Travel guide to Ukraine

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Ukraine has an incredible variety of landscapes, and the country is practically bifurcated by the river Dnieper which empties itself into the Black Sea. Impressive mountains cover the western part of the country, whilst vast plains and forests dominate other regions.

Facts

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Local name
Ukrayina
Capital
Kiev (2.635.000)
Size
603.700 km2
Principal Languages
Ukrainian
Principal Religion
Ukrainian Orthodox
Inhabitants
50.500.000
Government
Republic
Geography
Ukraine has a varied landscape with mountains and forest regions. The mountains are situated in the west, while flat regions distinguish the central part of the country, and forests and great plains dominate the northern part. The country is split in two by the river Dnieper, which flows into the Black Sea.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

Ukraine can be visited all year around, but the winter tends to get very cold with a lot of snow. The summer is warm and rainier than the spring, but with higher temperatures.

Literature

Lonely Planet Russia, Ukraine & Belarus Hippocrene Language and Travel Guide to Ukraine Lets Go 2000 Eastern Europe

Local conditions

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Currency

Ukraine grynia (UHA; sometimes spelled hryvnia)

Net cafes

There are a few Internet cafés in Kiev, but otherwise it can be difficult to find an Internet connection. Some places, though, you can ask at the local library.

In case of emergency

To call for help in Ukraine, dial the following numbers: Police (02) Ambulance (03) Fire department (01)

Tipping

You normally give 10-15 per cent in hotels, restaurants and to taxi drivers.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in the UK it is 13.00 in Ukraine.

Weight and Measures

The following units of measurement are used in Ukraine: Weight: kilogram Length: metre

Photography

There are no specific rules concerning photographing, but be sensible about taking photos in religious places and always follow the instructions of the place. It's a good idea to ask the locals.

Drinking water

All water for drinking, brushing your teeth and for ice cubes, should be boiled before use.

Electricity

The following current is used in Ukraine: 220 V / 50 Hz.

Behaviour

There are no specific rules concerning behaviour, but avoid showing off wealth and valuables in public.

Business Hours

Banks are open 9.00 -16.00 (Monday to Friday) Shops are open 10.00 - 19.00 (Monday to Friday), some shops are open during the weekend. Offices are open 9.00 -l 18.00 (Monday to Friday).

Food and drink

Ukrainian cuisine is dominated by vegetables such as potatoes, cabbage, beetroot and mushroom, all boiled together as soup. Steamed or boiled flesh is also often served, and chicken is a popular dish. Many of the more expensive restaurants serve more European orientated dishes, so the best way to experience traditional Ukrainian cuisine is to visit a local family. Fairly good wines are produced in Ukraine, as well as vodka.

Disabled travellers

Ukraine isn't well suited for disabled people, and only a few buildings have facilities for wheelchairs. Getting around is also difficult, as only a few means of transport are adapted for the disabled. The best thing to do is to contact your embassy in Ukraine or a local tourist agency before leaving home.

Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January Christmas Day, 7 January Women's Day, 8 March Labour Day, 1-2 May Victory Day, 9 May Constitution Day, 28 June Independence Day, 24 August

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are quite a number of camping sites in Ukraine, usually at the edge of the towns and with only a bare minimum of facilities.

Hotels

There are a good many hotels in Ukraine, but the standard is lower than that in Western Europe, and the price and quality vary greatly from region to region. The best hotels are in Kiev, Odessa and Yalta.

Other Accommodation

Private accommodation is a good choice of accommodation, which will also provide you with insight in the inhabitants' way of life. The locals are generally friendly and hospitable, and the prices low. As there is no organisation arranging these things, the easiest way is to ask around in the relevant towns.

Local transport

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Planes

There are occasional domestic flights in Ukraine, but as the country has been struck by fuel-shortages, the flights aren't very regular. At the same time, the Ukrainian winters are hard and snowy, making flying difficult and forcing many aeroplanes to stay on the ground. The situation seems to be improving, though.

Bus

There are local buses between many Ukrainian towns, but they're always crowded and unpleasant. Ask the locals about specific routes.

Trains

Trains are the best way to get around Ukraine. They're often crowded, but usually depart on time, and most trains also operate during the night. It can be difficult to get a train ticket, so reserve well in advance. The train system covers a large part of the country.

Taxi

There are taxis in the major cities. They can be hailed in the streets, but this can be difficult as many drivers only drive designated routes and often refuse to drive the way you want them to. It can take a little while to find a driver who wants to drive you to where you're going. The taxis don't have taxi-meters, so it is a good idea to agree on the price before the trip begins.

Car rental

There are a few car rental companies in Kiev, but it is dangerous to drive by yourself because of the traffic and the extremely bad roads, just as it can be difficult getting fuel outside the cities.

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