Europe Reviews Travel

Exploring Ukraine’s Hidden Gems with Green Tours

If you’ve ever looked up photos of Ukraine on Pinterest, you’ve undoubtedly come across the world-famous Tunnel of Love. A beautiful train track draped by foliage, the Tunnel of Love is viewed by many as one of the most romantic spots in all of Ukraine. Green Tours offers a variety of daytrips from Kiev, including an option of a private driver to the Tunnel of Love and the much less famous Tarakaniv Fort.

            In this package, Green Tours promises you safe transportation by a Ukrainian driver who speaks limited English. And sure enough, when we walked down from our apartment at 7AM, our driver was waiting for us. The trip is about 4 hours each way, so it’s nice to be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the countryside. Our driver, Mikola, was much more than what we were promised; not only did he speak very good English, he also has a genuine passion for tourism, which made him an absolute joy to work with. Throughout the drive, he explained the historical significance of many of the cities and towns we went through.

            Upon our arrival to the Tunnel of Love, Mikola parked the van, dropped us off, and let us go to explore the tunnel on our own, which is exactly what we wanted. Even better, he offered to go on the first part of the walk with us to take our photo. Before he left us to explore, he told us “We will not set a time limit, just come back whenever you are ready.” He really went above and beyond in every aspect on this trip, which I’ll get into more later.

The Tunnel of Love

Tough to find a more beautiful set of train tracks anywhere in the world.

            In my opinion, driving from Kiev only for the Tunnel of Love would have been a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it is a stunningly beautiful area unlike anything else you’ve ever seen, but, at the end of the day, it’s still a few kilometers of train track covered by trees. Once you’ve taken enough photos and enjoyed the fresh air for a short walk, you’ll be ready to head back to the trailhead. We spent about an hour total in the Tunnel of Love, and both of us felt like that was plenty of time.

            Of course, we have a few tips to make your tunnel experience better! First, we’d 100% recommend going in the summer or early fall. The foliage over the tracks is what makes the experience so beautiful, so go when the trees are either at their greenest or most colorful! Also, and I can’t stress this enough, BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT! If you don’t have any kind of bug spray with you, I doubt you’ll last more than 20 minutes in the Tunnel. Courtny and I sprayed ourselves multiple times throughout our hour there, and still ended up with plenty of bites. Wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt will help, too.

The Tarakaniv Fort

Some serious Tomb Raider vibes

            We left the Tunnel of Love satisfied, but also extremely happy we had one more stop before heading back to Kiev. We had seen photos of the Tarakaniv Fort before the trip and knew we wanted to go there, so we were thrilled to see it on the itinerary with Green Tours. Like so many other spots we visited in Ukraine, the Tarakaniv Fort was truly unlike anywhere we had ever been.

            Built in the 18th century, this fortress in the woods is an adventure just to find. After driving down a dirt road, we parked the van and Mikola walked with us to the fort entrance. We made our way through the long, dark tunnel. When we emerged into the light, we were greeted by one of the coolest fortresses we’ve ever seen. Mikola only enhanced the experience; he is a former member of the Ukrainian military, and his passion for the military history of Tarakaniv was obvious.

We had a blast exploring every corner.

            After exploring with Mikola for about 30 minutes, we went off on our own to see every nook and cranny we could. We spent about an hour and 30 minutes wandering the grounds of the Tarakaniv Fort, and seemingly every corner held another incredible view. Of course, the best part about the fort is just how off the beaten path it is (for now). We saw a total of 10-15 people there throughout our two hours. Many times, we had the interior of the structures completely to ourselves. It was unlike any other place I’ve ever explored.

            Once we had our Lara Croft fix, we started the long trip back to Kiev. While the Tunnel of Love was a beautiful site to visit, the Tarakaniv Fort stole the show. Opportunities to visit such historical fortresses are rare; especially ones that are in great condition and not packed with tourists. If you visit Kiev, I would highly recommend this tour (and see if you can request Mikola!)


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Enjoy your trip to these amazing places!

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