Kiev, Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine

Essential Ukraine

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

The Ukraine has had a turbulent political modern history since the Orange Revolution in 2004, and a complex relationship with Russia. The Ukraine is the birthplace of Kievan Rus, founded in Kiev in the eighth and ninth centuries, and the city from which the orthodox faith spread throughout eastern Europe.

Today Kiev is a beautiful city, with rich and varied architecture and museums. You will be assured of a warm and hospitable welcome.

The itinerary below is a suggestion so we always recommend that you contact us to discuss your specific needs.

For custom luxury travel and tours to Kiev and Ukraine, please contact one of our travel experts.

Download PDF itinerary here.

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$6,150 per person, based on two guests traveling together. Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability. 

Day 1
Arrival | Lviv

Today arrive in Lviv. Please note this flight is not included in program cost.On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

The hotel’s restaurant is generally only open until 10PM. If you arrive late we can preorder a room service dinner or snack to be ready upon your arrival. The cost for this is payable locally at the hotel.

Lviv will enchant you with Renaissance architecture and a feel of 19th century Vienna, with unique Art Nouveau mansions and its multi-ethnic culture. The beautiful streets strongly resemble Krakow as Lviv was once a part of Poland.

Exeter Services: Arrival transfer (one included)

Hotel: Leopolis Hotel

Day 2
Lviv | Lviv

Today meet your guide in the hotel lobby for an exploration of Lviv’s Old Town.

First, visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral, which dates back to the 14th Century. Sculptures and paintings by famous artists and sculptors embellish the cathedral.

Afterwards, continue your walk onwards to Ploshcha Rynok (Market Square). Many historical events have taken place on the Market Square. In Medieval times an execution pillar stood opposite the city hall. A total of 44 buildings, featuring a variety of architectural styles (Renaissance, Baroque, and Empire) surround the square on all four sides. Throughout the course of time, each structure was rebuilt, restored, and enlarged. Elements of 15th-16th century Gothic architecture however, were preserved on the facades of basements and first floors.

Time permitting, and if you wish, you may also visit the Dominican Roman Catholic Church (1745-64). One of the most magnificent Baroque structures in Lviv. The interior contains many priceless works of art.

While here, don’t miss the Main Building of the University, (1877-81). The Galician Seym (Parliament) was originally located here. The imposing facade features stately porticoes with columns a loggia, an allegorical sculptural grouping depicting ‘’work’’ and ‘’Education’’ at the entrance; the Attic depicts ‘’Galicia, and the Vistula and the Dnister rivers.’’

Exeter Services: Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Leopolis Hotel

Day 3
Lviv | Lviv

This morning meet your guide in the hotel lobby for exploration of greater Lviv.

You will begin your day with a visit to the Lviv Picture Gallery. The gallery boasts a gamut of art ranging through three distinct European styles: Italian Renaissance, Austrian, and French Art.

Afterwards, visit a beautiful Neo-Renaissance Opera & Ballet Theater and the Pharmacy Museum, set up in 1735!

This afternoon you can explore Jewish heritage of Lviv with your guide. You will visit the Jewish cemetery in Lviv.

You may also have the opportunity today to be introduced to members of the Jewish community in Lviv, who may help to further explain the contemporary Jewish community in Lviv.

No visit to Lviv is complete without a hike up Castle Hill, which offers breathtaking views of the city.
You may also want to visit the Museum of Ethnography, Aruyhuuts & Crafts, where you can observe an excellent collection of farm culture & folk art from Western Ukraine, including ethnic dress, woodcarvings, ceramics & pysanky (painted eggs), and embroidery.

Exeter Services: Guide, Vehicle & Driver (6 Hours)

Hotel: Leopolis Hotel

Day 4
Lviv to Kiev | Lviv to Kiev

Today you will be in the hotel lobby and transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Kiev.

Please note this flight is not included in program cost.

On arrival in Kiev, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Transfer to your deluxe hotel located in the center of the city. During your 30-45-minute transfer towards Kiev’s city center, you will pass through Kharkivskiy, one of the city’s youngest districts, full of modern shopping plazas and lately constructed apartment buildings. You will also cross the Southern bridge, one of six bridges in Kiev, where you will enjoy views of Kiev’s Iron Lady Monument, and the historic Lavra Monastery complex.

Legend says the picturesque town of Kiev was established in the late 5th Century, but the exact facts are obscure even to the modern historians. The oldest city in Eastern Europe and one of the most fundamental in the development of Slavic civilization, Kiev did not reach prominence until around the 11th Century with the reign of Prince Vladimir and the subsequent rule of his son, Yaroslav the Wise.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfers

Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 5
Kiev | Kiev

This morning you will meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel for an overview walking tour. Just a short stroll from your hotel, you will visit the 11th-century St. Sophia’s Cathedral, which is Kiev’s oldest standing church and one of its most popular landmarks and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church was built to celebrate one of Yaroslav I the Wise’s military successes and took almost two decades to complete. The architecture is in the typical Byzantine traditions, and the interiors are covered with mosaics and frescoes from the 11th Century. The cathedral’s name comes from the Haggia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople. It was a centre of learning and culture, where the first school and library of the Kievan Rus were located. This was also the place for coronations and other royal ceremonies and receptions. Prince Yaroslav himself was buried on the ground floor of the church.

Your next stop will be the Golden Gate – one of the few remaining parts of Kiev’s original fortifications from the rule of Yaroslav the Wise. Completely restored in 2006, the Golden Gate was originally built in the 11th century to resemble the Golden Gate of Constantinople and was the main entrance into the ancient city.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Later today, your guide will take you to the famous Kiev-Pecherska Lavra with its underground catacombs. You will enjoy a private tour of the catacombs led by one of the monastery’s monks or nuns. Considered the holiest place in the country, the Lavra, meaning higher-ranking monastery, was founded by the Greek missionary St. Anthony in the mid-11th Century, after the Kievan Russ adopted Orthodox Christianity as its official religion from the Byzantine Empire. St. Anthony and his followers gradually dug out a series of caves and narrow corridors where they lived and prayed. The monastery became popular and grew above ground as well to become an intellectual and religious center.

The territory of the Lavra has several different museums. We recommend a stop at the Museum of Historical Valuables, for a glimpse at a truly extraordinary collection of Scythian gold. You will also find the works of the best Ukrainian jewelers of past and present.

While in this area, you may wish to make a brief stop at the top of Old Kiev Hill where you will visit the monumental statue of the motherland before entering the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. This museum, which tells the story of Kiev’s occupation by the Nazis, also showcases many sculptures of Ukraine’s war heroes, and boasts a collection of other wartime artifacts.

Special Note: Some of the touring today is on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear. If you are tired at any time, your guide can arrange for taxi service on the spot and you can pay locally.

This morning you will meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel for an overview walking tour. Just a short stroll from your hotel, you will visit the 11th-century St. Sophia’s Cathedral, which is Kiev’s oldest standing church and one of its most popular landmarks and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The church was built to celebrate one of Yaroslav I the Wise’s military successes and took almost two decades to complete. The architecture is in the typical Byzantine traditions, and the interiors are covered with mosaics and frescoes from the 11th Century. The cathedral’s name comes from the Haggia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople. It was a centre of learning and culture, where the first school and library of the Kievan Rus were located. This was also the place for coronations and other royal ceremonies and receptions. Prince Yaroslav himself was buried on the ground floor of the church.

Your next stop will be the Golden Gate – one of the few remaining parts of Kiev’s original fortifications from the rule of Yaroslav the Wise. Completely restored in 2006, the Golden Gate was originally built in the 11th century to resemble the Golden Gate of Constantinople and was the main entrance into the ancient city.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Later today, your guide will take you to the famous Kiev-Pecherska Lavra with its underground catacombs. You will enjoy a private tour of the catacombs led by one of the monastery’s monks or nuns. Considered the holiest place in the country, the Lavra, meaning higher-ranking monastery, was founded by the Greek missionary St. Anthony in the mid-11th Century, after the Kievan Russ adopted Orthodox Christianity as its official religion from the Byzantine Empire. St. Anthony and his followers gradually dug out a series of caves and narrow corridors where they lived and prayed. The monastery became popular and grew above ground as well to become an intellectual and religious center.

The territory of the Lavra has several different museums. We recommend a stop at the Museum of Historical Valuables, for a glimpse at a truly extraordinary collection of Scythian gold. You will also find the works of the best Ukrainian jewelers of past and present.

While in this area, you may wish to make a brief stop at the top of Old Kiev Hill where you will visit the monumental statue of the motherland before entering the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. This museum, which tells the story of Kiev’s occupation by the Nazis, also showcases many sculptures of Ukraine’s war heroes, and boasts a collection of other wartime artifacts.

Special Note: Some of the touring today is on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear. If you are tired at any time, your guide can arrange for taxi service on the spot and you can pay locally.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide (8 Hours); Half-Day Vehicle & Driver (4 Hours)

Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 6
Kiev | Kiev

Today you will have an opportunity to visit the National Chernobyl Disaster Museum, which exhibits the story of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. This haunting museum will give you an opportunity to learn how the disaster affected the country, its neighbors, and the world.

You will later continue to the cobble stoned Andreyevsky Spusk (Andrew’s Descent), which is one of Kiev’s most charming and famous streets. Historically, this winding lane linked the Upper Town to the riverside districts. According to the legend, a Christian preacher called Andrew sailed up the banks of the Dnieper River and landed in this particular spot. He climbed the hill and stuck a cross it its top prophesying that a great city will be built here. The narrow and twisting lane supposedly follows Andrew’s path up the hill.

Afterward, explore some of Kiev’s Jewish heritage sites. Prior to the Second World War, there were some 150,000 Jews, who made up 20% of Kiev’s population.

The city’s Central Synagogue was built in the late 19th Century in the very heart of Kiev near the popular Bessarabian market. The two-storey brick building features a tall arched façade and deep portico. It was closed by the Soviet regime and was later used as a puppet theater. Returned to Jewish ownership in the 1990’s, it was fully renovated and now features crystal chandeliers hanging from vaulted ceilings.

The older Podil Synagogue is located in the older part of the city along the Dnieper River. This redbrick building was Kiev’s first permanent Jewish house of worship and has survived more than a century of war and persecution. Its interiors include a gilded wooden Ark with fine carvings and new stained-glass windows. You may want to spend some time walking around the historic Podol (Podil) district – certainly one of the most popular in Kiev. Traditionally the home to local craftsmen, businesses, churches and synagogues, Podol is one of the must-see areas in Kiev. Your guide will be happy to explain some of the history of the area and point out memorials and buildings of note.

Next, you may wish to see the monument to Shalom Aleichem – the renowned Yiddish writer and author of the novel, which later became the famous movie ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’. Your guide will also point out the House of Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, and commonly known as ‘the Iron Lady’ of Israeli politics.

Just outside of the city limits, a grassy ravine called Babi Yar is the site where, during only two days, September 29—30, 1941, German Nazis and their local supporters gathered and murdered 33,771 Jewish civilians. Throughout the Nazi occupation, Babi Yar was used as the execution site for gypsies, Jews, and Soviet prisoners of war and the Nazi’s meticulous records show that as many as 100,000 were killed here. Erected in 1991, a Jewish memorial was built to commemorate the more than 80,000 Jewish victims during the Holocaust. Another monument was built in 2001, which is dedicated to the memory of all the children who had died here.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide (8 Hours); Half-Day Vehicle & Driver (4 Hours)

Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 7
Kiev to Odessa | Kiev to Odessa

Today you will be in the hotel lobby and transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Odessa.

Please note this flight is not included in program cost.

On arrival in Odessa, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Odessa is a bustling port town. This vibrant and energetic city abounds with historic and contemporary culture and embodies the ever-evolving spirit of Ukraine.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfers

Hotel: Hotel de Paris

Day 8
Odessa | Odessa

This morning, your driver and guide will meet you to start your exploration of the city with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in a beautiful 19th century building, once the palace of a princess of the noble Potocki family. At one point, this family's influence extended beyond this region and they have a palace in Lviv and a gorgeous castle in Łancut, Poland.

This small museum features works by Russian and Ukrainian artists. Of particular note is the work of the outstanding seascape painter I. Aivazovskiy and others who followed in his footsteps. You also may enjoy the collection of icons dating back to the 16th century. If interested, you may also enjoy a small exhibit of Soviet modern art on the second floor.

From here, if you are up to it, it is the perfect starting point for a stroll down the picturesque harbor front of Odessa. Your guide will point out some of the city’s most notable architectural monuments, including Vorontsov Palace. Of course, you will also see the famous Potemkin Steps, which descend grandiosely 455 feet down to the sea front. Odessa’s own unique architectural landmark and a symbol of the city ever since they were featured prominently in Eisenstein's famous film, Battleship Potemkin.

The end of Primorsky Boulevard brings you to the fabulously restored opera house. Continue with a stroll down Deribasovskaya Street – one of Odessa’s main thoroughfares of the city. The many cafes that line the street make a perfect stopping point for a coffee and snack.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6 Hours)

Hotel: Hotel de Paris

Day 9
Odessa | Odessa

Today your guide will take you on a tour of some of Odessa’s main Jewish cultural sights.

The city’s rich Jewish history goes back many centuries and some of modern Judaism’s main figures like Meir Dizengoff – Tel Aviv’s first mayor, lived in the city. Jews settled here in the 1700s when the Russian Empress Catherine the Great created the Pale of Settlement along Russia’s south-western border, in which permanent residence of Jews was allowed, and beyond which Jewish settlement was generally prohibited. By the beginning of the Second World War, about 30% of Odessa’s population was Jewish and the city was also a main center of Jewish culture and the arts with Jewish theaters, libraries, schools, and literary salons. Writers like Sholem Aleichem, Chaim Nachman Bialik, and Isaac Babel all lived in Odessa and described it in their works.

You will see Odessa’s former Central Synagogue on Yevreyskaya (Jewish) Street, built in 1853 in a combination of Moorish and neo-Romantic style. After the October Revolution, the synagogue shared the sad fate of other houses of worship and was turned into a Natural History Museum before being bombed and looted in the Second World War. Used as a sports center during the Communist period, the building was returned to Jewish ownership in the 1990s and renovated with international help.

Also, on Yevreiskaya Street, you will see the house where the Zionist leader, journalist, and author Vladimir Jabotinsky once lived. A memorial plaque was unveiled during a ceremony here in 1997 in the presence of Jabotinsky’s grandson. Your guide will also take you to the newly reconstructed synagogue of the local Shomrei Shabbat congregation. The Beit Chabad synagogue also houses the administrative board of the city's Shomrei Shabbos congregation, the editorial board of a newspaper of the same name, and a kosher kitchen.

This afternoon, you will also visit the Brodsky Synagogue, which was first opened in 1841 by the local Brodsky Jews, who migrated to Odessa in the first quarter of the 19th Century from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany and quickly became engaged in large-scale commercial operations, especially in the grain market, which allowed them to gradually become the wealthiest sector of Odessa’s Jewish community. The name Brodsky was derived from the town of Brody in the Galicia region, now in Poland.

Just west of the city center, you may stroll through the Moldovanka neighborhood which, before the Soviet revolution, was main Jewish quarter. This is where the famous journalist, playwright, and writer Isaac Babel was born and one of the streets bears his name.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (6 Hours)

Hotel: Hotel de Paris

Day 10
Departure | Departure

This morning, your driver and guide will take you approximately 12 miles outside the city to see one of Odessa's most famous sites – the catacombs. This underground network of tunnels carved into the limestone served as a base for partisans during WWII and was their home for over two years. People of many nationalities and faiths worked together to defend the city from the Nazi army and this gives one a glimpse into their struggle and sacrifice. Please note, entry and exit of this site requires a flight of stairs. You will walk underground for approximately 1⁄2 mile. Please wear appropriate footwear. This excursion is not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

Later today you will be in the hotel lobby and transferred to the airport to catch your onward flight. Please note this flight is not included in program cost.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (5 Hours); Departure Transfer

 

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