Must see attractions in The Carpathians

  • Top ChoiceSights in Chernivtsi

    Chernivtsi University

    University buildings are often called 'dreaming spires', but Chernivtsi's is more like an acid trip. This fantastic, Unesco-listed red-brick ensemble, with coloured tiles decorating its pseudo-Byzantine, pseudo-Moorish and pseudo-Hanseatic wings, is the last thing you'd expect here. The architect responsible was Czech Josef Hlavka, who was also behind Chernivtsi's Former Armenian Cathedral, as well as large chunks of Vienna. He completed the university in 1882 for the Metropolitans (Orthodox Church leaders) of Bukovyna as their official residence. The Soviets moved the university here.

  • Sights in Carpathian National Nature Park & Around

    Oleska Dovbush Museum

    Few would brave the potholes to the sprawling Carpathian village of Kosmach, 35km to the southwest of Kolomyya, were it not for the privately run Oleksa Dovbush Museum. Run by the inimitable Mykhailo Didyshyn, this must be one of the oddest sights you'll find among the peaks of Europe's east. Didyshyn claims the garden hut housing his small museum is the one in which the 'the Ukrainian Robin Hood' was killed and he even shows you Dovbush's very own hat, belt, axe and bag.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mukacheve

    Palanok Castle

    Built atop a 68m-tall volcano, Mukacheve's highlight is this dramatic castle that pops up from the surrounding plain west of town, like something in a fairy-tale fantasy. This 14th-century fortress, famous as the site where Croatian-Hungarian princess Ilona Zrini held off the Austrian Emperor's army for three years before finally capitulating in 1688, is also popular among Hungarians for its association with Sándor Petőfi (1823-49), the Hungarian national poet, who was held here during the century the building served as an Austrian prison.

  • Sights in The Carpathians

    Khotyn Fortress

    Ask any Ukrainian which is the country's finest castle and many will say Khotyn Fortress. Eastern European filmmakers love to use this massive fort overlooking the Dnister River as a location; for instance it served as Warsaw Castle in the highly controversial Russian-language blockbuster movie Taras Bulba (2009). With walls up to 40m high and 6m thick, today's stone fortress was built in the 15th century, replacing an earlier wooden structure. Its location safeguarded river trade routes, making it a sought-after prize.

  • Sights in Rakhiv

    Carpathian Biosphere Reserve

    Declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1992, this protected area is made up of six separate locations, four of which can be found around Rakhiv. Some 90% of the reserve is made up of virgin forest, home to rare flora and fauna. About 5km southwest of Rakhiv the main road leads to the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve headquarters, which isn't so much of interest for itself as for what's surrounding it.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Uzhhorod

    Uzhhorod Castle

    On the hill overlooking the town stands the 15th-century castle with massive walls and beefy bastions built to withstand Turkish assaults. The main palace is home to the Transcarpathian Museum of Local Lore (Закарпатський краєзнавчий музей), which has a good collection of pysanky (patterned eggs), regional folk costume, some Hutsul musical instruments including nine tremibity (the Carpathian didgeridoo), a section on interwar Transcarpathia, a collection of antique clocks and several other themed rooms. On the ground floor the old-fashioned exhibition examines the nature of Transcarpathia.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kolomyya

    Museum of Hutsul Folk Art

    This well-curated exhibition of Hutsul artefacts is probably the best of its kind in Ukraine. Decorated stove tiles and other ceramics, musical instruments, carved wooden tools, boxes, furniture, traditional and embroidered folk dress, woven wall hangings and an interesting collection of traditional Hutsul axes fill the museum's grand neoclassical home, which started life in the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a Ukrainian cultural institute.

  • Sights in Chernivtsi

    Vul Kobylyanskoyi

    When you’ve had enough of Chernivtsi’s barmy traffic, head for the tranquillity of vul Kobylyanskoyi, a pedestrianised street running between vuls Holovna and Shevchenka. It’s certainly the city’s most attractive thoroughfare hemmed with beautiful art nouveau facades containing music schools, a couple of minimuseums, bookshops, Lviv chain cafes, pizza places and some local government offices. Retro copies of 19th-century gas lamps, freshly planted trees and lots of benches make this the ideal venue for the evening corso and proves that Ukraine can do 'pleasant' when it puts its mind to it.

  • Sights in The Carpathians

    Carpathian National Nature Park

    This is Ukraine's largest national park and the heart of the Carpathians. Only about a quarter of the area is completely protected, but that hasn't detracted too much from the natural beauty of the place. Founded in 1980, the Carpathian National Nature Park (CNNP) covers 503 sq km of wooded mountains and hills. Parts of it shelter small numbers of animals and the alpine meadows are carpeted with species of flora. Realistically, however, hiking and possibly skiing are the main reasons to head this way.

  • Sights in Uzhhorod

    Cheshsky Kvartal

    A short walk west of the immediate city centre, hemmed by the Uzh River on its southern flank, lies the Czech Quarter, an unexpected neighbourhood of 1920s Czech admin buildings and tenements, a treat for architecture fans. The assertive interwar functionalist style, so ubiquitous in Prague and other large Czech and Slovak cities, dominates, the most striking example being the Regional Assembly building. Along the river extends Europe's longest alley of lime trees, a pleasant way to wander into the area.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kolomyya

    Pysanky Museum

    Kolomyya's most eye-catching attraction is a monster concrete Easter egg, which sits rather self-consciously on the town's main square. Inside in an adjoining building you'll discover a museum dedicated to the traditional art of egg decorating, with examples from across Ukraine as well as Romania, the Czech Republic and as far afield as India, China and Canada. Kolomyya's most photographed building also houses eggs signed by famous Ukrainians and a pysanka dating from 16th-century Lviv.

  • Sights in Kosiv

    Museum of Hutsul Folk Art and Life

    For those not seeking craft bargains, the main reason to vist Kosiv is to visit the Museum of Hutsul Folk Art and Life. It's worth visiting for a wide overview of the Hutsuls' artistic skills. It maintains a well-presented display of beautiful 19th- and 20th-century Kosiv ceramics, carpets, inlaid boxes and embossed leather, each room taking its theme from the traditional material used. The museum also holds fascinating temporary exhibitions with a Hutsul theme. Most captions are in English.

  • Sights in Ivano-Frankivsk

    Ratusha

    In addition to housing the tourist office and the museum, Frankivsk's art-deco town hall, the only one built in this style in the country, is an attraction in itself. Sitting right in the middle of the Rynok, you can now climb the 122 steps of the building's octagonal tower for quite impressive views of all of the city's sights. Look out for the huge, circular, Soviet-era market building to the north.

  • Sights in Rakhiv

    Museum of Mountain Ecology

    This old-school museum stands on the hill behind the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve headquarters building. The exhibition is surprisingly informative, rich and colourful as well as slightly kitsch, so in between sniggers at the odd moth-bitten, taxidermied sheep, you'll learn a bit from the handy Carpathian Mountains relief map, and the dioramas of forest landscapes and Hutsul festivals. Not always open when it should be, so call ahead before setting off from Rakhiv.

  • Sights in Uzhhorod

    Folk Architecture & Life Museum

    Next door to Uzhhorod Castle, this is one of the tidiest open-air museums in the country, albeit small. Highlights include several Hutsul cottages with their bench-lined walls, a complete timber school and the timber 18th-century Mykhaylivska Church (St Michael's Church), rescued from the village of Shelestovo near Mukacheve in 1974 and still a working place of worship (services 10am Sundays).

  • Sights in Mukacheve

    Ploshcha Kyryla ta Mefodiya

    Mukacheve's attractive main square, more a wide boulevard than a classic piazza, extends southeast from the town hall. At its northern end stands a monument to the 'Slavic apostles', Cyril and Methodius, down the middle runs a series of flower beds but the main attractions here are the rows of shops and cafes on both sides, ideal for idle ambling with an ice cream.

  • Sights in Ivano-Frankivsk

    Taras Shevchenko Park

    Around 1.6km south of the Rynok, the city's main stretch of green is a great place to shake out the picnic blanket, hire a rowboat on the lake or chill with an ice cream, people-watching on a balmy eve. The approaches to the park are lined with refurbished Austro-Hungarian mansions and the grounds have been beautifully landscaped thanks to EU handouts.

  • Sights in Uzhhorod

    Philharmonia

    Built in 1911, it's pretty obvious at first glance that this beautiful concert venue began life as a synagogue. Its intricately carved terracota facade makes this Uzhhorod's most impressive edifice. To the left of the entrance is a small plaque to the 85,000 Transcarpathian Jews who died in the Holocaust.

  • Sights in Chernivtsi

    Cathedral of the Holy Spirit

    Painted a garish Disney-princess pink, the huge, mid-19th-century Orthodox cathedral that straddles gated parkland between vuls Holovna and Kobylyanskoyi is worth dipping into for its monster chandeliers, giant frescoes and high dome. It has incredible acoustics, as you'll find out if you happen to catch a wedding or christening here.

  • Sights in Ivano-Frankivsk

    Main Fountain

    The dominating feature on maydan Vichevy is the fountain, a popular meeting spot. If you descend the steps below the fountain's main 'bowl', you can stand beneath the cascading water without getting wet – a little factoid of which locals are inordinately proud, especially those posing for wedding photos.