In the digitized world, one of the best reasons to visit Uzhgorod is Google’s scarce and uninformative response to this query. Hidden in the Carpathians, Uzhgorod is the heart of Zakarpattya region, and one of the best tourist places to visit in western Ukraine. This is something that many locals know. For travelers from other countries, however, Uzhgorod is often outshined by such major names as Kyiv, Lviv, or Odesa.
And it really shouldn’t be this way…
…Here’s Why It Is Worth Visiting Uzhgorod
One of the smallest regional centers of Ukraine, Uzhgorod has one peculiar similarity to Rome, Istambul, Prague, and Barcelona. Just like these beautiful megalopoleis, the cute Ukrainian town was built on the seven hills. It is the proud owner of the longest linden alley in Europe, and one of the best destinations for winetasting in Ukraine.
Uzhgorod appeared in the chronicles in the 1150s. Back in the days, it was called Ungvar. The town became part of Ukraine’s territory fairly recently, in the 1940s. Up until then, it belonged first to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and then to Czechoslovakia.
Due to its history, today’s Uzhgorod is one of the most diverse Ukrainian towns. Its population of slightly over 110 thousand people consists of Ukrainians, Russians, Hungarians, and Slovaks. Here and there around the town, you will hear bits and pieces of conversation in all of these languages.
Add a peculiar mix of imperial and modern architecture, a beautiful promenade by the river Uzh, convenient placing in the beautiful Carpathians, as well as cheap prices, and there you have it – one of the best under-the-radar tourist places to visit in Ukraine.
And if that’s not the reason enough, here are the top things to see and do during a visit to Uzhgorod that will most probably motivate you to put this list on the Ukraine travel itinerary.
Top-9 Things to Do During a Visit to Uzhgorod
It is amazing how old European towns easily combine the greatness of historic architecture with a laid-back and hip lifestyle that the modern cafes and shops add to the atmosphere. Uzhgorod has it all.
1. Discover authentic Ukrainian village life…
…right in the center of the town! One of the best things to see in Uzhgorod is Skansen. This is an open-air ethnic village with old huts, schools, windmills, churches, and forges brought here from ten regions of Zakarpattya. Open-air ethnic-villages are very popular in Ukraine. One of the most famous is probably Pirogovo near Kyiv, while one of the coziest is in Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky. However, Skansen in Uzhgorod is definitely the oldest one.
You can easily spend half of the day here, wandering from hut to hut, exploring old Ukrainian rural taverns, and admiring the altars of the churches. The territory of the museum is green, with meadows, old trees, and lots of great spots for picnics.
The church of Skansen has recently celebrated its 240th anniversary. Although a part of the museum, it is still a functioning Orthodox shrine. The locals come here for prayers. Another place that comes to life if the old forge. If you are lucky enough, you can even catch a workshop.
Skansen is beautiful at any time of the year. In spring, it is the site of the blooming sakura trees of Uzhgorod. In summer, the trees are covered with ripe cherries and apples. Fall turns the greens of Skansen into gorgeous golds, and winter in the Carpathians generously covers the area with thick snow.
2. Explore the Uzhgorod Castle
There are hundreds of castles in Ukraine, and most of them are neglected. Luckily, this is not the case with the castle of Uzhgorod. A beautiful fortress on the hill dates back to Middle Ages. In the 16th century, local architects turned it into the Renaissance gem.
The castle frequently switched owners. Like any old fortress, it has lots of spooky legends, including the one about executions of the witches in one of its halls. Also, like any normal castle, this one has its own ghost. The tour of the landmark includes secret tunnels and ends at the degustation hall. Yes. In Uzhgorod, time stops for a glass of local wine.
Another great thing about the castle of Uzhgorod is that its yard and terraces open to a gorgeous panorama of the town.
3. Wander the town’s old and cozy streets
The heart of Uzhgorod’s Old Town is the Korzo street. It is very much alive, with some of the best cafes in town, as well as souvenir and artisan shops. In the evenings, local musicians come here to play.
Perpendicular to Korzo runs the street of Voloshyn. The crossroads of the two streets are the usual rendezvous place for the locals. Also, erected here is the cute monument to Uncle Kolya. He worked as the town’s lamplighter for more than forty years.
When walking the street of Voloshyn, be sure to stop by the old roman-catholic cathedral of St. George. From time to time, it hosts organ concerts. Right behind the cathedral, there’s the women’s gymnasium of St. Gizella, which dates back to 1902.
Another iconic street of Uzhgorod is Mustard Seed Street. Unlike Korzo or Voloshyn’s, this one is very young. Created in 2010, it is an alley with lots of cozy cafes and stores that both the locals and tourists like very much.
4. Admire the Kresto-Vozdvyzhensky Cathedral
Monumental and exquisite, this cathedral is an example of the late Baroque architecture. In the 18th century, the empress Maria Theresia granted the shrine to the Greek-Catholic Church. Inside, there is a beautiful altar and painted walls. Underneath the cathedral, there is the crypt of the local bishops.
Right across from the Cathedral, there is a small and cozy square dedicated to the empress.
5. Stroll along the longest linden alley
Small and shallow, the river Uzh nevertheless gave life to this town and is still one of its main attractions. Mostly due to the fact that along it runs the longest linden alley in Europe. The alley appeared here when the town was part of Czechoslovakia. The authorities tried to protect the banks from floods and built the promenade. Intended as a practical move, this initiative created one of the most romantic spots in Uzhgorod.
The alley is absolutely lovely in mid-May when the linden trees blossom. It is equally beautiful in mid-September when the green leaves turn golden.
The stone bridge across Uzh is home to one of the smallest lighthouses in Ukraine. The locals joke that like a river, like a lighthouse. By the way, the bridge is the perfect location to admire the beautiful sunsets that paint the town’s sky all shades of pink and purple.
Last but not least, scattered along the promenade are tiny sculptures created by the local artist. Try to find and count them all!
6. Rest in the shadows of the botanical gardens
The lush gardens offer a mix of trees and plants from Zakarpattya, as well as tropical and sub-tropical plants. The three terraces will keep you busy for a good hour or so, and will surely provide a nice rest from the hustle and bustle of the Old Town.
7. Stop by the old city hall
An example of the late baroque, the city hall has a picturesque courtyard, as well as a lovely cafe Mokasol. This is a perfect stop for coffee or even for lunch.
8. Visit the Novitsky Castle
Unlike the castle that we’ve mentioned before, this one is, unfortunately, ruined. Perched atop the hill not far from the city, Novitsky Castle dates back to the 13th century. Despite it being the remains of the former glory, this landmark is still worth the visit as it opens lovely panoramas of the valley. It may be a good idea to take a tour to this location to learn more about the diverse and incredible history of the Uzhgorod area.
9. Find time for the Horyanska Rotunda
Unbelievable, but this small and at first sight unremarkable building is one of the most significant architectural remains of the old ages, not only for Ukraine but for entire Europe. Among other historic and religious landmarks in Ukraine, only St. Sophia in Kyiv outranks it in terms of significance.
Located on the outskirts of Uzhgorod, this was a small local church that the villagers attended to worship. Things changed in the 1870s when the local repairmen started mending the church. One of the workers noticed beautiful frescoes under the cracked plaster. The scholars that arrived here from Budapest when they heard about the discovery, soon learned that these frescoes date back to the 14th century! Ever since then, the rotunda is one of the most significant religious landmarks in Europe.
Best places to eat during a visit to Uzhgorod
- For delicious pies and coffee, head to Eat me! (Voloshyna street, 22). This is a hip midcentury modern location that also serves good breakfasts in the mornings and hot wine in the evenings.
- To discover the true taste of Zakarpattya coffee and to try some of the best cherry strudels (the local specialty), head to Medellin, the oldest pastry shop in town. The address is Koryatovycha, 5a.
- For a quick and budget-friendly meal, head to Urban Food (Korzo street, 7/4). This location serves hot dogs and burgers, and the locals love it.
- For the local authenticity, explore cafe Mir (Dukhnovycha street, 25). Its old furniture will create a truly unique atmosphere. The place is good for family meals.
- For winetasting, head to Chardonnay Hall at Voloshyn 18b.
- For fine wining and dining with lovely views of the town, try Panorama Terrace at Leo Tolstoy, 5.
Top-5 Things to See Near Uzhgorod
- Synevir is the legendary mountain lake. Surrounded by mysteries and romantic stories, this is the largest lake in the Carpathian mountains. It is surrounded by century-old pine trees that offer a lovely promenade in their shadows.
- Lviv is either a great day-trip from Uzhgorod, or the next destination to head to. This city of old cathedrals, cobbled streets, some of the best restaurants, and rich history is an absolute must-visit in Ukraine.
- Sherborn’s Castle is another hidden gem of Zakarpattya. A gorgeous architectural landmark looks as if it was transferred from the romantic novels of the olden days right into the Carpathian mountains. The castle is well-preserved and has a unique story to it.
- Palanok in Mukachevo is another well-known castle in western Ukraine. Unlike Shenborn’s, this one looks more modest from the outside, since it represents medieval architecture. Palanok is a highly popular tourist destination among the locals.
- Chizay is the perfect destination for wine tasting in the area. Inspired by French aesthetics and surrounded by vineyards, this chateau offers lots of activities. Sign up for a tour, explore the museum, taste local vine in the cellars, and have a delicious dinner in its restaurant.
Visit Uzhgorod: FAQ
What is the best way to get to Uzhgorod?
From Kyiv to Uzhgorod, catch an overnight train. The schedule is available on the official website of Ukrzaliznytsa. The ticket will cost around 20 USD, and the trip will take 12 to 16 hours.
From Lviv to Uzhgorod, an early morning bus leaves from the central bus station around 7 am. The ticket costs around 12 USD, and the trip takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can take any of the intercity trains from the central railway station.
From Odesa to Uzhgorod, the best variant may be to opt-in for the Bla Bla Car ride since the train rides take up to 20 hours.
When is the best time to visit Uzhgorod?
All of Ukraine’s best cities are great in summer. However, for Uzhgorod, May and September are particularly great. In May, the town’s sakura trees and lindens are in full bloom. September is the beautiful golden season.
What is the daily budget to visit Uzhgorod?
Like anywhere in Ukraine, you will find that this town is very budget-friendly. The expenses for a meal vary between 2 to 4 USD. Tickets to most of the attractions will not cost more than 2 USD. The price for accommodations varies between 4 USD for a bed in a dorm to 22 USD for a modern renovated apartment in the Old Town.
What is the recommended duration of visit to Uzhgorod?
It all depends on your mood. The town may be a perfect day-trip from Lviv. You may also want to consider staying for three or four nights to properly explore not only Uzhgorod but all the nearby out-of-town attractions.
Written by Inessa Rezanova
I am a Kyiv-based screenwriter with 10+ years of experience in producing scripts. I love my job, and no, I did not quit it to travel the world. I see different countries in my spare time. As a storyteller, I believe that it is the emotional journey that matters the most. This is why together with my sister I started this blog to encourage everyone to travel and to do so with a heart and mind opened to adventures.
Images by Natalie Rezanova
I am a photographer based in Kyiv, Ukraine. I am lucky to be able to do what I love the most for a living. Photography is an endless source of inspiration for me. My mission on this blog is to inspire by sharing some of the favorite captions from my journeys. I also provide professional photography tips to help the readers bring home some beautiful photo memories.