Ukraine is one of the most under-touristed locations in Europe and it most likely has to do with the lack of information in English. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of gorgeous places to explore in Ukraine. From tranquil nature to charming cities, here are 15 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Ukraine for tourists of all backgrounds…
1. Lviv – the largest city in western Ukraine and one of the most stunning places to visit in the country
At the top of most travel guides to Ukraine is Lviv, the cultural capital of the country. Located in the west just an hours drive from the Polish border, Lviv has a charming and storied history. From being founded by Daniel, King of Rus, to being conquered by Poland, the Mongol Horde, Austria, the Soviet Union, and finally part of an independent Ukraine, there is so much history to see.
While there are plenty of museums and parks to take in, my favorite thing is to simply head to a cafe around Rynok square, enjoy a coffee or beer, and enjoy a lazy day in the center.
2. Kyiv – the beautiful capital of Ukraine and a must-see destination
Opposite to Lviv is Kyiv, the actual capital of the country and this is one of the best places to visit in Ukraine. With a history dating back to Kievan Rus you can imagine that the birthplace of Slavic culture is worth a visit. While much of the city was de-beautified during the Soviet Union, there are still plenty of beautiful places worth your time.
If you like churches check out St. Sophias and St. Michaels for their beautiful colors and architecture. And don’t forget the cave monastery of Pechersk Lavra, one of the most religiously important sites in Europe.
Spend your day walking through the many well kept parks or along the river. If you’re looking for a bustling city then Kyiv is an excellent choice.
3. Dzharylhach Island – the largest uninhabited island in the country and a Ukraine beauty spot
Located in the Kherson region of Ukraine, Dzharylhach is an uninhabited island in the black sea. While it is increasing in popularity with Ukrainians, it is still quite unknown to foreign tourists. Well, it isn’t the easiest place to get to.
There are a few ferries a day going to Dzharylhach from the mainland and if you want to stay overnight you have to camp. The water is crystal clear and you will often see dolphins playing around close to the shore. Don’t forget to try the famous stingray borsch at the beach hut before you leave!
A video showing the beauty of Dzharylhach Island…
4. Vorokhta – an urban-type settlement and one of the best places to visit in Ukraine
This small village in the Carpathians is famous for its dual viaducts. Of course, the historical one is no longer in use, but it is a beautiful piece of architecture that you can see. Not to mention the views of the surrounding mountains and rolling green hills.
From Vorokhta there’s plenty of activities for you to do, like white water rafting or going to hike Hoverla, the tallest mountain in Ukraine.
5. Zhovkva – one of the most interesting small historical towns in Ukraine
This cute little city is just a half hours drive from Lviv, and being able to take public transportation makes this a great day trip option for long term tourists. Famous for its castle, Zhovka also has a beautiful main square with plenty of shops and fountains.
The city used to be a shtetl before WWII so you can even see the ruins of the old Jewish synagogue. The city has been trying to raise money for its restoration so hopefully that will get done before you visit.
6. Bakota – a historic submerged settlement of the Rus Kingdom
Bakota is a super popular camping spot for Ukrainians during the summer. It is a reservoir that actually covers a submerged town. Back in the Soviet Union they wanted to divert the Bug river and thus had to relocate an entire town to an area nearby.
You can take a boat to the cliffs where there is a famous cave monastery (founded by the same founder of Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv). Or spend your days hanging with friends along the shore, drinking horilka, and eating non-stop.
7. The Pink Lake – a unique and beautiful lake to explore in Ukraine
Now, Ukraine has a few pink lakes, but the best in my opinion is the one located on Arabatska Strilka. A long isthmus nearby Crimea, but located in the Kherson region, this is a popular beach destination for Ukrainians. However, a visit to Henichesk Lake should be on everyone’s list.
The bright pink color comes from an algae attracted to the high salt content of the lake. In fact, there’s so much salt you can actually buy buckets full as souvenirs! Well, we just scraped some up off the ground and took it with us. Easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ukraine.
8. Hoverla Mountain – the highest mountain in Ukraine
The tallest mountain in Ukraine is called Hoverla, and it’s located in the Carpathian mountains. It is 2061 meters tall and can easily be scaled in a few hours. I recommend going right before spring when there is still snow at the top; it makes for a great bit of sledding!
A traditional pastime at the top is to pop a bottle of champagne (well, seeing as this is Ukraine most likely a bottle of overly sweet sparkling wine) and toast to the climb. If you are lucky and the sky is clear you can see many of the other tall peaks and all the way down to the lush valley below.
9. Kamianets-Podilsky – known for its well-preserved Old Town and Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle
A city surrounded by a national park, Kamyanets-Podilsk is famous for its castle. I know Ukraine has lots of castles, but this one is extra beautiful.
Located on a cliff overlooking a valley, the castle has been looking over the city for nearly 800 years. It’s definitely a must-visit place for people looking to visit someplace outside of the Big Three Tourist cities.
10. Odesa – is a pretty port city on the Black Sea
Odesa is the most popular beach city in Ukraine but it actually has plenty of beautiful architecture as well. Now called the pearl of the black sea, the land was originally an ancient Greek settlement over two thousand years ago.
If the city looks French there’s a reason for that too. The most famous governor of the city, Duc de Richlieu helped modernize the city. Having fled from France during the French Revolution, he joined Catherine the Great’s army and was awarded the governorship of Odesa as a reward.
One of the must-see places in the city is the famous Odesa opera theater. Located in the historic center, the theater constantly makes lists of the most beautiful theaters in Europe, and it’s definitely a gem of the city.
11. Kherson Cliffs – a popular natural beauty spot in Ukraine
Located just an hour’s drive from Kherson city center, next to a village called Stanisla, lay one of the coolest geological formations in Ukraine. While it was once home to a large settlement of Scythians, today the cliffs are a famous sunset point for locals and tourists alike.
Some people call it the grand canyon of Ukraine, and while I don’t think it’s nearly as impressive as the one in America, it is still quite cool to see. A popular tradition when visiting the cliffs is to write a wish on a piece of paper, stuff it into a seashell, and throw it into the sea. A stunning Ukraine beauty spot to explore!
12. Chernivtsi – one of the hidden gems of Western Ukraine
This cute city is located quite close to the Romanian border and has the largest diaspora of Romanians in Ukraine. Of course, this region used to belong to them at one point so there is quite a lot of history there.
Today the city is a popular stop for local tourists, but one thing worth visiting for anyone is the university. The main building is built in the Eclecticism style and there are very affordable guided tours you can buy to learn all about the history of the school.
13. Bukovel – a popular ski- and spa-resort surrounded by beautiful Ukraine landscapes
Bukovel is a must-visit place if you are coming to Ukraine for winter sports. There are six different ski slopes and the town at the bottom is cozy and charming…if a bit touristy. With buildings resembling alpine chalets this is a great place to visit in winter.
However, this is also a beautiful mountain town to visit in summer as well. There is a large lake great for water sports that is surrounded by mountain peaks.
To get to Bukovel you can go by public transportation from Ivano-Frankivsk with busses leaving multiple times an hour. Try to stay at a cabin with a balcony so you can admire the beautiful mountain while sipping on a tasty mulled wine.
14. Mukachevo – an attractive city to visit in Ukraine which is home to an imposing castle
Mukachevo is another city that is located in western Ukraine. This one used to belong to both Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and the architecture shows. The main point of interest here is Palanok Castle, a 14th-century castle located atop a volcanic hill.
Aside from the beautiful buildings in the old town, there are quite a few beautiful religious buildings like the Dormiton cathedral. Like Zhovkva, Mukachevo was also a shtetl so the majority of residents before WWII were Jewish.
15. Uzhhorod – a historic city founded in the 8th or 9th century
Located in the same region as Mukachevo is Uzhhorod, a city best visited in Spring. Why? Because they have a famous cherry blossom festival that is worth a visit.
Like most cities in Ukraine, Uzhhorod also has a castle which is worth a visit. I would also suggest taking a walk down Korzo street. This street is in the historical center and is lined with beautiful pastel colored buildings and unique architecture.
The old synagogue has been turned into the building for their Philharmonic Orchestra and it looks so lovely it is also worth a visit.
Written by Alona Tiunina is a travel blogger from Lviv, Ukraine, and founder of the Jet Set Together travel blog. With over 60 countries visited, and no plans to stop, she’s turned her passion into a full-time…hobby.