Explore the banks of the Dnipro on a weekend getaway from the capital
Rural Ukraine — it’s a place of yellow steppes, green meadows, and birch and poplar trees reaching toward the sky. It’s a land dotted with deep lakes, where rivers wind their way through wide fields and between high hills.
It also has everything you need for a relaxing getaway. And often all of that is just a short jaunt away from the big city.
This year the Orthodox Easter holiday falls on April 28 and is followed by Labor Day on May 1. That means there will be a long, five-day weekend — the perfect time to broaden one’s horizons and witness firsthand the beauty of the Ukrainian countryside.
There’s no need to travel far from Kyiv to do it: just an hour’s drive from the capital brings beautiful scenery and fascinating historical sites.
Take the road south out of Kyiv, following the course of the Dnirpo River, and you will find a number of small towns and villages with picturesque landscapes, trees in blossom, and friendly locals always ready to welcome new visitors.
All of these “no rush, no fuss” places are just a short distance south and east of the capital, and they are well worth a visit.
The ancient settlement of Trypillia is only 49 kilometers southeast of the busy heart of Kyiv — a 50-minute drive.
The small village, whose name means “three fields,” is nestled against picturesque hills near the Dnipro. The name is believed to be connected with the village’s location, as the area is split into three sections by offshoots of the river — the Stuhna, Krasna and Bobrytsia. The Divych-Hora mountain looms over the village. While the mountain is relatively small, only around 55 meters high (more of a hill, really), it’s still a good place to go hiking, offering some great views of the Dnipro.
With warm weather starting at the end of April, a trip to Trypillia is a great choice for those who want to spend the weekend outdoors admiring nature’s beauty.
However, Trypillia has something else to offer: a fascinating history. The Kyiv Oblast
Archaeological Museum is the village’s top attraction, a place where one can explore the roots of Ukraine’s ancient Trypillian culture, a Neolithic civilization that flourished from circa 4800 B.C. to 3500 B.C. and which was named after the village.
The museum has three halls, each exhibiting different time periods: from the Stone Age, to the time of the Kyivan Rus, to the beginning of the 20th century.
Kyiv Oblast Archaeological Museum. Trypillia. 12 Heroiv Trypillia Street. Mon-Sun, 9 a.m.— 5 p.m. Hr 20 for adults, Hr 15 for students, Hr 10 for children and retirees.
How to get there: Drive south out of Kyiv on the E40, then take the P01 south past Koncha-Zaspa, Kozyn and Tatsenky, then the H01 south out of Ukrayinka, and then turn left onto the P19 and drive east for about 7 kilometers to get to Trypillia.
Some five kilometers east of Trypillia is the small village of Khalepia, nestled between the rivers Bobrytsia and Skvyrivka.
Because Khalepia is a little-known gem even for locals, the place is quiet and clean, and an ideal spot for a relaxing weekend getaway.
The trip from Kyiv to Khalepia takes less than 50 minutes, as the village is located only about 55 kilometers southeast of the capital.
Khalepia is mostly known for its lake, said to be one of the cleanest in Kyiv Oblast. Local people call the lake and its surrounding area “places of power,” and no wonder — the deep blue waters of Khalepia’s lake are mesmerizing and calm, and the sight of it seems to wash away stress.
Swimming is allowed in the Khalepia lake, and it is a great escape from the upcoming summer heat. However, there is no road leading to the lake. It can only be accessed by foot. And be sure to bring snacks along too, as there are no cafes or shops nearby.
Other than that, Khalepia is also home to an old Orthodox Church, founded in 1797, and two museums dedicated to the legendary Ukrainian poet Ivan Franko and the prominent archeologist Vikentiy Khvoyka.
How to get there: Take the E40, P01, H01 and P19 to Trypillia, then follow the P19 for five kilometers east out of Trypillia, following the signs for Khalepia.
Next along the riverside route from Kyiv is the historic village of Vytachiv, where one can see the remains of ancient buildings and churches.
Vytachiv is situated on hills, offering its visitors a great view over the left bank of the River Dnipro.
The village is said to have been founded in the fourth century, and it attracts archeologists from all over Ukraine searching for ancient relics.
Vytachiv’s historical structures include a wooden church believed to have been built with the help of Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko.
The church is situated on one of the hills in the village near the Dnipro. Apart from that, there is a well-preserved wooden windmill and an old Ukrainian house near the church.
Unlike its neighboring village Khalepia, Vytachiv has a cafe offering traditional Ukrainian food right beside its historical sites.
For those who want to go hiking, Vytachiv offers two hills to climb: Krasukha or Mohyla, both less than 80 meters in height.
How to get there: Take the E40, P01, H01 and P19 to Trypillia, follow the P19 south-east out of Khalepia for about 3 kilometers, and then take the turn to Vytachiv on the left.
Even though a trip to Rzhyshchiv takes a little bit more than an hour, it is still worth a visit.
The town, which is some 77 kilometers south of the capital, requires more than a day to properly explore.
Rzhyshchiv is situated near the river Lehlych and is known for the nearby “flooded church.” It was built in the 19th century, but left isolated on a small island after the creation of the Kaniv Reservoir.
Because it was built on a hill, the church did not wind up completely under the reservoir’s waters. Now, because the general water level in the reservoir has fallen, the church has ended up on a small island in the river. There is a bridge to the island with the church from the left bank of the Dnipro, but getting there from Rzhyshchiv requires a trip in a small boat.
For those interested in studying Ukrainian culture, Rzhyshchiv has two museums: Archeological Museum and the Museum of Art.
Like the other villages and towns in this part of Kyiv Oblast, Rzhyshchiv has not yet become a top destination for tourists. So if you’re looking for a quiet place to spend a family weekend close to Kyiv — Rzhyshchiv fits the bill perfectly.
How to get there: Take the E40, P01, H01 and P19 to Trypillia, then follow the P19 east to Khalepia, and then south-east for about 20 kilometers, passing through Staiky and Hrebeni, to Rzhyshchiv. ■
The sun sets over the Dnipro River in Kyiv Oblast. The banks of the Dnipro are lined by a number of small towns and villages with picturesque landscapes and fascinating historical sites -- perfect for a relaxing getaway from the capital. (UNIAN)