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Colourful Ukraine

The Tour Gallery
Kamyanets-Podilsky, Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral
Number of participants: 1 to 12
(small groups, individual travellers)
Duration: 14 days / 13 nights
Tour type:Sightseeing / Rural / Ethnography Tour
Intercity transport:Train - Bus
Route:Kyiv - Lviv - Olesko - Pidhirtsi - Zolochiv - Kamyanets-Podilsky - Chernivtsi - Kolomyya - Verkhovyna - Ivano-Frankivsk - Odesa - Pobuzske
Languages:DE  EN  ES  FR  IT  UA  
Operation: From: May till: October
Price from: USD 1911 per person
Highlights Itinerary Prices Booking
To book this tour, please write to us a message at welcome@ukraine-tours.com or submit the form on our website.
 

The route and the highlights

This beautiful two-week tour breaks uniformity of beaten paths around Ukraine. We will visit not only notable cities of the country, such as golden-domed Kyiv, architectural gem Lviv or maritime Odessa, but also will enjoy diversity of culture, architecture, cuisine and ways of life in smaller towns and villages.
We'll travel to places where people live much the same way their grand-grandparents have been during the past centuries, along with that harmoniously balancing old-fashioned with contemporary. On this tour will take time to enjoy beautiful nature, try our hand in authentic crafts, taste various local cuisines, see amazing and unconventional sites not missing out on touristy and must-see places, too.
Having been created upon request from our British partners, this colourful tour is a success for three years already and is getting constant positive feedback. Starting from 2020, the tour is available for booking directly from us.
 

The Tour Itinerary

Day 1 We will meet you upon arrival to Kyiv and transfer to the hotel. On this day you will have a chance to relax before starting exploring Ukraine. Overnight at the hotel in Kyiv.
Day 2 Today we will start exploring the capital of Ukraine, one of the oldest and biggest cities of Europe. We will see the ancient city Golden Gates, impressive neo renaissance Opera House and Taras Shevchenko University. We'll walk through the Independence Square, Maydan Nezalezhnosti. It was the site of the Orange Revolution of 2004; the events of 2013 were also unfolding here. Being the main square of Ukraine, it is a place of the country events manifestation, be it either a celebration or a protest. We will stroll through the main Kyiv street Khreshchatyk, and finally enjoy the brisk Andryivsky Uzviz (St.Andrew's Slope). We'll see the Church of St.Andrew, who prophesied from the hills of the Dnipro River that "on these hills the grace of God will shine forth. There will be a great city here, and the Lord will raise many churches in this place".
We'll finish our excursion at the colourful artisan market to buy some souvenirs.
We will also visit the ancient St.Sophia Cathedral, a famous landmark of the capital of Ukraine. It has the most complete complex of preserved frescoes and mosaics of the 11th century, and it can be said with certainty that nowadays the Saint Sophia Cathedral is one of a handful of the sights of this scale around the world.
After the lunch, we will continue our journey to Pyrohiv Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life. This open air Museum is a collection of Ukrainian folk architecture and items of the 16th-20th centuries. Date of the museum foundation goes back to 1969, when it was not quite understandable to the Soviet authorities why those obsessed ethnographers were collecting old “lumber” from all around Ukraine. On a shoe-string budget, there were found, disassembled, brought to Pyrohiv and assembled back these beautiful wooden huts, churches, windmills, administrative and small trade village buildings. Nowadays the museum has about 300 architectural exhibits, majority of which are original village buildings from every region of Ukraine. The pride of the museum is the 16th century wooden hut of a commoner, the only building of this kind remaining in Ukraine. Authentic everyday life items decorate and enrich buildings interiors. Total number of such items equals 40 000, these are folk dresses, clay and wooden utensils, furniture, metal and glassware, carpets and embroidery, musical instruments and folk paintings. The idea of the museum is reconstruction of a Ukrainian village of the passed centuries. Hilly green landscape envelopes the beautiful village, with windmills perched on the highest hill, small ponds and orchards, wooden church and a grove behind.
Day 3 After the breakfast and having checked-out from the hotel, we will visit another Kyiv site belonging to the World Heritage List, Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. The monastery was founded in 1051. With glittering golden domes of numerous churches sitting on the high hills of the Dnipro River, the monastic complex has an extended and complex system of underground tunnels and caves. They rest over hundred burials. Churches, which count about 20, were built at different times, many reconstructed from ruins, and each of them is a track of history of Orthodox Christianity, Ukraine and architecture. Driving numerous pilgrims from around the world, the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is extremely popular among Kyiv visitors and tourists as well.
Right there, we will have a chance to see the Museum of Historical Treasures. It is a chronicle of the Ukrainian land imprinted in silver and gold. It was opened in 1969 as a branch of the National Historical Museum of Ukraine and occupies 17th-18th century building of the former bakery in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery. The core of the Treasury funds came from the private collection of Kyiv Maecenas Khanenko thanks to whom the Historical Museum was opened in 1904. Later, with new exploration and excavation works, the museum collection was enriched with the most ancient valuable artifacts. Among them are original samples of ancient tribes decorations, weaponry and household objects. In the museum we will also see the Ukrainian Goldsmith and Silver Judaica collections the 16-20th centuries.
After the lunch, we will go the Maidan Nezalezhnosti and have a brief tour there on the recent events of the Revolution of Dignity. In 2013-2014 a small student protest, receiving an inadequate response from the government, has grown into a mass protest of people against Yanukovich and his government. It has resulted in mass massacre of protestors, as well as passing pedestrians, by police and its snipers. We'll walk around the square and imagine how these dramatic events were unfolding. We will see the memorial to those who were killed here, so called Celestial Hundred.
After the tour we will taste unique Crimea Tatar cuisine in the restaurant that was opened in 2014 by the refugees from the Crimea peninsula, currently occupied by Russia. We will get in touch with the Crimean Tatar culture, trying specialities of their delightful cuisine.
In the evening we will take the overnight train and travel to our next city en-route, Lviv.
Day 4 Upon arrival to Lviv, we will have early hotel check-in with the breakfast.
Refreshed and rested, we will start our acquaintance with Lviv on the walking tour. Lviv is one of the eldest cities of Ukraine, with much of history preserved in stunning architectural monuments, legends cherished through generations of Lviv citizens and multinational traditions. We will hike up the High Castle Hill to see the remnants of the old castle fortifications and enjoy a breathtaking city panorama and promenade nice the park there. We will have a walk through the medieval Rynok Square, see beautiful churches, cathedrals and chapels, visit the Armenian Quarter, see Lviv Opera House and some other sights, which deservedly have put this city on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
We will also visit an unusual museum dedicated to pharmacy theme. The eldest Lviv pharmacy, founded in 1735, currently houses the Museum of Pharmacy with 16 rooms of rare and curious pharmacy related showpieces on 700 sq m grounds. And still, the old pharmacy operates daily for those in need of a medicine.
We will have evening at leisure and overnight in the hotel in Lviv.
Day 5 After the breakfast, we will travel the Golden Horseshoe route.
The aged and beautiful castles in the Lviv suburb may become your prime highlight in the region. The gorgeous samples of the Renaissance fortification architecture will be alternated with short rides between them through the scenic and picturesque area that in the 17th century used to be a favourite hunting place of the Polish King Sobieski John III. The oldest in the Lviv region, the Olesko Castle dates to the beginning of the 14th century, with its height at the times of Polish King John Sobieski III. This castle became his birthplace and a family residence at his adulthood. The nowadays museum features a vast collection of decorative and applied medieval arts, tapestries, sculptures and paintings, and is considered the richest Polish art collection outside of Poland. Next castle you will visit was built in the beginning of the 17th century to replace the older wooden fortification in Pidhirtsi. The handsome citadel kept gaining more luxury and style with each new noble owner it had. More than a century of flourishing and prosperity was alternated with quick sloping downhill. Ransacked by Russians, auctioned by Austrians, located on the front line in the WWI, and terribly ruined in the Soviet time, the castle in Pidhirtsi has reached a condition of a picturesque ruin. Neglected, enchanted and still beautiful, the castle desperately needs renovation and is a fertile ground for one’s imagination. The last castle en-route was assembled in the middle of the 17th century in Zolochiv and is one of the best preserved manors in the Lviv region nowadays. Once a royal residence, a retreat for Marie Casimirie, a French-born Polish Queen, nowadays it is a ground for museums of the Lviv Art Gallery. Among other, the palace boasts the most advanced 17th century sewage and heating system, and secret passages beneath. Recently found mysterious rocks with the 14th century inscriptions are exposed in the museum. With the castles’ heyday at the times of the Polish King Sobieski John III, all the three castles may be considered Polish national monuments; with the neglect in the Soviet time – victims of the Soviet regimen; and with the immense charm they radiate – a must-see in the Lviv region nowadays!
We will have evening at leisure in Lviv and overnight at the hotel there.
Day 6 After the breakfast, we will leave Lviv to travel to Chernivtsi, our next city to stay.
On the way there we will make a stop-over in Kamyanets-Podilsky to enjoy the old town and the beautiful castle there.
The unique stronghold towers atop a high hill with the Smotrych River skirting around and carving a perfect natural moat. Narrow neck of the bridge over the river was the only entrance to the Castle. The legend relays that after unsuccessful trial to capture Kamyanets-Podilsky in 1621, Ottoman Sultan Osman II had asked:“Who built this Fortress?” Someone answered:“The God himself.” And Sultan said:«Then let the God himself capture the city!” The first written evidence of the castle dates to the end of the 14th century when Kamenets was a property of Lithuanian Prince Yuriy Koryatovich. The Castle has been gradually fortified during the 15-16th centuries to become a fortress with armour of limestone and brick, secure thick walls topped with high stone towers. Thus the name Kamenets, referring to Slavic word stone. New constructions met needs of the major fortification of the Polish - Lithuanian Commonwealth Eastern Frontier and successfully repelled Cossack, Ottoman and Tatar attacks. By the end of the 16th century the Castle has mostly gained its nowadays look. In result of numerous fortification and reconstruction works there has appeared a New Castle portion of the Fortress to rebuff artillery attacks. The Old Castle was designed mostly to protect direct enemy ground assaults. Unapproachable stronghold was defeated only once – by Ottomans supported by Cossacks and Tatars in the end of the 17th century when Osman rule was established in Podil for 27 years. The Kamenets Castle served as a fortress till the very beginning of the 18th century when it has lost its defensive role and became a military prison. National folk hero Ustym Karmaliuk was imprisoned in here many times and each time managed to escape successfully. Probably he knew some secret underground tunnels so often mentioned in the numerous Castle legends. Nowadays the Castle is a part of the National Historical reserve Kamenets, place for festivals and historical reconstructions.
We'll also enjoy the old town of Kamyanets-Podilsky with the old Polish Rynok Square, City Hall and Sts.Peter's and Paul's Cathedral. It is a very touristy place. You will even see a bronze statue to a tourist, who, supposedly, lost his group.
After sightseeing, we will have a lunch break and will resume our ride to Chernivtsi.
In Chernivtsi we will have evening at leisure and overnight at the hotel.
Day 7 After a good rest and breakfast, we will continue exploring Ukraine.
We are in Chernivtsi, a cosy beautiful city scattered on the upper terraces of the Prut River valley. Founded more than 6 centuries ago, conveniently located on the trade routes crossroad, Chernivtsi grew fast into a prosperous town with multinational and multi-confessional population. By the 19th century it has become a model urban planning town in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We can enjoy almost unaltered architectural ensemble in the old town. We will see the City Hall with chime-clock, impressive building of the Chernivtsi Art Museum, baroque style Theatre of Music and Drama and the square, unusual and queer Ship House and numerous shrines belonging to different confessions. The oldest sacral monument dates to 1607, it is a wooden church of St.Nicholas, unexpectedly without high domes, just an ordinary house type building, due to the fact it was constructed under Turks rule when domes where forbidden. There is also a brick Church of St.Nicholas, Assumption Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Armenian Catholic St.Peter and Paul Church, etc. We will also pass by the Synagogue, Chernivtsi had lots of Jewish population.
And of course, we will visit the Chernivtsi University, the former residence of Bukovyna and Dalmatia Metropolitans. This site is included to the World Heritage List by UNESCO. Built by Czech architect Joshef Glavka, the building features Mauritanian, Byzantine, Roman styles and Bukovyna traditions all together. There is a beautiful park surrounding three residence buildings and the Seminar Church.
After the lunch break in Chernivtsi, we will travel to Verkhovyna or other Carpathian village, making stop-overs in the most amazing places.
We will stop to visit Kolomyia to explore Pysanka Museum there. Pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter egg. There are various techniques for making Easter eggs, such as are painting, carving, crocheting, embellishment with beads, etc. Traditions vary from region to region. Started as a small collection of traditional Hutsul Easter eggs, the museum exposition has grown into a huge display counting 12000 of samples gathered from all around Ukraine. From 2000, they are housed in a newly built museum building in a shape of a gigantic egg.
Shortly, we will make another stop-over in Nyzhni Verbizh and visit the 18th century wooden Church of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Maria there, one of a few preserved samples of wooden church architecture, included to the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO. We will hear a dramatic legend of the Ukrainian Robin Hood, Oleksa Dovbush and the future of his treasures.
After visiting the unique Hutsul church, we will head to the village hotel for overnight stay.
Day 8 After the breakfast, we will continue our journey through the Hutsul Land. Today we will be getting acquainted with unique local crafts and trades, such as production of hand-made Yavoriv lizhnyky (wool blankets), amazing Kosiv pottery, try Hutsul soft cheese, bryndzya and get in touch with local traditions and lifestyle.
We will also be making some crafts ourselves. Masterclasses are subject of availability of each master by the time of our travel. These are shops and classes led by a single person, and which of them would be there by the moment of our arrival cannot be guaranteed. There might be any craft listed above, and we will surely enjoy a crafting masterclass from a Hutsul crafts guru.
Day 9 After the breakfast and hotel check-out, we will be travelling in the Carpathian Mountains.
We will enjoy the forest walk by Tatariv village to reach the beautiful Zhenetsky waterfall in the Gorgany ridge, named here as "Huk" for the noise made by the water falling from the 15 meter hieght. It should be noted that most waterfalls in the Carpathians are called "Huks", but Zhenetsky Huk is one of the finest, plus has the most picturesque access. There is a broad dirt path in the woods along the Zhenetz river with enormous fir trees overlooking the mountain stream, lacy ferns, bramble-berry bushes, strawberry and john-berry meadows. The path is quite smooth, with no notable ups and downs. We can try to drive to the waterfall as close as possible, if required. But anyway, there is a chance this trip would apply 3 km walk there and the same back.
After the walk in the woods, we will head to Ivano-Frankivsk to catch the train to Odesa.
We may have a stop-over in Mykulychyn to buy one of the best draft beers in Ukraine, if there are beer lovers among us. We'll have lunch break en-route.
After arrival to Ivano-Frankivsk, we will spend a couple of hours to enjoy cosy and handsome old town.
In the evening we will take the overnight train from Ivano-Frankivsk to Odesa.
Day 10 After having our packed breakfast on the train, we will arrive to Odesa. We will check-in to the hotel, if available by noon, or leave the luggage there to check-in later.
We will resume our Ukrainian journey on the walking tour in Odesa. Odesa is perfect for it. Wandering the old stone paved streets of Odesa we will enjoy the city at its best. Odessa has extraordinary architectural ensembles, beautiful promenades, and interesting monuments. It also has a special charm of a maritime city, a spirit and liberty of Porto Franco. We will step on the famous Potemkin Stairs, look at, so dear to every Odesan, monument to Duke De Richelieu, stop by the beautiful Opera and Ballet House, enjoy observing the Vorontsov Palace and Old Odesa Corner with the crooked bridge and the old well, mark the Deribasovskaya Street on your map for future visits and some places to try authentic Odesa cuisine and buy some souvenirs at the Artisan Market on the Cathedral Square.
We will have relaxing evening at leisure and overnight at the hotel in Odesa.
Day 11 Odesa is also much about food. We will experience it today.
Right after the breakfast, we'll take an old good tram, as many Odesans have been doing for decades, and ride to Privoz. Privoz is the biggest and oldest farmers' market here. It is a historical place with a special local character. At Privoz, one can buy either everything that is in season, fresh and nice, right from the fertile Ukrainian chernozem soil, or that have been recently swimming in the Black Sea, or grazing in the local pastures. Or, if it cannot be obtained from here, it would be imported and sold at Privoz anyway. Vegetables and fruit, local young cheese, ham, sausages, honey, eggs, poultry, meat, fish and other sea food...
This is were the unique taste of Odesa food comes from.
Speaking of which, we will continue to the next event on our list today - the Odesa cuisine lunch. Odessa cuisine is a fusion of many cooking traditions as Porto Franco citizens were Greek, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Turkish, Armenian, etc. Each cuisine was enhanced by neighbouring ones and refined through centuries, and thus the unique cuisine of Odesa was born. Now we will enjoy it at our Odesa lunch.
After the nice meal, we will visit Shustov Brandy Distillery and have their produce tasting there. We will walk through the brandy aging rooms, inhale some rich and distinctive brandy aroma, will visit the distillery museum and have a brandy tasting. It should be noted that Shustov Distillery brandy was granted the right to be named Cognac at the Brandy Exhibition in Paris in 1910, where it has won the best award. Shustov Cognac is the only cognac produced outside the Cognac Province that has been granted the right to be named as such.
We will have evening at leisure and stay overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 Today will have morning at leisure.
After the lunch, we explore Odesa catacombs - a labyrinth of underground tunnels. Limestone used to be the main construction material in the area, and profound limestone excavation has resulted in appearance of catacombs under Odesa and surroundings. We will walk through the maze of underground paths, right in the middle of the city. We will see remnants of civil nuclear shelter of the Cold War times, visit expositions dedicated to hiding places of legendary Odesa criminals and smugglers, WWII installations, etc.
In the evening we will have the farewell dinner at one of the local restaurants featuring Odesa cuisine.
We'll stay overnight at the hotel.
Day 13 After the breakfast, having checked-out from the hotel, we'll take a ride to Kyiv. On the way we will make a short side-trip to Pobuzke.
It has the most impressive Cold War site, with the museum grounds at the former dislocation of the Strategic Missile Forces Regiment. It was deactivated in October, 2001. We will view the outdoor exposition of vehicles used in missile troops of the Soviet Union, missiles of different kinds and missile equipment. We will proceed to the regiment building, where the indoor missile museum is located. Then the tour continues outdoors to see the silo and ends in the underground constructions, including officers’ chambers and the missile command post with the old-fashioned phones, secret hardware with the Soviet Russian keyboards, so much Soviet ascetic furnishings and the notorious Big Red Button. We will feel how realistic it is now, even with the beautiful Ukrainian steppe with high grasses some 35 meters above and a retired military officer as a museum worker telling us a 30-year old story. It would be easy to imagine how freaky it should have been with the nuclear arsenal ready to be launched from this military base, fenced in electric cords, with watch towers and machine guns, vibration and radiation detecting systems. Just like it was not so long ago, before Ukraine having gained the independence from the USSR, and thus having become the third largest nuclear state in the world, has joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1994. In connection with which, the Security Assurances were signed in Budapest by four parties, including Russia, with obligation "to refrain from threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine". Regretfully, it was followed by Russian military intervention to Ukraine in 2014, resulting in the Crimea peninsula occupation and the war in Donetsk and Luhansk. The Pobuzke Museum excursion is a very powerful experience and has a long-lasting thought provoking effect.
After the excursion, we will continue our ride to Kiev and have lunch en-route.
Upon arrival to Kiev we will have the balance of the evening at leisure and stay overnight at the hotel.
Day 14 This is the last day of the tour. After the breakfast, we will transfer you to the train station or airport.
 

The tour prices

Number of participants Price per person on twin basis
7348 
3929 
3720 
3064 
2685 
2685 
2487 
2329 
2194 
10  2080 
11  1979 
12  1911 
Single Supplement  627 
 

The price includes:

  • Accommodation at three-star centrally located hotels with breakfasts.
  • Arrival and departure car/minivan transfers.
  • Car/minivan transportation on excursions (except the walking ones), intercity transportation in the Carpathian part of the tour starting from departure from Lviv till drop-off at the Ivano-Frankivsk railway station, car/minivan transfer Odesa - Kyiv including a side-trip to Pobuzske.
  • Train tickets Kyiv - Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk - Odesa on the overnight trains, the 1st class cabins (twin share).
  • Local English-speaking guides on excursions.
  • Admissions to the sights visited on the tour or donations where required
  • Full-day tourleader service for groups starting from 3 participants.
  • Packed breakfast on the train to Odesa. One lunch in Odesa and the Odesa cuisine dinner in Odesa.

Not included:

  • Tips.
  • Late hotel check-outs.
  • Early hotel check-ins except for Lviv.
  • Extra services and overtimes.

* Price for one traveller includes accommodation in single rooms at the hotels and does not include single occupancy on the trains

** Prices for tours in languages other than English may be different from the published prices.

*** Please note, medical insurance is mandatory and can be booked with us or at any insurance company. The insurance has to have at least EUR 30 000 coverage and should be valid for Ukraine.
 
 
 
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References:

Our trip to Ukraine went very well and we were very pleased with the train and hotel arrangements. Kiev and Lviv are both beautiful cities and well worth visiting. Thank you for your assistance in arranging our visit.

Alan, USA

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