Ukraine

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Information
Language: Ukrainian, Russian
Capital: Kiev (Kyiv)
Population: 45,900,000 (2012 estimate)
Currency: Hryvnia (UAH)
Hitchability: <rating country='ua' />
More info: Hitchbase
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Ukraine is one of the biggest countries in Europe. Hitchhiking works here, although it seems to have become more difficult since the war with Russia began in 2014. Areas like the Crimean peninsula (which you can now only access via Russia as a foreigner) can be quite uncomfortable to hitch during the summer due to the heat. You can hitchhike anywhere along the roadside, even on real motorway like the Kyiv-Odessa road. The first two letters of the Ukrainian number plates indicate the region which can be helpful for finding a ride in the right direction.

A map showing the regional Ukrainian number plates

The biggest problem you could encounter is that few people speak English or other foreign languages. Some command of Russian (the Communist-era lingua franca and many Ukrainians' native language) or Ukrainian is advisable. Polish is also widely understood. When the language barrier is overcome, Ukrainians are generally hospitable and open people.

When hitchhiking in Ukraine, it is often expected to share the fuel costs. Before you get in the car make sure that driver will take you for free. It is useful to learn some phrases to let the driver know you are an international hitchhiker and travelling for free. However, like other European countries, truck drivers always recognize hitchhikers and know they are travelling for free.

The state of the roads is pretty dire in general, and the distances involved are usually pretty big (for example Lviv to Kyiv is around 550 km, 8 hours of driving). Getting an early start is essential.

Weather

In winter Ukraine can get very cold, for example in January 2006, it hit −35 °C, which makes hitchhiking very dangerous. The cost of train travel is very cheap – usually around one Euro for every 100 km (for overnight sleeping carriages), so bear that in mind when going from city to city. It might be hot in summer (up to +35 °C), so don't forget to take a hat with you to protect yourself from lots of sunbathing.

Food

Of course you can get stuck easily on the motorway next to a turn-off from the main road because of nightfall. But there is also nice night-traffic of trucks caused by warm weather from May to September. Usually, there are some gas stations near to such places and there some favorite and famous places for stops known by drivers – something like unofficial rest-stations (there are no official but a lot of unofficial ones). You can easily find something to eat and to drink there and at almost all gas stations there are 24 hour shops. You can eat in some restaurants on the road, which are significantly cheaper than in the EU - a nice meal for around $5, or a baguette and cheese for much less.

Crimes

Crimes related to hitch-hiking are not common in Ukraine. But a hitchhiker should avoid cars with drunken drivers or passengers. When you are a single girl it's better to find truck or a car with family for your safety. Avoid night rides with “funny” drivers. Keep your money (carry a bank card instead of a lot of cash) and phone in a safe place.

Cities

Border crossing

Further Information

Countries of Europe


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