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Eastern Europe enthralls with its treasure trove of medieval towns, rich cultures and dramatic landscapes.
Perhaps best of all for travelers is the fact that, since the region resided on the other side of the Iron Curtain for so long, visiting can still feel like being let in on a secret (even in 2017).
Eastern Europe is overflowing with pleasant surprises, and one of the sweetest is Ukraine.
Travelers that head here will be richly rewarded, and the following are just a few of the great reasons to visit Ukraine on your next trip.
Travelers to Ukraine almost universally fall in love with Lviv. Loaded with gorgeous Renaissance and Gothic buildings and churches, it is only Ukraine's seventh largest city, but Lviv punches well above its weight when it comes to cultural, architectural and historical sights.
The town center is filled with graceful streets, cafes and plazas-so much so that Lviv has picked up the nickname "Little Paris". If that didn't sound idyllic enough, you'll find several castles on the outskirts of town.
The Ukrainian Carpathians
While the eastern section of Ukraine is known for its flat fields of wheat, The Carpathian Mountains gently arch their way through the western part of the country.
This provides endless recreational opportunities, with Ukrainians and travelers alike heading for the hills to hike, mountain-bike or river raft in the summer or skiing in winter.
The Golden Capital
Kiev is the place to go to get all your big city thrills under one shimmering skyline. While the capital's nightlife is legendary and there are enough cultural attractions to keep you busy for days, it's the city's skyline-full of golden domes-that will stay with your memory long after you leave.
The two most famous are St. Sophia's Cathedral and Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra-a monastery home to a gaggle of gilded domes outside, with access to underground catacombs inside.
READ MORE: Holy Moley: The World's 8 Most Unique Churches
Beaches may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Eastern Europe, but the coastal town of Odessa is more than happy to change your perception.
A busy port city, Odessa balances out the hustle-and-bustle with a ravishing historic center complete with a grand opera house. Then there are those beaches, which fill up each summer to turn the town into one big sun-tanned soiree.
Underrate Ukrainian cuisine at your own risk as the country's national menu is full of flavorful feasts.
Some of the most popular dishes are borsch, a hearty soup made of beetroot and vegetables; varenyky, dumplings stuffed with savory fillings; and chicken kiev, a breaded chicken breast stuffed with garlic butter. (All taste even better when paired with some Ukrainian vodka.)
One of Ukraine's oldest cities, Kamianets-Podilskyi has always been defined by its namesake castle. The fortification sits on a rocky outcrop above the serpentine Smotrych River and looks like the textbook definition of romantic European castles.
READ MORE: Burg Eltz is One of Europe's Best Castles
Sensational Sofiyivka Park
You will definitely want to join the half-a-million yearly visitors to this garden, as it is a wonderland of meticulously manicured greenery, enchanting lakes and fountains.
Sofiyivka Park was built by a count for his wife, and there is no doubt you will be as smitten as she was.
Born in the USA but now based in England, Scott has been writing about travel for over 10 years. He specializes in Europe, rail...
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