When most people imagine visiting Ukraine, they envision its capital city, Kiev. Some people are afraid to travel elsewhere, falsely believing the that country is unstable due to previous wars. As a result, many people tend to overlook the capital. The rest of the country is full of hidden gems, and offers something for every traveler. From the hills topped with the cathedrals to the beaches lining the Black Sea, Ukraine is sure to dazzle you during your travels.
Odessa is a popular seaside getaway for Ukrainians, and a great vacation spot for foreign tourists as well. The port city used to be the main trade center of the former Russian Empire, and is still bustling with people and activities today. Although the area is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, the city has so much more to offer. Take time to explore the rows of streets tucked between trees, and be sure to visit the Opera House. Odessa’s Opera House is the second largest in the world! The old part of the city offers architecture that differs from the Soviet style of much of the rest of the country.
Another gem of Ukraine is Kamianets Podilskyi, a city known for its historic fortress. Although the fortress is certainly a highlight of any trip to the city, the town is also a beautiful place to walk around. Many activities are located close to the fortress by the Smotrych river. The old town features lovely houses and cobblestones streets. There you can find murals displaying the history of the city. The street art is well worth a stroll around the city.
If you’re traveling to Ukraine in search of natural beauty instead of charming cities, rest assured. The country has you covered! The Carpathian Mountains stretch from Serbia to Austria, and although only a small part of the range is located in Ukraine, it shouldn’t be missed. The mountains, forests, and fairy-tale villages are nothing short of idyllic. In Yaremche, you can walk on a railway viaduct for an incredible view of the Prut River and surrounding scenery.
Lviv is an important cultural center in Ukraine, making it a hotspot for art and music. If you prefer a more laid-back vacation, you are sure to love the cafe culture. The cafes range from the traditional outdoor cafes in the streets to more eccentric cafes, such as the one where you receive your drink in a measuring cylinder. You can spend days exploring the city’s art nouveau architecture, hidden squares, and unique shops.
If you’re interested in a beautiful cathedral, Sviatohirsk Lavra is one of the most sacred and distinct cathedrals in the country. The Orthodox monastery is located in eastern Ukraine. Situated on the distinctive chalk banks of the Seversky Donets River, the monastery sees hundreds of visitors each day. Many pilgrims receive a meal and a place to stay overnight.
Another excellent place to visit is the striking Khotyn Fortress. Nestled in beautiful hills and on the bank of a river, the castle-like structure is an excellent way to learn more about the complex history of Ukraine. The fortress took almost a century to construct and has survived a variety of wars and uprisings. Today the fortress is a symbol of the country’s medieval architecture and complicated past.
The country of Ukraine is so much more than its capital city. If you travel outside of Kiev’s limits, you’ll uncover a variety of historical buildings, sacred spaces, and cities unlike anywhere else in the world.
An earlier version of this article was originally published on RobBensh.org.