Ukraine Adventure Travel

Do not travel more than 100 kilometers from Kyiv or you will end up on a one-lane rutted dirt road with fallen trees and bandits waiting to ambush your car. Fact or fiction? While the early motorways in Ukraine may have been fraught with geographical and human hazards, and though cars are still scarce commodities for most Ukrainians often preferring to travel by overnight train to their destinations, in the ever confident traveling world, the country of Ukraine is sometimes best explored by car.

The Kyiv-Odessa motorway connects the capital to the Crimean seaside where travelers can even catch a ferry to Turkey for the afternoon. The motorway is also a central artery for Ukrainians so buses and trucks can discourage a traveler. Still, less popular routes winding through endless fields and occasional villages offer a true flavor of the Ukrainian countryside. Petrol stations and restaurants may be sparse but depending on the area, little stalls dot the roadside where you can buy mineral water, soft drinks and beer, snacks and ice cream. Some places pride themselves in serving home-made meals too. In a village halfway between Odessa and Kyiv, tables with cooking pans and placards advertising lunch or borsch fill every courtyard. A huge plate of Ukrainian traditional soup, borsch, and a generous dessert of sweet varenykys or home-made cookies can be found for as little as the equivalent of three Euros.

The occasional Ukrainian driver is not exactly rude but with a speed limit of 90 km, the chance that someone will be flashing their headlights, honking furiously, or trying to overtake you on the road from the wrong side may be enough for some travelers to hang up their set of car keys and peruse the nearest train stop schedules. Do not be tempted to put your foot down though because while bandits do not lie in wait, the police do by hiding in the roadside bushes with a speed-measuring device.
If you are driving at night and cannot find a place to stop and sleep, consider sleeping in your car near a traffic police road post. By midnight the immediate vicinity of traffic post is congested with huge trucks and buses with tired passengers stretching their legs after the long ride, along with shiny limos and rusted cars alike. Strangely enough, sleeping in your car is not dangerous, so if you have adventure in your soul, be sure to pack your pillow and consider seeing Ukraine from a car window.