Backpacking in Ukraine on a Gap Year

Countries  »  Ukraine

Ukraine borders Russia and is nestled in Eastern Europe between six other countries. The capital city, Kiev, is the 8th largest city in Europe and visitors can visit the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, St Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery and St Sophia’s Cathedral to see the incredible feats of architecture. Kiev is a wonderfully artistic city thanks to the Museum of Western and Oriental Art, the Kiev Fortress and the Mikhail Bulgakov Museum.

The people of Ukraine generally speak Ukrainian or Russian, but you’ll be able to get by on your English in the big cities. It pays to learn a little before you go to have a more enriching experience. The local currency here is hryvnia – there are plenty of exchange points in Kiev though. Food is fatty – think salted lard, meaty soups and dumplings – just follow the scent with your nose.

As for drinks, the Ukrainian beer is great quality and cheap as chips. While you’re there make sure to try kvas – a typically Slavic drink made from rye or wheat. Be careful of fake vodkas in Ukraine – there’s a lot of dangerous moonshine about.

Lviv in Western Ukraine is the second city to Kiev and is topping many a list of places to see right now. Close to the Polish border Lviv is full of university students, coffee houses and incredible buildings at every turn. The markets and Jewish area are beautifully unique.

Ukraine is cheap, has UNESCO World Heritage sites and incredible architecture – definitely a destination worth considering for your gap year travels.