The Ukrainian entry requirements changed since a collapsing of the USSR, but still keep some "Soviet" bureaucratic traditions. Visas required to all visitors, with an exception of the citizens of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Slovakia. Visas should be obtained before the arrival to Ukraine. The cost of the visa is $40-60 depends of the consulate. As opposed to Russia, you will not need the official invitation if you're a citizen of the European Union, or the USA. In other cases you will have to organize an official invitation from any Ukrainian travel company, organization, or local citizen. After arrival to the Ukraine, one has to register with any "OVIR" office within 72 hours. If you stay in a hotel, ask them to register your arrival.
Getting to Ukraine
The main entry gate for the travelers that came to Crimea - is Simferopol international airport, that serves a lot of inner Ukraine and Russian routes, as well as Frankfurt,London,Tel-Aviv, Istanbul, Dubai. Otherwise you can easily get to Crimea via the Ukrainian capital city Kiev (600 km) and the famous see port and beautiful town of Odessa (350 km). There are regular train connection between the Crimean towns Simferopol and Sevastopol with Odessa, Kiev, Moscow, Rostov, St.Petersburg. The ferry lines operate several times a week between Odessa and Crimean ports of Sevastopol, Evpatoria, Yalta. There are two passenger ships between Sevastopol and Istanbul. If you're coming into Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus by train from Poland, Slovakia or Hungary, you will be a witness to the exotic enough part of the journey - the changing of the train's wheels. Since the Russian rail gauge is some 25 cm wider than it's European standard, all rolling stock entering or leaving the former USSR has to move a time-consuming conversion that involves raising the cars some 2 meters above ground on hydraulic platforms, detaching the wheel truck assemblies, and rolling out the wheels from underneath and rolling in the necessary replacements.
Traveling in Ukraine
The public transport is an effective enough. There are suburban trains connect Simferopol with Sevastopol, Evpatoria, Feodosia and Kerch. All the coastal area accessible by buses and service taxis.
The main entry and exit point to Crimea for the most travelers. All the trains to Crimea arrive to Simferopol's railway station as well as all the local and an international flights. There isn't much to see in this big enough, mainly industrial town, but it could be good point for the trips in surrounded area.
Bahchisaray (25 km west of Simferpol) The small town of Bakhchisaray brings you face to face with the Tatar era of Crimean's past. From the 15th century until 1783, Bakhchisaray was the seat of the Crimean khans, the last westward bastion of the descendants of Jenghiz Khan 's hordes. From 1475, Crimean Tatars were vassals of the Ottoman Empire. The Tatar khan's palace was built by Russian and Ukrainian slaves in the 16th century under the direction of Persian, Ottoman, and Italian master builders. Inside the main mosque, which dated from 1740, there is a nice wooden minbar (pulpit) and carved mihrabs (prayer niches facing Mecca). An interesting Chufut-Kale fortress and the nearby the cavern town were built in the 6th-10th centuries by the multiethnic populations which lived there. Cavern towns are part of a defense structure enclosed with powerful fortification walls with towers, caves, impregnable casemates and natural obstacles such as abrupt forbidding cliffs. In ancient times, it was dangerous to live in fertile and convenient valleys, since the Crimean peninsula suffered from the constant raids of nomadic tribes. The caves contained also monks cells, churches, sacristies, burial vaults and other cult and husbandry premises.
The main sea port of Crimea and the second biggest in Ukraine. The city with the long and glorious history of the Russian empire. Sevastopol has been hardy damaged during the Second World War and was mainly rebuild anew. There are some interesting points to visit in the town, as Vladimirski Cathedral, with the graves of the famous Russian admirals, many interesting museums, exhibitions, beautiful sea promenades.
There are some nice daily trips from Sevastopol, including a visiting of Ancient Greek City Hersonessos. The ancient Greeks established colonies on the Crimean coast in the 6th century B.C. Founded in 422 BC, Hersonessos witnessed wars, trade based prosperity, absorption into the Roman then Byzantine empires, nomad attacks, and capture in 988 AD by Volodimir of Kiev. The town was finally ruined by the Tatars in the late 14th century. Excavations began more than a hundred years ago and continue today. The small coastal town of Balaklava (5 km south of Sevastopol) has an ancient Greek ruins and the medieval fortress.
The Crimean Reviera
Yalta is the center of the 44 mile resort area, known as the Crimean Southern Coast. First mentioned in the 12th century as the Polovitsian (the Polovtsy were a nomadic tribe from the steppe) city of Dzhalita, it later became known as Healita under the control of Genoese in the 14th century. In 1783 Crimea came under Russian control, and Yalta became the Empire's premiere Black Sea resort when tsar Alexander II made nearby Livadia a summer residence. The setting is spectacular, a narrow cypress -strewn strip between the Crimean Mountains and the Black Sea, reminiscent in different ways of the French Riviera. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the down town area is a beautifully composed piece of neo-Byzantine architecture built at the turn of the century with fantastic detailing. The coastal strip east and west of Yalta offers many choices of palaces, gardens, resorts and beauty spots which make great day trips.
The small town of Alupka has an exotic palace-gardens complex on the entire coast, some 15 km west of Yalta. Designed and built between 1828 and 1846 by English architects for the English-educated Count Mikhail Vorontsov, the immensely rich regional governor, the palace is a combination of Scottish castle on its landlord side, and Arabic fantasy facing the sea. Vorontsov brought servants from his estates all over Russia to create the palace and the large gardens below and above it on the hillside.
Levadia (3 km west of Yalta)
First in 1860 when the Russian imperial family started building here, then in February 1945 when Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill held their Yalta Conference in the Livadia palace. Built in 1911 as a summer residence for Nicholas II, it replaced earlier royal dwellings and used much white Crimean granite in the process. It is built in Italian Renaissance style with beautiful Florentine and Arabic courtyards. After the revolution, the palace became the sanatorium. Today the palace houses the Historical Museum and Picture Gallery. The palace has a lovely large gardens, a highlight of which is the "sunny path", running about a mile west from just below the palace to a lookout over resort area "Oreanda".
The Swallow's Nest (10 km west of Yalta)
Swallow's Nest is a fairy tale castle, the symbol of Crimea and the glory of a million post-cards, perched at the top of a sheer cliff on Cape Ai-Todor. Built in 1912 for Baron Shteingel, a German oil magnate, it's now an Italian restaurant.
Sudak, at the base of a shallow bay, is 120 km northeast of Yalta. It was one of the main Genoese trading centers on the Great Silk Road. In the 14th-15th centuries they built an enormous fortress with a series of walls and towers snaking along a massive cliff perched out over the sea. But, except of the fortress and good beaches - there isn't much to see in Sudak itself.
Is the third biggest town of Crimea, famous sea resort, an ancient ruins, a castle, beautiful promenades with the hotels, shopping centers and casino. With no doubt, Feodosia deserves the separate trip, or even a couple of days in order to visit all the city's and surrounded place of interest.
Is an ancient town that unfortunately didn't keep it charm for nowadays. Today Kerch - is an industrial and port town situated on the narrow Kerch's strait (3 km), that divides between Crimea to the Russian black sea coast. There are a regular ferries run tens of times daily between two countries. If you intend to continue to Russia, try to organize all the Russian visa matters before you leave your home country. There is no chance to enter Russia with your Ukrainian tourist visa, or to get a visa on spot. You can try to obtain the visa at Russian consulate in Sevastopol, or via one of the local travel agencies. The citizens of Ukraine, Belarus,Kazakhstan,Armenia,Azerbaijan,Poland,Bulgaria Hungary,Yugoslavia, Romania and Cyprus can enter Russia visa-free.
Lviv (Lvov, in according with the russian tradition) - with no doubt is one of the biggest and most beautiful towns of Ukraine. Originally polish city (till the begining of the XX century), Lviv became part of Russian empire, and later - the USSR. Greatly preserved Old town of Lviv - is the only example of the west-european architecture in this country. Tens of middle-aged churches are situated in the historic center, beautifil town square with its huge cathedral, narrow steets with the old bulidings and coloruful backyards, old market, small traditional shops, several interesting museums. In many meanings, Lviv is simular to polish Krakow, and many say, that the first is even more interesting. Unfortunately, the Western Ukrainean always was the centre of the nationalism and extremism. Especially it was showed during the World War-II, when the Ukrainian nationalists, led by their leader Stepan Bendera, actively cooperated with the nazis against the Soviet army. A victim Bendery became also tens of thousand ukrainean Jews. After the war, the Soviet army has returned and recaptured Lvov from german forces, but grilla war with the Bandera's grilla fighters, proceeded till 1955, while last bandits weren't killed, or arrested by the Soviet army and police. After dthe collaption of the USSR, local extremists have lifted heads again. In the beginning of 1990, in new-independent Ukraine, prosecutions of russian population have begun. Thousand of ethnic russians have abandoned Lviv, and today, the city became the most "Ukrainian" city of Ukraine, where more than 95% of the population - are ethnic ukraineans. Today the situation stabilized.
Getting to Lviv
90% of the travelers arrive to Lviv from the neighbour Poland, by bus, or local trains. The nearest border crossing point situated 100 km only west of the town. There are tens of buses, that cross the border daily in both directions. At least three daily trains make their way between Lviv and the nearest polish town of Peremysl. An average fare for the one-way trip from Lviv to Peremysl is $3-5 only. Lviv is situated on the main railway line between Rusia and east-european countries. All the trains, that run from/to Moscow and Hungary, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Austria and Croatia - make stop in Lviv. The price of the ticket from Lviv to Moscow (20 hours) is vary between $15-30, depends on the train.