Black Sea, Red Wine, and Pink Lakes
To relax, reconnect with nature, and explore Ukraine’s history, head south to Kherson!
With summer well underway, it’s the perfect time to explore and discover the hidden facets of Ukraine. The south of the country is rich with untouched nature and historic places; it is also well-known for its wineries and the light-hearted temperament of the locals (could these two things be connected?). Kherson, located at the crossroads of the Dnipro and the Black Sea, is a great place to start: What’s On gives you the lowdown on the region’s most amazing sights.
Kherson Fortress is an integral part of the city’s cultural heritage; at earlier stages in its history, the site was a Cossack outpost and a Scythian burial place. The fortress was built for Catherine the Great between 1778 and 1787, under the direction of Grigory Potemkin (whose tomb you can also visit in Kherson’s Saint Catherine’s Cathedral). Combine your visit with a walk in the beautiful park and a bite to eat in the former powder cellar, which has now been converted into a restaurant complex.
Address: Perekopska 13
Vesele and Olhivka: Wine and Waterways
The Prince Trubetskoi Winery has been producing fine wines in Vesele, near Kherson, since 1900. The brand is well-known not only in Ukraine, but also far beyond its borders. Onsite you can also find a hotel with 10 rooms, a restaurant, and eight wine cellars where more than 10 000 bottles are stored. The minimum cost of a group tour is 150 UAH per person (individual and VIP tours are available at a higher rate).
Not far from Vesele is the village of Olhivka, where you can take a boat ride on the Dnipro and explore the minor waterways that flow into and out of it. If you love water and greenery, you’ll be in paradise: wherever you look, you’ll see unusual houses, water lilies, and interesting rocks composed of fragmented and abraded seashells. Olhivka is a great base for ecotourism: you can go fishing, make soup on the campfire, or just relax on the new beach.
Distance from Kherson: 70 km
How to get there: by bus from Kherson to Nova Kakhovka, and then from the bus station (near the railway station) to Vesele.
Check out the site: vina-trubetskogo.com.ua
The Pink Lakes of Syvash
The Kherson region has lakes to rival the Dead Sea: in fact, the water in these lagoons on the west coast of the Sea of Azov is even denser than that which you’ll find in Israel. There are only three other lakes like Syvash in the world: the aforementioned Dead Sea, Kara-Bogaz-Gol Bay (Turkmenistan) and the Great Salt Lake (USA). What’s more, thanks to the unique algae in the water, these lakes have a striking pink hue. Come here to bask in the unreal colours and amazing sunsets and enjoy the health benefits of the iodine-rich air and high-saline-content water.
Distance from Kherson: 100 km
How to get there: by bus to Chaplynka or Hryhorivka, then by minibus to Shchaslyvtseve. Or, by train to Novooleksiyivka, then by bus or train to Henichesk, and from there by minibus to Shchaslyvtseve.
Although Byriuchyi Island isn’t the easiest place to access, the effort definitely pays off once you arrive. For utter immersion in nature, go camping; otherwise, book in to one of the small holiday complexes on the island. Travellers with kids will feel quite at home here. There are numerous small bays, lagoons, and estuaries to explore. Byriuchyi is also a great place to spot interesting flora and fauna (including several species of deer).
Distance from Kherson: 210 km
How to get there: by bus to Henichesk, then by boat (boats also go from the village of Kyrylivka in Zaporizhia region).
Dzharylhach Island – which turns into a peninsula in certain weathers – can be reached from the coastal towns of Lazurne and Skadovsk. Here, tourists can soak in blue lagoons, observe the dolphins that frequently come up to the shore, visit a real lighthouse, and taste borshch with stingray meat. Fun fact: the lighthouse on the island of Dzharylhach was designed by the one and only Gustave Eiffel.
Distance from Kherson: 105 km
How to get there: by bus from Kherson to Skadovsk or Lazurne, then by boat or yacht to Dzharylhach.
Tendrivska Spit is a sandbar, part of the Black Sea Nature Reserve, and a popular nesting place for birds. Like Dzharylhach, it has a lighthouse; it is also one of the few places where you can see wild horses in nature. Achilles is thought to have trained here (the Greeks are said to have called the spit ‘Achilles’ heel’), giving this place yet another claim to fame.
Distance from Kherson: 100 km
How to get there: by bus to Zaliznyi Port, then by boat to Tendrivska.
The Dnipro Delta and the Island of Bilohrudove
Bilohrudove is a small island with a population of about 300. It is heaven for river lovers and fishing enthusiasts: you can catch pike, relax in a tent, and take reels of beautiful photos. If you don’t want to camp, other accommodation options can be found in Hola Prystan.
Distance from Kherson: 45 km
How to get there: by bus from Kherson to Hola Prystan, then by boat.
Oleshkivskyi Sands, the second largest desert in Europe, is a great place for a day hike. Along the way, be sure to marvel at the varied plant, animal, bird and reptile life, and take photos of the impressive dunes. A word of warning: prepare your trip well in advance, and don’t attempt it without a guide (see the website below for more details).
Distance from Kherson: 40 km
How to get there: by bus to Radensk, then on foot.
Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve
The Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve, founded in 1898 by Baron Friedrich Falz-Fein, protects the largest area of fescue-feathergrass steppe in Europe. A short paragraph does not suffice to describe this amazing place: the only way to find out is to come and see its beauty for yourself. It’s little wonder that Askania-Nova made it into the Seven Wonders of Ukraine.
Distance from Kherson: 150 km
How to get there: by bus from Kherson to Askania-Nova
Getting around Kherson and the Surrounding Area
As Kherson is right on the Dnipro river, tourists have the option of exploring in kayaks, boats, and yachts. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, the city organises tours, during which you’ll discover the fascinating naval and industrial history of the city, as well as the ancient civilisations that left their traces in the region.
If you’re exploring the Kherson region without a car, check the bus timetable on the Kherson bus station website, and then enjoy!