There are plenty of reasons to travel to the Ukraine, and fortunately there are now numerous transport options for a journey to Poland's biggest eastern neighbour.
So in this handy guide we'll take you through all the possibilities, from fast and convenient flights to cheap but arduous bus links.
Since November the most obvious way to travel to the Ukraine has been the new Wizzair service between Wroclaw and Kyiv. The budget airline have since added another flight to Lviv on top of that.
The flight to Kyiv takes 1 hour 40 minutes and runs on Tuesdays, Saturdays and also on Thursdays during the high-season. Like most flights, the price varies (in this case roughly between 450 PLN and 50 PLN).
Starting in April you can also fly with Wizzair to Lviv, again on Tuesdays and Saturdays. That flight takes just one hour and 15 minutes.
Crossing the border by foot (after using transport to get to the border first)
On method many people use is to get as close as possible to the border and the cross it on foot.
That might seem rather extreme, but it is probably the cheapest, fastest and most fun way. Being processed as a pedestrian often takes less time than when you are in a car on bus, so plenty of people are now taking up this option.
Once you make it to Krakow, take the train to Przemysl and then the shuttle bus to the border to enter Ukraine on foot. Once through border control, simply take the bus to Lviv. In my experience, the whole journey should cost about 15 EUR/66 PLN and take around 8 hours max.
That said, as my good friend Marina tells me, crossing the border by foot in winter is rather uncomfortable and queues can still be long from time to time.
Traveling by bus
When to comes to buses, there are plenty of companies to choose from: the likes of Polski Bus, Ecolines, Infobus and Leo Express are just some examples. Bus tickets cost approximately 100-150zl from Wroclaw to Kyiv, but only around 10-40zl from Krakow to Lviv. Naturally, the prices depend on the day and time you travel and how much you've purchased the ticket in advance.
One thing to remember is that there are a lot of direct buses between Wroclaw-Kyiv as well as Wroclaw-Lviv. Indeed, there is at least one service per day and in some cases even more. On top of that, it is easy to find a bus from Krakow to Lviv almost without any effort at all.
Despite these bus services being direct and appearing convenient, the journey itself can prove time consuming and energy sapping. Getting from Krakow to Lviv will take about 6-8 hours, and from Wroclaw to Kyiv around 20 hours.
These times also don't take into account potential delays at the border crossings, which can last for up to 10 hours if you are unlucky. So you should always be prepared physically and emotionally to spend several hours at the border as the process of crossing it may not be plain sailing every time.
Traveling by train
For fans of train travel, the good news is that a new Przemysl-Lviv-Kiev route is now running and the journey takes less than 2 hours (at least on the timetable). Here it is also important to remember that the time in Ukraine is one hour ahead.
This new service is a good way to get to across the border and back, but then you will need to get transport between Wroclaw-Przemysl. To do that you could use the Przemysl-Krakow train that was mentioned earlier and then go to Wroclaw by bus. Alternatively, you could take a direct train between Wroclaw and Przemysl.
If you do go through Przemysl, it pays to be on your guard and keep a close eye on your things. Like many train stations all over the world, theives are on the lookout to snatch possesions from tired passengers – I am aware of one poor soul who lost his laptop, money and documents in Przemysl.
There is also a night train that goes from Wroclaw to Lviv and back. It takes about 10-11 hours, but the price is noticeably higher – around 270 PLN.
A route for the battle hardened budget traveler
Ok, so you want to know the cheapest way to get Lviv? Taking this route costs between 20-50zl. Don't expect it be an easy ride though!
This route requires 4 buses changes and takes in the following stops: Wroclaw – Rzeszow – Przemysl –Medyka – Shegyni –Lviv.
Wroclaw – Rzeszow
In Poland there are many bus operators running this route. Many of them, such as www.polskibus.com, www.luxexpress.eu, www.neobus.pl and www.albatrosbus.pl provide tickets to Rzeszow for as little as 1zl if you are lucky. Nevertheless, the most typical price is around 15-20 PLN.
Rzeszow – Przemysl
This next step costs 10-20 PLN and takes about 2 hours. At the train station buy a train ticket to Przemysl or look for a suitable bus. To purchase tickets in advance and find the best deal, check the schedule on www.e-podroznik.pl. Keep in mind, after 16:00 buses from Przemysl travel much more rarely.
Przemysl – Medyka
This transfer will cost around 2-3 PLN. The journey to the border takes about 20 minutes, but sometimes it could take an hour to wait for the bus (big and spacious city bus No. 9).
Medyka – Shegyni
Crossing the border on foot (~1-4h.) Sounds easier than it really is, sometimes the queue of pedestrians is unbelievable.
As a tip please remember that the crowds are biggest on Saturday, but thinner on Sunday and in the evenings. On the way back it can be good to try and reach one of the Polish officers and show him/her printed plane, train or bus tickets, as it could help you to skip the queue.
Shegyni – Lviv
Getting from the border to Lviv takes about 2 hours. You'll need to walk 2km to get to the train station and then get a train to your final destination ( check http://railway.lviv.ua/ for timetables).
This journey is obviously very complicated, but if you`re full of energy and nothing can stop you, try it, and good luck with your traveling.