Getty Images/iStockphoto

Central Ukraine

Layered with dark fertile soil, Ukraine's breadbasket heartlands are split between forested Polissya to the north and the endless agricultural flatlands of Podillya to the south. Life isn't complicated in these parts; people work the land and fish the streams and, when it's time to relax, they head to the woods or, in winter, the banya (bathhouse). Some say this region epitomises the 'real Ukraine' and, frankly, it would be hard to argue with that.

The highlights include a clutch of fortresses, a missile museum, two seriously elaborate fountains, and the show-stopping island town of Kamyanets-Podilsky. In the 19th century the region was the heart of Catherine the Great’s Jewish Pale of Settlement, birthplace of both Hasidism and the Jewish shtetl. The Nazis obliterated most traces of Jewish culture, although a few old Jewish cemeteries and synagogues remain.