Ukraine is in Eastern Europe, and shares its borders with the Russian Federation, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova. The Black Sea and Sea of Azov lay to the south/south-east of the country. Ukraine is the largest country completely within Europe, and the eighth most popular tourist destination.
Ukraine offers many outdoor activities to visitors such as skiing, hiking, fishing, scuba diving, health spas and visiting the stunning nature reserves. The country has a rich history and culture, and a wealth of interesting attractions that include museums, churches, castles, and fabulous architecture. The nightlife varies in places, but it is generally livelier in the bigger cities, with a large choice of restaurants, bars, opera houses, and a great selection of theaters. Odessa, Kiev, Lviv, Kamyanets-Podilskyi and Yalta are some of the most popular places to visit, and all have a well-developed tourism infrastructure.
Ukraine has a fantastic diversity in both natural landscapes and wildlife. Many areas have been protected as nature reserves and national parks, and the country is developing its ecotourism. Health and wellness spas are very popular due the country's richness in mineral deposits and water. The landscape in Ukraine consists of plains and plateaus that are interspersed with picturesque rivers and forests. Agriculture and farming are large industries. The Carpathian Mountains and the Crimean Mountains are the highest regions within Ukraine, although other highland and lowland areas decorate the interior of the country. Cycling is very popular due to the opportunities for mountain biking and touring the countryside.
Ukraine has a dry, continental climate - visitors can expect warm, pleasant summers and very cold winters. In the coastal areas around the Black Sea, the weather is best during May-September with sunny days, and cooler evenings, with the chance of thunderstorms. This is also the main scuba diving season. Air temperatures reach 25 °C to 30 °C in summer, although sometimes they exceed 35 °C. July is the warmest month with an average air temperature of 24 °C. During winter, January is the coldest month with the extreme air temperatures ranging from 0 °C to -20 °C in the different regions. Water temperatures on the coast of the Black Sea average 25-28 °C during the summer months.
There are many exciting scuba diving sites in Ukraine to explore. Wreck diving is very popular around Odessa and Crimea, in the Black Sea. There are also lots of lakes and inland quarries to explore. The marine life is interesting and divers can see crabs, rays, many species of fish and critters, and even dolphins!
Odessa is on the coast of the Black Sea, and is home to a variety of fabulous wrecks such as the Sulina. At 120 meters long, this cargo ship is very interesting to dive due to its Romanian royal ownership and great marine life. Rays, comb-tooth blennies and gobies are often seen here. The Sulina sits in 18-20 meters of water, still in good condition after running around in 1942. Other good wrecks to dive in this area include a freight steamer called Bryansk; an English steamship - the Patagonia; and paddleboat Durenstain. Depth ranges from 5-30 meters around this area and visibility averages 15-20 meters during the summer diving season.
Cape Tarkhankut is in the west of Crimea, and is very popular with both novice and experienced divers. Along the coastline, there is a good range of wrecks and old anchors at depths varying from 5-50 meters. The marine life is abundant and interesting here. Good wreck dives in this area are the battleship Saint Alexander; submarine L-23; steamship Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich; and the carrier ships Varna and Wolga-Don.
Another interesting dive site attraction is the Alley of the Leaders. Underwater sculptures of Soviet Union leaders decorate the area, along with other fascinating sculpted figures. One of the most popular dive sites in Cape Tarhankut is the Cup of Love. Averaging 14 meters in depth, it is suitable for all levels of diver. It comprises of three sections including an exit out to sea, an arch and a cavern that is called the Monastery.
Other diving areas of interest include Snake Island, which is near the Danube Delta in Odessa, and has some great wrecks; and Balaklava Bay, in Sevastopol, where there are stunning underwater formations of grottos, and a really good selection of marine life (including dolphins)!
Ukraine has a good selection of established dive operators from organizations such as PADI, NAUI and CMAS. Technical diving and free diving are also supported by many of the centers and dive clubs. The main concentration of dive shops is in Kiev and Crimea.
Undersea World is based in Kiev and is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center with many highly qualified instructors. They have received good online reviews and have active social media groups. Undersea World offers the spectrum of recreational PADI certifications up to professional levels. They train and provide services for technical divers too. They rent and service all diving equipment, including drysuits. Undersea World organizes regular trips to the plentiful dive sites throughout the country.
PADI 5 Star IDC and TecRec Center, Kapitan, is situated in Simferopol, the capital of the Crimean Peninsula. They dive all sites around Crimea in the Black Sea and Donuzlav Lake. Daily-guided scuba tours on board their boat can be arranged as well as accommodation and land tours. Their highly qualified team teaches all PADI certification courses from beginner up to professional and technical levels. Full rental equipment and gas mixing is available, as well as a fully stocked retail shop. This center is highly recommended online.
The Boryspil International Airport (KBP) near Kiev is a busy international airport in Ukraine. There are many international flights from European cities such as Budapest, Frankfurt, Milan, Munich, Prague, London, Rome, Vienna and Warsaw. Austrian AUA, CSA Czech Airlines, LOT, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Air France, British Airways, KLM, Ukraine International, AeroSvit, and Wizzair are some of the airlines that fly to Ukraine. For domestic flights within Ukraine, the most common airline to use is Ukraine International Airlines - its routes cover all Ukraine's major destinations.
Visitors can also travel to Ukraine by train. There are direct trains from Western European cities including Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Belgrade, Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia. Bus travel is also common and a cheap alternative. There are also direct bus services to Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, from Poland. Ferries run from Istanbul, Georgia, and Bulgaria to Odessa or Crimea.
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