A country in continuous transformation
The second-largest country in Europe, Ukraine has not always had clearly defined frontiers and has spent large tracts of its history under foreign rule.
Even today the issue of “Ukrainianness” is viewed differently by people living in different regions of the country: Ukrainians living in Kyiv and the east may well speak the Russian language at home and on the streets, while those living in L’viv and the west speak Ukrainian in all social situations and are enormously proud of the fact.
Despite being a country of large distances and time-consuming travel, Ukraine is not as far away as you might think, and its three key cities are well worth fitting into a wider European trip. Ukraine’s fast-paced capital Kyiv offers a fascinating insight on a country in the throes of transformation, with chic boutiques and slick bars sprouting up along broad, cobbled boulevards. Glittering church domes and steeples show off the city’s medieval glories.
One of Europe’s great Mediterranean cities, and a stop-off on your cruise to Ukraine, Odessa exudes a sense of Tsarist-Empire grandeur, while its bars and beaches provide a vibrant hedonistic edge. In total contrast is the western city of L’viv, a Central European city that looks like an estranged cousin of Vienna or Prague, and has the cultural attractions and café life to match.