Indeed, Poltava does not have that much to brag about tourism-wise. It is a provincial city after all. With that said, Poltava is a perfect place to check out if your goal is to get to know authentic Ukraine.When creating their itinerary, people who plan a visit to Ukraine have quite a few cities to choose from. The beauty of larger cities is that they offer many more activities to do and sites to see. Not incidentally Kiev, Odessa, Lviv and Kharkiv are the most visited cities in our country. So why visit Poltava?
Since Poltava is not a major tourist destination, the city has not yet been spoiled by a Western traveler. As such, the cost of living (accommodation, transportation, eating out etc.) is the same all year round, and there are no such things as low and high seasons. Compared to Kiev and Odessa, Poltava is the cheapest place of the three.
Best Time to plan Poltava Travel.
What is the best time to visit Poltava? The answer very much depends on your own preferences. Just like all over Ukraine, it can be quite cold from late November till early March. And it can be unbearably hot from late June to early September. With that said, the best time to plan your Poltava travel (and for that matter any other city of Ukraine) is either from early April to early June, or from late September to late October. Poltava offers you the same places to see and activities to do pretty much all year round. As such, all you should be concerned about is the weather.
Unfortunately, planning your Poltava travel you can not relay upon direct flight to Poltava. Local airport in Poltava does not work. You cannot simply book your London to Poltava flight, for example. The nearest city you can get by air is Kharkiv airport (HRK), which is 160 kilometers (100 miles) away from Poltava. Then there are also airports in Boryspil (320 kilometers) and Kiev (380 kilometers).
If you can find an inexpensive flight to Kharkiv, then that’s the way to start your Poltava travel. Once you are in Kharkiv, you can get to Poltava by car, bus, or train. A ride on a bus or train is the cheapest option. Simply hire a cab to get you to the train/bus station. A taxi from the airport to a train or bus station will cost up to US $10. A train/bus ride from Kharkiv to Poltava will cost as little as US $25. The whole journey from Kharkiv airport to Poltava train/bus station will set you back for as little as US $30, and should be easy to accomplish providing that you can get by with your knowledge of the Russian or Ukrainian languages.
Don’t speak any of the two languages? Fret not! You can hire an English speaking driver to pick you up at Kharkiv airport and get you directly to your place of lodging in Poltava. There are some companies that offer this service. To book your ride with us, contact me directly. The current price tag for this service is US $135.
If there are no inexpensive flights to Kharkiv airport (or no flights at all), find out if there are any flights to Borispol airport (KBP). To get from Borispol airport to Poltava by train, get a cab from Borispol airport to the train station in Kiev. A taxi ride will cost you around US $45. A ride from Kiev train station to Poltava costs approximately US $45 (a speed train), or as little as US $25 on a regular train. In this case, the total cost of getting to Poltava from Borispol airport (a taxi ride and a train ticket) will be US $70 — 90. Again, it is recommended that you speak at least some Ukrainian or Russian to be able to get yourself a ticket at the train station. Very few (if any) cashiers speak English quite well to understand you.
There are also buses that travel from Borispol airport directly to Poltava. Unfortunately, these buses are always booked a long time in advance. To check the seat availability, visit their company’s site: www.autolux.ua. One bus ticket to Poltava will cost around US $25. This bus arrives to the bus station in Poltava. From there, you can get a taxi that will take you to your place of lodging, be it a hotel room or an apartment for rent.
Riding a taxi from Borispol airport to Poltava is not the cheapest of options. With that said, you can omit the hassle of getting a bus/train ticket, plus getting a cab from Poltava bus/train station to get to your hotel. Please, contact us to recommend you a ride from Borispol to Poltava at least 1 week before you need to get on your flight for Ukraine. We currently charge will be $189 for this ride.
Things to do during your Poltava travel.
Poltava is famous for the battle-field event that took place in early XVIII century. Back then the Russian and Swedish empires were in a state of war for access to the Baltic sea (read Wikipedia’s article on Great Northern War). The war lasted many 21 years. Eventually the Russians won, and the final battle took place in the area around 3 kilometers outside of today’s Poltava.
Nowadays, on the exact same spot there is a museum dedicated to that battle. Within a walking distance from the Poltava battle museum, there are a few redoutes that are still left from those days. The entrance fee per person is US $1.90. To learn more about the events that took place around the Poltava Battle, consider taking a guided tour of the museum (US $7 per person or group of visitors).
Other than Poltava Battle museum, there is also the Museum of Local Lore, which is located right in the city center. The entrance fee is US $1.00 per adult.
The Art Gallery.
Located in downtown of Poltava, the Gallery of Arts is a perfect place to see the works of most talented local artists. The gallery works Mon. to Sun. 9am to 6pm. The entrance fee is US $3 per adult.Souvenir shops. There are many places in Poltava that sell souvenirs local to Poltava. The oldest one is located right in the city center, on Octyabrskaya street that goes from Korpusky park to the monument of White Rotunda. This is one stop shop for souvenirs and traditional Ukrainian embroidery.
Sorochintsy Fair. Poltava area .
Village Great Sorochintsy (app. 90 km from Poltava ) is well-known for the real cultural phenomenon Sorochintsy Fair. It usually lasts for five days and takes place every year in the middle of August (08.13-08.18.2013). It is not just a commercial venture but a strong cultural link which keeps together our past and present. (Watch our video based on photographs of Alex Kravchenko from «Poltava Travel» and a forum user Lotus from «Uainfo.com)
While in Poltava, check out the White Rotunda monument (also known as the Friendship Rotunda). Located on one of few hills of the area, this place overlooks a large share of the city. It is also one of the stops made by newly-weds during their first photo session.
Another monument that appears on most postcards of the city is the Monument of Glory, located in the city’s Korpusky park. Commonly referred by the locals as the Eagle monument, this place was constructed in 1806 to honor the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava. Rumors have it that the eagle on top of the monument is indeed covered with a thin layer of gold. Other rumors say that the Nazis tried by did not manage to steal the eagle.
The beauty of eating out in Poltava and all over Ukraine is the cost. A decent 3-course meal for two at a nice restaurant in Poltava will cost you around US $25. It is very unlikely that the Ukrainian national cuisine will leave you indifferent. Treat yourself to a plate of famous Ukrainian borsch and «Poltavski galushky» to get a real taste of Ukrainian cuisine. At bars, pizza huts and restaurants a glass of beer generally costs as little as US $2- 2.50, while a bottle of over-priced sparkling wine will set you back for US $15 — 20.
Just like in any other middle-size city, there are places in Poltava that offer bowling, billiards, indoor and outdoor ice-skating. For all of them in one place, check out Equator shopping mall. The place is frequently visited by tons of Poltava locals. An hour of billiards cost US $8, an hour of bowling (depending on the day of the week and the hour of day) US $15 — 25, and lastly an hour of ice-skating US $5 — 7.
Spending a lazy day on one of the Vorskla river beaches is a wonderful retreat for hot summer days. Although swimming within the city limits is not recommended, hiring a cab to take you 20 or so kilometers up the water current is generally a good idea. The taxi ride to one of Vorskla beaches around Poltava and return to the city will cost you around US $25. Before venturing on this trip, read this article on taxi in Ukraine.
Although small, Poltava is definitely worth a visit. A spirit of an adventurer and a good mood is all that is required to enjoy your Poltava travel.