Sitting atop a volcanic hill, the medieval castle of Palanok is one of the highlights of Ukraine. Its fortification and defence systems are quite complex and require time to understand. Numerous European empires have fought for control of this strategic castle. During your visit, look for the architectural marks of Kyivan Rus, Podillian, Austrian and Transylvanian empires. The views from the top are impressive with small villages sitting amidst a vast expanse of the green valley.
Where to stay
Centre Hostel (₹360 dorm bed), Zlata Praha (₹1,100 double)
Cuisine on offer
Ukrainian cuisine has developed in isolation and is an eclectic mix of modern urban dishes and slow-cooked rural delicacies. Ukrainians use fresh and locally-sourced ingredients to prepare delightful dishes.
Borscht, a slow-cooked traditional soup, is the unofficial national dish of Ukraine and a must try. Chicken Kiev, salo, vareniki dumplings, okroshka, banush, and holodets are some of the other must-try local dishes. Syrniki and nalisniki are a couple of unique delicacies for dessert lovers. Vegetarians can enjoy dumplings, potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage rolls, potato pies, spinach in breadcrumbs and of course the vegetarian borscht.
Ukrainians are a friendly bunch and nothing signifies it more than the number of vodka rounds they will buy you and the toasts that will follow. Speaking of alcohol, it is what keeps them warm during the chilly winters. Here is what they like – honey mead, homemade wines, nalyvka and nastoyanka (homemade fruit and berry liqueur) and horilka the prized vodka that Ukrainians swear by. Tantalising and quirky non-alcoholic beverages worth trying are kvass, syrivets, uzvar, ryazhanka, kefir and baked milk.
When to go
May to September is the best time to travel throughout Ukraine with temperatures ranging between 15 to 25 Celsius. The Carpathians skiing season runs from November to March.
Ukraine's major cities have good public transportation in the form of buses, trolleybuses, metros and street trams. Marshrutkas are intercity and intracity buses or minivans run by private companies that stop wherever passengers request. They are a nice way to experience local culture as most Ukrainians prefer marshrutkas over government-run buses.
An extensive network of buses and trains can take you to different parts of Ukraine as well as other European countries. You can book trains here and bus bookings can be made here.
Flight from New Delhi to Kiev: ₹27,000 (avg. round-trip cost)
Intercity bus ticket: ₹1,400 (avg. one-way cost)
Taxi starting tariff: ₹17/km
Hotel stay: ₹1,100
Hostel stay: ₹500
Meals for one day: ₹500
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