Big - in fact it's Europe’s biggest country diverse and largely undiscovered, Ukraine is one of Europe’s last genuine travel frontiers. A poor nation rich in colourful tradition, warm-hearted people and off-the-map experiences. Despite their often glum reticence and initial distrust of strangers, the Euro 2012 football championships proved what travellers to the country have known for years – that Ukrainians are, when given the chance, one of Europe’s most open and hospitable nations. Break down that reserve and you’ll soon be slurping borshsch in someone’s Soviet-era kitchen, listening to a fellow train passenger’s life story or being taken on an impromptu tour of a town’s sights by the guy you asked for directions. Much social interaction takes place around Ukraine’s hearty food, always brought out in belt-stretching quantities. 

 You can be clambering around the Carpathians in search of Hutsul festivities, sipping Eastern Europe’s best coffee in sophisticated Lviv and partying on the beach in Odessa all in a few days. Ukrainians are also a diverse crowd; from the wired sophisticates of Kyiv’s business quarters to the Gogolesque farmers in Poltava, from the Zaporizhzhya steelmaker to the Hungarian-speaking bus drivers of Uzhhorod, few countries boast such a mixed population.

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