Visit best places in Ukraine in winter
Looking for the best places in Ukraine to celebrate Christmas? Places that will amaze you with their natural beauty, rich culture and then immerse you in a winter fairy-tale with true Christmas magic? Here are Ukraine’s top destinations to explore:
The Carpathian Mountains, a perfect, wild nature spot
Take a deep breath! Welcome to the Carpathian Mountains!
The Carpathians are, without a doubt, a place of power. It’s a crinkled region of forested hills, fast-flowing rivers, and mountain lakes. The fresh air of dense pine forests and adorable alpine villages beckon travellers from all over the world.
If you consider choosing the Carpathians, you definitely won’t be disappointed. The sprawling snow-covered trees among misty hills, together with the beauty of the majestic mountains and the pleasant scent of pine needles, will fill your holiday with tranquillity, harmony and inspiration.
You can opt for a peaceful holiday, away from tourists and vigorous activities, heading to small Carpathian towns or villages as Mykulychyne, Vyzhnytsa, Slavske or Solotvyno. Here you can enjoy the local life atmosphere staying in small wooden cottages, offered by locals. Cosy days filled with family warmth, the Christmas spirit and the sound of crackling wood in the fireplace are guaranteed!
If you are more about extreme vacation, the Carpathians will definitely offer you a vast range of winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, or even driving a quad bike. Alternatively, you can also combine your holiday with short hikes in the mountains and try horse or sleigh rides.
You can also get to the top of the Pip Ivan Mountain and check out the observatory. It was built in 1938 and served as an astronomical and meteorological station. Or you can rent a cottage next to Synevyr Lake, a real natural wonder of Ukraine formed about 10 thousand years ago.
Feel the authentic colourful folk culture in Yaremhe and Vorokhta. Both are top tourist destinations in Ukraine. What about local food? Feast on local specialities, including banusz (creamy cornmeal topped with sheep-milk cheese, pork rind, and mushrooms) or special mushroom broth in Hrybova Hata restaurant.
Have you ever tasted Ukrainian wine? Visit Chateau Chizay, a unique centre of winemaking surrounded by 272 hectares of vineyards near the town of Berehove in Transcarpathia. These vineyards respect local traditions but have been educated by the best modern winemaking in Europe. But, of course, you can’t leave the Carpathians without tasting the traditional mulled wine – a fragrant hot drink with various spices such as сinnamon, ginger, star anise, nutmeg, orange peel, cardamom, cloves and allspice.
Located in the heart of the Carpathians, Bukovel is one of Ukraine’s top recreation centres. It is easy to get there from either Lviv or Ivano-Frankivsk international airports. Bukovel has a well-developed infrastructure and offers a wide range of activities for wellness and SPA activities.
Don’t miss a chance to participate in an indigenous Transcarpathian ritual of bathing in vats. There is no equal treatment to bathing in vats in terms of the health benefits for the body. You should definitely explore an open-air year-round pool with regulated temperatures at the VODA club.
The Carpathian Mountains, one of our best places to visit in Ukraine, are already waiting for you this season!
Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine
Visit Kyiv, where the rhythm of history meets a modern urban vibe! It’s #KyivNotKiev, by the way! Ancient (more than 1500 years!). Trendy. Ageless. Winter in Kyiv is a perfect time to stroll the snow-covered streets and see the familiar sights in the atmosphere of a Christmas fairy-tale.
Feel Kyiv’s timeless spirit in the very centre of the city by checking out St. Sophia Cathedral, the Kyivan Rus monument of architecture, and monumental paintings dating back to the 11th century. You can also check out St. Andrew’s Church, a rare masterpiece of rococo architecture that stands on a hill in the historical centre of Kyiv with a fantastic view of the Dnipro river.
Want to try local Ukrainian food? Borscht, varenyky or Chicken Kyiv (often called Chicken Kyiv)? Ukrainian restaurant SHO is an excellent place with an authentic interior providing a perfect backdrop to try traditional food.
Explore more with Kyiv Food Market, a modern city space with lovely terraces that gathers more than 20 different restaurants under one roof. Then, try some Ukrainian wine at Like a Local’s wine bar, the first wine bar that gathered 50+ Ukrainian wines from 13 wineries.
Another location worth visiting in Kyiv is VDNG, a masterpiece of Soviet neo-Baroque architecture and a big city hub with cafes, a concert hall, outdoor stages, a spherical cinema, a horseback riding school and a huge park zone. This winter, the area will be transformed into a fairy-tale town, starting its work on December 11. Twenty fairy-tale entertainment locations will be located on VDNG, including The magical glasshouse with Christmas decorations, The New Year Museum and The Fantastic Park.
A 15-meter-high Christmas tree will become the main decoration of the central square. In addition, the skating rink will increase to 2,500 square meters, making it one of the largest skating rink areas in Europe. Moreover, organizers will also surprise visitors with a fairy-tale musical ‘The Magic Tale of Winterland.’
For those who prefer a calmer holiday or just want to have a day off away from the Kyiv cold, the capital could show you an alternative side to the city culture. Try to explore Mystetskyi Arsenal, Ukraine’s flagship cultural institution, that since 2003 represents iconic works of contemporary art, literature and museum development.
Feel the city vibe with KYIVNESS, a vintage market that has grown into a major progressive event, joined by media, lectures, and a series of urban events. This December, it will host a Curated market, ‘Christmas Intermezzo’, where you could immerse in fashion culture, enjoy atmospheric music and taste local food and drinks.
Familiarizing yourself with the Kyiv fashion world, do not miss a chance to discover more about Ukrainian fashion designer Ruslan Baginskiy and his iconic hats at the store in Kyiv. Gunia Project presents unique ceramics, accessories, and other items embodying traditional ethnic culture. They make great modern souvenirs from Ukraine that perfectly fit the needs of everyday life.
Visit Kyiv and get a perfect getaway for your weekend!
Lviv, the cultural center of Western Ukraine
Lviv is definitely among the best places to visit in Ukraine. It is bursting at the seams with cultural life. It’s a city of legends. Fantastic architecture, trams, a myriad of coffee flavours, bars with homemade liqueurs, tiny courtyards, and cobbled streets, a prominent tech hub. Lviv is a place that will inspire you.
Each season Lviv is a place of incredible charm and fragrance – it smells like coffee and chocolate, as mysterious history and culture. But it’s exceptionally bright and magical in winter.
So definitely the first place to visit during your Christmas holidays is the Christmas market, which is traditionally located on Rynok Square and Svobody Avenue. It was firstly organized in 2009 and runs from mid-December to mid-January. The market is filled with colourful stalls selling traditional food and drink, Christmas souvenirs, handcrafts, books, artwork and sweets. This year’s Christmas market will have changed format, which requires all visitors to wear masks and keep their distance.
Just thinking of the Christmas spirit, the aroma of coffee and chocolate comes immediately to mind – and this is exactly what Lviv is about!
The atmosphere of winter Lviv will definitely become a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s history and culture. There are 60 museums and 104 cathedrals and churches. First, take a walk in the city centre and enjoy the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet, a shining example of the Neo-Renaissance style in architecture. Then go straight to the Market Square at the historic centre of Lviv, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Finally, enjoy the wonderful view of the city from the top of the Ratusha (City hall) opened in 1851.
Coffee culture is like a particular religion here. Lviv has long been known as the coffee capital of Ukraine. Legend has it that a Lviv native first introduced coffee into the Viennese culture, thus making the city the spiritual home of Eastern European coffee culture. Try some coffee at iconic Svit Kavy, or go to Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture to get some coffee spiced with adventure.
Since the Middle Ages, Lviv has been well-known for its chocolate. Have a taste at the Lviv Handmade Chocolate shop. Lviv’s local speciality is ‘syrnyk’, a Ukrainian-style cheesecake made from fresh cottage cheese. Lviv is the culinary capital of Ukraine with an extraordinary number of catering places of high service and amusing concepts.
Despite coffee- and chocolate-oriented places, literally, you can find some cafes or restaurants with their own atmosphere and conceptual features in every corner of Lviv. That’s why you should definitely put in your Lviv bucket list Kryivka, Hasova Liampa, Pid Zolotoiu Rozoiu and Dim Lehend (The House of Legends)
Baczewski Restaurant is a place that transfers visitors into the merry Lviv at the beginning of the last century. It promotes local traditions and tells the city’s history and, of course, Galician cuisine. Try some juicy pork ribs at the restaurant called Arsenal Ribs and Spirits. Don’t be surprised — the waiters don’t serve you with any cutlery, so you eat with your hands. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Try the taste of Lviv beer. Lvivske is the oldest brand of Ukrainian beer and has been produced since 1715. It is brewed according to a traditional recipe that has not changed for almost 300 years. Visit Beer Cultural Experience Center Lvivarnya to plunge into the history of production and consumption of this drink. Or try some cold craft beer at Beer Theatre Pravda, which has won 14 world beer awards.
And one more thing to get a feel for Christmas Lviv is to amuse yourself on the Lviv skating rink. This is definitely the best place to enjoy the magical family atmosphere or have some fun with your friends!
Kamianets-Podilskyi, winter fairy-tale
Kamianets-Podilskyi is a city that is beautiful at any time of year – a city where you could ‘taste’ heroic history as well as immerse yourself in a colourful Christmas fairy-tale.
Definitely, the first place to visit is Kamianets-Podilskyi castle – a real snowy kingdom with a great historic legacy. Under a blanket of snow, the castle is especially magnificent. And just the evening lights turn on – the castle turns from a defensive structure into a castle from fairy-tales and films – just like Disney’s famous castle or the mysterious Hogwarts.
The Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle has many fascinating and mysterious rooms, which begs itself to be explored. Here on Christmas Eve you can have fun, drink mulled wine and even take part in historical action.
Walking around the city you will see the Cathedral Church of Paul and Peter the Apostles with its famous frescoes and unique organ, the Franciscan Church, the City Hall, St. George’s Church and the Armenian Quarter. If you may opt for the cultural aspect, visit the Museum of Antiquities and the Art Gallery.
Experience the true natural beauty of Kamianets-Podilskyi by heading to the Vrublevetskyi Forest located in the hills at the confluence of the Tarnava and Dniester rivers. It is a state botanical natural monument of local importance that spreads over 72 hectares. Its beautiful landscapes have a particular atmosphere in winter, turning the forest into a Christmas fairy-tale.
Come and experience such a diverse and breath-taking Kamianets-Podilskyi! Ukraine’s best places to visit are already waiting for you.
Text by Olesya Mazepa