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Ukraine Travel Guide

If you plan to travel to Ukraine, the information below will help you make the most of your trip. You will discover facts about the people, culture, climate, food, dress and holidays of this fascinating country.

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Ukraine FlagThe Ukraine became one of the founding states of the Soviet empire in 1922. Prior to that, control of the Slavic country went through many hands, from Kievan Rus’ to the Austro-Hungarian complex. It became independent on July 16, 1990. The Ukraine is situated on the very North side of the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian People

Approximately three quarters of the residents of the Ukraine are ethnic Ukrainians. The remaining quarter of the population is made up of ethnic Russians, Jews, Poles, Armenians, Crimean Tartars, and others.

One of the main reasons for the diverse makeup of the demographics in the Ukraine is the spike in immigration that occurred in the first few years following the declaration of independence. Most of the immigrants arrived from the other former Soviet republics.

A Temperate Climate

Carpathians UkraineAlong the southern coast, the climate has a temperate, Mediterranean flavor. The winter only brings cool, not cold, weather to this region. Further inland, heading north, the winters become steadily colder.

Average annual temperatures in the north range from 41.9 to 44.6 degrees. In the south, it comes in at 51.8 to 55.5 degrees. Rainfall is highest in the north and west and lowest in the east and southeast. For instance, western Ukraine typically averages 47.2 inches while 15.7 inches is the norm in the southeast.

Holidays in the Ukraine

Ukrainians are fond of their holidays. Many are religious such as Orthodox Easter which occurs two weeks after the Catholic Easter. On Easter evening, people gather in the local church to spend the entire night, enjoying Easter cake and bottles of wine.

Other holidays continue the communist past. May Day is widely celebrated but its meaning is shifting from a workers theme to a nature theme. International Women’s Day is the first holiday in the spring, falling on March 8. It had its inception in the Soviet Union and the purpose was to make women’s salaries and working conditions equal to their male counterparts.

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Ukrainian Currency

The Hryvnia, has been the official currency in the Ukraine since September 2, 1996. The rate of exchange can be expected to be around 1 Hryvnia to $0.20 U.S. You can exchange currencies at most banks in the country as well as other authorized points.

There are bills for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Hryvnias and coins for 1, 2 ,5 10, 25, and 50 kopiyka. One kopiyks is worth 1/100 of a Hryvnia, similar to the American cent.

Food to Enjoy in the Ukraine

Many meals in the Ukraine begin with a steaming bowl of Borshch, which is basically a vegetable soup. It’s difficult to categorize, though, because each region has its own favorite version. Some sources count over thirty recipes!

Breads are an important part of Ukrainian cuisine. More than just a staple, it is also common to dress it up and serve it for celebrations, such as Easter.

The main course can be almost anything you want; It might be Pyrohy (baked or fried dumplings), Pechenya (veal, beef, pork, or lamb roast), or wild game when it’s available.

Dress – Everyday and Ceremonial

For everyday circumstances, Ukrainian dress mirrors European dress. But for special circumstances, folk costumes are worn. For women, this means long skirts worn with blouses, head wraps or scarves, and sashes. All of these are embroidered with time-honored folk motifs. Bright red is the most popular color used in folk dress.


Kiev UkraineTravel in the Ukraine is very accessible. All the major cities have airports, and the roadway system is highly developed to facilitate travel by rental car. Train travel is an enjoyable way to get around the country. Kiev's Railway Ticket Office can provide a ticket but the lines are long. It’s preferable to use a ticket agency.

Necessary Travel Documents

In 2005, travel laws in the Ukraine were revised to reflect the fact that visas are not needed for entry for citizens of the United States, the European Union, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The caveat is that the visit is for a period of time of a maximum of ninety days. A valid travel passport is required in all cases.

Visas are required for diplomatic travel, education, or employment.

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