Monday, September 19, 2016

How to spend 3 days in Kharkiv?

Kharkiv friends- your suggestions are needed! This intrepid traveler is headed to Ukraine and has a little bit of time to explore Kharkiv. Megan Starr is no newbie to Ukraine. She wrote a fantastic intro to Dnipro earlier this year, a craft beer guide to Kyiv this July, and... well, you should just check out all her Ukraine posts here ;) I'm psyched that soon she'll be experiencing Kharkiv, since it is (of course) the coolest city in Ukraine!

But now, how to prove it? What's the best way to be blown away by Kharkiv in just a few days? Below is how I remember my favorite city walking route, split into two days. What else would you recommend?

Спасибо, дякую, and thank you!!! :D

Day 1:

Ride the metro to the ботанический сад, Botanical Gardens station. The entrance to Саржин Яр, Sarzhine Ravine is nearby- you'll probably see lots of people heading into the park with baby strollers and empty water jugs.

What to do in Sarzhine Ravine? You'll find tons of people to watch here- guys working out on the parallel bars, older folks lining up for water, kids playing table tennis. There will be picnickers in the summer and maybe- if you time it right- swimmers in the winter.

Continue walking away from the direction you came (metro) to find the cable cars.

It will take you about 20 minutes to ride the cable cars to the massive Gorky Park. (And it's cute how the cars have been painted in cheery colors and enclosed in glass, but can we just take a moment of silence for the austere amazingness of the old version...)

It always felt like we were on a mournful prison ride.

Gorky Park has tons of walking trails + snacks + rides + lake with swans + squirrels + rope park + dance hall for the elderly. There's even a haunted house!

From Gorky Park, walk down сумская, Sumskaya street into the heart of downtown. Prepare yourself- it's a long walk. You'll get to pass by the wedding palace though, which is pretty cool. And after another ten minutes or so, you'll see Freedom Square on your right. This is one of the largest squares in all of Europe. In the very back of the square, behind where Lenin used to stand, is Derzhprom- it was one of the tallest buildings in the USSR days- and Karazina University.

Shevchenko Park stretches out to the right of Freedom Square. Like Gorky Park, this is a wonderful place for walking. In fact, I liked walking here more, because it doesn't have the "theme-park" feel of Gorky. There's a zoo tucked away in Shevchenko Park. And a dolphinarium. And several fountains. And a statue of Shevchenko himself. If the weather's good, you can hear accordions, guitars, violins, and whatever other instruments people have hauled out of their closets.

A few blocks away from Shevchenko's statue is an awesome little Ukrainian / Central Asian restaurant called Шоти. They make incredible chebureki, plov, borsch, and shashlik, and you've definitely got to try their horseradish vodka (хреновуха). Directions: Walk down Girshman St. (opposite the statue) until you get to the first intersection, then walk left for about 100 meters.

Continuing down Sumskaya, the theater / opera house is just past Shevchenko Park. It's heavy and impressive from the front- if a building could glower, this would be it- and the back is equally impressive in terms of, um, local art. Randomly, there's a skatepark on the left side of the building. On the right (in Shevchenko Park) is the 50th parallel line. Across the street is the famous mirror-stream fountain. Behind it is a sparkling new church. We left before construction had finished, so please send me pics if you visit it!

This entire route is quite simple, because you don't need to deviate from Sumskaya Street at all. Keep walking down Sumskaya Street and you'll reach the исторический музей, Historical Museum metro stop. There are two popular places to take a break here. Finish today's route at one of them- the gigantic thermometer above the metro entrance (foto sessiya!). From the Historical Museum metro stop, you can continue exploring or head home and rest.

Day 2:

Start today at the same place you ended yesterday, under the giant thermometer. Across the street is the second popular break spot- Пузата Хата, Puzata Hata. This is a fairly-cheap, cafeteria-style restaurant. Grab a tray and try some Ukrainian dishes.

When you're ready, step back outside and cross the street to the Historical Museum. Check it out if you're a museum fan, or simply admire the triumphant angel statue in Площадь Конституции, Constitution Square. There's also a church / monastery behind the statue (университетская ул., University St) that you might be able to tour.

Stay on University Street now. In a minute, you'll see the tower of the Assumption Cathedral. If you're feeling like a quick snack already, Lviv Handmade Chocolates is hidden away behind the cathedral.

You should be able to look out into the distance from where you are on University Street and see another part of the city across the river. If you walk through the little park across from Assumption Cathedral, you'll find a great place for photos with the Annunciation Cathedral (striped like a candy cane) in the distance.

You're so close to the Lopan River now that it'd be a shame to not check it out. Walk your way out of the park by turning left and exiting via Пролетарская площадь, Proletariat Square. There will be a grand staircase to the right and the Fashion Pre-Party restaurant to your left.

Take the staircase down to the street, cross the tram tracks, and the Lopan River will stretch out before you.

If it's still summer, you could try renting a little rowboat to explore the river. Otherwise, walk along the riverbank as it curves to the left. You can't miss the narrow white bridge that's been filled with lovers' locks.

There's not too much to see on the other side of the river. I'd recommend walking up the river embankment- you'll pass the big round circus building after a few minutes- until you reach the roundabout on Вернадського, Vernadskovo Street. If you walk up Vernadskovo (away from the river), you'll come to the Prospekt Gagarina metro station. This station can take you on to a new adventure, if you're up for it.

How about-

See this thing in person, near Metro Station Площа Повстання.
Browse the local markets for old souvenirs. This one is downtown near Sumskaya St.
Ride the metro to ХТЗ and walk around the factory's campus and through the nearby residential areas. (Because seriously- tractor factory!)
It's kind of fun to take pictures here because, well, you'll see ;) It's in the outskirts of town.
 Try a 'beer giraffe' at Шато! This restaurant is right on Freedom Square.
Vist Kharkiv's Rodina Mat. Bonus: the tram stops in front of the memorial.

Kharkiv friends and travelers, what other cool options are missing? 
More ideas welcome!

(And please let me know if things have closed / changed names. I think some streets were recently renamed?)

Megan, have a wonderful time in Ukraine!!! Tell us all about it on your blog! :) 


  1. Wow! Katherine, your plan is so detailed! I don't even know what else to suggest...

    1. That's because you helped us come up with many parts of the route a few years ago, Timur! ;)

  2. This is great! You make me want to go to Ukraine. I wish Anton could go with me.

    1. Oh, you'd totally love it, Jasilyn! Hope you get the chance to do it.

  3. I am making a google map of all of these places right now :P You have been so helpful and i can't thank you enough!!

    1. I tried to get all this together on a Google map but my tech skills failed me :p Everything should pull up if you put in the Russian words, though. Ah, Megan, I can't wait to hear about all the cities you're visiting! :D Happy travels!

  4. If you still accept suggestions: both Red Door and Black Door pubs are the must. You don't get better choice of craft beers anywhere in Ukraine

  5. There are plenty of lovely old town buildings in the so-called Zalopan and Goncharivka districts (roughly around Poltavsky Schlakh street and Lopan river where it starts from). You can have a great walk if you start from the railway station and then slowly tread your way down to the big stairs. Make sure you don't stick to the main avenue though, as real gems hide in the parallel streets

    1. Thank you for all these ideas, Artem!!!! Sounds fun! :D

      Are those new pubs, btw?

    2. Yep, they opened just this year. But they are AWESOME.

  6. Hi Artem!

    Thanks so much for the great suggestions. And craft beer places!? Heck yea!!! That is right up my alley :P I just received your email and will send you back one later this afternoon :P Thanks so much again!!!

  7. Whoa! What a detailed itinerary! I teach English in Dnipro but my school is closed due to April snow-storms. I was planning an escape to Kharkiv but having seen all the beautiful parks on your plan I might wait until the weather isn't complete bullshit. Thanks for such an excellent plan though!

    1. Privet Lara! I just discovered / bookmarked your blog a few days ago through a travel group on FB and HOORAY FOR BLOGGING FROM DNIPRO!!! :D Seriously, that is so cool! I can't wait to read all your posts. We never visited Dnipro, so I'm super curious about it.

      Hope you'll get the chance to check out Kharkiv soon. It's such an awesome place! <3