Ukraine is the largest nation in Europe, and that's not counting Russia, which is so big, it's on two continents, and surprisingly, as the biggest country in Eastern Europe it is one of the least visited nations. Travelers who have visited Ukraine have described it as challenging because of political concern, few English speakers and hard to get around areas, however that can make it all the more venturesome and fun.

Ukraine is a big country, where you'll discover a rich culture, a diverse landscape and stunning Orthodox churches scattered among the country. Three must-see cities to visit here are its capital Kiev, with its glorious religious architecture and beautiful parks, the unofficial capital of Western Ukraine, Lviv, with a bustling market square and numerous museums, and lastly, Odessa, for those who are looking to party or sunbathe on the beach along the Black Sea.

For travelers looking to explore Ukraine's vast green landscape, visitors should make their way to the awe-inspiring Carpathian Mountains, with picturesque views and a trek that will take you along the country's highest peak along the Hoverla Mountain. For those people looking for something more spooky, tour the Odessa Catacombs, known rightly as the world's largest labyrinth.

There is so much to discover in Ukraine and we've listed twenty places and things to do in a nation that should be visited more often. Check out this list and see why Ukraine should be your next European destination.

20 Golden Gate Of Kiev

The Golden Gate of Kiev is a massive gateway that was once used as far back as 1037 acting as an entrance to the country's capital. The actual gateway was demolished during the Middle Ages and later rebuilt by Soviet authorities in 1982. Many admired the magnificent structure when it was constructed and scared away many enemies because of its inaccessibility to get into the city. The golden gate represents one of the finest examples of fortification architecture in Eastern Europe and is just one of a very few monuments remaining from the Kyivan Rus period. The structure is truly a sight to see in Ukraine.

19 Saint Sophia's Cathedral

While making your way around Ukraine's capital city, check out the amazing Saint Sophia's Cathedral which is just one of a few stunning architectural monuments of Kievan Rus. It is one of Ukraine's best-known landmarks, with thirteen golden domes, and containing a complex of museums and monuments of the ancient empire of Kievan Rus. There are a number of mosaics and frescos of the first half of the 11th century with 177 different palette shades. There are even tombs of several Kievan princes here, including its founder Yaroslav the Wise. Also, don't forget to make your way to the bell tower for views of the enchanting city.

18 Try Borscht And Salo

Two main dishes that you must try in Ukraine are the country's most popular. Borscht is a soup with ingredients such as beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and meat that create a delicious taste. In a basic borscht you'll find pork, however, it can always be substituted with chicken. The second must try is called salo, which is made of pork and served with just bread or even vodka. Salo is usually translated into English as "bacon" or "lard." However, unlike bacon, salo has little or no lean meat. These two particular dishes are very traditional and you'll find numerous restaurants serving them.

17 Going Skiing In Bukovel

If you're looking for more adventurous activities check out Bukovel, the largest ski resort in Eastern Europe located in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast province of western Ukraine. The large resort sits on the ridge-lines of the Carpathian Mountains at an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level. There are seven hotels, a ski school, a snow park, paintball, dog sled riding, a lake with eco-friendly heating, and of course, miles of ski runs. The ski resort is extremely popular thanks to its location with stunning mountain views, picturesque peaks, beautiful hotels and landscapes that are just jaw-dropping.

16 Find Yourself At The Edge Of A Cliff At The Swallow' Nest

You've never come across a castle like this before. The Swallow's Nest is a decorative castle that was built between 1911 and 1912 that sits on top of the 130 feet high Aurora Cliff, overlooking the Black Sea. The Neo-Gothic castle is stunning, with parts of the balconies and patios actually sticking out and extending beyond the rock face. It is a top tourist destination because of its unique location and amazing views of endless blue skies and deep blue seas. The castle is also one of the most romantic places on the Crimean peninsula and would make a lovely day trip for couples.

15 Carpathian National Park

Carpathian National Park is a stunning park that received its name from the marvelous Carpathian Mountain region. It is one of the biggest national parks in the country. There are numerous historical and cultural monuments surrounding the park including historical wooden buildings, and even archaeological sites that are around 15,000 years old. While trekking through the park, you'll see landscapes that include Alpine meadows and forests, with the three most common trees consisting of silver fir, European beech, and spruce. You'll also come across the Huk Waterfall, located on the Zhenets' river, which is the highest single-drop waterfall in the Ukrainian Carpathians.

14 Visit The Dormition Pochayiv Lavra

Pochayiv is a small town but contains one of the three most spectacular Orthodox monasteries in all of Eastern Europe, making this cozy place a popular area for tourists. The Holy Dormition Pochhayiv sits on a rocky hill and gazes down at the town with numerous visitors coming to see the wonderful architecture of this massive structure and the belief that this monastery has a reputation for making miracles occur. Inside, the cathedral has paintings, icons, columns, from floor to ceiling, embellished in gold and quite overwhelming. However, it is one of Ukraine's unique beauty's that should not be missed.

13 See The Khotyn Fortress

The Khotyn Fortress was built in the 10th century and is a large fortification complex located on the right bank of the Dniester River in Khotyn town, Chernivtsi Oblast’, Ukraine. It is one of the great castles of this country, holding a ton of history, and serving as the border fortification of Kievan Rus. While there were major reconstructions made on the fortress in the 1380s and 1460s, it still is one of the few wonders remaining of the ancient heritage of fortification architecture. According to Lonely Planet, there isn't much to see inside this fortress, however, its surrounding area is remarkable and the large riverfront grounds make it worth the trip.

12 Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum

The disastrous nuclear accident that happened in Chernobyl on April 26th, 1986 is the worlds worst when an explosion and fire of the No. 4 reactor sent radioactivity into the atmosphere in a city that had a population of over 49,000. From then on, the area is deemed unsafe and reportedly won't be safe for humans to live in for at least 20,000 years. If you are interested in the history of this catastrophic event, there is the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum which documents the incident. At the museum, you'll find a tank sitting outside, an ambulance, a jeep and a military jeep. The entrance is a staircase lined with street signs, which name every village that was affected. You'll also find three exhibits that remind people of just how serious this nuclear accident was.

11 Go To One Of The Oldest Cities Named Chernihiv

In the historic center of this northern Ukrainian city, visitors will find themselves surrounded by stunning 11th-century churches like the one above named the Transfiguration Cathedral. The city was around during the medieval times and was the second most significant center of the ancient Rus' state. Chernihiv is one of the most ancient cities in the country and you'll feel like you've stepped back in time. One-fourth of all Old Russian architecture is here. Check out the city's Red Square with wonderful architecture and some of the most remarkable structures and buildings, like the 12th-century church named the Pyatnytska Church, which stands out from other buildings.

10 See The Askania-Nova Reserve

The Askania-Nova Reserve is a biosphere reserve within the dry Taurida steppe near the Oleshky Sands. The reserve is home to a zoological park, with species like zebras, bison, wild horses, ostriches, llamas and numerous birds species calling it home. You'll also find a botanical garden, with more than 200 species of foliaceous and coniferous plants brought in from different parts of the world. There is also an open territory of virgin steppes and a small town and six villages with a population of 10,000 people. It is a spectacular area to walk around in and even see the group of Przewalski's Horse, the largest group kept in captivity.

9 Visit The Port City Of Odessa

Odessa is located on the Black Sea and is known for its pristine beaches and 19th-century architecture. While in this port city, swim in the Black Sea on Arcadia Beach and later check out the buildings like the Opera House, which is the second biggest opera in the world after La Scala in Milan and is truly a magnificent structure. Odessa is the biggest harbor at the Black Sea so there is plenty of maritime vibes with views of shipyards and sailors strolling along the streets. There are plenty of hidden gems and fun things to do in this port city.

8 Go Under The City To Visit The Odessa Catacombs

The Odessa Catacombs is the largest catacomb system in the world with the first catacomb likely dating back to the 1600's. It can be described as a labyrinth-like network of tunnels and includes underground structures like basements, bunkers, and natural caves. These catacombs were used as hideouts for rebels, criminals and smuggling groups at one time, who widened and created new tunnel systems. While these catacombs are quite old, the approximate topography of the Odessa underground labyrinth is unknown. For visitors who want to take a tour here, only a small portion is open to the public because most of these tunnels are extremely unsafe.

7 Visit The Dendrological Park Of Alexandria

If you enjoy walking around stunning gardens and being surrounded by nature, then you should visit the Alexandria Dendrological Park in Ukraine. The park is harmonious and has a very calm and cozy atmosphere. Some of the features of this park are the 20 ponds, which are a cascade system that merges with the river Ros. Walking around the park you'll find 400-year-old trees and rare species of trees and shrub from different parts of the world. You'll also spot beautiful statues and structures like the small pavilion with a semicircular arch and the Colonnade "Echo," a building made in Greek styles.

6 Check Out The Stunning Architecture In Chernivtsi

The most spectacular architecture in Chernivtsi is the city's university founded in 1875, which features Romanesque and Byzantine architecture and the university's botanical garden. The university is so popular, newly married couples take their wedding photographs here. The city is viewed as one of Ukraine's important educational and architectural sites and has a cosmopolitan charm. Chernivtsi is very picturesque and is a multicultural gem and has become a typical European city with its amazing architecture, numerous cafes and so many flowers, the city looks like a painting. In the city’s main pedestrian street, Kobylyanska, visitors will see pastel buildings rich in ornaments.

5 Visit The 14th Century Palanok Castle

This 14th-century castle sits on the town's volcanic hill and thousands of travelers come to see the castle's unique fortification structure. The Palanok Castle is regarded as one of the most interesting and well-preserved defensive complexes in Ukraine. During times of battle, the castle had a extremely strong protection, with 164 cannons of different sizes and 60 barrels of gunpowder. The castle was also surrounded by a deep moat and high wooden walls. During the ownership of Prince Fedir Koriatovych, he and his family lived in the highest parts of the structure, which had lavish and stunning interiors. Take a guided tour here to learn about its impressive history.

4 Check Out The 20 Museums In Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi

This ancient city is often described as a "living museum" and where you'll find 30 or so museums with one of the most popular being the Folk Architecture Museum, which describes the traditions and culture of the Ukrainian people. In the area, visitors will stumble upon peasants' huts, ancient churches, and windmills. All the exhibits here are placed in chronological order and in some homes, you can see the profession of the person who used to occupy it, like potters, priests, and even a beekeeper. Thirteen of these huts have been transformed into themed museums, such as the Bread Museum, the Museum of Transport and even a Space Museum.

3 Walk Through The Streets Of Lviv

Lviv is only 70 kilometers from the border of Poland; so you'll definitely see hints of both Polish and Austro-Hungarian heritage in the structures and buildings in this city. The historic city has a similar resemblance to Old Market Square in Poznan, Poland, where visitors will see elegant townhouses and shopping. You'll also notice the different architectural styles in Lviv, including Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classicism. If you're a fan of chocolate and coffee, than Lviv is your best bet to get the most delicious chocolate and with a rich history for coffee dating back to 1683, you'll find the coffee exceptional. And that's not even all that this city has to offer, there are around 60 museums and 100 operating churches.

2 Visit The Carpathian Mountains

If you're looking to explore Ukraine's natural wonders, take a hike or trek to the Carpathian Mountains. This stunning and diverse landscape can give you glimpses of pristine forests, lush-green hills, and numerous flora and fauna. Let's not forget to mention the glorious mountains that are considered to be the "green pearl" of Ukraine. These mountain peaks are relatively gentle, so there thousands of tourist hiking or walking through grassy meadows with mild temperatures getting panoramic views of the rich area around them. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the region and should not be missed if you ever find yourself in Ukraine.

1 Visit The 18th Tallest Statue In The World

In Kiev, visitors will come across The Motherland Monument, which is part of the Museum of The History of Ukraine in World War Two. This monument is the 18th tallest statue in the world, rising 340 feet to the sky with the sword in the statue's right hand weighing a whopping nine tons and is 52 feet tall. The statue was initially intended to be taller, however, the sword was cut because it was higher than the cross of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, an Orthodox Christian Monastery. If you want an example of just how big the statue is, compare it to the Statue of Liberty, which is currently the 42nd tallest statue in the world.

References: atlasobscura.com, traveltoukraine.org, lonelyplanet.com, enjoyukraine.org, theculturetrip.org