Treasures of West Ukraine – between Lviv and the Carpathians
In collaboration with Oksana Uebermeier, this tour in West Ukraine was created in the autumn of 2019. For this purpose, in the summer of 2019, she visited the area from which she originates. For Oksana, this detailed travel program was the graduation assignment for her education at the In Holland Hogeschool.
West Ukraine could be considered the soul of Ukrainian history and traditions. The breathtaking castles, old fortresses and churches, old cobblestoned streets. All this combined with unforgettable landscapes, the wildness of the Carpathian Mountains and mysterious Hutsuls traditions.
Treasures of West Ukraine is a cultural themed tour, which reflects the authentic and unique characteristics of West Ukraine. The guests will have the possibility to walk through the history of mysterious Lviv, meet locals and get a pick on their traditions in Zakarpathia, to learn local crafts in Ivano-Frankivsk and be amazed by the beauty of old fortresses, monasteries and churches in Chernivtsi and Kamyanets-Podilsky.
A visa is not required for this tour in West Ukraine. UIA (Ukraine International Airlines) flies directly to Kyiv, also the Polish airliner LOT has connections via Warsaw to Odesa.
Read more about the highlights of travelling in Ukraine, plus practical advise, here.
Day 1 arrival in Lviv & introduction to the city
Transfer from the airport. Arriving into Lviv. Start of your tour in West Ukraine!
Meeting with the tour manager (a local English-speaking guide), who will be with the guests for the entire trip.
A local city guide will introduce the guests to Lviv through a four hours city walking tour. He or she will be Showcasing the beauty of this wonderful city, with breathtaking architecture and history. Lviv is most unique city and a centre of tourism in West Ukraine. Lviv’s Old Town is recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
The tour will include most of the highlights of the city. It will start at Rynok Square around the cobblestone’s streets of the old part of the city. You will visit the Armenian Church, Dominican Cathedral, Assumption Church, Opera Theater and enjoy the breathtaking panorama on the city from Lviv High Castle. Many secrets will be revealed about Lviv!
Accommodation in a hotel in the city center.
Day 2 day trip to Zovkva
After breakfast you will enjoy the an excursion to Zovkva for the whole day.
Zhovkva is a historical city town outside Lviv and is a heritage site since 1994. It was founded in 1594 and is a great example of the Italian-Renaissance style. This town has a long history behind it and many important historical buildings. As there are Zhovkva Castle (former residence of hetmans and kings), the Church of St.Lawrence (17th centuries), the Synagoge and the Holy Trinity Church. The latters is under UNESCO protection, Synagoge .
This visit is combined with one to Krekhyv monastery, which was founded in 1612 and is a national monument of architecture.
Return to your hotel.
Day 3 Lviv again
A visit to the Lychakivsky Cemetery & Museum is planned for today. With the same sort of overgrown grounds and Gothic aura as the famous Parisian necropolis, Pere Lachaise, is the the final resting place for more than 400,000 people. A trip to Lviv wouldn’t be complete without a wander here.
Initially opened in 1787 in compliance with an Austrian law to move burials from the centre of town, the cemetery soon became one of Europe’s finest. Generations of Lvovians were laid to rest here: intelligentsia, bourgeoisie and nobility.
Optional: excursion around the Undergrounds of Lviv (afternoon).
It is a 3-hour tour through the underground tunnels of Lviv. As Lviv is an old city from the 13 century, it has many legends and secrets. Lviv has around 100 kilometres of tunnels. Many of them are not possible to access but the tunnels under Pharmacy Museum, Dominican and Jesuit churches, Coffee mining manufacture and Prince Lev Castle, will be possible to discover with a local guide.
Accommodation in your hotel.
Day 4 day trip to Pochaiv
day distance: 139 kms, 2 hours
The days starts – after breakfast, with a two hour drive to Pochaiv. Here we’ll enjoy an excursion, and lunch.
Pochaiv Monastery is a foremost spiritual centre of the Orthodox church in West Ukraine. The monastery dates back to 1527 and until now is fully functioning. Pochaiv is full of pilgrims, who come there to the Mother of God icon (1579) and Uspensky Cathedral (1771-83, bell tower (1861). You will be mesmerized by the monastery golden dorm and churches. As it is very important place for religious people, it is obligatory to pay respect. Women should wear a long skirt and cover their head.
Afterwards we return to Lviv for hotel accommodation.
Day 5 Lviv – Ternopil – Kamyanets-Podilsky
day distance: 280 kms, 5 hours
After breakfast we head for the town of Ternopil, a drive of almost two hours, followed by a short lunch-stop.
Onwards it’s another three hours to Kamyanets-Podilsky. Upon arrival you will enjoy a two hour walking excursion at the fortress and also the city.
Kamyanets-Podilsky is the 11th century Old Town, located in the beautiful and picturesque canyon of Smotrych River. “Flower on the stone”, is where the town name originates. This city is one of the wonders of Ukraine, an architectural reserve with 200 monuments of different styles, such as the City
Hall building, Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul, the Turkish Minaret, Novoplanivskiy Bridge, St. Nikolas Dominican Cathedral and St. Nicolas Armenian Church.
The main highlight is the fortress of Kamyanets-Podilsky, which is well preserved, renovated. Inside there are many activities (medieval bakery, workshops, historical expositions). There are often different festivals related to the history of the city. The fortress has 11 towers, which were built during the different periods of history. The whole fortress is an iconic building and has to be included on any tour in West Ukraine.
Transfer to your hotel.
Day 6 Kamyanets-Podilsky – Khotyn – Chernivtsi
A day of (limited) driving, another impressive fortress and a university town.
In about hour you’ll be transfered to the Khotyn, followed by a walking excursion to the Khotyn fortress.
Khotyn Fortress is State Historical and Architectural reserve and belongs to Seven Wonders of Ukraine. It is an excellent example of the fortification architecture of the 10-13 centuries.
Khotyn fortress is protected with six towers (height of 60 meters) and always played a strategically important role. The fortress located in the small town Khotyn, in the canyon of Dnister river. The town has a long history related to many battles, famous victories and defeats, full of secrets and mysteries. In the middle ages, it was a famous trade place.
After lunch you will drive onwards to the town of Chernivtsi, again in about one hour. There you’ll a city tour including a visit to the Chernivtsi National University.
Chernivtsi is located on the border of Ukraine and presents a mix of different culture, architectures and tradition. The city dates back 600 years. The
town was mainly developed due to trade activities. It sometimes looks like Austria or France: small streets with cobblestones, tall and colourful
houses. The local guide will bring tourists to the main highlights such as Central Square with Town Hall (At 12.00, every day over the past 13 years a
local musician plays “Marichka song” from the top of the tower).
On the main promenade of Olga Kobylanska are many cafes and restaurants. The main highlights are Holy Spirit Cathedral, Armenian Church, Church of the Heart of Jesus, Nikolaev Cathedral (or drunk church, because of leaned to the side domes), The Ship House, Theatrical square and many more places with exciting stories and legends.
Chernivtsi National University is a UNESCO Heritage monument. In the past, the building was the residence of the Metropolitans. It has a unique architecture, red brick building with coloured tiles on the roof. Inside are beautiful rooms in different style and colours. Also, there is a small Seminarska Church, where students get married and pray before exams. Inside the University are beautiful arches with hand painting.
Transfer to your hotel and accommodation.
Day 7 Chernivtsi – Kosiv – Yavoriv – Verkhovyna
day distance: 113 kms, 2 hours 20
This day will be centred around Hutsuls culture and traditions. Hutsuls colourful clothing and crafts such as wooden sculpture, blacksmiths craft, rug weaving, pottery can’t help but leave anyone unimpressed. Hutsuls traditionally live in the Carpathian region. Getting to know them cannot be omitted during a tour in West Ukraine. They love folk music and play a whole variety of traditional instruments such as the trembita (a longalpenhorn), tsymbalu, drymba to name but a few.
We will start to discover Kosiv, which is considered the heart of folk craft. We will participate in the workshop of pottery painting in the Kosiv ceramic style. Later, we will visit the crafts market to buy wooden souvenirs and embroidery.
Afterwards, on the way to Verkhovyna, we will stop in Yavoriv where we can learn more about Carpathian rugs. We will then visit small private museums, which are very different and unique. The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors House-Museum is dedicated to the life of Hutsuls, and there the well-known Ukraine film of the famous director Sergei Paradzhanov was made.
Even if you are not familiar with this movie, it will be interesting to see how traditional Hutsuls’ houses and clothes looked like, years ago. The private Museum of Musical Instruments R.Kumlyka is an exposition of the everyday life of Hutsuls with a unique collection of local Hutsul musical instruments. You will not only look at instruments, but you can also try to play them. We will learn how to dance traditional Hutsul dances. Afterwards, we will visit the small Museum of Hutsul magic, where you will listen to the local legends.
Transfer to your homestay and accommodation & dinner.
Day 8 Verkhovyna – Polonuna Krunta
day distance: 9 kms, 0,5 hour
We will visit Polonyna Krunta, which is 930 meters above sea level. We will travel by old Soviet-style jeeps (GAZ 66). Also, we will need to walk about 1 hour 30 minutes, as it is not possible to drive the whole way up. The local guide will tell us everything about Chornohora mountain range and simple life of shepherds. Also, we will see “staya Koluba” (“staya” is a small hut with a little closet where herbs and sheep cheese are stored). Here you will see how local cheese “vurda” and “budz” are made.
Return to Verkhovyna and accommodation & dinenr in the homestay.
Day 9 Verkhovina – Dzembronya
day distance: 20 kms, 55 minutes
Dzembronya is the highest located village in Ukraine. The village lies in the valley of the Dzembronya river and is a part of the Carpathian National Nature Park. Here you can enjoy the beautiful and magnificent view of the Chornohora mountain range.
You’ll have leisure time and can make hikes in the surroundings. Ask the guide for more information.
Accommodation and dinner in your homestay.
Day 10 Dzembronya
A day of hiking. Two programs of different levels of difficulty:
1. Hiking to Mountain Pip Ivan and see the old observatory (good physical health)
2. Hiking to Ear Stone or Dzembronya Mountain and Dzembronya cascade waterfalls (easy level)
Mountain Pip Ivan is 2028 meters high. The hiking route is around 13 kilometres. On top of the mountain is an old observatory, dated 1936. You need to be in good physical condition to take this route. Also, it is necessary to bring food and water as it will be the whole day trip. It is not recommended to hike without a guide, as it is easy to get lost.
The hiking trip will be about 9 hours, and it will certainly be a memorable experience.
Another route is easy but very beautiful. It is possible to climb to the top of Ear Stone or Dzembronya Mountain within two hours. Also, the Dzembronya cascade waterfalls are breathtaking, with a total height of 100 meters and the highest cascade of 10 meters.
Accommodation and dinner in the homestay.
Day 11 Dzembronya – Kolomyya- Yaremche
day distance: 140 kms, 3 hours 40
Kolomyya is a small and beautiful town with many architectural and historical monuments. This town is well- known for Pysanka Museum. Ten thousand Pysankas from the whole of Ukraine are represented here. We will have an excursion through the museum and even participate in a small workshop making your pysanka. Also, the Museum of Hutsuls Folk Art, with the best exposition about Hutsuls life and culture, will be visited.
And a second short drive brings you to Yaremche. This is a small and very picturesque town in Ivano-Frankivsk region, often called the door to the Carpathian Mountains. It consists of two villages Yamna and Dora. It is a beautiful place to have a walk to the local market with hand-made souvenirs, herbs, honey and tea.
Next to the Market Square is the Pribiy waterfall, located on the mountain river Prut. Here it is possible to go rope jumping from 18 meters or go hiking through the Dovbush Cliffs, listen to the legends and enjoy the forest. Optional is an excursion to Ivano-Frankivsk, where guests could have a 2-hour city tour and enjoy local food in many cafés and restaurants.
Accommodation in a Hutsul homestay in Yaremche.
Day 12 Yaremche – Polyanytsa
day distance: 46 kms, 55 minutes
• Driving to ski resort Bukovel and taking ski-lifts up to the mountains, enjoying a panoramic view, visit the ethno-park “Polonyna Perciv”. Later we can take a relaxing bath in ” chans” ( a “chan’” is a giant, cast-iron vessel with heated mineral water with herbs. Usually, it can fit up to five people).
• Hiking to Hoverla.
• Drive to mountains by Jeep from village Mykulychun
Polyanytsa is a small village 920 meters above sea level. Here is the tourist ski complex Bukovel. The total length of the ski areas is around 53 kilometres. Fourteen ski-lifts take visitors up to mountainsides. Here it is possible to have a panoramic view of the Carpathian Mountains, ride horses and learn about Hutsul culture in a small ethno-park “Polonuna Perciv”. Here visitors can try home-made food and learn different handicrafts.
Secondly, It is possible to organize the whole day hiking tour to the highest point in Ukraine (2061 meters) – Hoverla Mountain. Visit the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve and Carpathian National Nature Park. The tour will start at the tourist centre “Zaroslyak” and hiking around 20 kilometres for 8 hours.
Finally, the Jeep tour option starts from a village called Mykulychun through the mountain and forest roads to Polonyna. There will be Naluvka tasting (traditional Hutsuls alcoholic drink), cooking traditional food. After, tourists can end the day by watching a beautiful sunset and have a picnic on Polonyna with traditional “vatra” fire (Polonyna is a place in the mountains, where shepherds bring their cattle in the spring and over the whole summer).
Of course you can opt to extend your stay in this region and add a day to the program.
Day 13 Polyanytsa – Iza – Nyzhnje Selyshche – Beregove
day distance: 245 kms, 4 hours 45
A drive of about three hours will bring you to the small Carpathian village Iza, to learn one more of Hutsuls wickerwork. Here you can learn how Iza baskets are made starting from growing of willows. Locals are very proud of this tradition and happy to teach you how to do it. After, we will visit a cheese farm in the village nearby. Petro Prigara started a farm at 2002 and since then produces cheese, free of any preservatives. You will taste varieties of cheeses with wine.
Transfer to the village of Beregove at one hour, and accommodation in a homestay.
Day 14 Beregove – Mukachevo- Pylypets
day distance: 116 kms, 2 hours
The Carpathian region has around 13 castles, which are different, unique and impressive. Today we going to visit three outstanding castles in West Ukraine. Castel Palanok was built in the 11th century, and since then it retains many mystical legends and stories. The castle standing on the top of an extinct volcano and was an important defence through the history of Mukachevo. The castle is nicely renovated, and there are several exhibitions on-site related to the past and essential dates of Mukachevo. Also, the breathtaking city view from the castle walls will bring unforgettable memories.
Saint Miklosh Castle is located in Chinadievo, near Mukachevo. This medieval castle was built in the 15th century with the main aim to protect the nearby territories. It is called “Castel of Love” because of the love of charming princess Ilona Zrini. During the Soviet time, the castle was used as a prison. Nowadays, it is rented to an artist named Joseph Bartosz, who is renovating the castle.
Shenborn Castle is the last castle on our list. It is a beautiful renaissance palace, surrounded by a big park with old trees. It was built in 1890 and belonged to Family of Shenborn, as a summer residence. The castle was designed as an astronomical year and has 365 windows, 52 rooms and 12 entrances and four towers.
Accommodation for today and tomorrow is in a homestay in Pylypets.
Day 15 Pylypets – Synevyr – Pylypets
day distance: 110 kms, 2 hours 10
Today will be a nature day before going back to Lviv. We will visit the ski resort Pylypets. There are four chair lifts available for getting up to the mountains. We will take a lift to the Gemba Mountain, from 700 till 1400 meters above the sea. On top, we can have a small break with herbal tea, food, and enjoying the outstanding view.
We will walk downhill to the Shypit Waterfall. It is about 6 kilometres from the village of Pylypets and is about 14 meters high. Beautiful nature and relaxing atmosphere. Lastly, we will drive to Lake Synevyr, which is a part of National Nature Park Synevir. We will walk around the lake, listening to the local legends and enjoying nature.
Accommodation in the Pylypets homestay.
Day 16 Pylypets – Stryi – Lviv
day distance: 200 kms, 3 hours
Our trip is coming to an end. We will shortly visit the old historical town Stryi and have an excursion about one hour: the Church of the Blessed Virgin (1425), the Church of Archangel Michael (1912), the People’s House (1901) and other historical buildings. After that we will have lunch and continue to Lviv. Arriving time around 14.00.
End of your tour in West Ukraine!
The cost of this 17-day tour in West Ukraine is €2,775 per person at two people, €1,825 per person at four people and €1,495 per person at six people. Please write to us for other group sizes.
Included in the price are:
– five nights in a centrally located 4* hotel in Lviv in a double room incl. breakfast
– one night in a 4* hotel in Kamyanets-Podilski in a double room incl. breakfast
– one night in a 3* hotel in Chernivtsi in a double room incl. breakfast
– nine nights in several homestays incl. breakfast
– all transfers according to program in a car or minivan, incl. a GAS 66 Soviet 4WD in the mountains
– English-speaking local guides according to program
– English-speaking guidance throughout the entire program
– entrance fees for all museums, sights, excursions and factories according to the program
– meals: breakfast plus lunches & dinners according to program
The price does not include international flights, early check-ins and check-outs, remaining lunches & dinners, and the services not mentioned. Finally we withhold a contribution of €15 for the GGTO Guarantee Fund.
Cost of optional extentions
– excursion to the Lviv Undergrounds on day 3: €60 for the group plus €5 per person entrance fee.
|Lviv and West Ukraine
|€1,825-2,775 p.p. at 4-2 persons