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How to Spend a Week in Northern Ukraine

River Psel, Ukraine
River Psel, Ukraine | © Людмила Гнипа / WikiCommons
Northern Ukraine is a destination for those who love natural beauty and religious architecture. This area is surrounded by dense forests, fields and parks and also boasts ancient churches and cathedrals that showcase the cultural and historical heritage of the north. Last but not least, it is home to the intimidating site of Chernobyl, which is a favourite destination for brave and curious travellers.

Days 1–2

Kiev

Being the capital of Ukraine, Kiev is an amazing symbiosis of activity and leisure, antiquity and modernity, culture and history. The city is beautiful at any time of the year, thus drawing visitors in immediately. Special attention should be paid to Kiev’s architecture – its religious structures in particular. Kiev Pechersk Lavra (the founding monastery complex of Kievan Rus), the 11th-century Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, and the 17th-century Saint Andrew’s Church are all must-visit spots. Most importantly, do not forget to stroll the streets of Kiev, as each of them has its own history and characteristics. You should also visit the museums and art galleries in order to get acquainted with Ukrainian folk and contemporary art.

Day 3

Chernobyl

Those who like to experience extreme emotions should book a tour to Ukraine’s haunting Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. This place witnessed one of the most horrific disasters in the history of mankind. On April 26, 1986, the power unit of the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded. It is comparable to the Japanese Fukushima-1 accident, as the catastrophe also received seven points out of a possible seven by the International Nuclear Event Scale. Nowadays, Chernobyl is a popular tourist attraction, the exploration of which requires a professional escort. Nevertheless, excursions are possible all year round.

Days 4–5

Chernihiv and Baturyn

At the very north of Ukraine, there are two cities to visit: Chernihiv and Baturin. The first one is a large administrative centre, which was first mentioned in 907 as the second largest city after Kiev. It has a lot of fascinating historical monuments, from the ancient cathedrals to the medieval fortifications on the hill. Nonetheless, the city can be discovered in 24 hours. Thus, the second day should be devoted to Baturin, which was the residence of the Left Bank Ukraine’s Cossacks. Its main attraction is the splendid 18th-century Kirill Razumovsky Palace — a part of the National Historical and Cultural Reserve ‘Hetman’s Capital’ now.

Trinity Monastery in Chernihiv © Valerii Sorokin / WikiCommons

Day 6

Sumy

The city of Sumy in the northeast of Ukraine is another settlement to check out. It is a beautiful destination with incredible historical sights and no less impressive nature, which make up a unique ensemble. Like many cities in Ukraine, Sumy also boasts numerous churches and cathedrals, such as the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Savior’s Transfiguration Cathedral, Illinskaya Church or The Blessed Virgin Mary Annunciation Church, and museums like the Sumy Local Lore Museum, the Chekhov House Museum or the Nikanor Onatsky Regional Art Museum. If you’re a fan of long walks, you can just wander through the town’s charming streets, exploring the monuments.

Ukrainian Academy of Banking of the National Bank of Ukraine, Sumy, Ukraine © Mykola Rykov / WikiCommons

Day 7

Zhytomyr

Located only 87 mi (140 km) from Kiev, Zhytomyr can be a nice destination for a one-day trip. It is an ancient city with an abundance of museums and architectural monuments from different historical periods. But the highlight of it is an amazing park zone that connects the city centre with its outskirts. If you’re tired of the restless hustle and bustle of the big city, Zhytomyr is a place to relax in nature while remaining close to all the conveniences of the contemporary individual.