Getting to Ukraine
There are international airports in all key cities: Kyiv, Kharkov, Lviv, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk. Apart from Kyiv, they handle rather a limited number of long-distance international flights.
Boryspil airport (KBP), situated a 40-minute drive from the centre of Kyiv, is the main air gateway to Ukraine. From the airport, buses (‘Sky Bus’) to the centre leave several times an hour (6:00-22:00 – each 15 min, 22:00 - 06:00 - each 45 min. Charged for UAH 50). You can also take a taxi present at the airport or to call for any other taxi service that charges you about UAH 230-400, depending on your destination in Kyiv. (More about taxi in our Taxis subsection).
Besides well-known international air companies, which provide Ukraine with connection to the key European and some Asian and American hubs the National carrier - Ukraine International Airlines - offers regular domestic services to Lviv, Kharkov and Odessa, as well as to many destinations across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Generally they are below par but this will probably change somewhat when competition arrives in late 2017.
Queues at passport control may mean a wait of up to 10 minutes – but once you have been returned your passport, collecting your baggage and leaving the airport is very quick. Note that your baggage may be scanned – this is pretty stupid and is a testament to the old Soviet way of thinking that you have something to hide - but f late - mid 2017, this seems to be on the wane.
Most domestic and the majority of the low cost flights are operated from Kiev secondary airport - Zhulyany (IEV), situated 8 km to the south-west of the city centre. You can get either by taxi or by public transport there easily.
Here are the links to the airports sites in the key cities (Kiev, Kharkov, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, Odessa, Simferopol).
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Passenger trains are the most popular intercity transport over the ex-Soviet Union area. Ukraine inherited from the USSR well-developed railway network. It connects all cities, towns and even some villages all-around Ukraine, European Russia, Belarus and other contiguous ex-Soviet countries. There are also direct train routes linking some key Ukrainian cities and a number of European capitals.
Traditionally Ukrainian trains have 3 types of carriages: open “platzkart” wagons contain several sets of bunk beds with a corridor running down the middle, whereas private “kupe” carriages separate the wagon into cabins, each with four beds inside. “SV’ (“spul’ny vugon” or a sleeping carriage) has a limited number of 2-bed compartments with the additional comfort devices comparing with the other types of trains. Tickets price increases from platzkart to “SV” carriages and may differ in 2-3 times. Though the platzkart is the cheapest option for travellers, it is still an obvious remnant of the last century: e.g., sharing space with more people has some disadvantages – namely, the possibility of wandering fingers, the probability of outrageous snoring, and toilets that will give you nightmares for weeks.
Recently the officials have taken an attempt to revise the system and implement a few intercity expresses to key destinations. The initiative has been criticized and is not completed yet, nevertheless travelling by the new expresses may be the best choice for time and comfort conscious ones. (A little comment: don’t take Ukrainian definition of the “express train” for the common European. The maximum speed of the ordinary passenger trains here is 70 km/h and up to 160 km/h – of the new intercity trains).
Travelling by train in Ukraine is an adventure: once you have introduced yourself to your fellow passengers they may well offer to share their meals with you, and once they have worked out that you’re a foreigner they will certainly want to know your life story. If you need to improve your Ukrainian, kupe compartments are as good as any classroom! On overnight trains you will be given a pillow and blanket to turn your seat into a bed in the evening – if needed, train staff will remember which station you are getting off at, and will wake you up half an hour before the train arrives.
Due to permanent lack of tickets to the popular destinations, the officials have changed the rules of purchasing tickets several times a year. At the moment you have to admit your passport to buy a ticket at the ticket box. Given that selling a ticket to a particular date starts 40 days beforehand, it is recommended not to put off purchasing on later term, especially at the peak periods. Nevertheless if you don’t mind to overpay, you can order a ticket with the commission at the commercial ticket agents anytime.
There are no special facilities for disabled people in trains.
To buy a train ticket and then enter the carriage you should show your passport - this is to stop ticket sharks....
Here you can find the links to Ukrzaliznytsia's site and to the central railway stations in the key cities (Kiev, Kharkov, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, Odessa, Simferopol).
Very good guide to Train travel here: http://destinations.com.ua/travel/ultimate-guide-to-ukraine-train-travel
More practical experience and advice - on our Forum!
Buses are the second popular option to get elsewhere in Ukraine. It is a severe competitor to the railway connection. There are national operator and a number of commercial companies of different size providing services on that. The private transport enterprises are oriented on more solvent passengers, beating the state company by flexibility and mobility. The large operators focus on long-distance (often - international) routes mostly, using big comfortable intercity buses in line with the European standards.
Commonly, there are several bus stations in any big city, oriented to particular destinations.
The large bus operators also assist with the private limited size cargo delivery.
Microbuses or “marshroutki” (shuttles of 20-30 seats) is another very popular category of transport. It is rather economic, time-saving, comfortable by logistic and schedule. As regards Kiev, there are numerous microbus stations at the end stations of the city subway. Usually, there is no fixed schedule, so they leave upon filling in. The main disadvantage of this type of transport is lack of control of the vehicles technical condition and the drivers’ health.
Here are the contacts of thebus stations in the key cities (Kiev, Kharkov, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, Odessa, Simferopol).
*Pay attention, please, English-speaking service is not provided by them.
*You can purchase your tickets at the Bus Station on your departure day immediately, but for long-distance routes it’s recommended to take care about it in advance.
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The roads in many places are atrocious but in recent years at least the major highways have been repaired. More dificult though is the atitude of Ukrainian drivers - many who have bought their driving licenses in the past and have no idea of speed, road sense, common courtesy.... need I go on?
Car rent is available in all big cities. Some international car rent operators are present in Ukraine. To rent a car and to travel you need just your license, Proof of Insurance, a credit card and – preferably – somebody, who assists your communications on the way!
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