ukrainian tourists, with the beaches becoming extremely crowded. Travel can be arduous in these months, especially if you are covering vast distances and trying to connect more remote destinations.

Visit Ukraine, and there are two sides to tourism. The developed infrastructure and accommodation in the city, then the faded Communist-era tourism elsewhere in the country. Outside the major cities, much of the accommodation remains state-run, and it is very little in the luxury bracket. It is an entirely different picture in Kyiv, Lviv, and Odessa. Think imperial hotels of faded grandeur, slick business hotels for the 21st century, and always a large degree of choice over where you stay.  The grandeur has been updated, so those chandelier-dominated restaurant rooms are complemented with contemporary bathrooms and facilities. While it looks an ode to imperial history from the outside, it is something more in keeping with modern Ukraine on the inside. Many of these hotels are on a relatively large scale and cater well for families. The same can be argued for smaller boutique hotels that are cropping up across the country, particularly in the redeveloped areas of Kyiv and Lviv. There has also been a surge in contemporary business hotels, and while the clean lines may attract some, they are not quite as charming, certainly not when traveling with children.  Be aware that Ukrainian star grading isn’t as robust as elsewhere in Europe, so a five-star hotel in Lviv may not be considered a five-star establishment in Paris. While it’s certainly possible to travel and stay outside the trilogy of cities, you’ll need to reduce your expectations when it comes to accommodation.

 

Always check your national government’s travel advice before planning a trip to Ukraine. Political instabilities are affecting travel in specific regions, particularly on the Crimean Peninsula and in Eastern Ukraine. Check the US State Department’s travel advice for Ukraine before departing on your vacation.  Ukraine is not part of the European Union or the Schengen travel area. Citizens of the U.K., Canada, and all EU nations can travel visa-free for 90 days in Ukraine. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your date of departure, and you must present proof of onward or return travel. Carry a print out of your flight tickets to confirm this. Note that some nationalities, such as Australian and New Zealand require a visa on arrival for travel for up to 15 days. Certain documents are required for this.

Ukraine is safe and welcoming. The places you are likely to visit are nothing like the media narrative that has been presented in recent years. Although parts of Ukraine are under foreign occupation and there has been war in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, visits to elsewhere in the country are almost always hassle-free. Both the nation and its people are keen to present a different image, one that is true to regional traditions and a rich future.  Traveling with a guide helps overcome any communication barrier at hospitals and clinics. The quality of medical facilities exceeds what most visitors expect, finding an English-speaking doctor is relatively easy. As with elsewhere in Europe, facilities are less advanced when you leave the cities.  While the country has a reputation for organized crime, will not be targeted unless you have a covert plan to start opening casinos. In general, the Ukrainian cities are as safe as their Western European counterparts, usual precautions still apply, but you should not feel worried on the streets, even after dark. Although the police appear rough and tough, they do not target foreigners for bribes, as is often the case in Moscow. Just make sure you carry your passport with you at all times as this is a legal requirement.

Culture

The Ukrainians are remarkably open people. They have gone through a lot in the last three decades, so it is doubtful that you will cause offense, other than perhaps getting too deep into a political conversation – this can occur because it is an interesting topic and Ukrainians will speak passionately about local and international politics. While the churches are a symbol of their Orthodox Christianity, religion is mostly something g for private conversation rather than public. You will be expected to dress modestly when visiting churches and cathedrals.  Slavic folk traditions continue to be celebrated across the country, most visibly during festivals that take place during summer and fall. Strange guitars and surreal chanting are one manifestation, with ornate weaving and handicrafts another. The Cossacks are another ethnic group holding a certain mystery, their impressive horsemanship part of the show when you visit the plains towards the south of the country.

Food And Drinks

Spend just a week in Ukraine and you will need to loosen the belt a little. The people like to eat and they love big portions, which become even bigger when hosted by a Ukrainian. The food is heavy, thick chunks of meat – mostly pork – along with potatoes and whatever are in season. Mains are often preceded by a bowl of bubbling borsch, the ubiquitous symbol of Ukrainian cuisine, and accompanied by thick slabs of heavy bread. The country is somewhat of a breadbasket for feeding Europe and produces an enormous amount of wheat, which ends up adorning every dining table you ever sit at.  Outside the main cities, there is only one kind of restaurant, a simple affair serving up filling but mostly mundane local dishes. The major cities have always had upmarket restaurants, which served foreign businesspeople and high-ranking government officials during the communist era. These remain in operation, but the highlight of Ukrainian dining is the upsurge in contemporary restaurants, like those found in breweries, themed around the revolution, or specializing in bringing regional dishes into one kitchen. There is truth to the stereotype that Ukrainians like to drink. Frothy local beers and high-quality vodka are most common on the menu, drunk by some people from breakfast time onwards. However, while a proportion of locals drink a lot, public drunkenness is heavily frowned upon. It is a sign of bad taste to be stumbling around in a country where the ability to carry your drink can be revered. Do not get too carried away when you get the inevitable invitation to share drinks with the locals. 

Chernobyl

So many stories emanate from the decaying nuclear power station at Chernobyl. They speak of tragedy yes, but also of bravery and heroism, telling the tales of people who saved lives and prevented even greater devastation. Visited on day trips from Kiev, and only accessible to people on a guided tour, the nuclear site also preaches messages of hope. You will come to understand what happened and why, as well as discover personal narratives that make Chernobyl all the more real. Strangely, there is now something beautiful about the disused power plant, unadorned as it decays above a decaying landscape.   

Pryohiv Open-Air Museum

Windmills turn and wooden churches stand proudly on the fields south of Kyiv. They form a vast open-air museum that recreates the history from Ukraine’s different regions. The churches and windmills are real, some of the hundreds of buildings that have been moved to Pryohiv piece by piece. Inside various museum buildings, you discover carpets, ceramics, textiles, and glassware, amongst more artisanal items from yesteryear. Summer and fall is a great time to visit, as blacksmiths and weavers are amongst the craftsmen turning Pryohiv into a hive of activity. This is also the place to be on any regional or folk holiday, with theatrical performances and sometimes-raucous open-air celebrations. Most people do not have the opportunity to explore widely in this vast country; a day in Pryohiv provides an excellent overview of an eclectic land.  Dnieper River Cruises The Dnieper is a snake of a river, with long meandering bends and the general impression of calm. It twists south from Kyiv towards the Black Sea, terminating next to another of Eastern Europe’s great cities, Bucharest. As befitting the river, cruise itineraries are tranquil, with daily excursions to accompany the journey. It is typically four days of luxury cruising to Odessa, plus another three through the Danube Delta into Romania. Add in time to discover Kyiv, and you have a serene 12-day vacation, mixing city with rural landscapes. As the river turns southwards, you stop to explore folk traditions and Cossack history, a horse show evoking how the people once ruled this vast, untamed land. Then it is onwards through Odessa and the suggestive landscapes of the Delta completing a unique way to experience Ukraine.

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