What to do in Zhytomyr, Ukraine

Maybe you’re looking for a day or weekend trip from Kiev, or you’re travelling around Ukraine for a bit and stopping off in a few cities. In either case, you might decide to drop by Zhytomyr for a day or two. Zhytomyr is a small city with about 200,000 residents, around 1.5 hours’ drive from Kiev. Whilst it isn’t as exciting as bigger cities like Lviv and Odessa, there are still a few things to do and see in this smaller city during a day or weekend.

Shodurivsʹkyy Park

This medium-sized park has a couple of interesting spots. The first of which is the bridge crossing the river Teteriv – one of the highest bridges in all of Ukraine. It’s worth crossing for the view.

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The other is an old aeroplane which for some reason has been left in the park, and now attracts anyone who wants to take a quirky Instagram shot. You can’t go inside it, but you can pose on the stairs if you like.

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Saviour-Transfiguration Cathedral

Just a heads-up. If you don’t like looking at Orthodox-style churches and cathedrals, this is not the place for you. Most of the interesting things to see here are typical golden-domed churches, which I personally can never get enough of looking at. On a nice day, the Saviour-Transfiguration Cathedral is absolutely beautiful to look at, and you can also go inside if you’d like to see the typically ornate golden interior. It’s very central so you can’t miss it.

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Assumption Church

Slightly less central, but only an 8 minute walk or so, this church offers plenty of those typical golden domes that you probably know from Russian churches, but are also huge in Ukraine too. In front is also a small park with a large stone commemorating the foundation of Zhytomyr in 884. This is a nice little area for a quick stroll if it’s sunny.

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The inscription says that the city of Zhytomyr was founded here in the year 884.

 

Michailovskaya Street

This central, pedestrianised street was my favourite bit of the city to stroll around. At one end is the attractive St. Michael’s Cathedral with its large, blue dome. At the other is a small square with a few memorials and statues. The street itself is short but fairly picturesque with a few restaurants and cafes.

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I particularly recommend to stop at the cafe called ‘Густо’ (Gusto), where they do really nice cakes at very good prices, have a cup of coffee and do some people-watching. In summer there are plenty of chairs and tables out on the street too.

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Sergiy Korolyov Astronautics Museum

If you’re at all interested in space or the history of space travel, this little museum is really worth a visit. A ticket is just 20 uah, less than one euro. It’s really peanuts to spend an hour or so looking around these interesting exhibits, including several full size replicas of Soviet spacecraft.

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It’s fairly small (all contained within one room), but high-quality and interesting. Some exhibits have English labels on them, others don’t, but mostly you can get the idea by yourself just by looking at the amazing bits of technology on show, including the real Soyuz 27 re-entry module. It’s mostly not stuff that you could see elsewhere, so it’s really worth a look.

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Where to eat?

There are a handful of restaurants around Zhytomyr to choose from, and you can check TripAdvisor or similar to see what’s on offer.

We personally ate once in Varenichna Zhitomirski Stravi, which is a chain with 2-3 outlets around the city. It’s a good choice if you want to try Ukraine’s most traditional dish, varenyky (a kind of dumpling similar to ravioli, usually served with sour cream).

I really recommend the restaurant Familiya, though. It’s a reasonably upmarket Jewish restaurant with a mix of Jewish and Ukrainian dishes. Again, you can eat varenyky here too if you want. You should definitely try the special flavoured vodka at the end of the meal. They serve it with loads of smoke under a glass dome.

 

Interested in visiting Zhytomyr, or have you been? Let me know!

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4 thoughts on “What to do in Zhytomyr, Ukraine

  1. Oh man, every once in a while I come across articles on Ukraine and they make me want to go so badly. I think one day I will try to go on a trip through Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. Any thoughts on Transnistria? I have heard many mixed reviews…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. I definitely think you should visit, it’s an amazing country with so many small cities and obviously the bigger and more famous ones too which are really worth it. I like all three of those countries a lot, although Belarus is more difficult to get in and out of (at the moment you can only enter and exit via Minsk airport, with a limited stay). I wrote a post a while ago about my experience in Transnistria the first time round. It’s a one-of-a-kind place, that’s for sure. It really helps if you know some basic Russian, otherwise the border guys are a little intimidating. It’s interesting to make a short visit, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, but be prepared!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea, all the bad reviews I’ve heard have been from the border crossing. As for getting into Belarus, I did not know that actually… I knew getting a visa can be a pain in the ass, but had no clue you must fly in. Do you know why that is/Are there plans to open ground borders in the future?

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      2. Belarus is really starting to open up. When I visited a year ago you could only stay a maximum of 5 days including the day of arrival and departure, and you had to fly in and out of Minsk airport (as a UK or EU citizen). To stay longer or enter the country in another way, you’d have to pay for a very expensive visa. Now I believe they’ve extended that tourist stay period to 30 days, with the same conditions about flying in and out of Minsk. It’s possible this may change again in future. Of course there is the option to apply for a proper visa if you want to drive into the country or stay longer, but my impression is that it might not really be worth it at the price.

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