Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova
May 02 to 19, 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. 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: $900.00
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
Optional extension to Chernobyl (May/19-20) including 1 extra night in Kiev, Chernobyl day excursion and transfers on departure $325.00 per person in double occupancy and $430.00 per person in single occupancy.
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).
- Currently all 3 countries do not require visas.
- 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 first class hotels (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.
Trip Grade: II Active - Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long rides.
Lodging Level: *** Superior - Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (4 stars)
Special trip notes: some of the drives are long and many roads in Ukraine are not in good paved conditions and for a couple of the driving days the tour will start quite early and end up reaching the next destination quite late in the evening, so patience is required for such long days.
View Tour Itinerary
Wednesday, May 02
Depart the US
Depart the US for Minsk arriving the second day.
Thursday, May 03
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)
Friday, May 04
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, a visit to Holy 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-Afghan war in the 1980’s. Explore the Gates of Minsk; 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)
Saturday, May 05
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 Hermitage hotel or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Sunday, May 06
Brest – Minsk
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 back to Minsk, to Monastyrskyi hotel or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Monday, May 07
Minsk –Lviv (Belarus – Ukraine)
Check-out and transfer to Minsk airport for a flight to Lviv 1:10pm – 02:30 pm (Belavia). Meeting at Lviv airport and transfer to a hotel for check-in. Late lunch (04:00pm) Start your walking tour (3 hours) 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. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L)
Tuesday, May 08
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)
Wednesday, May 09
Lviv – The Carpathians
After breakfast drive to the Caprathians. Visit the unique Museum of Hutsul, where you will find out about traditions, culture, songs, and lifestyle. Indulge in a Hutsul traditional homemade lunch. Check-in to Koruna hotel or similar. Free time. (B,L)
Thursday, May 10
After breakfast, drive to Chernivtsi. Lunch Tour of Chernivtsi in order to explore this enchanting small European city. You will visit the heart of the city – National University. Check-in to AllureInn hotel or similar, free time and overnight. (B,L)
Friday, May 11
Chernivtsi – Khotyn – Kamyanets-Podilskyi
In the morning we drive to Khotyn fortress, then to Kamyanets-Podilskyi, and after lunch we tour the town and its fortress. Back to Chernivtsi. Free time. Overnight. (B,L)
Saturday, May 12
Chernivsti–Chisinau (Ukraine - Moldova)
Drive to Chisinau, Moldova. Lunch in Balti town. Continue to Soroka town for a tour. This vibrant little town is situated on the right bank of river Dniester. The main highlight will be visiting Soroca's Fortress, built in 15th century and known for its well-preserved stronghold. Historically, it was of vital military importance during the Pruth Campaign of Peter the Great in 1711. Our next stop is The Candle of Gratitude Monument which is one of the best monuments in Moldova. The monument is built on the rocks over the Nistru River. Continue drive to Chisinau. Check-in to Jolly Alon hotel or similar in the evening and overnight. (B,L)
Sunday, May 13
Morning tour of 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. A visit to a handicraft market. Lunch and continue exploring the Cricova Winery, which is Moldova’s premier winery and one of Europe’s biggest. Enjoy wine tasting 4 types of wine. Back to Chisinau. Overnight. (B,L)
Monday, May 14
In the morning drive to Odessa via Transnistria. Stop in Tiraspol for sightseeing and lunch. Then continue to Odessa. Check-in to Aleksandrovskyi hotel or similar.
Tuesday, May 15
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 to the Opera house. (B,L)
Wednesday, May 16
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 11 Mirrors Design hotel or similar for check in and overnight. (B,L)
Thursday, May 17
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. Lunch and we continue the tour. After lunch visit St. Sophia Cathedral, and will see the Golden Gates. Return to the hotel. Free time. (B,L)
Friday, May 18
After breakfast tour 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. Then a visit 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 the museum of corruption Mezhyriya. The residential area of the ex-president of Ukraine – Yanukovich which is stunning by its impressive luxury life, incredibly vast territory and nonsense of human greediness. Afterwards return to Kiev and enjoy one hour Cruise to see the Golden Domes of Kiev in their glory, Back to the hotel. Overnight. (B,L,D)
Saturday, May 19
Kiev to USA OR: Kiev - Chernobyl - Kiev
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back home. (B)
POST-TOUR - OPTIONAL
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)
Sunday, May 20
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