Airports & Airlines
Ukraine's international airports:
Boryspil International Airport Most international flights use Kyiv's main airport, 30km southeast of the city centre.
Danylo Halytskyi International Airport The fastest-growing airport in the country, Lviv's airport handles a few domestic flights plus services to some European destinations and holiday flights to the sun.
Odesa International Airport Ukraine's third airport handles a few domestic services plus flights to a handful of big European cities.
Ukraine's main international operator is Ukraine International Airlines (UIA; www.flyuia.com). It's essentially a no-frills, low-cost airline that flies to all major destinations in Europe and beyond from major Ukrainian airports. It's always worth checking its ratings against those of your country's national carrier. UIA is the only Ukrainian airline to fly direct to the US.
All flights to Russia have been suspended in the wake of the conflict; connect with Moscow via Minsk or Riga.
Departure tax is included in the price of the ticket.
You should have no problems bringing your bicycle into Ukraine. Travelling this way puts you at an advantage as you can push to the front of the vehicle queue.
Crossing the border into Ukraine is a fairly straightforward, if slightly drawn out, affair.
- Expect customs personnel to scrutinise your papers and search your vehicle.
- Be prepared for delays heading out of Ukraine into the EU and Schengen zone.
- The Poland–Ukraine and Romania–Ukraine borders are popular smuggling routes, hence the thorough customs checks.
- When heading for Belarus or Russia, ensure you have the right visa.
- Despite the conflict, it is still possible to cross into Russia when travelling by train, bus or car from Kyiv or Kharkiv.
- It is possible to cross into Russian-occupied Crimea, provided you get a Russian visa and obtain a permit from the Ukrainian State Migration Service. You must return to Ukraine via the same route rather than continuing into Russia, otherwise you risk being charged with illegal crossing next time you enter the country.
- Entering Crimea or rebel-held territory in the east of Ukraine from Russia is a criminal offence under Ukrainian law.
- You might need special medical insurance for Belarus, purchasable at the border.
- In the unlikely event you are hitchhiking into Ukraine, it may be a good idea to take a local bus or train across the border, as drivers are generally reluctant to take hitchhikers over the line.
- You are permitted to walk across the country's borders.
The unofficial republic of Transdniestr, bordering Ukraine for some 500km, causes only minor irritation to travellers these days. The 24 hours you have to cross into Moldova proper are more than enough time. It's another matter if you want to hang around in the 'capital', Tiraspol, which has become an odd kind of I've-been-there tourist attraction in recent years.
EU and US citizens, Canadians, Swiss and Japanese don't need visas for Moldova. However, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and others do.
Cross-border services to Warsaw, Lublin, Łódź and a few other destinations leave from Lviv's main bus station.
Leo Express (www.le.cz) runs a convenient daily overnight service between Lviv and Vienna (€46, 16 hours) via Rzeszów, Kraków, Katowice and Bohumín, where it connects with the same company's own fast train to Prague.
Between Przemyśl and Lviv it's quickest to take a marshrutka (fixed-price minibus) from outside each city's train station to the border, walk across and hop onto an onward marshrutka. Leaving Lviv, marshrutka 297 runs between Lviv train station and the road crossing at Shehyni/Medyka.
Bus operator Regabus (www.regabus.cz) has services from several (mostly western) Ukrainian towns to Prague and other locations in the Czech Republic. Ecolines (www.ecolines.net) travels between a handful of Ukrainian cities and many Eastern and Western European destinations. Leo Express (www.le.cz) is a useful service connecting Lviv and Uzhhorod with key hubs in Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Car & Motorcycle
To bring your own vehicle into the country, you'll need:
- your original registration papers (photocopies are not accepted) and a certificate of motor insurance
- a 'Green Card' International Motor Insurance Certificate (a must)
- an international vehicle registration sticker (GB for the UK, D for Germany etc), even if your car has European number plates
- warning triangle
- fire extinguisher
- first-aid kit.
Your registration number will be noted, and you'll have to explain why you're leaving the country without your vehicle if you attempt to do so.
Hitching into Ukraine is tricky as drivers are reluctant to take hitchhikers over the line. Getting a bus or taxi across the border then continuing on the other side is the best way to go. You could always walk across the border, too.
Chop, 22km southwest of Uzhhorod, is the international junction for trains between Ukraine and Hungary. Because the two countries use different rail gauges, services have a long stop while the carriage bogies are changed to a different gauge. A local train connects Chop to its Hungarian sister town Zahony (18 minutes, seven daily), where you can change for Hungarian trains; check www.mavcsoport.hu for timetables. Long-distance connections include:
- Kyiv–Budapest 24 hours, one daily
- Chop–Budapest six hours, one daily
- Lviv–Budapest 14 hours, one daily
There are around three trains a day from Kyiv to Chişinău (14 to 17 hours), all of which originate in Russia. One evening train a day makes the Odesa–Chişinău run (five hours).
Poland has an online train timetable (www.rozklad.pkp.pl) in English. The following is a list of direct connections between Poland and Ukraine, but there are plenty of other services if you are prepared to change.
- Kyiv–Warsaw Wschodnia 18 hours, one daily
- Kyiv–Przemyśl Seven to nine hours, two daily via Lviv (two hours)
- Lviv–Kraków 8½ hours, one daily
Chop is the gateway to/from Slovakia. Carriage bogies are changed there, which takes a couple of hours.
- Kyiv–Bratislava 29 hours, daily
- Chop–Bratislava 10 hours, daily
- Lviv–Bratislava 18 hours, daily
Despite both sides threatening to cancel services, trains still connect main Ukrainian cities with Moscow.
- Kyiv–Moscow 14 to 16 hours, seven daily
- Lviv–Moscow 24 hours, daily
- Odesa–Moscow 23 hours, daily
- Kharkiv–Moscow 11 to 13 hours, two daily
Cruise and cargo ships are the main users of Ukrainian ports, but some useful scheduled ferry services do exist. As across the ex-USSR, boat services are erratic to say the least, and if the cost of docking and fuel rises, sailings are cancelled without notice. Basing your travel plans around sea or river travel is probably not advisable.
To & From Chornomorsk
Ukrferry (www.ukrferry.com) is the main operator from Chornomorsk, outside Odesa, to Poti and Batumi (Georgia), Derince (Turkey), Varna (Bulgaria) and Constanța (Romania). Be aware that services are regularly cancelled for months on end without explanation. Check its website for the latest sailing times and days (if there are any). London Sky Travel (www.lstravel.com.ua) sells tickets for summer ferries and cruise ships.
To & From Odesa
London Sky Travel (www.lstravel.com.ua) sells tickets for summer ferries and cruise ships from Odesa and Chornomorsk..