Ukraine Explorer

Ukraine

Culture | Silk Road

Peel back the layers of history behind modern Ukraine

11 days £1,695 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Discover the hidden charm of Lviv as you wander through the winding alleyways of the UNESCO protected old town. Visit the grand Olesko Casltle, along with its ornate gardens, mystical moat and surrounding fortified walls. Marvel at the remarkable 19th Century architecture of Odessa before exploring the extraordinary cave networks of the Odessa Catacombs. Learn more about Ukraine's history on an fascinating tour of the Strategic Missile Force Museum. Explore the magnificent city of Kiev, amble through its botanical gardens and wonder at the striking Vydubychi Monastery. Scratch further beneath the surface of this country with an interesting visit to Yanukovych Museum of Corruption. Uncover the history of the Chernobyl disaster as you take a poignant tour of the desolate ghost town.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Kornyakt Palace in Lviv
  • Shevchenkivskiy Hai museum of folk architecture and rural life
  • Climb the Potemkin Stairs in Odessa
  • One of the oldest cities in the world, Belhorod-Dnestrovskiy
  • The historic Akkermann Fortress
  • Local wine of Shabo village
  • Remarkable history at the Museum of Strategic Missile Forces
  • Architectural monuments in Kiev
  • Chernobyl & Pripyat in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Places Visited

Lviv - Odessa - Belhorod-Dnestrovskiy - Shabo Village & Winery - Kiev - Chernobyl

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Lviv

Arrive into Lviv airport, where you will be met by a Travel the Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight stay in Lviv. 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Lviv

Spend the morning sightseeing in Lviv. Tour the Old Town and see key sights, including the City House, the Black Stone Building and Kornyakt Palace. Later, travel to the village of Shevchenkivskiy Hai, visiting their museum and learning of local customs and traditions. Overnight stay in Lviv. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Lviv is known as the centre of west Ukraine. Although never a part of imperial Russia, Lviv was in the Habsburg empire and suffered a turbulent and violent history. The unique old charm of Lviv can be found in the stone architecture and market squares of the Old Town. Key sights include the grand Kornyakt Palace and the Medieval Pharmacy Museum.

Shevchenkivskiy Hai Museum is better known as the Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life. It is one of the largest open-air museums in Europe, with over 100 buildings displaying architecture from the past 2 centuries. The traditional atmosphere of western Ukrainian villages is recreated within the museum - allowing visitors to learn more about the customs, culture and history of the region. 

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Day 3 : Lviv - Odessa

Spend the day touring the castles of Lviv. Tour the relics of Olesko Castle before visiting Zolochiv Palace, where you will find the Grand Palace and Chinese Palace. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure in Lviv before transferring to the railway station to board your overnight train to Odessa. Overnight on board the train.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Olesko Castle stands on top of a hill, surrounded by a moat not far from the city of Lviv. The castle was built in the 13th century and has since been owned by Poland, Lituania and Hungary. Olesko Castle became a political symbol during the 14th century - as borders were moved between the three countries, each fought for ownership of the castle. Evidence of this remains within the castle, where a deep well can be found, that used to be an escape route for prisoners. 

Zolochiv Castle lies in the town of Zolochiv, just outside of Lviv. Built at the beginning of the 17th century, its original purpose was as a defensive fortress. It has since housed royals and served as a prison. The castle is now a museum, which displays a fine example of Ukrainian medieval architecture. 

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Day 4 : Odessa

You will be met on arrival at the railway station and transferred to your hotel. Spend the day touring some of Odessa's key sights, including the Potemkin Stairs and Odessa Opera House. Later, stop off at Odessa's Fine Art Museum. Overnight stay in Odessa. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Odessa, also known as the 'pearl of the Black Sea', is one of Ukraine's major port cities and transportation hubs. A key sight is the Fine Art Museum located in the former palace of Count Potosky, where you can find an extensive collection of Russian and Ukrainian art. 

Odessa's iconic Potemkin Stairs were constructed between 1837 and 1841, leading form the harbour up towards the city that stands on a high plateau. Before the Potemkin Stairs were in place, this had meant winding pathways and wooden stairs. The design of the stairs hides an optical illusion - when looking down the stairs, one only sees the landings and the steps seem to be invisible; those looking up only see the steps. 

Odessa Fine Arts Museum is situated in the ancient Pototsky Palace, itself being a monument of 19th century architecture. It houses some 10 thousand pieces of artwork that includes some of the most well known Russian and Ukrainian artists of the 19th and 20th century. Leading it to have one of the richest and most interesting collections of artwork in the country. 

The Opera House in Odessa is the oldest theatre in the city and remains one of its most iconic landmarks. It was first opened in 1810, although later destroyed in a fire. It was reconstructed with a neo-baroque and French rococo influence, evident in its ornate architectural design and grand audience hall. 

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Day 5 : Odessa

Depart Odessa for Belhorod-Dnestrovskiy and take a tour of the city, before visiting Akkermann Fortress. From there, continue on to Shabo village where you will learn of traditional winemaking as you sample local produce. Return to Odessa, where you will stay overnight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Belhorod-Dnestrovskiy, formerly known as Akkerman, is one of the oldest cities in the world - dating back to the 6th century BC. This impressive port city stands on the banks of the Dniester estuary in southwestern Ukraine. It is home to many sights of significance, including the ancient fortress of Akkerman, St. Nicholas Church and Ascension Cathedral. 

The Akkerman Fortress was built by Moldovans, Genoese and Turks from the 13th to the 15th century. It was built as a part of the Ottoman defensive system against Poland, Lithuania and later, the Russian Empire. The castle is one of the best preserved castles in the country, where you can walk along almost all of its walls - stretching nearly 2 km.

Located between the Black Sea and the Dniester estuary, the small village of Shabo is famous for its wine production. An ancient plant within the village is open for visitors to come and witness traditional methods of winemaking and taste wine that was made centuries ago.  

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Day 6 : Odessa

Travel to Nerubalske village, where you will spend the day exploring the tunnels of the Odessa catacombs. Return to Odessa, where the rest of the day will be free to spend at your leisure. Overnight stay in Odessa. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Odessa Catacombs are a network of tunnels that lie beneath Odessa and the surrounding region. These were formed are as a result of stone mining and later widened by smugglers, reaching almost 60 metres below sea level. Although the labyrinth of tunnels is yet to be fully mapped, it is thought that there are around 1000 known entrances. A small portion of the catacombs are open to the public, and can be found in the Museum of Partisan Glory.

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Day 7 : Odessa - Kiev

Make the journey on to Kiev, en route stopping at Pervomaysk to visit the Museum of Strategic Missile Forces. Overnight stay in Kiev. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Museum of Strategic Rocket Forces is located near the Ukrainian town of Pervomaysk. Beginning in 1959, it posed as the divisional headquarters for the 46th Rocket Division during the Cold War, being home to many nuclear weapons and missiles. The Pervomaysk site remained in operation until 1997. Today, it remains almost exactly as it was, allowing visitors to tour the former secret USSR base. You can even sit in the seat of the missile launch control panel and simulate part of the missile launch procedure!

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Day 8 : Kiev

Spend the morning touring the city of Kiev, seeing key sights such as Maidan Square, the Golden Gates and St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery. Later, visit the Cave Monastery of Lavra. Overnight stay in Kiev. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Founded in the late 9th century, Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Europe that has played a pivotal role in Slavic civilisation and Orthadox Christianity. It is home to a myriad of architecturally important and historically significant monuments, some of which include the ornate St. Sophia Cathedral, St. Andrew's Church and the Golden Gates of Kiev. 

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Day 9 : Kiev

Begin the day with a tour of Mezhihiriya Palace. Later, travel to the Chernobyl Museum, where you will spend the rest of the day. Overnight stay in Kiev. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Chernobyl Museum is dedicated to the 1986 disaster. It houses a variety of artifacts and scale models or visual media aimed to educate visitors about the nuclear accident of Chernobyl. 

Mezhihiriya Palace (also known as the "Museum of Corruption") was once home to the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who was forced to resign in 2014 during the Revolution of Dignity. Following this event, the Mezhihiriya residence opened to visitors as a modern-day palace, showcasing the luxurious presidential lifestyle. Set in 140 hectares, the palace required 2,000 staff and daily maintenance costs of $75,000 to upkeep the facilities, which include a yacht pier, tennis courts and a helicopter pad.

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Day 10 : Kiev

Travel to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, spending a full day touring the site. Later, return to Kiev where you will stay overnight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Chernobyl lies within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and became famous after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986. Today it is a ghost town, although a few residents still live in Chernobyl, marking their doors with signs saying 'owner of this house lives here'. Regulations have since been put in place to limit the dangers of exposure and to mitigate any long-term consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe. 

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Day 11 : Kiev

Transfer to the airport where you will depart for your onward journey. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Hotel Taurus

Hotel Taurus is a modern hotel located near to the historical centre of Lviv. The bedrooms are decorated in a contemporary style and fitted with modern comforts to allow for a relaxing stay. The elegant Restaurant Taurus serves a combination of Ukrainian and European dishes, whilst guests can also relax with a drink in the Lounge Bar or Taurus Cafe. The hotel is also home to a spa, swimming pool and fitness suite. 

Visit hotel's site
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Alexandrovsky Hotel

Alexandrovsky Hotel is located at the heart of the historical centre of Odessa. The hotel lies near to many sights including City Garden and the Potemkin Steps. Alexandrovsky is equipped with modern comforts required for a relaxing stay. The spacious bedrooms are tastefully decorated. Cellini Restaurant is named after the famous Italian sculptor and is decorated in a traditional Italian style, serving Mediterranean dishes and wines to guests. 

Visit hotel's site
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Khreshatyk Hotel

Khreshatyk Hotel is situated in the centre of the city of Kiev. The hotel is decorated in an elegant Ukrainian style. Each bedroom provides guests with access to modern facilities that include satellite television, wifi and air-conditioning. There is a choice of 6 restaurants, bars and cafes which each serve a variety of national and international dishes. Guests are also welcomed to make use of the hotel spa, swimming pool, salon and fitness suite during their stay. 

Visit hotel's site
Extensions

Along Soviet Fringes (14 days)

Delve into the diversity of Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova

Ukraine Explorer (11 days)

Peel back the layers of history behind modern Ukraine

Reviews

We asked Travel the Unknown to come up with an unusual trip to 6 counties of the Caucasus and the ex-Soviet Union countries. They did so in a tour that flowed seamlessly the whole 38 days. The most impressive part was when Ukrainian Airlines cancelled our connecting flights from Kiev to Minsk, for 2 consecutive days. We contacted Unknown that morning and asked them to arrange an overnight train with a sleeping compartment. When arrived in Kiev, we were met at the airport, driven to the train station where tickets where waiting for us. They arranged for our pickup at the station in Minsk, as we left the train, and we went on our planned tours without losing a minute. That is what I call a great service agency

Irwin Drangel & Linda Schain , Tailor-made Caucasus and Soviet Fringes
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