Kharkov (pronounced “Kharkov” in Russian and “Kharkiv” in Ukrainian) is the second largest city of Ukraine with a population of approximately 1.5 million people. It was founded in 1654. Below, I hope you will find some information about Kharkov that I hope will prove to be useful during your visit(s) to Kharkov.
Getting to Kharkov
There are two main ways to get to Kharkov from outside Ukraine:
- Fly to Kiev (or Kyiv as it is known in Ukrainian) and then come by car (private car or bus), train, or plane to Kharkov.
- Fly directly to
If you wish to come by car or bus, the drive is approximately 500
Taking the bus is the least flexible, the most uncomfortable, and the most economical option. The company I recommend is Autolux. At the time of writing, there are two buses a day: the first leaves Kiev at 11:00 and arrives at Kharkov at 18:35; and the second leaves Kiev at 23:50 and arrives at Kharkov the next day at 08:20. Single tickets cost UAH 100
Coming by train via Ukrainian Railways (known in
The official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, but in Eastern Ukraine, partly due to the close proximity to the Russian border, most people speak in Russian rather Ukrainian. Only a small
Ukraine’s national currency is the
Although Kharkov, like other major Ukrainian cities, offers several cheap (at least by comparison with Western countries) public transport options, such as buses, trolleybuses,
If you have access to a web browser, you can use the EasyWay website for directions on how to get from point A to point B using the public transport system. Additionally, if you have an iPhone or
Taxis are, of course, more convenient and more expensive (but still quite cheap compared to most other European cities) than using the metro (or any other form of public transport for that matter), but they do have the important benefit of allowing you to get from point A to point B without having to do any walking (which really becomes important in winter when it can get very cold in Kharkov).
The main problem with taxis is that, in general, taxi dispatchers and drivers do not speak any English. Once you have booked a taxi (either by calling a taxi company such as Lider or using a taxi booking mobile
Many cafes and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. In particular, this is true for all branches of McDonald’s. However, the speed may not be that great and accessing the internet in this way is not as secure as using the Wi-Fi in a private apartment or using the data plan (if any) from your mobile phone service provider.
For anyone with an unlocked smartphone, it is quite inexpensive and easy to get internet access by buying a prepaid (or “pay as you go”) Ukrainian SIM card (usually, a starter SIM package costs between UAH 25 and UAH 50), adding some credit to it (by using either a prepaid refill card or via one of the many iBox bill payment terminals located around the city), and then sending a message to the SIM card provider to choose a call/data plan). As an example, one telecom company, Kyivstar, was recently offering a prepaid plan (i.e. no contract) costing UAH 70 per month with unlimited calls within Ukraine to other Kyivstar subscribers, 100 minutes of calls to mobile numbers from other Ukrainian telecom operators, and 1GB of data.
You can buy SIM cards from many places, but the sellers usually do not speak English. Please let me know if you need any help with purchasing and setting up a Ukrainian SIM card.
If you would like to see a fairly comprehensive list of bars, cafes, and restaurants, you should check out the list at TripAdvisor. Here, I will focus on a few establishments that are either my personal favorites, very popular with my clients and their guests, or both.
If you have a good appetite, you must try the “All You Can Eat” breakfast (
For a great cup of tea or coffee in a stylish cafe with excellent food and friendly
There are very few vegetarian or vegan cafes or restaurants. The best two are Yoga Bar (at the very peaceful and elegant Maharaja Yoga Center on the 4th floor of the Palladium Shopping Mall) and Gorodskoe Cafe 1654 (nearest metro station: Istorychnyi Muzei).
If you want a place you can go to for a romantic date where you
If you like Japanese food, I can recommend the following relatively inexpensive restaurants: Yakitoriya, Yaposhka, Sushiya, and Mafia. It is worth noting that four of these restaurants provide a home delivery service.
For Italian food, the most popular place (which means you should always book a table at least a day in advance) by far is Trattoria; they have three branches, but my favorite is at 22b Kultury Street (nearest metro station: Naukova).
One of the largest
Dental & Medical Clinics
Public clinics and hospitals are best avoided for many reasons (most importantly, the insufficient funding by the government).
Kharkov is a very good destination for dental and medical tourism because costs of diagnostic procedures (e.g. blood tests, X-rays, Ultrasound, MRI), outpatient consultations with specialists, dental treatment, and various outpatient medical treatments can be significantly cheaper than in other
The only problem is that many (if not most) staff members in these clinics have a limited ability to communicate in English. So, you either need to go to a clinic that specifically caters to foreign visitors by having English-speaking staff or be accompanied by an interpreter with good experience of dealing with hospitals and clinics. I am happy to help you in both scenarios. In the case of the former, in the paragraphs below, I give examples of a few of such clinics that I can highly recommend (based on personal experience as well as what I have heard elsewhere) but with which I have no affiliations. In the case of the latter, there is, of course, greater choice, and I will be happy to guide and help you through the whole process, from booking the first appointment to accompanying you on your last day of treatment.
Let’s talk about private dental clinics first. Here, you can get a ceramic crown for less than $100 and a dental implant for around $500. One example of an excellent English-speaking dentist, who stays up-to-date with the latest advances in dentistry by training with the best dental surgeons in Europe and attending international professional workshops/conferences every year, is Andrey Kuritsyn, the owner of Dental Park (nearest metro station: Oleksiivska).
As for private medical clinics, there are several good ones to choose from: Medical Center Health (nearest metro station: Universytet), Medical Center Eviva (nearest metro station: Universytet), and Medical Center Doctor Alex (nearest metro station: Pushkinska). Consultations with specialists start from around $10. MRI scans start from approximately $50.
There are many fitness clubs in Kharkov (and almost all offer day passes). Here are a few of the top clubs located in the center: Egoiste, Tetra, and Safari. Typically, in such places, a day pass costs $10-15 and a
The best and largest city park is Gorky Park (more formally known as “Maxim Gorky Central Park for Culture and Recreation”). It is a
The smaller but still beautiful Taras Shevchenko Gardens is host to Kharkiv Zoo and Dolphinarium Nemo. It is roughly a
Another one of my favorite parks, which is much less well-known than the two parks mentioned above, but definitely worth visiting for couples and families is Feldman Ecopark. It is located on the edge of the city: roughly a
The top three malls (or shopping centers) in Kharkov are Karavan (in the Saltovka
It is also interesting to visit (as a
Some Important Phone Numbers
- Fire Brigade (or Fire Department): 101
- Police: 102
- Ambulance: 103
- Gas Service: 104
- US Embassy in Kiev (Emergency Assistance Line): +380 44 521 5566 during regular business hours or +380 44 521 5000 after hours
- Canadian Embassy in Kiev (main phone line) : +380 590 3100
- Australian Embassy in Kiev: +380 44 290 6400
- British Embassy in Kiev (Urgent Assistance Line): +380 44 490 3660