A Rail Less Travelled

I’m back in Vancouver on my way to Ottawa for meetings in early November. During my journey I enjoyed three incredible days in Berlin (just a little future blog teaser). While responding to emails on the train I was asked by one of my colleagues for travel tips for visiting Kyiv. I realized that I’d never actually shared a detailed itinerary for getting to Kyiv. So if any of you readers are thinking about visiting Kyiv, here’s how it’s done.

All rails lead to Przemyśl

First, if you’re from Canada, the U.S. or the EU, you don’t need any kind of visa to enter Ukraine, just a valid passport like any other trip across a border.

However, the only way to get to Kyiv is by train, and the most efficient route is to fly into Krakow. If you’re in Europe that will be a short flight or train ride. From North America you’ll probably get there via London, Munich, Amsterdam or Paris.

When arriving in Krakow you’ll take an Uber to the main train station (Krakow Glowny), where you can catch a train every hour to Przemyśl on the Ukrainian border. 

You can purchase your Polish Railways tickets from Krakow or Warsaw to Przemyśl here

This train takes 2.5 hours, but I must warn you – there’s nothing to do in Przemyśl so don’t get there early or you’ll be sitting in a tiny Polish town where everything closes at 10 pm. 

From Przemyśl you’ll cross the railway tracks and Polish border control to a special Ukrainian Railways train direct to Kyiv.  

Country rail take me home

You can purchase Ukrainian Railways tickets from Poland to Kyiv or Lviv here 

There are multiple trains per day and some even have first class sleeper compartments that take 15 hours to get to Kyiv. I usually choose the faster train that leaves Przemyśl at 23:55 and takes 10 hours. The sleeper trains are great but there are no on-board services, so remember to bring your own food and beverages. The faster trains have only seats which are not ideal for sleeping, but they are modern with well-stocked canteens. 

When you depart Przemyśl you’ll need to queue for at least an hour to pass through Polish border control before you board the train to Kyiv. Make sure you budget this time into your connection from Krakow. 

Ukrainian border control agents will check passports on the train after it leaves Przemyśl, so there’s no need to stop and get off the train. When you arrive in Kyiv it’s best to Uber, Bolt or Uklon (which is what I use because it’s Ukrainian and the locals use it), from the train station to your hotel.

There is no hotel like home

I highly recommend, in fact I insist that you stay at Hotel Bursa in the Podil district of Kyiv 

You can book your stay at Hotel Bursa here  

Bursa is the best hotel I’ve ever experienced and the staff are one big happy & welcoming family. The restaurant, rooftop bar and food is top-shelf. 

Furthermore, the clientele is absolutely fascinating. I’ve met and become friends with UN agency staff, journalists, fashion designers, models, artisits, diplomats, scientists, students, and entrepreneurs. If I’m here when you visit I’d be thrilled to show you around this beautiful city.

Kyiv is a wonderful city full of wonderful people and there’s no hardship other than the occasional air raid siren. It’s safe, modern and all the restaurants and shops are fully stocked so there’s nothing to worry about from a quality-of-life perspective.

I look forward to welcoming you to Kyiv! 

Slava Ukraini! Heroiam Slava!