Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova
May 11 to 28, 2018
Travel to some of the least explored parts of Europe on this two week journey visiting three beautiful countries: Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, which are considered some of the hidden gems of Europe. Starting with Belarus we discover the glorious and elegant capital: Minsk, representing a stunning amalgam of Soviet-style/Communist architecture and amazing medieval churches, then head to the historic town of Polotsk to explore its complex heritage. Experience the genuine Belarusian hospitality, and then travel to the fairytale castle at Mir and the 16th century town of Njasvizh. Departing Belarus, head to Kiev and begin exploring Ukraine. In the capital you will visit some magical golden-domed monasteries and cathedrals dating back many centuries, before heading on to Lviv – considered by many as one of the most elegant cities in Europe. In the nearby villages you will discover some imposing old castles before heading on to the beautiful Carpathian Mountains, a treasure chest of traditional Hustul culture, incredible scenery and fascinating wildlife. Finally you will visit the tiny nation of Moldova, with its vast underground wine cellars, ancient monasteries and the unique republic of Transnistria. A country that doesn’t officially exist. Our tour visits a truly intriguing region, full of surprises and imbued with a rich heritage that easily rivals better known parts of Europe, and best of all, it’s well off the tourist map.
Per person sharing in double occupancy (Air and land from NYC): $5,295.00
Single Supplement: $700.00
Credit for not using our included airfare $800.00
Led by local guides
Price based on a group size minimum of 6 and maximum of 12 participants
Your tour does not include
- Round trip airfare from other cities or gateways besides NYC.
- Fuel surcharges, border departure taxes, airport taxes and security charges (app. $400.00 at time of printing).
- Consular visa for Belarus (approx. $70.00 at time of printing.
- Meals not specified in the itinerary.
- Dayrooms or extra hotel overnights if necessary.
- Expenses of a personal nature such as: beverages with meals, telephone, email, laundry bills, camera fees, etc.
- Trip surcharge to operate below required minimum participants.
- Travel protection Insurance.
Your tour includes
- Airline tickets from JFK to MINSK and out of KIEV
- Bottled water while touring.
- Accommodation in standard hotels (3-4*) in twin rooms on bed and breakfast basis.
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (daily lunches & 2 dinners).
- English-speaking guide/assistant during all tours.
- Transportation by comfortable minibus during all tours.
- All entrance fees to mentioned sites.
- Visa support documents (if needed).
- All local government taxes on included services.
View Tour Itinerary
Friday, May 11
Depart the US
Depart the US for Minsk arriving the second day.
Saturday, May 12
Arrive Minsk (Belarus)
Arrive at Minsk airport where you will be met and transferred to Monastyrskyi Hotel or similar. Remainder of the day is free to relax before dinner in a local restaurant (if you arrive on time). Overnight at your hotel. (D)
Sunday, May 13
After breakfast, begin your tour with visiting the main avenues, which are Independence Avenue and Victory Avenue; you will also see the architectural monuments of the 17th - 20th centuries, the Upper Town with the City Hall, the temples and monasteries, St. Spirit Cathedral and the old small streets of Trinity Suburb. Continue onwards and visit «The Isle of Tears» with the famous chapel that commemorates soldiers who perished during the Soviet-Afhan war in the 1980’s. Explore the Victory Monument and the National Library which was included into the list of the most outstanding buildings of the world! After lunch, drive to the open-air museum of folk architecture: Dudutki Museum, which has become the symbol of Belarus and its culture; there you will get an idea of the traditional village life.. Also visit the museum of national crafts, to see a windmill, shaped as a horseshoe for “Good luck" to the blacksmiths’, and to see the potters at work. Return to your hotel for your overnight. (B,L)
Monday, May 14
Minsk - Mir - Brest
After breakfast, drive to Mir Castle Complex, which was founded in the early 16th century as a lavish residency. In Mir we visit the ancient castle, an example of a purely Belarusian stone defensive architecture then continue to Nesvizh to see the magnificent Catholic Cathedral of the Divine Body of Christ built in 1593. The Cathedral is famous for a family burial-vault of the many generations of the historically influential Radziwills with its beautiful frescoes. Next, the tour visits Nesvizh Palace (the historical residence of the Radzivills) which includes a museum inside the Palace and a landscaped park in the English tradition. Both the Palace and Park are included in the Heritage List of UNESCO. After lunch drive to Brest and transfer to Vesta hotel or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Tuesday, May 15
Brest - Lviv (Belarus - Ukraine)
After breakfast, head to explore Brest, which is the traditional "western gate" of the country and visit its UNESCO-listed enormous Fortress, the history of which started in 1842 when ordered to be constructed by Czar Nicholas I. The fortress was not rebuilt at the end of the war, but instead became a shrine to the terrible and heroic events that took place there, after lunch drive to Lviv, upon arrival transfer to Reikartz Medieval or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Wednesday, May 16
Start your walking tour around medieval Lviv, founded in the 13th century. Wander its lovely UNESCO-listed Old Town Square, surrounded by 16th-18th century merchant dwellings. Conquered by the Poles in 1349, Lviv feels very Central European. You’ll see many unique cathedrals, churches and a chapel with the “sitting Christ” on top, the only one in Europe. Continue to visit the pharmacy museum (the first pharmacy in Lviv); its walls lined with old shelves stacked with little boxes, antique bottles, vessels and scales and learn about the development of pharmacology in Lviv and in Europe from ancient times till our era. Afterwards head to visit where the first kerosene lamps were made, not only in Lviv, but in all of Europe, It is a cafe now, a very romantic and beautiful one, with exhibits of kerosene lamps! And of course, you will also enjoy splendid views of the city from the top of City Hall. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L)
Thursday, May 17
Today you’ll walk around Austrian and Polish Lviv. You’ll learn about its public, political and cultural life, development of science, technologies, trade, education, its dwellings and traditions. Continue to visit Lviv’s State University and Lviv Politechnics, visit Lychakiv cemetery, where the most outstanding people of Ukraine are buried – public and political leaders, military men, artists, sculptors, poets, singers, scientists, writers. Some of the tombstones are considered masterpieces of architecture. Then head to visit Shevchenkivskyi Gay – the Museum of folk architecture and rural life. You will see the wooden folk architecture, everyday life artifacts, and local arts. The museum is one of the biggest open-air museums in Europe nowadays. After lunch enjoy the rest of the day free at leisure then return to your hotel for your overnight. (B,L)
Friday, May 18
Lviv - Bukovel
After breakfast drive to Bukovel. Visit the unique Museum of Hutsul, where you will find out about traditions, culture, songs, and lifestyle. Indulge in a Hutsul traditional homemade lunch. Afterwards drive to Bukovel and transfer to Koruna Hotel or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Saturday, May 19
Bukovel – Chernivits - Kamianets - Podilskyi
After breakfast, take a jeep tour to the top of mountains, then after lunch drive to Chernivtsi in order to explore this enchanting small European city. You will visit the heart of the city – National University; afterwards continue to Kamianets-Podilskyi. Then transfer to Reikartz Hotel or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Sunday, May 20
Kamianets - Podilskyi
Considered one of the most beautiful Ukrainian cities. You will uncover the centuries-old history of the city and explore the main attractions, including the beautiful Cathedral of the Saint Peter and Paul, the Turkish Minaret, and the building of the City Hall. Moreover, you will walk through Novoplanivskiy Bridge, visit St. Nikolas Dominican Cathedral and St. Nicolas Armenian Church. Then the highlight of the tour is a visit of the Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle, built in the end of the XIV century. It is a well-preserved example of the medieval fortification architecture. Situated in the picturesque canyon of the Smotrych River, it is a gem. Back to your hotel. (B,L)
Monday, May 21
Kamianets - Podilsky – Chisinau(Ukraine - Moldova)
After breakfast drive to Chisinau, Moldova. Upon arrival enjoy your lunch then head to discover the city. On Stephen the Great Boulevard there are many elegant administrative buildings – the Presidency, the Parliament, and the City Administration. There are cultural centers such as the National Theatre M. Eminescu, the Organ Hall, Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Well-known architects and poets such as Bernardazzi, Sciusev and Pushkin gave Chisinau a unique character. Afterwards transfer to Condru hotel or similar for heck in and overnight.(B,L)
Tuesday, May 22
Chisinau - Transnistria - Odessa (Moldova - Ukraine)
Start your morning with exploring the Cricova Winery, which is Moldova’s premier winery and one of Europe’s biggest. Enjoy wine tasting 4 types of wine. After lunch, continue to Transnistria. Sightseeing in Tiraspol, which transports you back into the old era of USSR. Feel the atmosphere of this disputed territory which always has been a battlefield between the major powers of the region. See the buildings of the Soviet style, the monument of Suvorov and Vladimir Ilich Lenin. The city seems to be behind the times and is full of contrasts. Afterwards drive to Odessa. Upon arrival transfer to Reikartz Alexandrovskiy or similar for check in and overnight.(B,L)
Wednesday, May 23
Start your day with a walking tour around downtown visiting its historical places and strolling the age-old streets: Deribasovskaya, Pushkinskaya, Rishelievskaya and Landzheronovskaya. You will see masterpieces of architecture and art of buildings, Opera and Ballet Theatre, and also historical buildings, where the archeological and marine museums are situated. Strolling along the Primorsky Boulvard it’s your chance to see an ancient building of municipal Duma, count Vorontsov palace with colonnaded entrance and the monument to Duke de Richelieu and the famous Potemkin stairs. They are the main entrance to Primorsky Boulvard from the seaside from where you witness the fascinating view to the marine terminal and the seaport. After lunch, tour the Odessa catacombs.(B,L)
Thursday, May 24
Odessa – Kiev
After breakfast, drive to Kiev with a stop on the way: visiting a Cold War era nuclear missile base. Once top secret, the base is today a museum and you can experience a bit of what it was like to serve here. You’ll walk down a 150 meter long underground corridor and take a lift 12 floors down to the “Red” button of the Unified Launch Control Center where you can sit in the hot seat and push that once fateful button. Passing sunflower fields and picturesque Ukrainian villages along the way, arrive in Kiev and transfer to Premier Hotel Rus or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Friday, May 25
Start your day with discovering American long mile or Kiev Broad Way. You will feel you are in Paris. Visit Gaudi’s tremendous creation: the House of Advertisement. You will see House of a crying widow, Chocolate House and Red Castle, stone jungles and many others. Also visit the first fountain and talisman for Kiev dwellers, a real pearl of Ukrainian baroque – Saint Andrew Church, Richard the Lion Heart castle and Kiev Acropolis. We also go to Babiy Yar, a ravine and site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union. After lunch visit Kievo-Pechersk Lavra caves Monastery founded in 1051 AD. The oldest monastery/religious institution related to Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine and most likely Russia as well and listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastery's tight cluster of gold-domed churches is a feast for the eyes, the hoard of Scythian gold rivals that of the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and the underground labyrinths lined with mummified monks are exotic and intriguing. Return to the hotel. (B,L)
Saturday, May 26
After breakfast tour to the Motherland Statue – now a symbol of the city and taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty! Inside there is a museum of WWII which we visit before heading Rus Park. It is a unique reconstruction of one of the most famous and at the same time the most mysterious medieval city of the Eastern Europe – Ancient Kiev of the 5th-8th century AD. Afterwards return to Kiev and enjoy one hour Cruise to see the Golden Domes of Kiev in their glory, Free time is allocated to explore art galleries with opportunities to see and purchase local crafts. and overnight. (B,L)
Sunday, May 27
Kiev - Chernobyl - Kiev
Enjoy your full day to Chernobyl from Kiev. Following an introductory briefing, head past Leliv Checkpoint and into Chernobyl town. Take in landmarks including the power plant, Kopachi Village and its abandoned kindergarten and Reactor #4. Head down Lenin Street to Pripyat’s now silent square and see collapsed schools, run-down hospitals and derelict cinemas. After lunch, visit the secret Duga military radar station. Then, pass through compulsory radiation control before returning to Kiev. This visit is extremely safe and has no health effects. (B,L,D)
Monday, May 28
Kiev - USA
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back home.(B)
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed