The second-largest country in Europe after Russia also borders it to the east and north-east, which means that it’s located in Eastern Europe.
Ukraine isn’t exactly the first country that comes to mind when you plan to make your next trip, but it’s still home to some magnificent man-made and natural landmarks.
Even though the country is one of the poorest in Europe, it’s home to vast amounts of fertile farmlands, making it one of the largest grain exporters in the world.
This means that large parts of the country consist of big open spaces which are scarcely populated, a great contrast to the country’s largest cities Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best things to do in Ukraine, tourist spots that you must check out while you’re in the country!
1. Admire the Saint Sophia Cathedral
Saint Sophia Cathedral is arguably the most famous landmark in the capital city of Ukraine, Kyiv.
The building was named after the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and was originally completed in the 11th century.
It was the first structure in Ukraine to be ist on the UNESCO World Heritage list as well, something that happened in 1990.
The building is one of many structures in Ukraine that feature the distinctive combination of Byzantine architecture with Ukrainian Baroque.
This style is easily recognized by its amazing domes which are often gilded, as is the case with this fascinating church.
Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ukraine and it features a museum which details the history of the church and Christianity in the country.
Official website: Saint Sophia Cathedral and Museums
2. Stand in awe for the Motherland Monument
Very few monuments in the world are as prominent as the Motherland Monument in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
It’s part of a museum by the name of “National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War” and the museum tour literally ends near the foot of this immense statue.
The statue itself is made of stainless steel, was inaugurated on May 9, 1981, and stands 62 meters (203 feet) tall.
With the building below it included, it towers 102 meters (335 feet) above the city of Kyiv, an amazing sight to behold.
What’s remarkable about this sculpture is that the shield depicts the State Emblem of the Soviet Union, not exactly the best friend of the Ukrainian government at the moment.
This means that it’s an extremely controversial statue, yet a famous landmark in Ukraine’s capital and definitely worth a visit.
Official website: Motherland Motherland
3. Hike to the summit of Hoverla
Hoverla, also sometimes referred to as “Mount Hoverela,” is the tallest mountain in Ukraine and part of the vast Carpathian Mountains.
This huge mountain range covers vast areas in Central and Eastern Europe and is the third-longest range in Europe after the Ural Mountains and the Scandinavian Mountains.
The most famous mountain in Ukraine isn’t that high compared to the highest mountains in Europe as it stands just 2,061 meters (6,762 feet) above sea level.
This means that it’s very accessible to well-trained hikers, especially in the Summer due to the favorable conditions during this season.
It’s not advised to climb this mountain in the Winter because of the freezing temperatures. And yes, the views from the ceiling of Ukraine are magnificent, that’s for sure!
4. Enter the caves of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage together with the Saint Sophia Cathedral in 1990, and there’s no wonder why.
This structure was originally founded as a cave monastery in the year 1051 and has since been the most important location of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe.
It’s considered to be a sanctuary in Ukraine as well and has received a special preservation status which it was granted on March 13, 1996.
The buildings of the complex feature the state museum, the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic-Cultural Preserve, and the official seat of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The underground 11th-century cave system is one of the most remarkable tourist attractions you’ll ever come across.
The tunnels inside the caves are just between 1 and 1.5 meters high and between 2 and 2.5 meters high. The complex features multiple underground chapels and living spaces for the monks.
Official website: Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
5. Be baffled by the pink Koyashkoye Salt Lake
The Koyashkoye Salt Lake is one of the numerous pink lakes that can be found in countries all over the world.
It’s located on the Kerch Peninsula, the main peninsula of the larger Crimean Peninsula. Even though Crimea is part of Ukraine, it’s also claimed by Russia for strategic reasons.
The algae living in this extremely salty lake produce a red hue which makes this such a remarkable natural spectacle.
The color of the lake can range from pink to scarlet, a bright red color, depending on the amount of sunlight that the lake has been exposed to.
Because this is a relatively unknown tourist attraction, you won’t find huge numbers of tourists lining up here as well, making it an amazingly pristine piece of nature that is worth checking out while you’re in Ukraine.
Locals believe the lake has healing powers and the shores feature large chunks of crystalized salt that shine in the sun, quite a remarkable spectacle.
6. Potemkin Stairs
The city of Odesa is located in the southern part of the country and lies on the shores of the Black Sea, just west of Crimea.
It’s the third-most populous city in the country after Kyiv and Kharkiv and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country as well.
Because of its location, it’s often referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea.” It features multiple therapeutic resorts and beaches for tourists to sunbathe during the hot summer months.
One of the most famous landmarks in this amazing city is a huge staircase known as the “Potemkin Stairs.”
This staircase consists of 192 steps and was built between 1837 and 1841.
It has since become the symbol of the city and one of the most popular spots for tourists to take pictures, mainly because it offers amazing views of both the city and the Black Sea.
7. Admire the Baroque architecture of St. Andrew’s Church
The city of Kyiv is home to numerous remarkable structures, and one of these literally stands out from the rest for a couple of reasons.
St. Andrew’s Church is located on top of the Andriyivskyy Descent, a historic descent that connects the Upper Town district with the popular Podil district of the city.
This elaborately decorated Baroque church was completed between 1747 and 1754 and was remarkably designed by an Italian architect named Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-1771).
He was a renowned architect in Russia at the time and also designed the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, to name just a few of his masterpieces.
The church was named after the Apostle Andrew who is believed to have mentioned that this location would become the “cradle of Christianity in Slavic countries.”
Today, the structure serves its purpose as a museum which is part of the National Sanctuary “Sophia of Kyiv,” and has been since 1968.
Climbing this hill and admiring this fascinating building should be on the top of your list of best things to do in Ukraine, that’s for sure.
8. Walk around the historic Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square
Just about every city in the world has a historical center that features a large square. In Kyiv, this square is called Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
The square has had a turbulent past and has gone by multiple names throughout its history. Today, the square is often simply referred to as “Maidan,” which translates to “Square.”
The current name dates back to the year 1991 which was shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent declaration of Independence of Ukraine.
This also means that it has been the location of political rallies since then, including the 2001 “Ukraine without Kuchma” and the 2004 “Orange Revolution“, and the 2013-2014 “Euromaidan protests.”
Because people lost their lives during the brutal clashes of Euromaidan, other festivities that used to be held at the square have since moved elsewhere.
The most notable landmark on the square is called the “Independence Monument,” a victory column erected in the early 2000s to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the country’s independence.