Discover Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova - Southbound

Discover Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova - Southbound

This journey will take you to one of the little-known regions in Europe where three beautiful countries - Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus, are trying to emerge from the shadows of the communist past. Join the trip through undiscovered history, outstanding architecture and unspoiled nature. Take a glass of great wine in Moldova – the least visited country in Europe with less than 12 000 visitors per year. Make a step into Transnistria – narrow strip of Moldovan land where separatists have formed disputable republic and people are still longing for freedom. See the palace where Lev Tolstoy once lived in Ukraine and visit one of the most famous squares in Europe – the Maidan, where Ukrainians were fighting for freedom after the end of Cold War. Step into two of the most beautiful castles in Belarus – Mir and Nesviz, and compare their elegance to the monumental Stalinist architecture in the capital city Minsk.

Highlights:

♦ The Holy Gates - known as Moldova's 'Arc de Triomphe'
♦ Tiraspol – a place that will take you back in the days of USSR
♦ Milestii Mici - the largest wine "underground city" in Europe, which takes place in Guinness World Records
♦ Lviv’s historic center
♦ Pripyat - the ghost town where Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened back in 1986
♦ Kiev-Pecherska Lavra – known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
♦ Maidan – Kiev’s Independence Square
♦ Nesvizh Palace – Considered as one of the most beautiful castles in Eastern Europe. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Itinerary:

Day 1. Minsk
Arrival in Minsk.

Day 2: Minsk. Nesvizh and Mir Castles
Short sightseeing tour of Minsk in the morning before we continue to Nesvizh and Mir Castles.

First we visit the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nesvizh Castle, which has been home to the Radswill Family for over 400 years. The fortresses construction began in 1584, but it's been extended and changed over the years and now features a mix of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism and Neo-Gothic architecture. The estate also contains the largest landscape gardens in Europe and a number of ornamental lakes.

After some free time to have lunch and explore Nesvizh we drive on to the beautiful Mir Castle, which is also UNESCO-Listed. Creation of the fort began at the end of the 15th century and again a number of different architectural styles can be seen. The castle is one of the most splendid in Europe and was reopened to the public in 2010 after being extensively restored to its former glories.
Back to Minsk for overnight.

Day 3. Minsk – Lviv (Ukraine)
Flight to Lviv. Walking tour.

The city is known as the most beautiful in Ukraine, it's architectural layout is a collection of numerous styles and epochs. East of the modern part of the city is the Old Town. The points of interest are: Renox Square; the Ivan Franco National Theater - one of the masterpieces of world architecture; the Roman Catholic Cathedral - one of the most remarkable Gothic buildings dating back to the end of the 14th century; the Baroque Cathedral. Currently Lviv is a city buzzling with life and culture. Literally every cafe or restaurant is like a small interactive museum full of curiosities to discover.

Day 4. Lviv 
Enjoy a free day in Lviv, visiting the numerous attractions in this charming Ukrainian town. 

Day 5. Lviv - Kiev
Train to Kiev.

Some of the most famous Kiev attractions include: the Kiev-Pecherska Lavra Monastery, the Monastery of St. Michael with his gold domes, the churches of St. Sofia and St. Andrew and many others. In addition, the National Opera, the Kiev Youth Theater, the Golden Gate, the Independence Square

Day 6. Kiev or optional tour to Chernobil
Free day or optional tour to Chernobyl.

The large restricted area where the tragic event of the Chernobil nuclear disaster took place in 1986 is enigmatic and indeed one of a kind place to explorer. This excursion will give you a glipse towards abandoned city of Pripyat, where nature has already started conquering back what once used to be streets, hotels, schools etc. With your Geiger counter in hand, you'll have the chance see the new dome of the exploded nuclear reactor from only a few meters distance.

Day 7. Kiev - Odessa
Early departure from Kiev as we have a long day driving in front of us - 470 km to Odessa.

Stop in the city of Pervomaysk, where we will visit the Strategic Missile Force Museum, which in the past was an actual nuclear weapon launch site. We will see the most powerful Cold War Soviet missile - the R-36M2 'governor' bomb, which was nicknamed 'Satan' by the Americans.
Arrival in Odessa in the evening.

Day 8. Odessa
Walking tour in Odessa and optional “catacombs tour” in the afternoon

Odessa is a port city in Ukraine, which is the fifth largest in the country. It is situated on the Black Sea coast. Its population is 1 012 500 people. Officially the city was founded in 1794 as a Russian naval fortress. The name Odessa is borrowed from the Greco-Roman colony of Odessos in Thrace, at the request of Empress Catherine the Great. In the modern city you can see examples of Mediterranean architecture under the influence of French and Italian masters. The palace, owned by Lev Tolstoy's family, is one of the typical representatives of this school. Most buildings are built of white limestone, a deposit from which is close to the city. Charming examples of architecture are the Opera and Ballet Theater, the National Marine University, the Palace of Chess and the Archaeological Museum. If you come to Odessa, you should not miss the Seaside Boulevard, Suvorov Street, Tschichin Bridge, the French Boulevard and the Museum of Maritime History. Abandoned mines have been expanded by local smugglers and used by them as hiding places and warehouses. Today's so-called "catacombs" are a very popular tourist attraction.

Day 9. Odessa – Tiraspol (Transnistria)
In Tiraspol you will have the opportunity to travel in time back to USSR. Transnistria is a thin strip of land wedged between Moldova and Ukraine. It is home to more than 500,000 people and has a parliamentary government, a standing army, and its own currency. It has all the trappings of an independent nation—but isn't. you won't find it on many maps, and not a single member of the United Nations recognizes its existence.

Day 10. Tiraspol – Chisinau (Moldova)
On our way to Chisinau we will stop by Bender Fortress. We countinue to Moldova and stop for a wine tasting in Milesti Mici - the largest wine "underground city" in Europe (length - 200 km), which is listed in Guinness World Records. It has more than 200 km of limestone tunnels, 55 km of which are used for storing wine. We continue to Chisinau. During the walking tour we will see the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ's Nativity, Presidential Palace, Parliament building and the Holy Gates, which are known as Moldova's 'Arc de Triomphe'.  

Day 11. Departure


Price Includes:
10 nights in standard 2** and 3*** hotels - rooms with private facilities and breakfast
wine tasting on day 10
all transport
Penguin tour leader and local English speaking guides

Not Included:
Single room supplement 210 EUR
entrance fees
tips
personal expenses
meals except breakfast
Optional one-day trip to Chernobyl (approx. 120 EUR)
Optional catacomb tour in Odessa (approx. 15 Euros)
Flight tickets Minsk-Lviv (approx. 120 EUR)

Additional Services:
Optional one-day trip to Chernobyl (approx. 120 EUR)
Optional catacomb tour in Odessa (approx. 15 Euros)
Flight tickets Minsk-Lviv (approx. 120 EUR)


Discover Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova - Southbound (Rated 4.97 / 5 Based on 398 Reviews.)
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