Ukraine Safety and Travel Advice for Foreigners

ukraine safety

Ukraine is one of the biggest countries in Europe, with plenty to see and explore. From the magnificent golden domes of Kiev to the summer sun on the Black Sea and local delicacies, Ukraine will charm all types of foreign tourists.

The great affordability of visiting and living in Ukraine makes it perfect for travelers on a budget. And with the possibility of applying for a Ukrainian visa online in minutes, planning your trip to Ukraine has become extremely easy.

Because of the news coming from Ukraine in recent years, many foreigners wonder whether Ukraine is a safe country. In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • Ukraine safety travel advice
  • What areas to visit and what to avoid in Ukraine
  • Road safety
  • Borders and required travel documents

Is It Safe to Travel to Kiev, Ukraine?

Overall, Ukraine is a safe country for travelers. Popular destinations in the country like the capital Kiev and the coast town Odesa are calm and enjoyable.

Troubled areas affected by the war with Russia are located in the southeast of the country, very far from the capital. Occasional demonstrations may take place in the main urban centers across the country and foreigners are advised to stay clear of these events. In Kiev, most protests take place in Maydan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) and government buildings such as the Verkhovna Rada (parliament building) and the National Bank of Ukraine.

Petty crime like pickpocketing may occur but the risk level is comparable to that of most tourist destinations around the world and can be minimized by following common sense.

Public transport in major cities is punctual and reliable while road conditions in rural areas can be poor and visibility limited.

Areas to Avoid in Ukraine as a Tourist

Most governments around the world advise their citizens to avoid traveling to the Ukrainian regions that have been affected by war. These are small and remote areas limited to the southeast of the country and far from most tourist itineraries.

Crimea

International tourists should avoid all travel to Crimea. This includes transiting through the airports in Sevastopol and Simferopol.

Because many countries do not recognize Russian control over Crimea, it’s likely that you’d have very limited consular support in Crimea.

Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts

Again, all travel should be avoided to the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk because of the presence of armed groups. If you’re already in the area, avoid large crowds and demonstrations, keep a low profile, and exit the region.

Consular assistance will be very limited in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.

Safety Travel Advice for Ukraine

In areas under the control of Ukrainian authorities, tourists’ main security risk is represented by petty crime and robberies. This is not surprising, especially in crowded and popular areas.

By taking standard safety precautions, visitors will dramatically lower the risks and enjoy an hassle-free time in Ukraine:

  • Don’t flash your valuables
  • Keep your wallet and belongings close, particularly on public transport and in crowded spots
  • Avoid walking alone at night in poor-lit streets and parks
  • Keep your valuables in the hostel lockers. Traveler-on-traveler crime is higher than most think
  • Lock your compartment door on overnight trains

A famous Ukrainian scam involves leaving a wallet on the street and accusing the foreigner who picks it up of having stolen it. If you see a wallet on the pavement or someone accuses you, don’t get involved and simply walk away.

Can You Drink the Water in Ukraine?

Water is usually potable, especially in major towns and cities. However, since it’s hard for visitors to keep all factors into consideration (like the age and state of the pipes) it’s best to follow safe food and drinking precautions and prefer bottled water and thoroughly-cooked food.

Crossing Ukrainian Borders: Visa and Documents Required

Most citizens of foreign countries need a visa to travel to Ukraine. Fortunately, foreigners holding passports of over 50 countries can obtain their travel authorization online by using the new Ukrainian eVisa system. All they’ll need is their passport, a current email address, and a valid credit or debit card to pay for the visa application fee.

Crossing the Ukrainian Borders with Russia

The Ukrainian government considers it illegal to enter its territory through borders that are not controlled by Ukrainian authorities. Doing so means breaking the law and may expose you to serious consequences including fines, arrest, and a travel ban.

International border points currently not under Ukrainian control include:

  • All land border crossings into Donetsk Oblast
  • Many of the land border crossings into Luhansk Oblast
  • All air and sea ports in Crimea
  • The Kerch Bridge road and rail crossing into Crimea

As mentioned above, attempting to cross these borders and visit these areas is unadvisable. Should you still want to do so, you’ll need to obtain a special entry permit from the State Migration Service of Ukraine.