Usually people from other countries come to Ukraine to visit the capital. The other popular city for excursions is Lviv. It is known for its Europe-alike small streets with nice little houses and cathedrals. Everyone is also talking about Lviv chocolate and welcoming coffee places. But this article is not about Lviv. You can say that it is a heart of Ukraine but the soul is Ivano-Frankivsk.
Just a night on a train (if you are afraid to rent a car and experience and exciting adventure) and you arrive to this amazing calm city early in the morning. The air is different here and so are the people. Most of them speak Ukrainian but you won’t feel uncomfortable explaining that you are a foreigner and you need to but some food. People here are well-educated and most of them speak several languages (Polish, English or German).
The city itself is really small. It is possible to walk around just in one day. This makes Ivano-Frankivsk even prettier. You need to understand that it is not a fashionable place with a fascinating nightlife. But modern buildings are so mixed with the nature that it is exciting to see. This city would be a great choice for people who just want to relax and forget about work, life challenges and annoying neighbours.
The best season for visiting Ivano-Frankivsk is the summer. Probably, the end of June of the beginning of July. In winter you won’t enjoy that Ukrainian kind of a low temperature. You also have to keep in mind that this region is somehow surrounded the mountains so humidity is high. It means that in winter it feels colder than it actually is. In spring it is muddy and yet not so warm. Starting from August, it can rain a lot. But if the weather can’t scare you, you can plan you trip for any time.
There are a lot of hotels and hostels. The most famous hostel in Ivano-Frankivsk is called “Fenomen”. Backpackers often stay there because it is cheap and location is wonderful – right next to an enormous city lake. An interesting thing about this hostel is that it was started as a project of the Ukrainian band Koralli. Ukrainian musicians stayed there when had concerts in Ivano-Frankivsk.
Here is the website: http://fenomen.if.ua/
An Enormous Lake
As soon as you find the place to stay, you can discover the city. What you should see is the lake. It is big and locals call it “the sea”. It is not surprising because it is hard to see the other side of it. If you like jogging, make one circle around the lake.
Es ist nicht empfehlenswert, in diesem See zu schwimmen, aber viele Einheimische tun das, weil sie sonst keinen Sinn darin sehen, so viel Wasser vor der Haustür zu haben. Man kann auch einfach ein Buch lesen oder sich einfach unter einem Baum legen und die Stille genießen.
The River to Cross on Foot
Ivano-Frankivsk is the region that surprises us with the coexistence of nature and concrete. The river Bystrytsya runs right in the city (not in the center of course). In summer it dries for a half or more so you can easily cross it. There are many wild beaches as well as regular ones. People enjoy staying there because the water is cold (the reason is that Ivano-Frankivsk region is a mountainy one but the city is not surrounded by mountains). As soon as you decide to go to another city by bus, after 10 km away from the city you will see the Carpathians.
One of the most popular resort of the Carpathian mountain, Yaremche, is in Ivano-Frankivsk Region. It is only 40-50 minutes away from the city depending on how fast you drive.
An Island of Love
If you go by the lake, you will see the bridge that leads to the island of love. It is super nice and you might see many couples there on a sunny day. It would be great to include this place into your list of must-visit because there can be an island in the ocean or sea, there can be an island in a wide river but if you haven’t seen an island in the lake, you should definitely visit it.
For the people who love to take pictures everywhere or just for the memories, you can take a picture with the arch of love. There are also some benches. This island is not crowded so you can spend time alone or with friends. It is important to remember that in summer you need to be careful when being in the open space under the sun. You risk to get a sunburn. But around the lake there are many trees as it is a park zone.
Walking around the cities you can find interesting surprises in unexpected places. For example, this cello is placed next to the music shop. You can put your hand inside a metal glove and pretend that you are playing.
But the greatest surprise in the city is the people. People are very nice here. If you need a supermarket, there is a chance that they will not only tell you where it is but will actually walk with you to that place to make sure that you find it. Don’t get scared. It means that that person is kind to you and follows you only for one reason – to help you.
Yaremche is one of the most famous resort in Carpathian mountains. It attracts people not only from different Ukrainian cities but also from other countries. To get there, you can rent a car. In this case you will need a guide not to get lost. The other option is to download an offline map which is not always a good option. The other way to get to Yaremche is by bus. The bus station is situated next to the railway station. The buses leave and arrive several times a day. The ticket is a bargain and you will arrive to the resort according to the schedule.
In Yaremche there is a popular restaurant “Hutsulschyna”. The prices here are high because of the location of the restaurant. But the food is not bad at all (Ukrainian cuisine). On the walls you can see the pictures with the celebrities who visited this restaurant. There is even the picture of Gérard Depardieu with the staff.
The feedback from the clients you can read here: https://www.tripadvisor.ru/Restaurant_Review-g1816350-d2572354-Reviews-Hutsulshchyna-Yaremche_Ivano_Frankivsk_Oblast.html
The most exciting thing, which you can do in Yaremche, is rafting. The river Prut is deep enough and very fast so locals make a lot of money out of people who want a bit of extreme in their lives. On average, there are up to eight people inside the raft (a rubber boat). This kind of activity requires teamwork and courage.
Hopefully, you will find some time to visit Ivano-Frankivsk Region. As soon as you step on the ground of this city, you will fall in love with it. Every year you will come back to have lunch in the Carpathians in Yaremche and to watch how quickly river runs. Don’t let your life run that fast! Stop and find some time for yourself and spend it in the warmest place – the soul of Ukraine.