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Europe’s Frontier: Moldova & Ukraine

from $1,649.00

Visit two of Europe’s most remote regions

  • Reviews 8 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely / Moderate
  • Group Size Small Group
    6 - 16
All about the Europe’s Frontier: Moldova & Ukraine.

With just 94,000 visitors in 2015, Moldova was one of Europe’s least visited countries. Sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania is has often been caught in the middle of an East/West game of tug of war. The capital Chisinau has struggled to shrug off its Soviet past, but this is part of its charm, while the countryside offers historic monasteries and one of the world’s largest wineries. Not to mention ‘independent’ Transnistria, where citizens cling onto their Soviet past and monuments to reflect this.Western Ukraine, by contrast, has always looked to Europe. Lviv, the country’s cultural capital, certainly feels more European than Soviet, with its historic UNESCO listed old town and charming cafe culture. While its mighty capital Kyiv is just starting to emerge as a modern European hotspot of culture and nightlife.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts and 1 lunch
* All accommodation including sleeper train
* Airport transfers (at designated times)

Tour leader throughout

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Chernobyl Extension

Highlights

  • Visit two of Europe’s least known countries
  • Milestii Mici Winery – the world’s largest wine cellar
  • Visit ‘independent’ Transnistria
  • Historic Odessa and Lviv
  • Optional post-tour excursion to Chernobyl (must be booked in advance)
  • 6 nights comfortable and standard hotels, 1 night sleeper train
  • Sightseeing on foot
  • Group normally 6 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private bus and sleeper train
  1. Day 1 Start Chisinau.

    Fly to Chisinau, transfer to hotel.*Klassik Hotel or similar*

  2. Day 2 Walking tour of Chisinau. Visit Ohrei Monastery.

    This morning we set out on foot from our hotel for a walking tour of the Moldovan capital. Although the city dates back to 1420, a huge earthquake in 1940 destroyed most of the historic centre, while WWII finished the job off. Chisinau was then rebuilt in a Soviet-style, leaving a city dominated by brutalist buildings, but there are some real quirky gems including the now abandoned Winter Circus, Triumphal Arch and the bell tower of the Nativity Cathedral. The central market is another highlight, first opened in 1825 it has been the centre of life in the city ever since. It’s worth braving the crowds for lovely fresh fruit, nuts and wine. Heading out of the city we stop for a traditional home-cooked lunch in a small farmstead. From here we visit the beautiful, isolated hilltop Orhei Monastery dating back to the 14th century. Our final stop before returning to Chisinau is the Milestii Mici Winery, home to the largest wine cellar in the world! Here we will drive down into the cellar in the tour bus, past hundreds of barrels of the ‘holy drink’ as it’s known locally. We will try several varieties of wine and learn about the fascinating history of oenology in this unknown corner of Europe.*Klassik Hotel or similar*

  3. Day 3 Full day excursion to Transnistria; transfer to Odessa.

    Our destination for today is one of Eastern Europe’s strangest. Transnistria is a self-declared republic occupying a narrow strip of land in the east of Moldova. A microstate, officially only recognised by the people who live there, no one else! Yet they have their own currency, postal service and border force. The region harks back to the days of the USSR and is staunchly pro-Russian, although it gets little financial support in return. There are photo-worthy busts of Lenin all over the city. No trip to Moldova is complete without seeing Transnistria.In the late afternoon to transfer to Odessa on Ukraine’s Black Sea Coast. Journey time is about 2 hours, however, the border cross between Moldova and Ukraine may take some time. *Hotel Alexandrovsky or similar*

  4. Day 4 Full day in Odessa; morning city tour.**

    This morning we wake up in Odessa, Ukraine’s third largest city, on the Black Sea coast. A warm water port, Odessa has had a short but turbulent history. When founded in the 18th century Russia’s Catherine the Great invited immigrants from across Europe to come and make their fortune in Odessa, thus creating a thriving multicultural city of Jews, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Germans and Poles, with the outbreak of WWII this population diversity would sadly be its downfall. In more recent times the city has had its problems especially during the 2014 revolution, but now, largely because Crimea is off-limits for most Ukrainian holidaymakers, the city is booming once more. It beautiful tree-lined avenues and seaside boulevards are a perfect place to relax and see a different side to Ukraine. The ornate opera house and Potemkin Steps are architectural must-sees.After a city tour, we enjoy free time, before boarding the overnight sleeper train to Lviv.*Sleeper train*

  5. Day 5 Arrive Lviv, guided walking tour.

    We arrive early into Ukraine’s cultural capital Lviv, stopping for breakfast at our hotel and storing our luggage, we will try and obtain a couple of day rooms so you can freshen up, but please note this is not always possible.  We then head out for a morning walking tour of this beautiful city, before enjoying free time in the afternoon. We recommend climbing the clock tower of the town hall for a panoramic view of the old town. Lviv’s UNESCO listed old town easily competes with the likes of Krakow and Vilnius in the charm and history stakes! It’s full of colourful townhouses, fine churches, cobbled streets and cosy cafes. Ukrainian cultural identity is stronger here than anywhere else in the country, but with a wonderful mix of Polish, Jewish, Hungarian and even Armenian history thrown into the mix. Lviv really is a delight and surprisingly untouched by mass tourism.*Modern Art Hotel or similar*

  6. Day 6 Transfer to Kyiv by train, free time in the early evening to enjoy this beautiful capital city. 

    This morning we board the train to Kyiv (journey time 8hrs approx.), Ukraine’s mighty capital city and home to over 2.5 million people. The Ukrainian capital seems to have hardly left the news in recent years, sadly for all the wrong reasons, but its citizens are made of strong stuff and are keen to show their beautiful city to the world. There will be some free time in the evening to enjoy the city or take dinner on the capitals most famous street, Khreshchatyk.*Ukraine Hotel or similar*

  7. Day 7 Morning tour of Kyiv, with the afternonn free to enjoy the city at your leisure. 

    This morning we enjoy a walking tour of Kyiv’s main sights, including Maiden Square, the site of the revolutions of 2004 and 2013. As well as St. Sofia Cathedral and the Monastery of St. Michael Archangel. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy this fascinating city at your leisure. You may choose to visit the Pechersk Lavra Monastery with its complex of caves housing creepy, mummified nuns. While the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War gives you a Soviet perspective. The museum also offers great views of the city. *Ukraine Hotel or similar*

  8. Day 8 End Kyiv / Optional day tour to Chernobyl.

    Our tour ends after breakfast. Alternatively, you may choose to stay another day for a guided tour of Chernobyl and the abandoned town of Pripyat.One of the most well-known events in Soviet history occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, 130km north of Kyiv in April 1986. Here reactor No.4 exploded, spreading lethal radiation, first over the town of Pripyat and later large swathes of Europe. Many see this event as the beginning of the end of support for the USSR in Ukraine.This tour takes you to the heart of the exclusion zone; you will see the power station and the abandoned town of Pripyat, frozen in time, like a scene from an apocalyptic future. Our expert guide will lead you safely through the area and tell the story of one of recent history’s most notorious disasters. This is a long day leaving the hotel at about 08:30 and returning to Kyiv at about 20:30, but certainly worth staying in Ukraine another day for. (Details and prices are in the Money Matters section of the trip notes).*Ukraine Hotel or similar***

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Where you stay

Hotels & sleeper train

2 nights comfortable 3-star hotel, 4 nights standard hotel all with en suite bathrooms and 1 night sleeper train. All accommodation is based on twin-share. Wi-Fi is now free in all hotels but is sometimes unreliable. We use 2nd class compartments (4 berths) on the overnight sleeper train. Linen is provided. Please note that there may be other passengers, not with Exodus, travelling in the compartment with you. 1st class compartments (2 berths) can be requested up to 4 weeks before departure yet these are expensive and generally do not offer any extra comfort.

Single supplement starting from USD$295 not including the night on the train.

Eating and Drinking

Moldovan and Ukrainian cuisine is quite similar and consists mainly of traditional European foods, such as beef, pork, potatoes, cabbage, and a variety of cereal grains. Traditional for the Moldovan cuisine are dishes combining diverse vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergine, cabbage, beans, onions, garlic, and leek. Meat products hold a special place in traditional Moldovan cuisine, especially as an appetiser or the first course. Roasted and grilled pork, beef meatballs (known as pârjoale and chiftele) and steamed lamb are common. Meat and fish are often marinated and then grilled.

Moldova has a long history of wine making, dating back thousands of years. Domestic varieties include Fetească, Rara neagră, and Busuioacă albă. The country is particularly well known for its sparking rose and red wines.

Ukrainian cuisine stems from peasant dishes based on the plentiful grains and vegetables grown in the country. Staple crops include sugar beets, potatoes, grapes, cabbages, and mushrooms. These are often key ingredients in soups and salads. The most popular dish is borshch , a hearty soup made in a variety of ways. Other vegetable dishes include holubtsi (stuffed cabbage) and kartoplia solimkoi (“straw potatoes”). Kotlety Po-Kyivskomy (Chicken Kiev), a chicken breast stuffed with a buttery filling, is a well-known dish outside Ukraine, but taste very different locally.

This trip is graded as Leisurely/Moderate (2) and visits as much as possible in Moldova and Western Ukraine. There is a lot to see in a week yet the pace is not rushed. Although this itinerary is mostly based on sightseeing, please be prepared for a reasonable amount of walking between places of interest.

For our overnight train journey between Odessa and Lviv, we use second class compartments with 4 berths, and bed linen is provided. Hot tea is served on the train in the morning. Breakfast will be taken at the hotel in Lviv.

Our optional excursion to Chernobyl at the end of the trip is operated by a government recognised company and meets all the safety requirement set out by the National Tourist Board of Ukraine. Radiation exposure is similar to that of a standard x-ray.

Tourism is very much in its infancy in Moldova and you should come prepared for this. Hotels are of a good standard, but service may be a little slow.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 07/10/2019
4/5

Review

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational is a strange choice of words. Most memorable was Chernobyl.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take more cash than trip notes guide suggests. Take closed shoes, long sleeves and long trousers for Chernobyl. Be aware that the top sleeper bunks are quite hard to climb into.

Reviewed On 07/10/2019
5/5

Amazing

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The memorial in Independence Square to those who gave their lives in the Revolution of Dignaty.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Marta was amazing with her enthusiasm and helpful advice throughout the trip.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Described as leisurely/moderate but I found this trip as full on especially if you decide to do some exploring on your own.

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
4/5

Europe's Frontier_ Moldova & Ukraine

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Chenobyl seeing the unfinished reactor 5 for the first time.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leader was excellent and very helpful.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Transnistria to Ukraine border crossing was long due to customs officials being awkward.

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
4/5

My first visit to Moldova and Ukraine

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The guided tour of Lviv.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    She was very patient and helpful .
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the Summer heat. The temperature in Chisinau was 34c. The pavements there were in poor condition. Drink plenty of water everywhere.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I felt safe everwhere even in Transnistria.

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

Moldova & Ukraine

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The trip to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, very interesting but sobering
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Mike was excellent, always kept us up to date with the days plans and any items such as scarves that were needed. Very easy going but highly organised
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take US dollars or euros as cannot get currency outside each country. Also if going to Chernobyl you must wear long pants and a long sleeved top plus closed shoes.

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Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
May 9, 2020
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$1,649.00
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May 23, 2020
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June 6, 2020
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June 20, 2020
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July 18, 2020
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August 15, 2020
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September 5, 2020
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September 19, 2020
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