Ukraine is not a country with many nice white-sand beaches and warm seas, but it does have some nice ski resort towns. Almost all of them are located in the West of Ukraine in the Ukrainian Carpathians. The biggest and most famous ski resort is Bukovel. It is located in the small town of Polyanytsya. There are 16 slopes in Bukovel that cover over 60 km. This resort-town has different sorts of activities for everyone and anyone. This comprehensive guide to Bukovel, Ukraine is for everyone who is planning on visiting this resort town.
There are few ways to get to Bukovel:
The easiest way is by renting a car and driving yourself. If you are coming from Europe or other parts of the world you can fly into Lviv (a beautiful city with Austrian architecture) and spend a few days here before renting a car and driving straight to Bukovel. It will take you between 4 and 5 hours to get to the ski resort.
If you have traveled before in Ukraine you might know that the roads are not always very good here. Fortunately, on the way from Lviv to Bukovel, the roads have been fixed and the ride is going to be pretty smooth.
For those who are flying to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, you might drive as well but it will take 6 to 7 hours just to get to Lviv and I suggest you make a stop in Lviv anyway.
To get to Bukovel you can also go by train. From any city in Ukraine take a train to Ivano-Frankivsk city and from there right outside the train station you can hop on the bus that goes to Bukovel. There are many of them, but if you don’t see any just ask anyone “Bukovel?” and they will show you where to go.
As I said previously Bukovel is located in Polyanytsya town. There are many small and big hotels that are offering accommodation. The problem is that the town is very long and you can even get accommodation on the other side from the ski slopes. Therefore, to avoid the inconvenience of walking for 30 – 40 minutes every time you want to have dinner or go skiing I recommend staying in the very center of Bukovel.
There are many hotels with a wide price range. For those who are interested I can recommend the hotel “Перлина Буковелю” (The Pearl of Bukovel) and “У Галини” (At Halyna/ U Galiny). I have been to both of these hotels and for those who are looking for something cute, comfortable, close to the center and not expensive it is a good choice. If these hotels are booked or you want to check something else just check the location of these hotels and choose something in this area.
The Pearl of Bukovel. This is the hotel where we spent 5 nights. The hotel is very well maintained. There is a BBQ, big kitchen, and a swing on the property of the hotel. The rooms are clean and comfortable. The location of this hotel is perfect for those who are planning on skiing or snowboarding.
U Galiny. This hotel is located next to the Pearl of Bukovel. The hotel has a good restaurant and a nice sauna that we spent time at. The property of the hotel is beautiful and the location is great.
Gold Palace. This hotel isn’t located in the very center, but nevertheless it is one of the most popular hotels in Bukovel. The rooms are clean and cozy. There is a good restaurant on the premises as well as a nice terrace.
HVOYA. This hotel is located next to ski slope #7 and has a great view of the mountains. In every room there is a balcony and a sitting area with a flat screen TV. The staff is always friendly. There is also a nice restaurant on the premises of this hotel.
АмстелСкі. This hotel is located in the very heart of the ski resort. There is a nice restaurant and the rooms are clean and spacious. The view from the rooms is incredible, especially at night when the lights are on.
Petros Hotel. This is a pretty new hotel in the center of Bukovel. The rooms are well thought out and a good value for the price . There is a restaurant that serves a very good breakfast on a nice terrace.
Chevalier Hotel & SPA. The hotel is located in the center of Bukovel (100 meters to slope #5). The rooms and the territory of the hotel are beautiful and cozy. There is parking and a ski room for drying your equipment. There is also a free spa that you can use.
Ганц & Spa. This hotel has a nice spa and a bar on its premises. It is located in the center of the resort town (10 meters to slope #5). The rooms are very cozy and clean. The hotel serves a delicious continental breakfast.
Bukovel VIP Residence. Every room of this hotel has a balcony, an area with a flat screen TV, and a nice panoramic view on the Carpathians. Every room also has a fridge, microwave, and a small kitchen. There is a restaurant on its premises where you can get a continental breakfast. The hotel has its own sauna and a gym. It is possible to make an appointment with a masseuse. In summer you can rent a bicycle at the hotel.
Although Bukovel is not a big city there are still many good restaurants. All of them are mostly located in the center of the city. Two of the most famous are Gribova Hata and Salo. And although the food is very good, the prices are higher than what is average for Ukraine. There are also a few other places with cheaper prices and good food that you can check out as well.
Naturlich – Budget. This restaurant is very inexpensive compared to some of the places in Bukovel. A half liter of beer is about 45-50 UAH and main dishes are around 100-200.
Gribova Hata – Mid Range. Probably my favorite restaurant in Bukovel, Gribova Hata serves delicious and authentic Carpathian cuisine. If you go with a group of friends just order all the small plates family style. You will still get full and save more money than if everyone gets main courses. I recommend the pashtet with jam!
Kolyba – Expensive. This restaurant is a bit of a walk from the bottom of the slope as it’s nearby the ski-in chalets. However if you want to splurge one night then this is the place to go for some tasty and creative twists on traditional Ukrainian food.
If you are travelling in Ukraine in winter you absolutely must visit Bukovel and try some winter sports and activities. No matter if you are a beginner who has never even tried ski boots, or a professional, you will be very comfortable in Bukovel. You can rent all the equipment for skiing and snowboarding (including clothes) in Bukovel when you arrive. There are many renting places and the price for a set (boots, helmet, glasses, skis or a snowboard and sticks for skiing, pants, jacket) can cost you between 150 UAH and 300 UAH per day. To get them you will need to give a cash deposit or leave your passport at the office.
There is also a ski school where you can hire a snowboard or ski instructor in English, Polish, Ukrainian, or Russian. To check all the details on how to start skiing or snowboarding click here.
There are also other winter activities that you can try. If the weather is good and there is a lot of snow you can try riding dog sleighs or snowmobiles in the mountains.
Chan (singular) – hot tub
Chany (plural) – hot tubs
After a long day of skiing or doing other activities you can relax in the chan. A chan is a traditional Carpathian hot tub which is made of cast iron and heated by the wood fire underneath the tub. The chany are usually located outside so that you can have fresh air while sitting in hot water (around 36°C – 38°C).
On the bottom of the chany there are thick smooth stones (so you don’t burn yourself on the metal) and inside the water are flowers and weeds to make the water smell very good and presumably relax and heal the body.
If there is a hot chan, there is also a barrel with icy water. The way to do this activity properly is to relax in a hot chan for about 15 minutes (until you are super hot and you the steam comes from your body) and then jump in the barrel with cold water and ice. You don’t need to sit in the cold water, just jump in and get out right away and then after a minute or two go back to the hot chan.
I do this just once and then after every future 15 minutes I just get out of the hot water and have a warm Carpathian tea with honey (they offer this at the location) or have a beer (need to bring it with you).
There are many hotels that offer this service, but if you like my pictures you can visit the one I went to. It is called “Spravzhni Chany” and they have a very nice place with a great view.
Phone: +38 (098) 900-28-87
Price: 1400 UAH for two hours (not more than 6 people), there are also bigger chany for a higher price.
While you are travelling in the Ukrainian Carpathians you should try some of the traditional food for this region. Like everywhere in Ukraine, the most famous dish is borsch. I recommend you get it at Gribova Hata. They serve borshch in a bowl made of bread with salo and garlic.
The Ukranian Carpathians are famous for its thick forests and delicious mushrooms and one of the dishes that they do the best here is soup with white mushrooms (Boletes).
There are also a lot of mountain rivers, lakes, and ponds with trouts. And people here have been cooking it for thousands of years. Carpathian trout is another dish you must try. By the way, you can even fish for trout yourself, but more about this later.
Bukovel has a great Christmas market that you can shop at. You will find dried mushrooms, pickled mushrooms, Carpathian teas, wild honey, nuts, and other delicious things.
There are also lots of warm clothes made of wool that can be very nice souvenirs for someone. And of course you can find some basic stuff like gloves, hats, glasses, sweaters, and others. There are also wooden things like boxes, bowls, plates, cups, and beautiful pottery.
Some of the vendors are open even in Summer.
In Bukovel they recently opened a bobsled track. To be honest I don’t know why they call it that as it’s more like a downhill only rollercoaster (the sled is set on a track) but it is what it is. The beauty of this activity is that the track goes through the forest down the hill and the view is fantastic.
The ticket office is located at the bottom and at the top of the slope, but you don’t need to get yourself to the top office if you’re already on the bottom. Just buy a ticket at the bottom and they will put you in a cart that lifts you to the top. At the top an instructor will explain how everything works and what you need to do to go safely down the hill.
The ride down can take around three – four minutes and the entire time you are zigzagging throughout the forest.
Price: 500 UAH per person; 800 UAH per two people.
For those who are not going skiing or snowboarding, or who are visiting Bukovel in summer, there is a lift that can take you up the mountain anyway. You can buy the ticket at the main ticket office, but you will need to take the lift #2 (all the other lifts are for people who ski or snowboard, in summer the other lifts don’t work).
At the top of the mountain there are a few places where you can relax, hide from the cold, and enjoy a warm drink in a cozy restaurant (or a cold beer in summer).
Along with the hot chany you can also visit a sauna. This is a nice way to relax your muscles after a whole day of activities. Find out if your hotel has a sauna, since many of them do. If not there is probably a sauna right around the corner.
I usually book a sauna for three hours if I am coming with friends. If you are going alone, one or two hours will be enough. It is better to choose a place that has not just a steam room but also a cold pool and an area where you can play table games or have warm tea.
Price: 500 UAH per hour
For those who have a free day in Bukovel I advise a visit to the center of the Ukrainian Carpathians – Vorokhta. Vorokhta is a small town with a few things to do.
There are two beautiful viaducts that you can visit. There is also a tourist base that organizes rafting and kayaking (in summer) and a zipline for those who are into this.
In summer you will find beautiful Alphian fields of flowers and thick forests, and in winter snowy mountains.
One of the popular activities in Bukovel is fishing for trout. I am not sure if it is possible to fish during a very cold winter, but I was fishing in the middle of December and everything was fine.
Around Bukovel there are many places where you can fish for trout. But you need to know that you will fish in an artificial lake/pond and it is quite easy to catch a fish.
At the same location where you fish they can also cook a fish for you or just clean it if you want to take it with you, that is what we did. We visited “Fishing at Petro” (30 minutes drive from Bukovel) where we caught 6 trouts. The owner of the pond cleaned them for us and we took them back to Lviv and cooked a nice dinner on the same day.
Prices: 250 UAH per kilogram; 260 UAH – for a kilogram with cleaning and 300 UAH per kilogram, cooked.
In summer Bukovel turns from a ski resort into a place where you can try rafting or kayaking. There are many mountain rivers in the Ukrainian Carpathians and rafting is a popular activity for beginners and professionals.
Usually the activity lasts for an hour. There are 6 to 8 people in one raft and an instructor. All the instructors are very experienced and can manage any situation as long as you listen to what they say.
Price: 450UAH per person
Hoverla is the tallest mountain in Ukraine. And it is a very popular hike. There are many tourists that come as soon as it is not too cold to hike the mountain. The best time will be spring or late summer.
The hike to the top of the mountain will take around 3 – 4 hours (depends on which route you choose and your speed). At the top of the mountain there is a cross and a monument that contains soil from all the region of Ukraine.
There at the top you also will meet a tea-guy who comes to the top of Hoverla almost every day to sell hot tea and coffee (25 UAH per cup). And since it is quite cold at the top, hot tea and coffee is a great thing to have. You can read more about How To Hike Hoverla if this is something you’d like to do.
Location: Zakarpattia Oblast