Ukraine is a very much overlooked destination for travellers, which is a pity as it’s a great place to travel.
I personally was just coming to Kiev (Kyiv) for a few days to see the city and tour Chernobyl, but fell in love with the vibe and ended up staying 10 or so weeks.
I came back again after a few weeks and stayed for another three months.
Ukraine is a cool place.
But between these two visits I spent a few months roaming around Central Europe, and when the usual travellers questions were asked so many were puzzled when I mentioned that I was heading back to Ukraine.
Unfortunately Ukraine has a bit of an image problem with the conflict that’s going on in the east.
But get a map and look at the size of Ukraine. It’s a big country! And the conflict area is in the far east and only around probably 1/10th of the country.
Everywhere else you have what many other parts of Europe offer. Historic cities, mountains in the Carpathians, fun nightlife in the vibrant capital Kiev, and more.
Yeah bet you didn’t know that there is some amazing chocolate from the historic city of Lviv. This country takes you by surprise.
In fact there’s not really any excuse for travellers with time on their hands who are in Krakow or Budapest, not to at least cross over to see Lviv and the Carpathian Mountains as they’re so close by.
One of the things about Kiev is that it does kind of stand alone in the middle of the country, but then you can visit the ghost city of Pripyat at the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site like mentioned before, which is something unique to see.
There is also a modern high speed train connecting Lviv in the west to Kiev that takes only 6 hours and costs only around 10 euros. Easy.
Take a fun underground tunnels tour of Kiev and see the mysteries underneath the city.
(Post updated in 2019)
Backpacking in Ukraine
Ukraine Travel is Very Cheap
Anyway to the title of the article:
Why You Should Go Backpacking Ukraine
Sadly for the people of Ukraine they are suffering due to bad devaluation of their currency, the UAH.
This is a love/hate thing with me as I feel very bad for the locals, but also love the fact that my money goes a long way.
For travellers on a budget this is an amazing time to go to the country.
Seriously, it’s one of the cheapest places I’ve ever been to and I’ve visited around 90+ countries.
Although my blog is aimed at backpackers looking for good deals on places to visit, anyone looking for somewhere interesting to go should consider Ukraine, even if it wasn’t such great value for money as it is now.
Initially it was the people that I met in Kiev that made me start to stay longer, but the cost of having a decent lifestyle there, in a European country, blew me away.
Costs of Travel in Ukraine
I could go on and on but the best way to show you is by running through some costs of backpacking Ukraine.
These costs come from what you would spend in Kiev, which is where I was based, but if you get out of the capital and things get even cheaper.
The thing that initially shocked me on arrival was when paying for a metro ticket. It cost 4 UAH. That’s around 15 US cents. Yes you read that right. 15 cents for a metro ride anywhere in the city.
I thought it was a mistake.
Taxi ride using the smartphone app Uklon (if you do visit Ukraine install this, you will get the cheapest taxi deals in many cities in Ukraine) costs around $2 for around 15 minutes of driving.
Again you read right. This is a European country were talking about remember.
Average price for a local beer $1 (the important stuff right)!1 hour of bowling in modern mall – $1 per person.
Two glasses of good quality coffee and delicious carrot cake in a cool cafe where I regularly went to work online (as in the photo below) – around $3.
The cafe is called Come and Stay. Appropriate name.
A juicy rib-eye steak in an American grill restaurant – $3. 16 Californian sushi rolls during happy hours at cheap eatery – $2. 6 bed dorm in a hostel average cost $5-6.
There is some really good Georgian food in Kiev and you can get a huge meal for around $6 like in this photo.
There are coffee vans all over the place where you can get a quick coffee fix for 50 cents.
I could go on and on…
Cheap enough flights from the rest of Europe fly to Kiev and it’s very cheap to get into the country overland from neighbouring countries.
This should give you a decent idea of how great value things are in Ukraine. And don’t forget this is in the capital, it’s cheaper everywhere else.
Naturally all this would be meaningless if the country didn’t have things to offer the traveller, but like I said at the start of the post it has many historic places to see, mountains, great nightlife in Kiev etc.
But best of all many of the people you will meet in Ukraine are awesome! I made loads of new friends in the 5 months that I spent in Kiev.
For my friends in Ukraine, and all the other Ukrainians, I hope in the future their situation will get better and more money will come there way.
By visiting the country you will be spending money into their economy which will help.
Take advantage of the great value and visit Ukraine.
Kiev is one of my favourite cities in the world, and any trip to Ukraine should include a visit there. Here’s some places fo you to stay if you make it:
Check out my post on the best bars to go drinking in Kiev.
Here’s a recommended guidebook for Ukraine: Insane Ukraine: Your Guide to Hassle-Free Travelwritten by a local Ukrainian.
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