This is a guest post by Maria Kruk, an author for Kyiv.com
In recent years the popularity of Ukraine as a tourist destination has grown rapidly. For instance, fans of winter sports discovered Carpathian resorts, while thousands of Europeans unveiled and enjoyed numerous sightseeing places during and after Euro 2012 Championship, held partially in Ukraine. Excitement of winter sports and historic sightings are among the top entertainments Ukraine can offer to a commonplace traveler, especially in wintery season.
Active tourism, featuring skiing, skating and snow-boarding, has already become a must-do trend in Ukraine. More and more Ukrainians head to Carpathian Mountains in winter, particularly, when the vacation season starts. Marvelous panorama of snow-covered peaks is perfectly accompanied by steep hills and drop-offs that are widely adored by skiing fanciers. Winter frosts here are ideal for skiing and rarely exceed 20 degrees; in very deed, skiing lodges always have enough snow for skiing. Certainly, foreign visitors also value the benefit of cheap accommodation and relatively lower cost of staying in Carpathian resorts. Affordable prices are observed even at the best resorts of winter tourism in Vorokhta, Bukovel, Yaremche, Slavsk, Yasinia and many others. Besides, the vicinity of European border, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, cannot but enhance the popularity of Carpathians among those traveling by car.
One can be surprised, but Crimean mountain ranges can also appeal to winter sports’ enthusiasts, regardless of being located in the warmest south and being gradually lower than Carpathians on the west. Here winter usually lasts 2-3 months, which, as it turned out lately, is enough for skiing and snow-boarding fans. Three main lodges on the peninsula, Angarskyi Pass, Marble Cave and Ai-Petri, can boast of several trails and toboggan runs and snow-cats. The latter is especially popular among snow-boarding enthusiasts, who visit local snow-boarding festival every year.
Similar to the rest of the world, Ukrainians greatly associate winter with Christmas feasts. While foreigners end up every year with the Holy Night celebrations on December 25th, the same way Ukrainians start it on January 6th. Thus, visitors from abroad have a great chance to continue Christmas celebrations and get familiar with Ukrainian traditions, which are severely observed during this holiday. Pre-Christmas and Christmas attractions are often centered around public fairs on the squares, racy performances or the so-called “verteps”, buying presents (Christmas sales are the most awaited), learning carol songs and then wandering among the neighbors to sing them, etc.
In big cities, sightseeing is always in the agenda of top things to do. Most of the travelers arrive to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine and a major cradle of the historic past. Walking tours along Podol district, the root place of European medieval fairs, uncover the best of old-fashioned architecture. Besides, winter season in Kyiv often starts with grand opening of open air skating rinks, both in center and on the suburbs.