More quintessentially Ukrainian than the rest of the country, and distinctly more European, the west is all about its largest city, the Galician capital of Lviv. An emerging tourist magnet, the city is a truly captivating place, rich in historic architecture and with an indulgent coffee-house culture. Once off the beaten track, Lviv now welcomes tens of thousands of foreign tourists who fill the main square night and day. Away from the city centre piecemeal gentrification has made only small dents in its shabby authenticity.
The Soviets ruled for only 50 years here, making the west the most foreigner-friendly province with less surly 'no-can-do' bureaucracy than in eastern regions. People here speak Ukrainian (rather than Russian) and show greater pride in Ukrainian traditions than elsewhere.
Away from Lviv, the moody Carpathian Mountains are a short hop by bus, as are historic Lutsk, architecturally interesting Kremenets and the golden domes of Pochayiv Monastery.