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Travel To Ukraine (Kiev)

My partner and I are wanting to take a 3 to 4 week excursion to the Czech Republic, Poland and other points going south (Budapest, Croatia, Vienna and Slovenia are all possibilities). This whole trip idea was brought on by the want to visit Kiev and the site of Chernobyl / Pripyat.

1) Does anyone have any recommendations of the best way to enter/leave Kiev to the other points discussed above?
2) As a Westerner, is there any fears of flying in/out of the region because of current tensions with Russia & US & Ukraine?

This trip would happen off season, in 2016. April or September. I am unsure as to when the Kiev leg of the trip happens in the itinerary. I am currently indifferent as to what city I am traveling from/to afterwards. My current idea is to fly directly from the States, to Kiev. Spend 2 or 3 days in Ukraine and then fly to Warsaw or Prague to continue with my Central Europe itinerary. Kind of a "get that bit out of the way" sort of thing. Continue via railway from there on out.

However, I fear that I will book flights in/out of Kiev and something happens where that part of the trip is not possible? I've considered beginning in Warsaw and booking train/plane passage at the last moment.

I'm rambling. Any recommendations, sample itinerary(s), advice would be greatly appreciated. FWIW, we are in our 40's, a hearty pair but this is our first Euro trip.

cheers

Posted by
7060 posts

Any advice anyone could give you now may, or may not, be valid a year from now. As of right now there is no problem flying into and out of Kiev. In fact my daughter will be doing that in August. I can come back and post how it went but that still may not be helpful for a trip a year from now.

Posted by
7 posts

Thats very true Nancy. Something I've considered. Maybe I am on the right track then? Just add extra time to a certain part of the itinerary and play it by ear? Perhaps book those legs only a week or two out from the holiday?

Posted by
6113 posts

Visiting Chernobyl is not straight forward and you need government permits which need 10 working days to process, so you can not book too last minute. Most of the Ukraine is out of bounds for UK citizens as our government advises against travel, except for the Kiev area, which your trip would fall into. Your trip is a long way off and all kinds of things could happen with the unrest within that timescale. You need to continue to monitor the situation there.

Posted by
7 posts

I'm certainly going to secure the guide and permits well in advance. The costs associated with that are pretty small and I feel like I could absorb the loss. I'm more concerned with booking train/airfare and then finding that parts of my itinerary are now ruined because a certain leg of my trip is all for not.

I think my first assumption is correct and that I should plan the trip, in advance, not including Kiev (except the specific Chernobyl bits) and when it comes time to travel, include it at the last minute.

Anyone have recommendations for getting in and out of Kiev from other parts of central Europe?

Posted by
1840 posts

The easiest way to get in and out of Kyiv is by plane. Surface transportation in Ukraine isn't condusive to quick or comfortable travel. The airport in Kyiv is more than fifty miles out of town and is named Borospil, which is also a neighboring small city. I would fly to Borospil, stay the night at the Borospil Airport Hotel and continue on the next day. There is a free bus that runs in a circle around the airport and the hotel. There appear to be three separate terminal buildings. You will have to ask someone where and how to go. There is not much English spoken at the airport but the desk ladies at the hotel do. There are buses from one of the terminal buildings that go into Kyiv and the train station from which you will probably continue north.

Posted by
137 posts

jpprovo,
The international airport in Kiev is less than 25 miles from the heart of downtown 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic. Public transportation is do-able, there is a train that runs from Boryspil Airport to downtown Kiev. There is also a streetcar and subway system in downtown Kiev but I do not think that they run out to the airport. Kiev is a beautiful city and there is a great museum there about Chernobyl but I'm not sure if you can get out to the Chernobyl site for a visit. Kiev has lots of churches and museums to visit. It's been seven years since my wife and I were there and we'd like to return. We flew in and out via Frankfurt and Munich, we also trained overnight to Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov. Take your own toilet paper and expect to pay for using all public restrooms. McDonalds restaurants were the most western of all restrooms and the cleanest. Kiev train station has a fantastic lounge upstairs where you can relax before catching a train. It costs a few Hryvna (monetary system- pronounced gryvna) but the exchange rate is 22 to $1 right now. If we were doing Eastern Europe like you're proposing I'd take the train, it's a great experience and you can book your own private room with 4 beds to keep from having to share the space for safety reasons. Have a great trip.

Posted by
334 posts

I was in Kyiv in May. We flew directly from the US to Kyiv and then took various trains on to Lviv, then Budapest, and then Zagreb. The easiest way to get in and out of Kyiv is by plane. I would book those tickets as you would for anywhere else -- not extremely far in advance, but not last minute either. I think I booked a couple months in advance. You should be able to find some good direct flights on Ukraine Airlines to get you to one of your cities in your central Europe itinerary.

Regarding the political situation, Kyiv is far removed from the front lines. Ukraine is a huge country and Kyiv is within the pro-Europe/pro-West section of the country. Something very major would have to happen between Russia and Ukraine to make your trip not possible. The current travel warnings are the standard "be smart, be aware, and don't get anywhere near eastern Ukraine." Kyiv will make the news when there is a protest in the central square of the city, but these events are few and far between.

If you do not speak Ukrainian/Russian or read cyrillic, I would recommend setting up transportation in advance. That will help resolve a lot of potential headaches. Once you pick a hotel in Kyiv, you can ask them about arranging for a cab or other transportation from the airport (about 30 minute drive). There are tour companies that specialize in tours to Chernobyl. I cannot vouch for any of them in particular as I didn't go to Chernobyl, but I would recommend going on a group/private tour considering all of the administrative issues of visiting Chernobyl as well as the language barrier. With only 2 or 3 days in Ukraine, you will want to make the most of it and having a guide of some sort will be invaluable.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you everyone for your responses. We are very excited about this trip. Especially now that we have some direction with this Kiev thing.

http://www.chernobyl-tour.com/

^^^ I randomly chose the above tour site. Within, many of my questions were answered and after sending them an email, they were VERY quick to respond. In my book, that’s a really good sign. I will probably hunt down some reviews, outside of their site, just to do my due diligence.

I think we are going to plan for a 2 day, private tour. They can assist with all transportation from the airport, to hotel, to the tour and all back again. They take care of all permits and since its private, we can customize our time within the zone. Overall, we are thinking of 3 days in Kiev. We will fly directly to Warsaw, spend 3 days there. Fly to Kiev, then fly to Krakow. From there, the trip will be all train. From Krakow, to Prague, to ? to ? to ? That’s where we start hitting gray area. Which is fine.

I will create a separate thread to discuss the trip as a whole and will post its location here. For those that are interested.

Thanks again everyone.

Posted by
1840 posts

We went from Krakow to Prague to Plzen to Vienna to Linz to Munich to Ulm, then up to Cologne and over to Amsterdam. That was part of a six week trip but you may not have enough time to do that. The train stops in Katowice between Krakow and Prague. You have to detrain and retrain there.