Getting Around Ukraine
The national carrier is Ukraine International Airlines (www.flyuia.com), whose routes include direct flights from the UK and the USA. British Airways (www.ba.com) also operates direct flights from the UK to Ukraine. Prices tend to be higher in July and August.
Getting around by road can be difficult outside the main cities. Roads are often potholed and driving standards can be poor. Outside urban areas, Ukrainian roads can be badly lit and in poor condition. Border points are at Chop, Mostiska and Uzhgorod. A road tax is payable at the border. Petrol stations and repair garages are becoming more common, but it is recommended to carry spare parts.
Side of the roadright
Self-drive hire cars are available from both local and international car hire operators in major towns, especially Kiev. The minimum age for hiring a car is 21 years.
Hiring a driver for a long-distance journey is a realistic and affordable option.
The main coach companies in Ukraine are Avtolux (tel: +380 44 536 0055; autolux.ua) and Gunsel (tel: 0800 303 010, in Ukraine only; www.gunsel.com.ua), both of which have services throughout the country.
The minimum driving age is 18. Seatbelts must be worn. Children under 12 cannot travel in the front seat. There is a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. Speed limits are 60kph (37mph) in built-up areas, 90kph (55mph) in outside areas and 130kph (80mph) on the motorways. Police may stop foreign cars and issue on-the-spot fines for minor infringements. Right-hand drive cars are prohibited.
European breakdown cover valid for Ukraine should be arranged at home in advance for drivers with their own cars. Car hire companies should have their own breakdown assistance but it is important to check.
An International Driving Permit is required. Third-party insurance is compulsory.
Towns and cities
All towns and cities have a comprehensive network of buses and trolleybuses that tend to be slow, crowded but very cheap. These are supplemented by fleets of battered minibuses (marshrutky) that will stop or put down anywhere along fixed routes. Official taxis, found in cities and larger towns, are metered and can be identified by a yellow and black sign on the roof. Fares should be negotiated in advance for private taxis.
Kharkiv, Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk have clean, efficient and cheap metro systems. You can buy tickets at vending machines inside the stations or use reloadable smartcards. Hitchhiking is very common, although not recommended. Passengers are expected to pay for the ride and the price, usually about the same as the bus fare, should be agreed upon before boarding.
Trains are more reliable than air travel in winter, when aircraft are sometimes grounded. Timetables for trains in CIS states, including trains within Ukraine, are available in English online (www.poezda.net). Or you can check times through Ukrainian Railways (tel: +380 44 503 7005; www.uz.gov.ua). There are no domestic rail passes.
Cruises between Kiev and Odessa are very popular and can be booked through various tour operators.