travelling

The place to leave your heart

26.07.2013 | Leonid Uzvar

The best summer vacation destinations in the western parts of Ukraine

Summer vacationing in the Carpathian Mountains in the west of Ukraine is still not as popular as the sea coast of Crimea. Nonetheless, conditions for recreation in the mountains are improving by year. The local prices are quite affordable and the climate is mild. That is why a trip to Carpathians could be an excellent alternative for those who are tired from the summer heat


Where to go

Slavsko. This village is located in a cozy mountain valley, where the rivers Opor and Slavka merge. The beautiful landscape of the mountains, coniferous forests, crystal clear air and a developed infrastructure makes Slavsko one of the most attractive summer vacation destinations in the Carpathians. At your service are numerous vacation homes (from UAH 150), hotels (from UAH 200) and private houses (from UAH 100). You can take a walk in the forest, pick mushrooms and berries, ride horses and ride on bicycles and go hunting or fishing.

Fans of extreme sports can go paragliding, ride quads or off-road vehicles around the nearby forests, take a cable car to Mt. Trostyan. There are also many other interesting places near Slavsko the Dovbush Rocks cave complex, Lake Khashchovanske, the cascade waterfall Kamyanka and the Tustan Fortress. If you are travelling by car, go along the Kyiv-Uzhgorod highway and 2 km from the town of Skole there is an exit to Slavsko. It is also very easy to get there by train (UAH 90-190): the town is located 120 km from Lviv and all trains coming from the east of the country stop there.

Yaremche. This quaint town is located at the foothill of the Carpathians on the left bank of the Prut River. It is considered one of the most well-known tourist destinations in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, offering many opportunities for rest and relaxation.

Yaremche is also known as the culinary heart of the Carpathians, where you can try authentic brynza (goat cheese similar to the Greek feta, goulash, kulish, kyslyak and other national dishes. In certain places, the hospitable local Hutsuls include these dishes in the price of accommodation.

It is also worth checking out the Carpathian National Nature Reserve, the Zhenetskiy and Probiy waterfalls and climb to the peak of the highest mountain in Ukraine Hoverla.

The souvenir market in Yaremche offering hand-made items is one of the key local places of interests. It resembles a museum of Carpathian art under the open sky. There you can buy wooden handicraft items, adornments made of marbles, metal and leather, as well as woolen socks, slippers, blankets, hats and gloves with Hutsul ornaments.

It is best to stay in Yaremche in a private house (from UAH 40 per person). You can get there by train (UAH 90-190) or bus (UAH 200-250). Those travelling by car should follow the routes: Kyiv Khmelnytskiy Ternopil Buchach Yaremche or Kyiv Rivne Ternopil Buchach Yaremche.

Kosiv. This town is one of the most famous Carpathian resorts located at the foothill of the Bukovyna Carpathians 35 km from Kolomiya. The favorable climate, small and clean river Rybnytsya and the absence of industrial facilities make this resort town ideal for green tourism.

Kosivs public market is particularly popular. It is known beyond the borders of Hutsulshchyna for its widest selection of ceramics, carpets, embroidered shirts, ironworks, leather and fur.

In the town and on its outskirts there is a wide choice of accommodation: hotels from UAH 170 per night, recreation centers from UAH 50 per person, boarding houses from UAH 130 and private homes from UAH 40 per person. A half hour drive from Kosiv will bring you to the village of Sheshory, known for its splendid waterfalls and music festivals. You can take a bus to Kosiv from Kyiv for UAH 200-250 or to Ivano-Frankivsk for UAH 180-230.

Berehove. This town is located on the bank of the Virke River at the foot of a mountain with a vineyard 72 km from Uzhgorod. The local hot springs are unique in Ukraine similar to those in Kamchatka, Iceland and New Zealand. Experienced tourists compare this place to the famous Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic as the local thermal baths with temperatures of +350 C are equipped for all-year round use and are irreplaceable for treatment of diseases of the human locomotor and central nervous systems and skin diseases. The prices are UAH 50-70 per hour per bath.

While the town is relatively small, it has a 900 year history. The main language spoken in the town is Hungarian and all the local road and restaurant signs are in Hungarian, though the local people unwillingly switch to a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian.

Grapes at the local market sell for UAH 10 per kilo and cafes offer inexpensive and tasty Hungarian cuisine. You can find accommodation for as low as UAH 35 per person. So, if you have a low budget, this is an ideal choice. You can get to Berehove by a route taxi or a commuter train from Uzhgorod or Mukacheve.

Lumshory. This is a mountain village 52 km away from Uzhgorod. This village is a mineral-mud resort, where people get treatment in hydro-sulfuric springs. The key feature of Lumshory is the bathing in tanks with mineral water under which a fire is burned heating the water to +40 -450 C . When it gets too hot, you can cool off in the ice-cold Turychka River. Such baths improve the functioning of the locomotor system and the central nervous system. The price for such a bath for 5-6 people is around UAH 400.

Here you can also visit the ornithological reserve Falcon Rocks a place where birds of prey nest. But try not to get lost in the Holed Rock and take a walk to the waterfall or the Syni Bolota (Blue Swamps). Accommodation in the local hotels costs UAH 50-70 per person. It takes an hour to get to Lumshory by a route bus from Uzhgorod for UAH 30.

Vorokhta. The famous climatic resort Vorokhta is located 30 km from Yaremche. The low atmospheric pressure, crystal clear air and enhanced content of ozone help treat respiratory diseases. Summer in Vorokhta is all about long walks, swimming, rafting on a mountain river, climbing rocks and collecting curative herbs.

Those who are fans of exotic R&R should check out the arched bridges built ati the end of the 19th century. A short drive from Yaremche will get you to the famous Bukovel resort located in the village of Palyanytsya. In summer, many tourists visit this resort town and some stay in local homes for UAH 150 a night, while the rest stay in hotels in Bukovel for UAH 400 a night with spas, restaurants, mineral swimming pools and massage rooms. Here you can also go horseback riding or take a ride on a ski lift.

Local peculiarities

Several words should be said about the local restaurants. The food here is very tasty and, whats more important, freshly cooked. This means you will have to wait at least 40 minutes for the food to be served in local restaurants called kolyba), but it is totally worth the wait: banosh with cracklings, brynza cheese or mushrooms (UAH 13-17), river trout stuffed with shrimp (around UAH 45-50), Yaremche-style meat (UAH 35-40), tenderized steak stuffed with ham and cheese (UAH 25-30), potato flapjacks (UAH 15-20), pancakes with fillings (from UAH 10), ice cream with hot chocolate (UAH 10-15) and a huge selection of other fairly well known dishes. A breakfast for three will cost only UAH 100 and lunch UAH 120-150. So, if you are on a diet, forget about it and savor the delicious meals.

Noteworthy, parking at hotels is always free of charge, which is something unseen in Crimea, where half of the resorts do not admit cars to the territory or charge UAH 20-30 per day, despite the large amount of empty spots.

In general, you get an impression here that the locals feel somewhat awkward to take money from vacationers. Change in the restaurants is brought immediately, up to a kopeck and waiters agree to accept a tip without expecting it. Accommodation often includes the use of sauna, swimming pool, a billiards hall and a childrens playroom. Sometimes, it includes breakfast, though in that case each additional person in the room is charged around 25% of the price. For example, a double room with two breakfasts costs UAH 400 and for the third person and breakfast you will have to pay an additional UAH 100.

Use of the barbecue for those who want to charbroil shashlyk and alcoves is also free of charge. For comparison, in one of the complexes near Kyiv you are charged UAH 150 for using a rusty barbecue grill on the territory of a expensive in which accommodation will cost you UAH 1,500 a night. Local beaches are also totally free of charge and you can rent equipment for rafting.

There is only one drawback, though quite essential. Specifically, it is the language issue. The locals here do not speak English. Moreover, not even all Ukrainians can understand the local language. So, prepare to communicate in the most popular language in the world i.e. the body language.

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