Western Ukraine (Ukrainian: Західна Україна) makes up about a quarter of Ukraine, is the wealthiest and most developed region and has the closest affinities with Central Europe of all Ukraine's regions.
|Chernivtsi Oblast |
|Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast |
|Khmelnytsky Oblast |
|Lviv Oblast |
|Rivne Oblast |
|Ternopil Oblast |
|Volyn Oblast |
|Zakarpatska Oblast |
- The Carpathians of Zakarpatska Oblast
- 1 Kamianets-Podilskyi — the historic Capital of Podolia, very picturesque medieval castle.
- 2 Podilski Tovtry National Park — there are 2977 kinds of plants from different climatic zones, including 521 kinds of trees and bushes, 395 kinds of fruit plants, 620 kinds of tropic plants, 111 kinds of health-giving herbaceous plants of local and wild flora, 19 archaeological sights, more than 302 historical-architectural sights.
Western Ukraine was under the reign of different, mostly European, countries throughout history and only relatively recently (mostly after WWII) got merged into the Russian circle of influence. Therefore, there are considerable minorities still living in the area as well as many remnants of the Central European/Turkish past of this region still to be seen in architecture, religious practices, languages cuisine and politics.
As of 2014, it was by far the safest region in Ukraine and has been spared from the ongoing conflict in the South and East.
Unlike in Southern Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian language is more predominant in this region, although everyone can also speak and write in Russian very well and are not very prickly about it. Nevertheless, learning a few basic phrases in Ukrainian will endear the locals. Most signs are only Ukrainian, and only a few also include Russian, something prevalent even as a Soviet province. Minority languages include Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and German. Foreign languages (apart from Russian) are mainly English and German. Polish is spoken well among people with mature memories of the interwar era.
- There is a direct train from Kraków to L'viv once a day, plus one with a change. A sleeper berth is required on the train, as only sleeping cars are carried across the border to Ukraine. Do not pay a cash 'reservation charge' to the Ukrainian conductor on the second train. Ensure you have your reservations for the second train in your possession and fully identifiable.
- Trains from Hungary and Slovakia come through Lviv, usually on their way to Kyiv. Train-fare from both countries is approx US$80 per person for a bed in a sleeping car. On the MAV website the round-trip price from Budapest is quoted at €64.40 but, when contacting the international rail office by phone in Budapest, the one-way fare was quoted at HUF12,600 (US$75/€50), however, when purchased at Keleti train station the price was reduced to roughly HUF11,700 (US$62/€44) (Jan 2009). Make sure to bring enough food and water for at least 12 hours (15 hours from Budapest).
- A quick and direct way to get to Romania is to take the 601L train from Lviv to Solotvino (Transcarpathia Oblast); it departs Lviv at 20:23 and arrives in Solotvino at 9:47. Cost of ticket costs less than €10 depending on whether one chooses 2nd class "kupet" or 3rd class "platzkart". Solotvino is a very small town, and the border station (which will be on the other side of the Tisa river, or the right hand side of the train) is not too hard to locate: when exiting the train, take a left until you approach the first road. At the road, take a right, and walk about 100 m before coming to a three-way intersection (there will be a monument in the middle. Take a left onto the road that heads down into the river valley, and you'll come straight to the border station. You'll be treated very professionally, and possibly with preference over the Romanian majority who cross the border to take advantage of the lower Ukrainian prices. Once you cross the border, you'll be in Sighetu Marmaţiei, a charming and secluded town, and from here one can take advantage of the direct train to Braşov/Bucharest that leaves that afternoon around 16:00 or 17:00. The direct train from Sighetu Marmatiei to Brasov/Bucharest is found under two different train numbers. The train leaves Sighetu Marmatiei at 17:11 (local time) and arrives in Bucharest at 09:56. You can get off at Brasov at 04:22. For more info check the Romanian Railways website.
- Lviv is a major railway hub; there are more some connections, for example to Russia, Croatia, Moldova, and Serbia.
- There are daily buses from Polish cities: Warsaw, Przemyśl, Lublin, Wrocław. It is possible also to get there by bus from other European cities.
- From Przemyśl there are 2 types of buses that regularly travel to L'viv. The first is the PKS (Polish Coach Buses) and the second is private buses.
- There is a daily night bus service provided by Eurobus from Kraków bus station to Lviv, departing at 21:50 from Kraków and supposed to arrive at 06:00 in Lviv (depending on delays at the border  [dead link]. The price is around 90 zł (Oct 2011). There is also a Eurolines bus (but not every day) from Kraków, departing at 11:30 to Lviv, arriving at 21:10. This bus continues onwards to Kiev to arrive at around 06:00 the next morning. The price to Lviv is around 75 zł and discounts (ISIC, etc.) apply (Oct 2011). The bus from Brest (Belarus) to Lviv departs every day on 08:45 from platform 7 and arrives in Lviv at 17:33. The price is around US$20. Most of international buses arrive at Stryisky bus station, on the outskirts of Lviv. To get to the centre you take trolleybus 5. Ticket: 1.25 грн (you must buy another one for big luggage) can be bought in a kiosk or from the driver.
- Countless buses connect Lviv directly with Prague and some other Czech cities, passing through Poland, but mostly not stopping there to take passengers. These can be best viewed using the Czech integrated timetable at http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz (English version also available and working). Advance reservation is recommended and for some buses also possible online, at the bus operator's website. Although these buses can get you from the West to Lviv far faster than trains, they are not meant for western tourists. Instead, they are targeted primarily at Ukrainian emigrant workers earning their living in the Czech Republic. As such, brace yourself for at least 10 hours in the jolly company of drinking and smoking (!) workers returning with their hard-earned cash back home.
Ukrainian roads are bad, and Ukrainian drivers have an aggressive driving style. When you drive into Lviv, make sure you have a good map because getting lost in this town is very easy.
Pay close attention to speed limits (which are often badly marked, with signs far off the road, covered with branches etc.), but the speeding fines are usually low if nothing else is wrong with your car. In towns, the speed limit is usually 60 km/h (40 mph). Speed limits on "nationals" (single carriageway countryside roads) is 90 km/h (55 mph). The poor average quality of the roads already acts as a speed checker. The speed limit on highways (motorways) is 110–120 km/h (75 mph).
Corruption is widespread among Ukrainian police. When you are stopped for speeding or other violations, officers might aggressively try and extract ridiculous sums of money from you (€100 and up), offering "reductions" if you pay on the spot (the proposed alternative being some unpleasant and more expensive way, all made up).
The highest legal fine in the Ukraine is the equivalent of about US$200. But the fine should be paid in the bank, not directly to police officer! So if you're asked for fine demand a written ticket for you to pay later instead. Don't let them intimidate you. It's very useful to have an embassy phone number handy for these cases (you should not under any circumstances travel around Ukraine without your embassy/consulate number handy anyway). If you mention your embassy/consulate, they'll let you off the hook quicker than you know it. At any rate, write down the officers' badge numbers, rank, plate number of the police car, and notify the nearest embassy/consulate in detail, to help fight these corrupt practices.
Take a train to Przemyśl near the Polish-Ukrainian border. From Kraków it costs about ~50 zł and takes between 4 and 5 hr. From Przemyśl you take a bus to Medyka at the border ('granica' in Polish) for 2 zł. Private buses are found just outside of the train station on the opposite side from the main bus station. They head to the border when they are full, which can take a while at night and travel to the border is about 15 minutes (about 10 km of rough road). The mini-buses drop you off at the 1 footpath to the pedestrian crossing Medyka-ShehyniPrestatyn.
Pedestrian crossing: Queues at the border crossings can be unpredictable and hellish. If you do encounter a queue and are in a hurry, get the guards attention, explain your situation and they will more than likely let you go through immediately. Be polite! 30 minutes from Medyka to Sheheni (Шегині) on foot is now the norm.
There are lots of "ants" - these are people who cross into Poland with relatively cheap Ukrainian cigarettes and spirits, then buy meats and cheeses at low EU prices and return to Ukraine to sell them for a profit. Everyone has to pass through a turnstile and the bulky bags and suitcases they carry are too big to fit. There is a huge log jam of people trying to fit their bags through that turnstile and ugly words are common. Tourists with backpacks are sometimes let through by the "ants".
On the Ukraine side private buses can be taken to Lviv; these take about 1.5 hours, and can be found at the bus station around 300 m up the main road, past all the shops, on the first major road to your left. Right outside the border you will probably meet touts who will tell you that they have best prices and invite to their cars and buses, this option may be faster but is definitely more expensive. The price for a bus from the station is 24.5 грн (Apr 2013); the buses are often packed and can be uncomfortable at times. There are no ATMs in Sheheni. However, there are lots of money changers, so make sure you bring enough currency of some sort to pay for your ticket to L'viv.The bus from Shehyni will most likely arrive next to the main train station in Lviv.
The total cost for this route is approximately €15 and maybe less if you have a student card. It is around half the price of the next cheapest option. Whether to take it depends on your stress tolerance, Polish language skills and ability to push and shove at the border, but it's an adventure!
- 1 Belz (Ukrainian: Белз, Polish: Bełz, Yiddish/Hebrew: בעלז) (3 km from the Ukrainian-Polish border, 12 km from Chervonograd and 25 km from the district center - Sokal). day trip. Sights: Arian Tower (1606) only survived part of a medieval fort; the Dominican Sisters Monastery, (1647, rebuilt 1743, 1861); St. Paraskeva Church, with a bell tower, built in 18th century; Ancient Settlement Archeological Site of Belz (old city, probably founded in 1088); Nicholas Cathedral (1926), Church of St. Valentine, (built in 1907-11, neo-gothic style); Jewish cemetery; Bandery villa.
- 2 Chervonograd (Червоноград) (73 km North from Lviv). Good day trip. Sights: A branch of the Lviv Museum of the History of Religion (Potocki Palace), the St. Dukha Church (the St. Vladimir church), the St. Yury Basilian monastery (1771-76); Bernardines monastery (1692-1767) 21 B.Khmel'nyts'kogo st.; Potocki's palace (1736-57), 10 Shashkevycha st. built in baroque and classicism style
- 3 Brody (Ukrainian: Броди, Polish: Brody, Yiddish: בראָד) (North-East about 90 km from Lviv - Take a train to here). Good day trip. St. Yuriya Church (Церковь св. Юрия), built at the beginning of the 17th century, restored in 1867; Palace of Pototskyi Count (1630-1635), History Museum, Ruined Big Synagogue (1742), Palace of Tyshkevich is built in 1909, in English style.
- 4 Drohobych (Ukrainian: Дрогóбич; Polish: Drohobycz). Good day trip. St. Apostles Peter and Paul Monastery), Vultsa Stryiska, 1; St. Bartholomew Catholic Church with the former defence tower now the bell tower of the St. Bartholomew church; Palace of Arts Local Museum, Bruno Shults (Polish Writer) Museum, Vultsa I. Franka, 24; Picture gallery, Sichovykh Striltsiv, 16; Church of Holy Exaltation Cross (Церква Воздвиження Чесного Хреста), 1661, Vulitsa Zvarits'ka, 9
- 5 Horodok (Gorodok, Ukrainian: Городок, Polish: Gródek Jagielloński,), Horodok Raion, Lviv Oblast (West 25 km). A good day trip. Visit: John the Baptist Church (1755)
- 6 Krekhiv monastery (Ukrainian: Крехів, Polish: Krechów), Kozulka settlement (25 km NW at northern rim of the Yavorivskyi National Park). day trip.
- 7 Olesko (Ukrainian: Олесько; Polish: Olesko; Yiddish: אלעסק Alesk) (E ~60km - take bus toward Brody or Dubno). Good day trip. See here: St. Joseph Church and monastic cells of the monastery of capuchins (1838); the Castle, Vulitsa Zamkova, 34 (14-17th centuries); take a walk in the Castle Park (13 ha); right the next is the Capuchin Monastery (1700s); visit the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Vulitsa T. Shevchenka, 59
- 8 Pidhirtsi (Ukrainian: Підгірці; Polish: Podhorce) (80 km east of Lviv, ~2 грн by bus). A good day trip to see the Konietspolskikh Castle (замок Конецпольських), 1635-1640; Pidhoretskyi Landscape Park (17 ha); St. Joseph Catholic Church (Костел св. Иосифа), 1765; Plisnesk Archeological Site, 7-13th centuries; Cells of monastery (Келії Підгорецького монастиря) 18th century, Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos? (Церковь Рождества Богородицы), part of the former Vasylyi Monastery (1180)
- 9 Rava-Rus'ka (Ukrainian: Рава-Руська, translit. Rava-Rus'ka; Russian: Рава-Русская, translit. Rava-Russkaya; Polish: Rawa Ruska; Yiddish: ראווע, Rave), Lviv Oblast (~50 km NE of Lviv). St. Michael Church and monastic cells of the Franciscan Abbey (Костел Св. Михайла та монастирські келії монастиря ордену Реформаторів), the first wooden chapel, built here in 1725. St. Joseph Catholic Church from 1843 with the miraculous icon of Mother of God (1670s). French Second World War soldiers' cemetery.
- 10 Sambir (Ukrainian: Самбір, Polish: Sambor) (75 km SW from Lviv - train connection). Good day trip. Sights: Town hall (Самбірська ратуша), Square Rynok, 1; St. Ivan Church, Street Pushkina, 7; Bernardine monastery (Монастир бернардинців), Street A. Mitskevycha, 5-A; Nativity Church (Церква Різдва Пресвятої Богородиці), built in 1738.
- 11 Slavske (Ukrainian: Славське, Polish: Sławsko) (120 km S-SW of Lvov (Skolivskyi Raion) - take a train to here). Good day trip. Take a chair lift on Trostyan mountain for a good walk; Visit the Cave of Painted Draw-well. Cheap accommodations: Al'piis'kyi dvir Guesthouse (Пансионат "Альпийский двор") Tel +380 67 6727230; Rozhanka Resting house (База відпочинку "Рожанка") north-east 2 km. Tel. +380 32 298-5331. Lys Mykyta Cottages Resting house (Котеджі "Лис Микита"), Franka str., 59А Tel. +380 50 334-8295. U Lili ta Yaroslava B&B (Приватна садиба "У Лілі та Ярослава") Tel.+380 67 977-3598; Cottage Zyhva (Котедж "Зигва"), +380 32 514-2578. U Tetiany Hotel (Мини-отель "У Татьяны") Tel.+380 32 514-2332. Sights: Carpathian Museum of the liberation struggle (Карпатський музей визвольної боротьби), Sichovykh Striltsiv Street, 2. Tel.+380 97 333-4630; Assumption of the Virgin Mary church Church (Церква Успіння Пресвятої Богородиці), T. Shevchenka street., built in 1901.
- 12 Stare Selo (Ukrainian: Старе Село; Polish: Stare Sioło; literally, "old village"), Pustomyty Raion (25 km SE). Castle (Старе Село замок), 1584-1654
- 13 Svirzh (Ukrainian: Свірж), Peremyshliany Raion (40 km SW - Direct public transport almost (nonexistent) take any minibus or bus toward Rohatyn and get off at Bibrka on H09 hwy or at Peremyshlyany on T1414 further eight km from both). Sights: Assumption of the Virgin Mary church (костел Успіння Богородиці), 1546, early 17th century. 1770s; Defense tower (ruins), grotto (оборонна башта, грот), 1484, Svirzh castle (Свірж замок), 1484-1660s.
- 14 Zhovkva (Жовква), Zhovkva Raion (25 km North). A good day trip from Lviv. Visit the Monastery
- 15 [dead link] Zolochiv (Золочів) (70 km east, Zolochiv Raion, Lviv Oblast - train station 2 km south from the town). Good day trip for visiting: Ascension of Virgin Mary church + cells (костел Вознесіння Діви Марії + келії), 1731-1763; Castle (Золочів замок), 1634-1686; Arsenal (арсенал), 15th century.; Polish cemetery (польський цвинтар).
- 16 Trukhaniv (Труханів), Skolivskyi Raion (108km S of Lvov). Good day trip. Rocks and cave of Dovbush (six km from here), The bottom edge of the village is a picturesque waterfalls cascade, the Sukilski waterfalls, also in the village is a St. Michael Church built in 1840.
- 17 Truskavets (Трускавець), Lviv Oblast (70 km SW - take a train to here). Good for a day trip from Lviv
- 18 Univ monastery (Унів, Міжгір’я?), Peremyshlians'kyi Raion, Lviv Oblast (40 km east - take a bus or minibus to here). Founded in 1390s. It consists of church, partly saved fortress walls with two north and south-west towers (15th century), building of monastic cells (17th-19th centuries) and house of metropolitan (19th century). Good for a day trip from Lviv.
UNESCO World Heritage SitesEdit
- See also: UNESCO World Heritage List#Ukraine
- 3 Verhovinsky (Національний природний парк «Верховинський»), Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Verhovinsky district, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Founded: 2010. Area: 12023 hectares. The main highlights are Chyvchyn and Hryniava forested mountains, just for skilled trekkers or with guided tours. River Cheremosh offer some watersports options. Park Office in Verkhnii Yaseniv villege 5 km east from the park.
- 4 Vizhnitsky (Національний природний парк «Вижницький»), Chernivtsi Oblast, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Founded: 1995. Area: 7928 hectares. Ecological trails for walkers 3-15 km 1-8 hours and an eco-tourist route 164 km by car one day long start from Chernivtsi. For campers there are two simple recreation points in the park area, with limited facilities.
- 1 Karpatski Meadows Mountain Hotel and Sportcomplex (Гірський готель Карпатські Полонини), Drohobytska raion, Lviv Oblast (on the Hill of Tsyuhiv - from Lviv 123 km SW (buses to Oriv 6 km W daily four). Horse riding and riding in a carriage, mountain biking, archery, paintball, rope town, mountain and cross country skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, ice hockey.
- 2 Volovets Skiarea, Volovets Raion, Zakarpattia Oblast (take a train from Lviv 160 km SW), ☏ . Play Eco Tourism Complex (База відпочинку Плай), +Tel.+380 3136 22585, +380 3136 23399.
- 3 Volosyanka Winter Resort, Skolivskyi raion, Lviv Oblast (take a Mukacheve direction train from Lviv to Slavske further 10 km by bus or taxi). Zahar Berkut Complex. Excursions to Lake. Synevyr, High Verkh Mount, Kamyanka falls, Dead Lake.
- 4 Pylypets Mountain Resort Area (Гірськолижний курорт Пилипець), Mizhhiria Raion, Lviv Oblast (20 km east from Volovets). Magura Mountain hotel complex (База відпочинку "Магура") Tel.+380 67 3441217, +380 95 6007715, +380 67 3127223 and Zatyshok Resort (База отдыха "Затышок") Tel.+380 3146 25135, +380 50 4639171, +380 44 2276133.
Smuggling is a fact of life between Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine. The harsh economic situation in these two respective regions forces many into the trade, involving people of all ages. You may witness individuals unscrewing panels and pulling out plastic-wrapped cigarette cartons, and may even be asked to politely move to enable access to a hidden cavity. Similarly if you decide to use the toilet you may find it blocked with cartons of cigarettes and your seat may feel uncomfortable if someone's removed the soft filling and replaced it with cigarettes. The key here is to exercise your common sense. These people are only doing their 'job' and thus should be treated with respect. There is no need for alarm! In fact it can be fascinating watching just how many cigarettes a single train carriage can hold and later watching as everything is removed on arrival in the EU. Border guards may ask you if anyone has been smuggling but the best response is to claim that you were sleeping or pretend not to understand.
You are legally allowed to bring through the EU border 40 cigarettes (two packs) or 20 cigarillos or 10 cigars or 50 g of smoking tobacco and 1 l of spirits (above 22% alcohol) or 2 l of alcohol (e.g. sparkling wine below 22% alcohol) and 4 l of non-sparkling wine and 16 l of beer. If you are below 17 years old it's half of these amounts.