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Ukraine is best explored by rental car. Carrentals.co.uk has over 7 pick-up locations in Ukraine. This means there is always a pick-up location close to your destination.
Ukraine is quickly moving into the 21st century, and thanks to the modernisation of the road network, getting around by car has never been easier. Tourists can drive through modern cities such as Kiev to beautiful beaches like those in Crimea and then on to the striking mountain scenery of the Carpathians.
The main roads tend to be in good condition and ongoing roadwork across the country means many of the smaller roads are gradually being updated. Drivers should always carry a road map as road signs can be sporadic and are mostly in Cyrillic script.
Driving licences: UK citizens must obtain an International Driving Permit, which should be carried alongside a valid UK licence.
Which side does Ukraine drive on: the right.
Motorways: 74mph (120kph)
Rural areas: 49mph (80kph)
Built-up areas: 37mph (60kph)
Alcohol limits: there is a zero tolerance policy with regards to drink driving, compared to the UK limit of 0.08 per cent.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: required for all passengers in both the front and back seats. Children under the age of 12 or less than 145cm tall must be appropriately restrained in a child safety seat. There are harsh fines for those in violation of the seatbelt laws.
Mobile phones and GPS: it is forbidden to use a mobile phone while driving unless you use a hands-free device. GPS is allowed; however, the roads have undergone extensive modernization in recent years, meaning a current map might be more useful.
Cost of fuel in Ukraine: cheaper than in the UK, at almost half the price.
Car hire and fuel payment: most petrol stations only accept cash. Car hire payment by credit card is accepted, however.
Insurance: third-party insurance is included in car hire, but it is advised to take out additional insurance to cover for any unforeseen accidents.
Traffic and parking: parking laws are more lenient than in the UK. Most parking is paid but without time limitation. Generally, parking past 20:00 is free in the cities and towns, with traffic only a problem in the large cities during commuter hours.
Trains run overnight from a number of cities, including Berlin, Vienna and Prague, to both Lviv and Kiev, but fares can be expensive, with a first-class ticket from Moscow costing about £220. There is often a two- or three-hour wait at the border while trains adapt to the different rail gauge. Domestic trains are operated by Ukrainian Railways, a state-owned company. The trains tend to be old and rather slow, but are surprisingly reliable and cheap. First, second and third class are all available, and sleeping cars are standard for overnight services.
There are many unofficial taxis in Ukraine. Taxis, unofficial or not, do not run on a meter so it’s important to agree on a price before starting your journey and to always be very clear about your final destination. Taxis are commonly used within the cities and towns, but there are cheaper and more convenient ways to cover long distances. Fares start around £2.30 and rise by £0.25 every kilometre travelled.
Bus services run direct from Lviv, Poland, to Kiev for around £12. These services tend to run overnight and are relatively cheap. The major domestic bus companies are Avtolux and Gunsel. Service isn’t extensive but runs from all major cities, including Kiev. Fares are cheap and complimentary drinks are standard. Although journeys can be long, there are usually a number of daily services to major cities.
Ferries run from Turkey and Bulgaria, docking in Odessa and Crimea. UKR Ferry provides services between Odessa in Ukraine and Derince in Turkey, as well as between Odessa and Varna in Bulgaria. Navibulgar runs similar routes. Ferries run weekly with timetables available online.
Boryspil International Airport or Kiev Airport is the main air entry point into the country, receives direct flights from London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow and Manchester with both full-service and low-cost carriers. There’s a good network of domestic flights, with fares often under £60. Buses from the airport to the city take around one hour and cost just £2, while taxis run the same route for around £15.
Kiev, also known as Kyiv, is the capital of Ukraine. Situated on the Dnieper River, it is a bustling mix of historic sites and modern architecture. The stunning 11th century cathedral of St. Sophia can be found here - a well-preserved example of Ukraine’s past which has been named a UNESO Word Heritage site. Kyiv Opera House blends the old with the new and showcases classic Ukrainian operas along with many modern plays.
Lviv is another ideal mix of the past and present. The narrow cobbled streets are perfectly preserved and many of the medieval buildings have been converted into chic coffee shops and bistros.
Ukraine has much natural beauty to explore, too. The Carpathian Mountains are the perfect mix of lush forests, stunning views and quaint towns where the locals still use traditional farming methods.
Odessa, found on the coast of the Black Sea, is a vital city in terms of trade. With a mild climate and stunning beaches, it’s not surprising that this spot is popular with tourists and locals alike.
The ideal time to visit is in spring, from April through June. The reason for this is that while the summers are stiflingly hot, the winters from December through January are bitterly cold, with temperatures frequently dropping to below 0ºC. However, spring sees temperatures of around 15ºC and a number of Easter festivals, with hiking through the mountains in this season offering greenery and low humidity.