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Explore Ukraine, a vast country which is still largely undiscovered and feels like one of Europe's last frontiers. Its Soviet history, stunning natural beauty and colourful traditions make it a truly unique travel destination.
Explore Tour Leader
12 - 18
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Ukraine has a temperate continental climate. Summers in are generally hot, sunny and less humid than in Central Europe, with temperatures normally between 18 to 25°C. In fact, the early autumn period is often compared with an Indian summer, dry and sunny. Winters are cold and snowy with temperatures averaging between -8 to -12°C. The wettest area in Ukraine is the Carpathian Mountains where it can rain at any time of year.
2 Pin Round
Kyiv: Chernobyl Museum entrance is 20 Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH) and a guided tour 520 UAH per group (for 1-10 passengers). Tour to Mezhygiria including transport, local guide and entrance fee from 840 UAH per person (minimum 4 passengers). Tour to Pyrohiv Open Air Museum including transport, local guide and entrance fee 700 UAH per person. Museum of the Great Patriotic War 50 UAH per person plus 315 UAH per museum guide. Odesa: Odesa Catacombs including local guide 700 UAH per person (minimum 4 passengers, duration approximately 2.5 hours). Number 411 Coastal Defence 700 UAH per person (minimum 4 passengers, duration approximately 3 hours). Day trip to the Dniester National Park including 3-4 hour boat trip, local guide, transport and entrance fee 1,260 UAH per person (minimum 6 passengers). Odessa markets tour including local guide and transport 935 UAH per person (duration approximately 6 hours). Seventh Kilometre Market including local guide and transport 700 UAH per person (duration approximately 3-4 hours). Shabo Winery tour including transport, tour and tasting 1,400 UAH per person (minimum 4 passengers, duration approximately 6 hours). Privoz and Dacha Restaurant gastronomic tour including transport, local guide and master class 1,120 UAH per person (duration approximately 4 hours). Lviv: Brewing Museum including local guide 700 UAH per person (duration approximately 2 hours). Chocolate Master Class including local guide 420 UAH per person (minimum 5 passengers, duration approximately 1.5 hours). Lytschkiv Cemetery including local guide 420 UAH per person (minimum 5 passengers, duration approximately 2 hours). Please note that in most museums in Ukraine there is an additional charge for taking photographs, so allow approximately an additional £10-15.00 for this.
July and August are the hottest months and lightweight cotton clothing is best. During spring and autumn temperatures can be lower or drop during the evenings and there is also a stronger possibility of rain, so pack layers. Rainwear may be needed at any time of year. A warm fleece/jacket is recommended for cooler evenings. During winter you should be prepared for snow and very cold temperatures, so it's advisable to dress in warm layers of breathable fabrics. You'll need waterproofs and plenty of warm clothing including a warm waterproof jacket (such as a ski jacket), jumper, fleece, gaiters or ski trousers, thick socks (including spare pairs in case your feet get wet) and thermal underwear. All visitors to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone must wear full length trousers (not shorts or skirts) and long-sleeve shirts/jackets and please avoid clothing with lots of zips or metal poppers. It's advisable to wash your clothes and to shower after your visit. We also recommend that you take old clothes that can be easily washed or even thrown away if necessary and a plastic bag to keep them separate from the rest of your clothing following the visit. Upon leaving the Exclusion Zone you will go through a monitor to check the radiation level on you, occasionally this reading may come back too high, and in which case, you may have to leave an item of clothing behind, as you won't be able to take anything that gives too higher reading outside of the zone. Women should bring a headscarf for religious site visits.
We recommend taking comfortable walking shoes for exploring and trainers or sandals for relaxing. If travelling in winter then your walking shoes/boots should have sufficient grip for icy conditions and be waterproof in case of snow. You may wish to bring a spare pair in case your feet get wet and your boots don't dry out overnight. In the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone you must wear closed toed shoes (not sandals or flip flops). We recommend using older shoes that can be easily washed or thrown away if necessary. In the Exclusion Zone there is often broken glass on the floor, so it is important to have shoes with sturdy tread. You may also want to bring a pair of slippers for your stay at the Chernobyl Hotel and on the overnight train, for going to and from the bathroom at night.
One main piece of baggage and a day pack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
We advise taking a water bottle for our included walks, sun glasses, sunscreen and a sun hat are all essential. An umbrella may also be useful at anytime of year and gloves, a woolly hat and scarf if you are travelling in autumn or winter. Whilst in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone we recommend carrying hand sanitiser, toilet roll and mosquito spray. We would also recommend buying any bottled water required before entering the Exclusion Zone. Please remember that you must keep your passport with you at all times, so you may find keeping it in a sealed dry bag useful. For the overnight stay in Chernobyl it is best to take a small overnight bag with you and to leave your main bag padlocked in the luggage storage facility at our hotel in Kyiv. During autumn and winter especially, the evenings can be cold and the heating at the hotel in Chernobyl is limited, so we'd recommend bringing warm nightwear and perhaps a blanket and hot water bottle. In case of emergency we also recommend that you carry a torch with spare batteries and sufficient medical supplies including a first aid kit and several days extra supply of any specific prescription medications that you require. You may find a head torch handy for on the overnight train journey.
For the overnight train journey we will use sleeper carriages with four bunk beds and bedding provided (two beds at floor level and two above) per compartment and with a shared toilet and wash basin in each carriage. There are no shower facilities on board. Luggage is stored under the bottom bunk beds and above the cabin door for the top bunks. There is the possibility that you will be sharing with non-Explore customers in the same cabin. Cabin allocations are mixed sex, so you could be sharing with both male and female passengers. There is no air-conditioning on board and it's not always possible to open the windows, so we recommend light weight bed clothes. You can experience authentic rail travel with the local people and it's a great way of getting from place to place during the night, so you maximise on the amount of time you have in each city during the day. Take snacks, drinks, toilet roll, hand sanitiser and an open mind with you for maximum enjoyment. We spend one night within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone at a simple hotel with three bathrooms shared between every five bedrooms. Bathrooms are equipped with a sink, shower and toilet. Bedrooms are simply decorated. The food served here will be traditional Ukrainian cuisine and there is a bar within the restaurant. In the evening the doors of the hotel will be locked at around 22.30 and we are not permitted to venture out into the Exclusion Zone without our guide being with us at all times. The television service here includes no English speaking channels, so you might like to bring a tablet computer, electronic reading device, MP3 player or pack of playing cards with you for evening entertainment.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Ukraine: UK, Canadian and US citizens do not require a visa. Australian and New Zealand citizens do need a visa to enter Ukraine. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. In addition you will be required to carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times in Ukraine for ID purposes. It is essential that you provide Explore with the correct passport information at the time of booking, as this will be required in order to pre-book train tickets and to gain Chernobyl Exclusion Zone permissions. Corrections and amendments will incur additional charges, so please double check that the information we have for you is up-to-date and correct, this includes your passport number, full name as per passport (including middle names), date of birth and place of birth; if customers renew or reissue their passports from the details initially given to Explore, train tickets must be cancelled and purchased again, which involves extra costs and may result in customers being in differing train carriages to the rest of the group. If you intend to renew your passport please let Explore know at the point of booking and please ensure that you have the new passport no later than 10 weeks prior to travel.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
We'll be using a range of public transport as well as charter buses to get around and we will do most of our exploring on foot in each place visited. Please pack light to ensure you can lift and store your bag on the overnight train and bring comfy walking shoes. Whilst in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone there are a number of rules in place to ensure your safety and it's very important that you follow all instructions given to you by your local guide. Every visitor must have a valid passport with them at all times and in order to be permitted entry to the Exclusion Zone you must be at least 18 years old. This restriction is due to the fact that the human body is still growing below this age and it's therefore more vulnerable to the effects of radiation. During the two days we spend in the Exclusion Zone you'll receive a dose of radiation comparable to a small dose from an X-ray scan or to several hours spent in an airplane at altitude. In numbers, you will receive 5-7 micro Sieverts of gamma radiation, which is a non-harmful dose of radiation. To put this into context most nuclear power plants around the world set a safety limit for their employees of 50-100 micro Sieverts per day. Whilst in the Exclusion Zone all our meals will be included to ensure they're from a safe source. You are not allowed to smoke, eat or drink in open spaces whilst here. You are not allowed to eat any berries or drink water from open sources such as wells (tap water or bottled water is fine). In the Exclusion Zone you are allowed to take photographs and videos of everything and can take tripods with you. The only exceptions are restrictions at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the guarded checkpoints. You are allowed to take pictures and video in front of Reactor Number 4 from a safe distance. Your guide will advise us of any places where photos aren't permitted. In the Exclusion Zone there may be rubble underfoot and not all stairs will have banisters, so you need to be steady on your feet. Please wear shoes with good grip and that support your ankles. We've been notified that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is occasionally being closed to tourists in order to be used as a training area by the Ukrainian military. Whilst this has only occurred three times in the past three months and hasn't yet affected any of our departures, we felt it was important to notify you of the small possibility that this could happen on your trip. In the majority of cases we will be notified two months in advance by the military of their intent to close off the Exclusion Zone. If we know this far in advance then we will endeavour to change the date of the trip or to alter the itinerary, so that we are still able to visit the site, as we understand that for most visitors this is the highlight of their holiday. Of course if we do need to change the departure date once you have booked your trip then we'll inform you as quickly as possible. Should you decide that you're no longer be able to travel on the new departure date or any alternative trip date, then you'll be entitled to cancel your trip and receive a full refund of the monies paid to Explore, though we hope that you will not find this necessary. Should the military not notify us of their intent to close the area within a reasonable time frame for us to amend your itinerary as per above - then we'll stay in Kyiv for an additional night rather than overnighting in the hotel in Chernobyl. During the two days that we'd normally be in the Exclusion Zone, as an alternative we'll go to visit the Mezhyhirya Residence Museum - the lavish property where Ukraine's controversial former president, Yanukovych resided before the 2014 uprising. It now houses the Museum of Corruption. We'll then get to participate in a varenyky making master-class. These dumplings are a Ukrainian speciality and come with a range of different fillings such as mutton, cabbage or sweeter varieties like cherry. On the second day we'll then visit the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, which tells the story of the German-Soviet War in iconic Brutalist style. There are over 300,000 items on display and the memorials here are spread over 25 acres. We'll also visit the Pirogov Open-Air Museum of Wooden Architecture, which is about 40 minutes' drive from the city. Set on the banks of Lake Myachino we'll be able see a variety of old Ukrainian village houses, chapels and churches that have been preserved to display how people used to live.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against hepatitis A and diphtheria. Check that your polio and tetanus vaccinations are up-to-date before travel. The UK Foreign Office currently recommends that you should consider whether to immunise against tickborne encephalitis and rabies. Consult your travel clinic for further advice. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider.