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Saturday, March 30, 2013

48 Hours of Fun on a Budget in Kharkov, Ukraine

In this blog series I show you how easy it is to budget travel anywhere and I also give you a quick overview of a new city each time in a brief 48-hour itinerary.

You may or may not have heard of Kharkov. It is new to me, though it is the second largest city in Ukraine. I generally do cities in this series that are well known, but sometimes you find yourself close to a place you may not know much about and then realize it would make a fun day or weekend trip away from your regular vacation.


Photos of Freedom Square, Kharkiv
This photo of Freedom Square is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Day 1
Get up early and visit Freedom Square – the 2nd largest city square in Europe – where you can view one of the surviving statues of Lenin still standing since the fall of the Soviet Union. This is a great place to people watch, but you can see it before it’s crowded and then head off to breakfast at Petit Paris, Kharkov’s only French patisserie. 


Photo credit: Виталий З.
Why not start off your day with some delicious, sugary carbs and caffeine?

After a lovely breakfast, a visit to the Kharkov Historical Museum is in order, where you can learn about the city's history all the way up to the Soviet Period, including cannons used by the Red Army. Though not as big as other war museums, tourists have said this is a plus, because it is easier to see all of it.


Across the street from the museum is a monastery, which is also worth a visit. Pokrovsky Monastery has spectacular domes that are visible from miles away. 




Stop by Gostinaya for a delicious dinner. The restaurant is open 24 hours, so you can eat European and Japanese entrees at any hour. If it's warm out, try to get a table on the patio, where you'll enjoy fresh air and good people watching.

Photos of IT Cafe, Kharkiv
This photo of IT Cafe is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Day 2
Sleep in a bit today and sit down for a yummy breakfast at IT Cafe. It has free Wifi and is a great place for working meals, but you'll find their food very good and the atmosphere cozy. This will be your dining splurge for your two days, as this restaurant is a little on the spendy side.


Photos of Shevchenko Park, Kharkiv
This photo of Shevchenko Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Want to see the city with a local? What about a 3-hour city tour that's free! Yeah, I thought you might like that. Free Tour Kharkov has been voted one of the best tours in Europe. The tour meets at 11am on Sundays, though you can book on other days for the free tour instead of just showing up. A local will take you to all the major sites in the city including Karazin University, Mirror Stream and the Lopansky Bridge. Free tours are conducted in English and have been highly praised by visitors. Pitch in what you deem a fair tip and you've had one of the most budget-friendly afternoons of travel.


Photos of Gorky Park, Kharkiv
This photo of Gorky Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Remember that old Scorpions song Winds of Change? There is a line in there about Gorky Park and I never knew what that was. Well, it’s actually in Moscow, but the park has been used as a template for parks across the former Soviet Union and you can spend half a day in the Gorky Park in Kharkov taking in the gorgeous scenery, riding theme park rides, playing tennis and letting the kids burn off steam in the playground. Grab a meal at one of the park’s restaurants or cafes if it’s cold out, or have a picnic while you take a break from exploring this huge outdoor space. Maybe next to a fancy fountain!


Photo credit: Kharkov For Rent
After two days of walking around sightseeing, go back to your accommodation and relax and pack up. If you aren't sure how to find a great place to stay on a budget, check out Kharkov For Rent where you can pick from a long list of lovely rental apartments. These are wonderful, because you feel more at home, plus you can save money on dining out. even though you'll only be staying for a few days, maybe you'd like to save on breakfasts by bringing along your own morning staples, like bagels and pastries. If nothing else, you will be able to stock your rental's fridge with beverages and to keep all the baked goods you found while out and about to take back home with you.

You'll find an apartment rental for any budget, so whether you're looking for something upscale or a place just comfortable enough for sleeping, it'll be listed at Kharkov for Rent. In fact, there are apartment rentals for as little as 25 euros. As I've said of other cities, an apartment in Kharkov is more cost-effective than a hotel, as it gives you more living space and is priced per night instead of how many travelers there are in your party. You can find comfortable options all over Kharkov, including the center of the city. With the money you save on convenient, privately-owned accommodations, you can splurge on fine dining or souvenirs.



Photo credit
Even though it's easy to walk all over the city center, you can get around Kharkov on the metro. With only three lines, it is simple to navigate and you can quickly get to any desired attractions in the city by using it.


If you've ever been to Ukraine, what was your favorite part of your trip?


Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Kharkov For Rent. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
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