On this nine-day, self-guided tour of Ukraine, you will visit three cities: Kyiv, Lviv, and Odesa. Begin your travels in the capital city of Kyiv, where you will learn about the city’s history in Independence Square and take a boat tour along the Dnieper River. Next, you will get to explore Lviv and all of its art-heavy influences and galleries, along with climbing the ruins of Lviv High Castle. Your last stop is in Odesa, where you can relax on the Black Sea beaches and enjoy an opera and ballet performance. Along the way, make sure to taste delicious confections and sip iconic cherry wine!

Highlights

  • Visit the historical monuments in Kyiv's Independence Square 
  • Experience the different art-influenced neighborhoods in Lviv 
  • Enjoy the various Black Sea beaches and accommodations in Odesa 
  • Indulge in regional sweet treats and Ukranian cherry wine 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Kyiv Kyiv
Day 2 Kyiv - Self-Guided Tour Kyiv
Day 3 Kyiv - Last Day and Travel to Lviv Overnight Train
Day 4 Arrival in Lviv Lviv
Day 5 Lviv - Self-Guided Tour Lviv
Day 6 Lviv - Last day and Travel to Odesa Overnight Train
Day 7 Arrival in Odesa Odesa
Day 8 Odesa - Self-Guided Tour Odesa
Day 9 Odesa - Last Day and Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Kyiv

Independence Square
Independence Square

Welcome to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine! When you arrive, a guide will take you to your hand-picked apartment, which will be your home for the next few days. Your accommodations will include a detailed guidebook that will help you map out your self-guided tour of the city.

There is a lot to explore in Kyiv, from historical sites to art galleries and the city’s beautiful waterways. Launch into the day over at Khreshchatyk, which was significant in World War II, and experienced widespread destruction, but has since been rebuilt. A lively area that is home to many street performers and musicians, the busy road closes on holidays and weekends for the enjoyment of spectators and visitors. Here, you will find Independence Square, which hosts the Monument of Independence. Erected in 2001, the tribute honors the separation of Ukraine from Russia. You will also find the Friendship of the Nations monument nearby, which, conversely, celebrates the 1654 integration of the two countries.

Then, walk over to Andriyivskyy Descent. This is one of the oldest streets in the city. You will find charming history here, from the iconic architecture style to the unique color schemes. Long ago, this is where many musicians, sculptors, and artists lived. Today, it remains a bohemian hub with a variety of art galleries, salons, art cafés, and shops selling items from local craftsmen. Make a stop at the One Street Museum, too, where you will find one-of-a-kind wares, including paintings, photos, and furniture representative of Kyiv’s decorated history.

For dinner, make sure to taste the local flavors, which range from Ukrainian cuisine to American, Georgian, Asian, and Mediterranean. A few eateries to bookmark include Imbir, Kanapa, and Carpaccio Bar.

After dinner, take some time to explore the famous nightlife scene of Kyiv. You can enjoy the array of dive bars and pubs, along with nightclub hot spots. You can drink and dance your way through Arena City, which is near the city center. Keep in mind that weather and dress code are factors that will impact your evening plans.

Day 2: Kyiv - Self-guided tour 

National Opera of Ukraine
National Opera of Ukraine

Good Morning! Today, you will explore all the historical sites of Kyiv. A breakdown of the most notable sites includes:

  • Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra: Perched on top of the grassy hills of the Dnipro River, this iconic cluster of golden-domed churches attracts tourists and Orthodox pilgrims, alike.
  • Maydan Nezalezhnosti: This pro-independence square has seen significant historical events, including protests in the 1990s, the Orange Revolution in 2004, and the Euromaidan Revolution in 2013-2014. In times of peace, you can enjoy the festiveness of the locals, popular weekend concerts, and the nightly fountain show.
  • St. Sophia’s Cathedral: Kyiv’s oldest church, the interiors of St. Sophia’s are filled with original mosaics and murals and is influenced by the 18th-century baroque style. Climb the bell tower for a bird’s-eye view, and a panoramic look of Kyiv below.
  • St. Michaels Golden-Domed Monastery: You can learn all about this golden-domed monastery’s decorated history, including its rebuild in 2001, at the museum located in the bell tower.

In the evening, you can enjoy a nice dinner and then go to a show. Popular genres of entertainment in Kyiv are ballet and opera, which are commonly fused together. Visit the National Opera of Ukraine for an affordable evening outing to experience an unforgettable local performance.   

Day 3: Kyiv - Last day and travel to Lviv

Dnieper River
Dnieper River

On your final day in Kyiv, take a cruise along the beautiful Dnieper River. You can expect music to fuel your float, which is all part of the cultural experience. You will sail under famous bridges, like the Parkovy Pedestrian Bridge, the Metro Bridge, and the Patron Bridge. You can also expect great views of the Soviet-era Motherland Monument and the city skyline.

After you disembark, you can stroll through the colorful parks scattered throughout Kyiv. Feofaniya Park is historical and well-groomed, with peaceful pond views, while Holosiivsky Park is the ideal place for a quiet picnic. You can also browse the fantastic landscapes of Mariinsky Park, which is a popular tourist spot or take a trip to Taras Shevchenko Park, where you can visit the National University of Kyiv and see the students walking to and from class.

Then, take an afternoon break for lunch, coffee, and a sweet treat at one of the many cafés around town like Wolkonsky or Milk Bar.

Then, it will be time to make your way to the train station, where you will commute to the second leg of your trip on an overnight train to Lviv.

Day 4: Arrival in Lviv

Rynok Square
Rynok Square

When you arrive at the historic Lviv Train Station, take the shuttle to the city’s legendary Rynok Square, and make your way to check in to your apartment. Your accommodations will include another guide booklet to help you navigate your three-day trip in Lviv. Once you are settled, you can take the time to explore the area.

Rynok Square, also known as Market Square, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The former political, economic, and cultural hub of Lviv was once a trade market that welcomed Persian, British, French, and Turkish merchants. The area consists of close quarters, which was once divided by merchant interest. Rich with history, you can walk this complex of historical monuments. You can explore the town on a walking tour, where you will discover street musicians, cafes, cathedrals, and museums along the way. Sites to bookmark include the Black Mansion, Korniakt Palace, the Latin Cathedral, and the Jewish Quarter.

Retire for the evening with a taste of Galician food and drinks at one of the popular restaurants in town, including Gas Lamp, Kryjivka, or At the Golden Rose.

Day 5: Lviv - Self-guided tour

Paintings in Lviv
Local art for sale in Lviv

Today, you will wake up early so you catch local painters in action, or see their work in the various art galleries scattered around the city. You can peruse notable art at:

  • Dzyga: Founded in 1993, you will find masterpieces from students and youths. Enjoy a cup of tea and a snack while you are here.
  • Lviv Art Gallery: Part of a museum complex that features both local and foreign works, here you will find paintings, sculptures, and more representing the 19th and 20th centuries among the 24 rooms.
  • Contemporary Sacred Art Gallery: Here, you will find religious-themed art from local artists. Discover contemporary art featuring Christian spirituality.

Continue the art appreciation into lunch. In Lviv, you will find plenty of restaurants with the arts in mind. Two eateries to bookmark include Left Bank and Salo Art Museum.

For an active adventure in the afternoon hours, make your way to Lviv High Castle. The walk from Rynok Square is 1.2 miles, and you can expect to hike up to the ruins of the castle for a spectacular view of the 800-year-old town below.

To wind down, take the trip over to House of Legends, where you can enjoy the beautiful sunset on the outdoor terrace of the seven-story building. You can enjoy a unique dining experience, where you can taste a dish on each floor of the building, each pertaining to its own legend. Your servers can explain the ingredients and significance to you to round out your educational visit. 

Day 6: Lviv - Last day and travel to Odesa

Lviv, Ukraine
Farewell, Lviv!

On your final day in Lviv, take some time to explore the delicious delicacies of the town. Keep your breakfast light, and then get to tasting the confectionary gems all around. Bakeries and chocolate shops are numerous here. Depending on your taste, you can visit:

  • Lviv Handmade Chocolate: Featuring sweets from ancient recipes, you can indulge in chocolate-covered fruit, coffee drinks with different syrups, and signature hot chocolate with nuts.
  • Lviv Galician Cheese Cake and Strudel Bakery: Here, you will find the specialty syrnyky (cottage cheese pancakes), along with different types of strudels. For lunch, you can customize a plyatski (homemade cake) with meat, salmon, or vegetables, or include sweet fillings for dessert.
  • Cukiernia: Enter this three-room café for a grandiose experience. In the first room, select your confections of choice at the extensive dessert buffet, which features pastries and sweets galore. Then, find your way through two sitting rooms, where you can indulge at your leisure since it is impossible to taste all of the treats on your first round, alone.

Once you have had your fill of goodies, kick back and enjoy the music at the Lviv Organ Hall, where you can enjoy a striking Vivaldi concert.

To close out your stay in Lviv, it is customary to enjoy the local spirit. Toast to your visit with a glass of cherry wine (and consider packing a bottle to take home, too) before heading to the train station.

Board your overnight train to Odesa, where you will spend the evening in your own two-bed compartment recalling a wonderful time exploring the age-old town of Lviv.

Day 7: Arrival in Odesa

Potemkin Stairs
Potemkin Stairs

Welcome to Odesa! Upon your arrival at the airport or train station, a chaperone will meet you and drive you to your centrally located apartment. Once you are checked in, you will find a detailed guidebook that will help you plan your stay. 

The port city is located on the Black Sea in the southern region of Ukraine. Odesa is a town rich in history, arts, and culture, and you will get to experience everything while you are here. On your first day, you can visit:

  • Potemkin Stairs: Also known as the Potemkin Steps, this is a giant stairway, and is considered a formal entryway to the city. This is a great way to launch your sightseeing. There are 192 steps in total, an elevation of nearly 90 feet, and a distance just shy of 1 mile.
  • Primorsky Boulevard: Located next to Istanbul Park, you can walk up and down the streets to admire mansions and museums overlooking the nearby harbor, along with several monuments to teach you about the local history.
  • Privoz Market: This famed market is the largest food market in Odesa! Take the time to explore the different vendors and food offerings while you are here.
  • Derybasivska Street: Named for one of the town’s founders, the Neapolitan José de Ribas, you can find street artists performing here, plenty of shops to browse in, and many cafés and restaurant terraces to visit for lunch.
  • Odesa Passage: Part of a large development that includes a hotel on its top three floors, this hidden shopping passage is laced with statues, like Mercury and Fortuna, and you can visit the many boutiques and souvenir shops along the way.

If you are interested in more sightseeing adventures, you can also bookmark the Monument to the Founders of Odesa, Transfiguration Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum, and Shevchenko Park.

Day 8: Odesa self-guided tour

Black Sea Beaches
Visit the many beaches along the Black Sea

After a full day of sightseeing in Odesa, on your second day, enjoy the beach! Make your way down to the Black Sea, where you can relax and take in the rays, be active in the water, or explore the restaurants and shops surrounding. The top beaches to consider include:

  • Arkadia: This is the most affluent of the beaches in Odesa. Enjoy your time in the sun here, where you will also be able to enjoy a meal outside by the water and visit the surrounding shops.
  • Otrada: This beach can be accessed by cable cars, and you can walk the many small beaches contained within. Here, you will find beaches with bars and wait staff service, along with kid-friendly play zones. Visitors like to enjoy jet skiing and windsurfing, too. 
  • Lanzheron: This spot is popular thanks to its central location. You can ride watersides, take a ride on a speedboat and indulge in other watersports.
  • Delphin: This beach is stationed south of Lanzheron and Otrada. You will find great sand quality here, a clean beach, and exceptional service. This location is great for a summer day outdoors or a romantic evening with your partner.

Wind down from your beach day with a nice meal. Known for great food, there are many different genres of fare to taste in Odesa. Some of the best restaurants include Sophie’s Cafe and Alexandrovskyi.

After dinner, you can visit the Odessa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. Although you can take a daytime tour of the building, it is highly recommended you revisit in the evening, so you can attend a local opera or ballet performance live!

Day 9: Odesa - Last day and departure

Odesa Cafe
Enjoy a final breakfast or brunch at an outdoor café

On your last morning in Odesa, enjoy a nice breakfast or brunch before you depart. Since late breakfast is common in Odesa, you can take your time in choosing between some of the following options:

  • Kompot: Where you can indulge in traditional Ukrainian fare
  • Jardin: Where you can dine in a laid-back garden setting
  • Dacha: Another traditional Ukrainian option with six prix-fixe breakfast menus
  • Berndazzi: Which hosts a Mediterranean-style courtyard and a local menu

Following breakfast or brunch, you will make your way to the train station or airport. You can bid farewell to Ukraine knowing you have fully enjoyed the country, from its history and the arts to the gorgeous Black Sea beaches.