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Overview

Europe’s largest country (Russia is bigger but isn’t completely in Europe) is a huge and diverse land that still lies well off the beaten tourist trail. Visitors who do make it here usually start in Kyiv, the capital and home to some of the Orthodox Christian world’s holiest sites. The Ukrainian-speaking west of the country is centered around architecturally stimulating Lviv with its Central European coffeehouse culture and forward-looking attitude. The Russian-speaking east is a throwback to the USSR with its mines, factories and nostalgia for Soviet days. In the far south lies the exquisitely beautiful Crimean Peninsula where dramatic ...

Europe’s largest country (Russia is bigger but isn’t completely in Europe) is a huge and diverse land that still lies well off the beaten tourist trail. Visitors who do make it here usually start in Kyiv, the capital and home to some of the Orthodox Christian world’s holiest sites. The Ukrainian-speaking west of the country is centered around architecturally stimulating Lviv with its Central European coffeehouse culture and forward-looking attitude. The Russian-speaking east is a throwback to the USSR with its mines, factories and nostalgia for Soviet days. In the far south lies the exquisitely beautiful Crimean Peninsula where dramatic mountainscapes back balmy Black Sea beaches and the ethnic Tatar population raises minarets into azure skies. In the far southwest the Carpathian Mountains are an outdoor playground of hiking trails, walking routes, low-key ski resorts and colorful folk traditions. In 2012, Ukraine is set to host the world’s third largest sporting event (along with Poland), the UEFA European Football (soccer) championships. This has led to some infrastructure modernization where the matches will take place (Kyiv, Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv), but the rest of the country remains as charmingly bucolic, excitingly off the map and astonishingly hospitable as it ever was.

Marc Di Duca
About the Expert

Marc Di Duca has written and updated more than 40 guides, mainly for Lonely Planet but also for AA, Thomas Cook, Berlitz and Bradt. Having spent the last 20 years exploring the former communist world, his main field of expertise is Eastern Europe and Siberia.

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Marc Di Duca for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Central and Eastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea on the south
  • Language: Ukrainian, Russian
  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia