A country whose national anthem is ‘Ukraine Has Not Yet Died’ may no seem the most uplifting destination, but Ukraine rewards travelers with hospitable people, magnificent architecture and miles of gently rolling steppes. Nearly every city and town has a centuries-old cathedral, exquisite mosaics, and many have open-air museums of folk architecture. Kyiv is the cosmopolitan capital with bustling streets and an energetic nightlife juxtaposed against glittering onion domes. The food will stick to your ribs, and you’ll be humming bandura tunes for weeks.
April to June
Seeing mummified monks by candlelight in the underground passages of the Caves Monastery in Kyiv Being dazzled by St Sophia Cathedral’s sparkling domes in the nation’s capital Reserve Living like royalty Lviv’s raelt-20th-century hotels; don’t miss a night at the opera Enjoying a champagne picnic on Odesa beach (strictly Odesan champagne only!) Cutting a hole in the city crust of the Black Sea in winter and catching your dinner
Read Everything is llluminated by Jonathan Safran Fore which recounts this American author’s journey to find his family in the Ukraine
Listen to the soaring notes of the all-male Ukrainian Bandura Chorus, a professional orchestra who perform traditional choral and bandura music
Watch Zemlia (the Earth), a 1930 classic by Alexander Dovzhenho considered a milestone in cinematic achievement
Eat bowls of soul-warming borsch, or the addictive varenyky (boiled dumplings served with cheese or meat)
Drink vodka-the word comes from voda (water), and translates roughly as ‘a wee drop’
Dobry den’ (hello, literally ‘good day’)
Cossacks; pysanky-the beautifully painted eggs; proud singers; lax anti-money laundering laws; ice fishing, islated ski slopes; Chernobyl; Soviet architecture; borsch; Orthodox churches; rugged mountains; traditional folk culture;icy temperatures; big furry hats
Nearly 3000 rivers flow through Ukraine; chicken Kiev was invented in New York
The heart and soul of Ukrainian folk music lies in the legendary bandura or kobza player, made famous by Shevchenko’s first book of poems kobzar (The Bard). Kobzar was named after 16th and 17th wandering minstrels whose songs and ballads of heroic tales and poems were narrated to the accompaniment of the kobza, a lute-like instrument. Welcomed everywhere, the kobza player was the sacred keeper of Ukrainian folklore and Cossack legends.