Tourist Safety Tips for Visitors to Ukraine

Visiting Ukraine and looking for a tour guide and driver who speaks fluent English?

Is Ukraine a safe country to visit for tourists? The short answer is: yes, generally, Ukraine is a safe tourist destination. For western travelers, Ukraine is comparable to Romania, Bulgaria and other countries of Eastern Europe.

Common sense tourist safety rules are no different in Ukraine than in other countries of Europe. In many ways Ukraine is safer than its more touristy neighbors to the west. There simply is not enough tourists to attract scammers and pickpockets. The towns in the Ukrainian Carpathian region, such as Kolomyya and Kosiv, are known to be the safest destination in Ukraine. Other Western Ukrainian towns, including  Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi, are also generally risk-free for tourists.

Are you planning a trip to Ukraine? Following is a list of tips for travelers on how to avoid risks and travel safely in Ukraine:

How to stay safe from pickpockets and scammers in Ukraine:

  • watch out for pickpockets in crowded places and keep your wallet in a safe place, such as your inner pocket.  In Ukrainian cities, beware of thieves and scammers at railway and bus stations and in public transport. Ukrainian airports are much safer due to better security surveillance.
  • be cautious when entering empty public toilets at bus stations, train stations and shopping malls in Ukraine to avoid being mugged at your most vulnerable moment. Instead, consider using toilets in cafes or public bathrooms that feel more secure.
  • do not leave your belongings unattended in a cafe when you leave your table for a washroom.

How to safely drink water and alcohol in Ukraine:

  • avoid drinking raw water in Ukraine. Instead, boil tap water or buy bottled water. Water quality in Ukraine varies depending on a city. Most places in Ukraine, including Kyiv, use treated surface water for municipal water supply. In Lviv mains water is pumped from ground wells. It is more pure and better to taste.
  • in Ukraine beer and liquor is inexpensive. Drink alcohol in moderation. Do not drink with people you do not know. Also remember that drinking alcohol in public places outside bars and restaurants is not allowed.

How to be safe on Ukrainian roads and keep things safe in a car:

  • use extra caution when crossing streets. Drivers in Ukraine often do not yield to pedestrians.
  • avoid driving in Ukraine if you are not familiar with the local roads and culture. It is better to hire a taxi or someone with local experience.
  • when parking a car in Ukraine, put away your possessions in a trunk. Do not leave them visible on a car seat.

How to stay safe around animals and avoid risks in the Ukrainian outdoors:

  • do not pet strange dogs and cats. They may suddenly turn against you, or they can be infected with parasites.
  • wild animals in Ukraine are rare and not considered a threat to humans. Bears and wolves are almost extinct, except deep in the Carpathian forests where they are safe from hunters and poachers. Poisonous snakes occur in forests and fields, but are rare. Grass snake is the most common species, but is not a threat to people.
  • in Ukraine, ticks occur in tall grass and trees in the summer and fall. Check your clothes when back at the hotel. Ticks are extremely rare in the Carpathian spruce forests. If you find a tick attached to your body, dab it lightly with oil and gently turn and pull it out with tweezers.

Do what the locals do:

  • as a tourist, I prefer to blend in with the local people. Observe what the locals in Ukraine do and what they wear, and follow the trend within reason.