Ukraine : Travel Information before you go!
5 hrs 15 mins. Kiev is 1, 324 mi from London.
Borispol international airport is located 25 miles from the centre of the Capital (roughly an hours drive). Allow plenty of time for baggage collection and formalities. It has a bureau de change and an information desk, car rental stands and shops. A bus service links the airport to Kiev, though it is fairly unpredictable. Illegal taxi drivers try to persuade travellers to use their cars, but we recommend the use of an official taxi with a meter. Allow £15 per trip.
As a result of high unemployment levels, the crime rate in the Ukraine has risen rapidly in the last few years, though it is still lower than that of Russia. Thanks to this elevated crime rate, the Ukraine has a higher police presence and an increasingly severe level of state control (in two years, 180 prisoners were sentenced to capital punishment). Urban criminal behaviour, particularly in Kiev, goes some way to justifying certain measures. Try to avoid the suburbs and going out alone out of the city centre, especially at night. Obviously, don't carry valuable items, and don't park your car in isolated areas. That said, risk of mugging is fairly low.
Ukranian is the official language, though Russian is still widely spoken amongst the population, particulalry in the east of the country and in Crimea. Romanian, Polish and Tartar are also spoken to some degree. English and French are spoken by a minority of the population, particulalry in the Tourism industry, and by big-city students.
Required travel documents for
European Union citizens do not need a visa to get into Ukraine. Your passport must be valid for six months after the return date.
Orthodox christians (86%), attached to the patriarchate of Kiev or Moscow, Catholics from the greek uniate faith (10%), as well as minority groups of Protestants, Muslims and Jews.
The currency is the Hyrvnia (UAH), pronounced "grivnia", which consists of 100 kopiyoks. Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) are accepted in larger hotels and can be used to withdraw cash in some banks in the cities. There are no cash machines here, so try to bring cash and travellers cheques in US dollars, as this is the most trusted foreign currency. Foreign exchange offices can be found all over the place and offer better rates than hotels. Try to avoid changing money on the black market as the rates are hardly any better and you are likely to be ripped off. Banks are open from 9:00am to 1:00pm, Monday to Friday, whilst foreign exchange offices have more flexible opening hours.
In Town: Kiev has a modern metro system, very easy to use and inexpensive, covering all areas of the Capital. Buses are available, but it is not always easy to work out their routes. Taxis are very common within the cities, and are very reasonable priced (between 5 and 20 hyrvnias depending on journey length).
On the train: the Ukraine has a very effective railway network, cris-crossing the whole country. Trains depart frequently, but are often overcrowded, old and slow. Alongside flying, the train is still the easiest way to move around the Ukraine. For long distance journeys, we would always choose berth sleepers as they are very comfortable. Prices are very reasonable.
By road: the road network is in a reasonable condition and Ukranian drivers are a real danger at times! Accidents are common. Outside of city centres, few buses travel between cities other than for very short journeys. It is possible to hire cars at Kiev airport as well as in the majority of larger towns (international driving license required). However, given the difficulty in navigating (cyrillic roadsigns) and the difficult journeys, it is more comfortable and cheaper to hire a taxi for the day (between 15 and 25 pounds) to travel round town and for other short journeys. Otherwise, take the train or plane for longer distances.
Flying: The national airline Air Ukraine offers daily flights between each of the country's important towns, at very reasonable prices (the same as a first class train ticket). Kiev's domestic airport is Jouliany, rather than the Boryspil International Airport.
No particular vaccine required, but it is recommended to be up to date for tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, typhoid fever, hepatitises A and B. Do not drink tap water, avoid raw vegetables and half-cooked meat. Sanitary conditions in the country are bad, thus in case of an accident, plan to subscribe to a repatriation and medical care insurance. During hikes in the forest, wear long clothes covering legs and arms, so that you do not get bitten by ticks, vectors of encephalitis. Finally, outside of Chernobyl nuclear power plant, radioactivity rates are now totally normal and don't represent any risk for travellers.
220 V, 50 Hz. Different electric plugs.
A total of 15.5 million total international tourists visit the Ukraine every year.
Taxes and tips
Taxes are included in the displayed prices, and tipping is not a common practice. Waiters, doormen and taxi drivers however appreciate a little treat.
From the UK : 00 + 380 + regional code (without the initial 0)
(Kiev: 44 ; Odessa : 482 ; Lviv : 322 ; Sébastopol : 692 ; Dniepropetovk : 562 ; Donetsk : 622 ; Kharkov : 572) + number.
From Ukraine to the UK: 8 + 10 + 44 + regional code (without the initial 0)
From one city or region to another: 8 + regional code with the initial 0+ number.
From within one city or region: number without initial code.