Impressions from Kharkiv, Ukraine

Have you ever traveled somewhere and knew you would love the place even before arriving at the destination?  Yea… that was Kharkiv (or Kharkov) for me.  The Ukrainian city has been on my radar for some time and Katherine’s blog 8 Months in Ukraine never helped things.  The city just always seemed a bit out of reach and difficult to incorporate into any of my travel itineraries.  I also knew I needed more than one day in the city home to 1.5 million residents.  As many of you know, my life took a turn fo the unexpected a couple of months ago when I decided not to renew my German visa.  This put me in a position where I had to flee Schengen for a three-month period and I immediately knew I was destined to go to Ukraine.  While I didn’t end up moving there, I still took two weeks to travel a little deeper throughout the east.  The top of my list?  Kharkiv, naturally.

Hotel Mir in Kharkiv, Ukraine

My plan was to get to Kharkiv with no plan.  It sounds a bit paradoxical for me these days as I have become quite the planner, but I just knew that three and a half days would be far too short and I wanted to see the city at my own pace and not put pressure on myself.  And then Katherine came up with a brilliant post sharing an itinerary of how to see Kharkiv properly within three days.  Once reading that, I knew I was stupid for thinking I could go there and just piss around for a few days.  In fact, about 80% of the sights mentioned in the post I hadn’t even heard of.  It was at that moment that I began some intense preparation.

The preparation worked.  Never in my life have I been such a ‘good and active’ traveler.  I tend to see a few sights and then go to a bar or cafe and waste the day away.  Something about Kharkiv just left me inspired and motivated to see as much of the city as I possibly could.  It would be remiss of me to say I saw it all, or even close to it all, but I sauntered about the city from early morning until after dark every single day I was there.  I did no cafe or craft beer research prior to traveling there, yet stumbled upon heaps of places worthy of your visit (thanks to Katherine’s friend, Artem, for his help on the craft beer scene).

When I write posts like this regarding my impressions of a certain city, I don’t do it for SEO purposes or to give tips to future travelers.  I plan to share that information on future posts.  I simply wanted to write this (non-garrulous) post to promulgate my newfound love for Kharkiv and that I can’t understand why it is not garnering more tourism.  Kharkiv isn’t Kiev.  Kharkiv also isn’t Dnipro(petrovsk).  It’s not Lviv and it is surely not Zaporozhia.  Kharkiv is Kharkiv and I left with a smile on my face and a fierce desire to return with my travel partner someday.

Cable cars in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Borscht and wine in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine circus

Kharkiv, Ukraine
Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Coffee at Mr. Bourbon in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Kharkiv, Ukraine Metro

I will soon publish a Soviet guide to the city, a Kharkiv coffee guide, and a photo essay about the ornate and practical metro system there.  If you stumble upon this post before seeing those and have any doubt in your mind of whether or not to go to Kharkiv, I can assure you that you’re insane if you overlook the city!

Derzhprom in Kharkiv, Ukraine

If you have anything to add about Kharkiv, please share in the comments.  If not, please standby for new articles about the city in the near future.

To read more about my travels in Ukraine, please check out the following articles:

The Best Coffee in Kiev, Ukraine

Thoughts and Photos from my Time in Chernobyl and Pripyat

Travel Guide to Soviet Dnipro

Craft Beer Guide to Kiev

The Russian Woodpecker inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Travel Guide to Soviet Kiev

Inside the Abandoned Red Cross Hospital in Dnipro

Impressions from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine

Kiev… Four Years Later

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Megan is a digital marketing strategist and world traveler based in Frankfurt, Germany but hailing from Richmond, Virginia. She has traveled to over 85 countries and 45 US states and has a special love for the Nordics and Eastern Europe. Her passions are animals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ohio State football, craft beer, coffee, and copious amounts of concrete. She is also an advocate for removing dill from all dishes globally.
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10 Comments
  • Seb
    Posted at 17:52h, 02 November Reply

    Awesome pics, Megan!
    Is that a functioning hotel, by the way? I would really like to visit Kharkiv, particularly due to the city’s excellent Black Metal scene. ;)
    Greetings from Berlin, Seb

  • Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    Posted at 05:50h, 03 November Reply

    I WANT TO GO! That is all.
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun recently posted..Road Tripping Latvia: Daugavpils to LudzaMy Profile

  • Mark
    Posted at 12:40h, 03 November Reply

    Love the building in the last photo! What with your posts on the east as well as those from Off Beat Travelling and 8 months in Ukraine, I think it’s about time that we planned our next trip to Ukraine. We don’t need much of an excuse to return and we haven’t touched the east yet. I’m buggered if I’m going in the winter however, so it won’t be until next year now!!
    Mark recently posted..Travelling the Pamir Highway and Wakhan Valley: A Photo EssayMy Profile

  • kami
    Posted at 16:02h, 03 November Reply

    I’ve been hoping to go to Kharkiv for such a long time, once I even had tickets but the flights were cancelled due to the unstable situation in Ukraine. And now you made me want to go there even more!!! I can see the city on my next year Ukrainian trip itinerary…
    kami recently posted..Is it a good idea to visit Kyrgyzstan in November?My Profile

  • Nick
    Posted at 17:05h, 05 November Reply

    Kharkiv has been the city that attracts me the most in Ukraine, for whatever reason. Well, the original reason was the Derzhprom, and then the cable car system, and now the metro. We’ll have two days there next year, and now I’m hoping to extend it (maybe in lieu of Zaporozhia?) – thanks for sharing your amazing photos. I can’t wait to read the Soviet Guide!
    Nick recently posted..Almaty, Kazakhstan, Dressed in Resplendent ConcreteMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 11:49h, 13 January Reply

      I have a metro and Soviet guide coming out at some point for the city, so it will convince you to go even more- promise!

  • Jasilyn
    Posted at 20:38h, 11 November Reply

    I’m so behind on my blog reading, but both of you have made me want to visit the city, and Ukraine in general. I need to get there ASAP.
    Jasilyn recently posted..Mohammedan Muslim CemeteryMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 11:44h, 13 January Reply

      I will definitely meet you there when you do ;)

  • Katherine
    Posted at 19:09h, 18 November Reply

    So glad you explored the city, Megan!!! :) Where did you find that (haphazard-looking) bridge? Looks like you got out into the countryside a bit?
    Katherine recently posted..Cooking classMy Profile

  • The Best Coffee in Kharkiv, Ukraine - Megan Starr | A Travel Blog
    Posted at 10:35h, 02 January Reply

    […] here know that that usually tends to be craft beer, coffee, and certain types of architecture.  Kharkiv was different.  I was traveling to several cities and I really didn’t have the time to plan […]

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