Blog posts

Exploring Chernivtsi, Ukraine + Day Trips

Exploring Chernivtsi, Ukraine + Day Trips

UKRAINE

The charming city of Chernivtsi was another stop on our fabulous 13-day adventure with Cobblestone Freeway Tours.  It is actually the capital city of a region called Bukovyna which sits on the upper course of the River Prut.  It is an amazing land enriched by mixed influences from Ukraine, Romania, and Moldavia.  I certainly saw this reflected in its culture, history, and architecture.

If you ever get the chance to visit Chernivtsi (and I hope you do!), do yourself a favor and take a leisurely walk around this beautiful city.  It is very walkable and there is quite a lot to see. It was once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which means you’ll find a mix of architectural styles, including Baroque, Gothic, Vienna Secession and more.  Cobblestone Freeway arranged a city tour with a very knowledgeable guide who helped explain Chernivtsi’s long and complicated history.

Olha Kobylyahska Street - Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Olha Kobylyahska Street – Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Opera Square in Chernivtsi
The Holy Spirit Orthodox Cathedral - Pink Church
The Holy Spirit Orthodox Cathedral – Pink Church
Chernivtsi Park Garden
The City of Chernivtsi 

The city is considered to be one of Ukraine’s most important educational sites.  Therefore, I’d highly recommend touring the beautiful Chernivtsi University, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture is quite stunning and a visit isn’t complete without seeing the famous Residence of Bukovynian and Dalmatian Metropolitans.  It was built between 1864 – 1882 by Czech architect Josef Hlávka.  Some notable rooms include the Chapel, Synodal Hall with a beautifully painted ceiling, former library of the Metropolitan, and the famous Red Hall.  UNESCO describes the Red Hall as “an extraordinary beautiful wooden jewel box, whose wall painting resembles a sophisticated trimming with red Chinese silk.”

Chernivtsi University
Chernivtsi University, Ukraine
Our group at Chernivtsi University Park
Our group at Chernivtsi University Park
Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ukraine

We were lucky to explore outside of the city and take a fun day trip to visit Khotyn Fortress and Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle!  The drive was just under 90 minutes and our first stop was Khotyn Fortress.

Khotyn Fortress is very ancient and only an hour’s drive outside of Chernivtsi.  In 2007, it was named one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine and it’s easy to see why!  The current fortress you see today was constructed in 1325.  Naturally, there are quite a few legends about the fortress due to its long and fascinating history.  There’s a very large dark spot on the side of one of the outer walls. Some say a girl was buried alive by the Ottoman Turks in the wall of the fort and those are her tears.  Another legend says its the tears of the Khotyn rebels who were also killed by the Turks inside the fortress.  We may never know!  All of these mysteries make it an even more interesting place to explore.

Monument of Hetman Sahaidachny in Khotyn, Ukraine
Monument of Hetman Sahaidachny in Khotyn, Ukraine
Khotyn Fortress and Alexander Nevsky Church
Khotyn Fortress and Alexander Nevsky Church
Khotyn Fortress
Khotyn Fortress
Khotyn Fortress Interior
Khotyn Fortress Interior Courtyard
Khotyn Fortress Interior Courtyard
Khotyn Fortress Interior Courtyard

We stopped for lunch at Pid Bramoyu Restaurant. It’s a very interestingly appointed cafe on the terrace of the old city gate overlooking the Turkish bridge and the castle. We sat outside in an separate location, which was perfect for our large group and enjoyed the views of the castle. Next to our table was a huge dragon statue and I couldn’t resist the photo op! The interior is medieval style and it fully corresponds to the atmosphere. The cuisine is a mix of Western Ukrainian and Armenian. We had an array of different salads and meats to enjoy.

Dragon Statue at Pid Bramoyu Restaurant
Dragon Statue at Pid Bramoyu Restaurant

After lunch we walked over to Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle. There’s been a castle on the site since the 13th century and the original would’ve been made out of wood.  A stone castle was built at the end of the 14th century and it was modernized in 1621 when it attained its present form.  The are 7 towers remaining (originally twelve) and they dominate over the beautiful surrounding Smotrych River canyon landscape!  It is an impressive site to see and I loved walking around this ancient place.

Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle
Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle
Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle Courtyard
Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle Courtyard

After being out most of the day, it was very refreshing heading back to the Bukovyna Hotel. The hotel is centrally located and so comfortable. After freshening up, we went to the summer terrace area outside and enjoyed some cocktails. In Soviet times, the “Bukovyna” Hotel used to be the only “Foreign Tourist” Hotel.

Bukovyna Hotel Chernivtsi
Bukovyna Hotel Chernivtsi

Cobblestone Freeway Tours had a surprise evening planned out for us!  They took us to a performance by a folk group called Gerdan, which is also the name for the beaded necklaces the ladies were wearing. They performed several songs, and traditional dances for us.

Ukrainian Folk Group Gerdan
Ukrainian Folk Group Gerdan
After the performance, we had dinner at Hopachok. The restaurant’s interior is decorated with household items from a traditional Ukrainian village and melodic folk music.  We tasted ethnic Bukovynian dishes which were prepared according to ancient recipes, as well as contemporary dishes of Ukrainian cuisine inspired by the culinary trends.  The food was delicious!  
Hopachok Restaurant Selections
Hopachok Restaurant Selections

After three lovely days of exploring Chernivtsi and the surrounding area, we were off to Kiev!  Cobblestone Freeway Tours arranged for us to take the overnight train which was a new and exciting experience for me.  The journey is long, about 10 hours, but it can go by fast if you manage to get some sleep.  Luckily, I had a sleeper cabin with a bed!

Lviv and Kiev might be the more well known cities in Ukraine, but Chernivtsi should absolutely be on your travel list as well!

Save

Save

Pin This!

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder and Senior Editor of Carmen’s Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

18 Comments

  1. Skye
    July 31, 2017 at 2:04 am
    Reply

    Well chernivtsi is one sweet surprise isn’t it? There definitely appears to be a lot of history to see and learn while in the town. So great you visited the castle and fortress, they are just gorgeous. This is going on our list!

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 1, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      I’m glad to hear it, Skye! You should definitely go.

  2. Lara Dunning
    July 31, 2017 at 1:20 pm
    Reply

    I have been reading more and more about Ukraine and I have to admit it is quite captivating. The cobblestone streets and architecture are very picturesque, and I love all the history. The tour certainly took you to some great spots! I’ve been on the train at night many times, but I’ve never had a sleeper car. Did you sleep well?

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 1, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      I slept a lot better than I thought I would! It was a fun experience.

  3. Jennifer
    July 31, 2017 at 2:51 pm
    Reply

    For a second there, I thought this was Spain. The architecture is so beautiful and colourful. I would love to just walk around and soak it all in. That meal looks amazing too:)

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 1, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      I know, it was all very impressive 🙂

  4. Miranda
    August 1, 2017 at 11:11 am
    Reply

    The performance by Gerdan sounds really interesting! Love seeing traditional outfits and dancing from a country.

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      It was such an amazing experience 🙂

  5. Clare
    August 1, 2017 at 3:34 pm
    Reply

    Ukraine is really high on my list and I was thinking of going this summer, but unfortunately plans changed. When I do go though I will be adding this place to my list as it does look so beautiful. I also want to visit all the castles as I do love castles!!

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm

      Aw, sorry to hear that! I love castles too 🙂

  6. Amy
    August 1, 2017 at 5:45 pm
    Reply

    What an absolutely beautiful area. The mixture of origins and architecture blend to create such a picturesque destination with such rich history. The fortress and castle are incredible, and I love a place with a good legend as it adds so much (one cannot help but believe a good legend!)

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 1, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Oh I know! It was a lot of fun hearing the history and stories.

  7. Ivana
    August 2, 2017 at 11:36 pm
    Reply

    I love how colorful the streets are! I study architecture and would definitely enjoy this place 🙂

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 5, 2017 at 2:26 am

      You must visit, Ivana!

  8. Kerri
    August 3, 2017 at 4:26 am
    Reply

    I haven’t been to this part of the world yet. Not for any other reason than we just haven’t got around to it. Loved hearing about some places that are lesser known, these are the places I love. They are absolutely delightful.

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 5, 2017 at 2:26 am

      I hope you get to go, Kerri! It’s wonderful.

  9. Sumit Surai
    August 3, 2017 at 4:58 pm
    Reply

    Lovely photos! The places look so beautiful and almost unreal, like out of some fairy tale book.

    • Carmen Edelson
      August 5, 2017 at 2:26 am

      Thank you very much 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge