USSR Tour in Central Ukraine
Highlights of this ten-day USSR tour in Ukraine (with extension options):
– the dynamic Kyiv
– Gorki Park in Kharkiv
– Interpipe factory in Dnipro, and lively boulevard in the city
– stunning Khortytsha island in the Dnipro river near Zaporizhzhia
– industry, factories, mines of Kryvyi Rih, visits are included!
– the strategic missile center at Permovaisk (option)
– the Korolev museum in Zhytomyr (option)
– last but not least an excursion to Chornobyl!
Country and Tour Program
We designed and tested this program ourselves in December 2019. It is a program that is not suitable for everyone, but is highly unique. For lovers of not-everyday ‘attractions’, which often originate in the USSR. ‘Attractions’ and sited that are often connected with the former USSR, be it in industry, architecture, space industry, military complexes, aviation and with railways.
You travel from Kyiv in eastern direction but do not get close to the Donbas, where in January 2020 there is unfortunately still a war going on. You will not notice this conflict. Traveling through infinite agricultural lands (‘the black gold’ of Ukraine) by train and by car, on mostly reasonable and good roads. The facilities along the way are good (hotels & restaurants) and you have wifi everywhere.
In addition to the offered ten-day program, you can also add excursions and/or rest days, you can read about it in the program.
A visa is not required for a this USSR tour in 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.
Arrival in Kyiv and transfer to your hotel. Leisure time.
Your hotel in the center of Kyiv is an excellent base to explore the city center on foot today.
Start of your USSR tour in Ukraine!
Today an excursion to Chornobyl (new Ukrainian spelling) is on the program. You are, of course, familiar with the dramatic events that took place here in April 1986. In 2019, thanks to an HBO series, the events surrounding disaster have once again been put in the spotlight, and a new generation has learned about it. Of course this excursion should be included in this USSR tour in Ukraine.
Chornobyl is located more than 200 km north of Kyiv, near the border with Belarus, the country that had to suffer the worst consequences at the time of the disaster due to the prevailing wind direction.
Of course, your safety is of the utmost importance today, and e.g. the guide measures the radiation all the time (but don’t worry, the cleaned, safe areas are well-known to them). In addition to an abandoned village and the notorious town of Pripyat, you will come to a few hundred meters from the disaster site. Again, and we experienced it ourselves during a visit in 2017, you will not run a radiation hazard today if you adhere to the clear regulations!
Finally you will visit an impressive former radar installation from bygone Soviet times, located near the nuclear power plant.
Return to Kyiv and accommodation in your hotel.
Today lunch is included.
In the morning you are free, at 12 o’clock you check out of your hotel for an excursion to places in Kyiv with memories of the Soviet time. When you walk around the famous Maidan square, along the access road that comes from the top, you will find numerous (sad) memories of the 2013-2014 revolution.
At the end of your excursion you will be transferred to the train station for the train from 18:30 to Kharkiv. Arrival is the same day at 23:36 PM. Transfer to your hotel.
Kharkiv is a pleasant city to walk around, with many universities and therefore a large – and international – student population. In WW2 – like so many cities in the former USSR – the city was thoroughly destroyed in the fighting and rebuilt.
Today you will first of all enjoy an excursion on foot with an English-speaking local guide, in which buildings from different periods and in different building styles will be shown. Buildings from the Soviet period, but also from before. You will also visit the WW2 museum and a new and attractive museum dedicated to the railways. Finally, a visit to the enormous Gorky Park with its many attractions is included. The most interesting aspect is simply to observe the residents.
Afterwards return to your hotel and accommodation.
You leave early today by train to Dnipro. To be precise – according to the schedule of the end of 2019 – with the train at 5:37 a.m. You can also choose to leave later, by car. In that case you must count on additional costs, depending on the size of your group. The car is faster so you can leave later to be on time for the excursion in the steel factory of Interpipe in Dnipro.
Transfer from your hotel to the train station at 5 o’clock in the morning. The train to Dnipro leaves (this can change) at 05:37 a.m. and arrives there at 10:29 a.m. Transfer by car to the steel factory of Interpipe, with a local English-speaking guide. We included several factory visits in this USSR tour in Ukraine and this is the first one.
Interpipe Steel Factory
Interpipe is a new and modern steel mill, pride of the region and the country! After you have put on the right and protective clothing, an excursion of an hour and a half will follow, during which you are free to take pictures.
Afterwards you have time to relax and enjoy lunch. Dnipro is situated along a wide river with the same name and has a lot of industrial activities in the area. As a result, there is enough money for all kinds of new construction projects and the difference with the student city of Kharkiv is remarkable. The city also has a lively and long boulevard with much happening, especially in the summer months.
You still visit the rocket institute, where an enthusiastic former employee tells you about the different generations of (deadly) rockets that were developed here during Soviet times, as well as rockets for the Sputnik and other spacecraft.
Transfer to your hotel and accommodation.
It is a two-hour drive to Zaporizhzhia, the next destination. On arrival it is impossible to miss the huge dam that was built here in Soviet times and before WW2, with the aim of raising the water level upstream and making the Dnipro river navigable. A dam that was twice partly blown up during WW2, partly; first in 1941 by retreating Soviets against the advancing Nazis, and three years later exactly the opposite! You drive over the dam and you will also see a huge lock.
But the main attraction of Zaporizhzhia is the unique and amazing Khortytsha island, located in the middle of the Dnipro river. It is a whopping 12.5 km long and 2.5 km wide and the pride of the city. It has on offer a Cossack fort, a workshop with preserved boats once used by Cossacks against the Turks in the Crimea, a rich fauna, beautiful views, beach, and above all it has been kept remarkably clean. There are countless walking and cycling routes. In short, you can and will spend some time here.
Afterwards transfer to your hotel in the city.
Zaporizhzhia also has a special museum that you will visit before leaving for Kryvyi Rih. Here you will find an extensive range of technical Soviet devices, from radios and TVs to bicycles, mopeds and (many) cars. In addition, Western classic cars such as the T-Ford, Volkswagen Beetle and Deux Chevaux from Renault have been added to the collection! A paradise for lovers of retro technology.
The train to Kryvyi Rih awaits at 12:20 pm, arriving at 4:44 pm, then transfer to your hotel.
Days 8 and 9
Kryvyi Rih, which means “curvy horn”, does justice to its name because it mainly consists of a long and winding road, along the dozens of mine shafts and iron ore mines that the area knows. Not for nothing is it called “the longest road in the world”, because according to some calculations it measures up to 120 km!
Here you will find more than 300 abandoned mines and dozens (42) working mines. Plus a few open mines. Iron ore is mined everywhere, and processed in a number of huge and not exactly new factories. The consequences for the environment are huge, and actually catastrophic. The sky is unhealthy and even the snow turns red. Expired factory buildings are interspersed with still running factories, which are just as old but partially renovated. And precisely this unusual environment is the reason for our visit!
Tourism new style in Kryvyi Rih
Because Kryvyi Rih realizes that in 50 years all iron ore will be mined and that the city will have to move on. And tourism is being developed, seen as a potential new source of income and jobs. To some degree, because these ‘attractions’ are not an great pleasure for everyone.
Today you will have the opportunity to visit an open iron ore and a museum dedicated to mining. You can also visit a coke factory, where coal is made from coke, which in turn serves as a fuel for the melting of the iron ore, which you can see in the next factory. Which happens to be one of steel giant Arcelor Mittal, which was the highest bidder for the old Soviet steel mills at the start of the millennium, and since then the largest employer of the city.
Before visiting the open mine and the factories you will be presented with a short promotional film from the city, because Kryvyi Rih is a city with ambitions! As well as the city of President Zelensky!
You will stay on day 8 in a hotel in the city. Day 9 ends with a transfer to the train station at 23:00, followed by the night train to Kyiv at 23:37.
Arrival in Kyiv ate 06:56 AM. Transfer the airport for your flight back home. This transfer can also take place later today, depending on your flight time.
Options for additional sightseeing days
Option 1: visit the Korolev museum in Zhytomyr, located 140 km west of Kyiv. Sergey Korolev was chief designer of ballistic roxkets and THE man behind the Sputnik, the spacecraft with which the Soviets beat the Americans in the space race!
Accommodation in Kyiv.
Option 2: truly spectacular, a visit to the “Strategic Missile Center” in Permovaisk. This is the only place in the former USSR where you can visit a former rocket launching site. Ukraine dismantled its nuclear arsenal in the 90s, including its six strategic missile launching sites. Five have been dismantled, Permovaisk has been opened for visitors. A visit to this military site is absolutely recommended during this USSR tour in Ukraine.
Here you can visit a 12-floor command center and you can even press THE BUTTON to send ten nuclear missiles to the West. Learn from an English-speaking guide what daily life at the base looked like, and see the (empty) rockets, silos, a museum and more. Very worthwhile despite the considerable distance of 300 km there and back, thankfully on good roads.
Accommodation in Kyiv.
The cost of this USSR tour in Ukraine is €1,600 per person at two people, €1,250 per person at four people and €1,150 per person at six people. Please write to us for other group sizes.
Included in the price are:
– two nights in a centrally located 4* hotel in Kyiv in a standard double room incl. breakfast
– two nights in a centrally located 4* hotel in Kharkiv in a luxury double room incl. breakfast
– one night in a 4* hotel in Dnipro in a standard double room incl. breakfast
– one night in a 4* hotel in Zaporizhzhia in a standard double room incl. breakfast
– two nights in a 3* hotel in Kryvyi Rih in a standard double room incl. breakfast
– all transfers according to program
– 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
– 2nd class train tickets for all routes according to the program
The price does not include international flights, early check-ins and check-outs, lunches & dinners, and the services not mentioned. Finally we withhold a contribution of €15 for the GGTO Guarantee Fund.
Cost of optional extentions
– transfer by car from Kharkiv to Dnipro: €50-55-95 per person at 6-4-2 people
– extra day in Dnipro: €35 per person for the accommodation
– full-day excursion to the Strategic Missile Center in Permovaisk: €145-165-185 per person at 6-4-2 people
– day trip to the Korolev museum in Zhytomyr: €70-80-105 per person at 6-4-2 people
(both excursion days are without guide escort, but included are local English speaking guides, plus entrance fees and transportation).
|Central- and East Ukraine|
|€1.250-1.600 p.p. at 4-2 persons|
|10 days with extension options|