Museum of Strategic Missile Forces

Central Ukraine

It’s not easy to find, but deep in Ukraine’s agricultural heartland, 25km north of Pervomaysk, lies one of Ukraine’s coolest museums. Better known as the Nuclear Missile Museum, this was formerly a nuclear-missile launch facility. The highlight is the journey taking you 12 storeys underground in a Brezhnev-era elevator to the control room (extra 200uah).

Here you can sit at the desk of doom, pretend to take that fateful call on an old Soviet phone, and press the button that once would have ended civilisation as we know it. These days it sets off lights and alarms, but thankfully no missiles are launched. The facility housed 10 missiles, each of which lay hidden in subterranean silos near the control room, with an additional 75 missiles or so floating around the region and administered by this facility.

On the grounds of the museum are four huge decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), including a 75ft SS-18 Satan rocket, the Soviets' largest ICBM (it's an import from Baikanor, Kazakhstan). Many more rockets and pieces of military hardware are scattered around the grounds. The excellent museum proper documents milestones of the Cold War and post-Cold War eras, including the decommissioning of this facility with US assistance.

To get the most out of this intriguing museum, book a tour in English with Pervomaysk guide Elena Smerichevskaya (contact her on 095 200 7578 or Elena can also arrange transport from Kyiv (about 3000uah round-trip for a car or minivan) or Odesa. Tour agencies in Kyiv charge much more both for transport and for Elena's services.

Keep in mind that the museum is a very long day trip from Kyiv – up to 3½ hours each way with private transport. Alternatively, take any Mykolayiv- or Kherson-bound public bus from the Central Bus Station in Kyiv (250uah, five hours).