Ukraine, a former Soviet Union republic, is bordered by Russia to the east, Belarus to the north, Moldova and Romania to the southwest, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland to the west, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south. This vast country boasts of the beautiful Carpathian mountain, steppe nature reserve, thousands of rivers, fertile farmlands, and mesmerizing cities. Ukraine was known as the “breadbasket” of the former Soviet Union, contributing to over a quarter of the agricultural needs of the union.
You won’t be able to see all of Ukraine in just one week. And Trippy user Tareq knew that when he asked:
I am planning to spend nine days in Ukraine in late August with my two kids. I heard it’s better to start from Kiev (not Odessa) because it’s not crowded. We’re looking for lovely villages, parks, and easygoing trip. Any recommendations?
With the help of Trippy’s many users, we’ve listed a one week itinerary ideal for first-timers. So, here’s how to spend one week in Ukraine:
Three days in Odessa
Start your tour in Odessa, a southern coastal city located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. This cosmopolitan city founded by Catherine the Great is an important commercial seaport and tourism hub of Ukraine. There are many things to do in Odessa, and for a list, please read 5 Best Things to Do in Odessa.
If you’re traveling with kids like Trippy user Tareq, we recommend visiting NEMO dolphinarium and Oceanarium and Odessa Zoo. Also, take time to walk on the 192 steps and ten landings of the Potemkin Stairs, visit the many parks in the city, enjoy boat tours and relax at a beach like Bali Beach and many more lively beaches of Odessa.
Those who like clubbing may enjoy Arcadia Beach, a place known for its clubs, bars, lounges, and restaurants. Of course, these places are not kid-friendly when night falls.
Olga, a Trippy user, likes Kiev and Odessa. She wrote:
In my opinion, Kiev and Kharkiv are pretty similar. And the most interesting place to visit after Kiev is Odessa (Ukraine). It is always better to move on South from North. And to see The Black Sea coast is a must when you go to Ukraine! And on your way you can stop by Kherson, it is my native city. I wish you to enjoy your trip!
When in Odessa, you can stay at the Friday Hostel, a budget-friendly hostel close to Spartak Stadium and less than a mile from Deribasovskaya Street and Odessa Theatre of Opera and Ballet). Also, check out Aleksandrovskiy Hotel (a 10-minute was from Deribasovskaya Street) and Chaikovsky Boutique Hotel (a 5-minute walk from Odessa Theatre of Opera and Ballet).
Here is a piece of friendly advice from one of the Trippy users from Ukraine:
First thing you have to know about Odessa is that it is a port city. That means there are a lot of foreigners there. I am from Ukraine and in school we learn English, so there will be no problems if you don’t know Russian or Ukrainian. If you have any question, you can always ask anyone (it would be better to ask young people).
Odessa is one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine, and people love foreigners there.
Menus in almost all restaurants are in English too. Most people in Odessa speak Russian. Ukrainian is more used in western regions.
The biggest problem for men from other countries in Odessa is… not to fall in love with Ukrainian girls. They are so beautiful!
You can take the seven-hour intercity train from Odessa to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
Three days in Kiev
The Ukranian capital Kiev is home to beautiful cathedrals has the world’s deepest subway station (Arsenalna station) and is the gateway to Chernobyl. This city of almost three million people, located on the Dnieper River, in north-central Ukraine is worth a visit. And you need to spend at least three days there.
Trippy user Maks from Ukraine loves Kiev. He suggested the following:
Here are some exciting places you might want to visit while you are in Ukraine
– The Kiev Pecherska Lavra ( if you want to visit the most popular religious place in Ukraine – that’s where you go)
– Kiev Center – Кreshtatik
— Chernobyl (how about some extreme? The so-called “dead city” that was evacuated due to the nuclear accident at Chernobyl plant. The city is safe for visiting, but it’s empty, and no one leaves there…)
– Vorontsov Palace (beautiful place!)
Besides the places mentioned by Maks, you should also include the Motherland (Rodina Mat), Golden Gates, Andrew’s Descent, St. Sophia’s Cathedral, St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery and the National Opera of Ukraine.
Motherland is located in the middle of the National Museum of World War II. This female warrior is a sculpture taller than the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of strength and courage for the Ukrainian people. There’s a viewing platform on the top level of the memorial and a patriotic war museum at the base. The Motherland is just a few minutes walk from Kiev Pecherska Lavra.
The 11th-century St. Sophia’s Cathedral is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The cathedral has the most extensive collection of Byzantine art as seen in the mosaics and frescoes throughout the interior. It’s Kiev’s oldest standing church, and the golden domes are unmatched.
If you want to experience dark tourism, go for a day tour to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, about a one and a half-hour drive from Kiev.
The food in Kiev is impressive. Here are three restaurants you must visit:
- Kanapa, a Ukrainian restaurant
- Chachapuri Restaurant, a Georgian restaurant
- Spotykach, a Ukrainian restaurant
After Kiev, fly or take the train to Lviv.
Two days in Lviv
You need at least two days to enjoy Ukraine’s most European city, L’viv. This city is called Lemberg in German and Lwow in Polish.
Courtney loved Lviv. She said:
I would check out L’viv. I’ve been there several times now, and I love it! My favorite hotel is the Vintage Boutique Hotel. If you stay there, be sure to check out their little restaurant, Vintage Nouveau. I would also check out the George Hotel, which is great if you’re trying to save money.
Among my favorite places to eat, there are:
Baczewski Restaurant – this is the oldest restaurant in L’viv.
Veronika Confectionery- a great little bakery with a restaurant downstairs.
Restaurant Stary Royal, which has amazing goulash.
The Most Expensive Galician Restaurant – there’s a gimmick to this restaurant that I don’t want to give away, but it’s well worth going there (and the food is great).
Kryivka – this is known as the “Resistance Bar,” and when you go, you’ll see why.
Lviv Coffee Manufacture (Lvivska Kopalnya Kavy) – this is almost a complex devoted to coffee. If you go, check out the coffee with cognac!
Like Courtney, I too loved The Most Expensive Galician Restaurant and Lvivska Kopalnya Kavy Coffee Manufacture. The underground “coffee mine” cafe serves a unique flaming coffee where literally my cup of coffee was set on fire for about 30 seconds. The coffee wasn’t remarkable, but the show was thrilling. Every guest was given a helmet to wear before going to the underground cafe.
There are so many exciting things to do when visiting Lviv. Here’s five you must-do if you have only two days:
- Get the special soup in an edible cup at Supkul’tura
- Have coffee and dessert at Virmenka coffee shop
- Tour or enjoy a performance at Lviv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
- Join a walking tour and discover Lviv’s old town
- Visit the Armenian Cathedral of Lviv (built in 1363)
You can do a lot with one week in Ukraine, but you can’t see it all. This plan is suitable for those who are visiting for the first time and do not have the time to venture out to the mountains, nature reserves, and farmlands. It’s not easy to travel outside of these three major cities if you’re going independently (non-guided tour). Especially if the tour is just for one week and if you don’t speak Ukrainian or Russian.