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Travel to Ukraine, yes. But now?

Ukraine is a fascinating country to travel to. Visitors enjoy unique cultural experiences, historic treasures, amazing cities and sincere hospitality. There are many good reasons to put Ukraine high on the bucket list. Yes, sure. But now?

These days, when you’re announcing you are going to Ukraine, people will usually meet you with a stare that comes just short of telephoning for psychological help. “But there’s a war,” is the response heard most often. It’s safe to say that people right now really don’t think it would be a good idea to explore this largely-unknown destination.

Or is it?

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In fact, there are a number of reasons to start planning that trip to Ukraine right away. The first and one of the best reason is geography: The war zone everyone is talking about is in the easternmost sections of the country (and it was never such a desirable destination for tourists to begin with). While the Odessa and Kharkiv areas as well as the Black Sea coast arguably are rather close to the line of fire, other great places are not. The beautiful city of Lviv for example, featuring a picturesque Old Town that has been declared a World Heritage Site is no less than 1200 kilometers from the war zone and thus considerably closer to Berlin or Vienna than to Donetsk. The Ukrainian section of the Carpathian mountains with a wide range of outdoor opportunities is also located in Western Ukraine and the impressive capital Kyiv is a safe 700 kilometers away from tanks and battles. Kyiv is without a doubt Ukraine’s most important travel destination. It has plenty of beautiful sights, a vibrant atmosphere and has an international airport with good connections. In quieter times, there were usually thousands of foreigners, both business travelers and vacationers, in the city at any given time, but traffic has calmed down considerably in the past months.

Which brings us to the second good reason for a trip in the near future. Money. Ukraine has never been an expensive travel country to begin with, although Kyiv ranks among Europe’s primary cities and offers quite a few options to spend a lot of money. Right now, though, Ukraine travel is available at a discount. Air fares are very low due to the fact that there aren’t too many people booking flights there now. The same goes for hotel rooms and other travel services – not even taking into account that museum admission fees, restaurant checks and taxi fares have always been much lower than elsewhere in Europe. Also, the Ukrainian currency has plunged to all-time lows recently because of the world money markets’ uncertainty about the country’s future. For those not too familiar with the wheeling and dealing of the finance sector, that means that your Euro or Dollar coin is worth more in Ukraine now than it would be in almost any other country you might be inclined to visit.

This, of course, is a development that’s only beneficial for those visiting and a major problem for residents. The country and its people suffer greatly from the war forced upon it and the uncertain future that keeps a lot of foreign money away. Yet, as Ukraine has been exploited by a corrupt gang of rogue politicians in the recent past and has at the same time never quite managed in many sections to modernize its economy to a degree where it could enter into global competition, foreign money is precisely what the country needs now. So, if you will, here is the noblest and third reason for travelling Ukraine soon: Your expenditures really help the country. Every coin spent is a valuable injection into the economy of a country where the average monthly salary has now fallen below the amount you would spend for a glossy coffee table book and where a lot of people worry if they will still be able to afford a piece of bread next month.

You will not notice it, though.

Despite all the hardships, the bad and worse news they receive every day and the exponentially grown number of funerals, Ukrainians are about the most hospitable people you will ever meet and they will be glad – and rightfully proud – to show you the great places you have to see. And this is the final and best reason to go and visit, now or anytime.

 

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