What to see in the Carpathians?
08 June 2021
Crystal-clear air, unbelievable landscapes, many attractions, relaxation, and health improvement are the very reasons that inspire thousands of tourists to come to the Carpathians. This authentic beautiful land knows how to surprise and delight visitors. In this article, we will discuss what to see in the Carpathians in summer and what to do there in winter.
Where to go: the most popular tourist destinations in the Carpathians
When it comes to the warm season, Bukovel offers bicycle tracks, horse-riding walks in the mountains, onsite trout fishing, quad biking, high-speed trolley rides. Fans of water sports and beach recreation can spend time on Lake Molodosti – the largest artificial water body in Ukraine.
Do you wonder what to see in the Carpathians in winter? Come to Bukovel! This resort is well known to those who love skiing, winter entertainment, and outdoor activities. Here you will find miles-long of arranged skiing runs, snow until mid-April, snowboarding, dog-sleigh riding, tubing, and sledding, a ski school for beginners, and a large outdoor ice rink. There’ll never be a dull moment!
This picturesque resort village is locked by five mountains. It is the closest to such peaks as Bukovel, Synyak, and Khom’yak. Such a location attracts here lovers of skiing and outdoor activities, as well as those who want to enjoy the tranquility in the midst of incredible nature. All conditions have been created for this in Polyanytsya. For example, staying in the Stara Pravda Hotel Complex, you can admire the mountain peaks and centuries-old forests while sitting on the balcony or terrace of the hotel room, splashing in the outdoor pool or tasting Hutsul cuisine in a restaurant with panoramic windows.
This amazing town of the Carpathian region has been known since the times of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. Cozy shady streets, low-slung buildings from the Polish and Austrian eras, the city hall, the Pysanka Museum (Easter Egg Museum), the Hutsul Folk Art Museum, and the old wooden Church of the Annunciation built in 1587 make it worth stopping by Kolomyia on the way to the Carpathian resorts.
This small Carpathian town located in the picturesque valley of the Opir River is considered to be the center of Boykivshchyna. It is included in the list of Ukrainian historical places. The main town landmark is the old wooden Panteleimon Church (St. Paraskevi) built in 1591 and well preserved to this day. Tourists know Skole for its rafting tours and fascinating routes in the Skolivski Beskydy National Park. The territory of this natural reserve features waterfalls, streams, and ancient forests unique to Europe.
When choosing interesting places in the Carpathians, pay attention to Verkhovyna, the heart of Hutsulʹshchyna steeped with legends and traditions, rich in natural and cultural attractions. This urban-type settlement is beautiful at any time of the year. In winter, it resembles a revived New Year’s fairy tale, and in summer it invites to the picturesque banks of the Chornyi Cheremosh River. In the past, Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, Lesya Ukrainka, Olha Kobylianska, and other prominent figures used to visit it more than once.
The main tourist routes lead to the Pysanyy Kaminʹ rock, the Dovbushevy Comoros cave, the house-museum of The Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors film, Hutsul magic museum, trembita museum, and other numerous landmarks of Verkhovyna.
A small hospitable town on the banks of the Prut River is a real gateway to the Carpathians. Many tourist routes start here; those who love adventure holidays and relaxation choose it as their destination. Visitors enjoy incredible panoramas of mountain landscapes, rafting down the Prut, hiking in the mountains, and a unique ethnic flair in Yaremche. The main local attractions include the legendary Probiy waterfall, the largest Carpathians souvenir market, and the Hutsulʹshchyna Museum-Restaurant, where you can taste traditional Carpathian cuisine in an authentic atmosphere.
This popular health resort is a unique place where you want to come back again and again. Winter Vorokhta turns into a top ski resort; in spring and fall, it amazes with transitional season landscapes, while in summer it intoxicates with mountain herb fragrances and beckons with endless green valleys. Vorokhta is the most convenient point to climb Hoverla to enjoy the incredible Carpathian beauty from a bird’s eye view. The main tourist spots in the settlement include the local history museum, the arched viaduct, and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin – a vivid monument of Hutsul architecture.
The famous ski resort in the Lviv region is located in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides, upon the confluence of the Opir and Slavka rivers. In winter, its slopes will gladly welcome both underconfident beginners and experienced extreme skiing enthusiasts. Five mountain peaks are equipped with modern lifts, snow groomers, snow cannons, and equipment rental centers. In summer, Slavs’ke offers hiking and horseback riding in the mountains, a ton of mushrooms and berries, fishing on the Khashchevans’ke Lake, and quad biking. Do not forget to visit the Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, and the Pysana Krynytsya cave steeped in legends about Oleksa Dovbush.
The key treasure of this Transcarpathian corner surrounded by the mountains of the Great, Middle, and Small Shayan is healing mineral springs. In summer, Shayan offers visitors freshness and coolness, and in winter it turns into a ski resort, where active recreation can be perfectly combined with treatment and health improvement procedures. There is the large picturesque Shayan Lake located a couple of kilometers from the village. Here visitors can swim or enjoy a trip on a catamaran or boat.
This popular tourist village is comfortably located in a mountain basin near the Strimba, Kamenka, and Kuk mountains. Mizhhir’ya is close to the ski resorts Izky and Pylypets’, the Shypit and Kamenetsky waterfalls; healing mineral springs, the Synevyr National Park, the Museum of Timber Rafting are within a stone’s throw. In winter, visitors enjoy snowmobiles and sledges, skiing and snowboarding. And in summer and during periods between seasons, they are offered horseback riding and cycling, off-road driving, rafting, and hiking trails.
This is one of the largest Transcarpathian villages that has deserved the title of the most interesting settlement in the Ukrainian Carpathians and for a good reason. Museums, monuments, memorial plaques, and other tourist spots can be found here at every turn. Stare Selo (Old Village) is a famous open-air museum that tells its visitors about the 300-year history of the Ukrainian highlanders’ lifestyle; how the rich and the poor used to live in ancient Verkhovyna; how weavers, shepherds, and lumberjacks used to work. Here you can also visit a sheep breeding school and learn how to chase a flock and milk sheep, taste local cuisine, and visit a poultry park where more than 2,000 different species of parrots and pigeons live.
Traveling to the Carpathians: must-see attractions
The amazing nature of the Carpathians is their greatest asset. Both lovers of active recreation and fans of peaceful contemplation in the retreat of picturesque mountain landscapes come here to change the environment and take a break from the hustle and bustle of cities.
The Hoverla offers a magnificent panoramic view in clear weather, so take the time to climb the highest peak of the Ukrainian Carpathians. You will surely enjoy a spruce forest, cascading waterfalls, juniper thickets, and alpine flowering meadows along your way. Having reached a bird’s eye view, the peaks of the Gorgany, Chornohora, and Svydovets’ ranges covered with gray fog seem to spread out before you, and the clouds can be reached with hands.
What to see in the Carpathians in the spring? Waterfalls, of course! Spring floods supply them with meltwater; the streams become fast-flowing and impetuous. Probiy, Shypit, Zhenetsʹkyy Huk, Manyavs’ky, Kudrynetsʹ, Kam’yanka, Hoverlyanske, Sopit, Hurkalo are just some of the Carpathian waterfalls that are worth seeing. Some of the cascades are rumbling and lively: the falling water sound is heard throughout the neighborhood. Others are softer – they flow down the rocky slopes passing over sandstone and limestone obstacles.
Valley of Daffodils
The Valley of Daffodils in the Kireshi tract is a true tourist highlight of Transcarpathia in spring. This site is located in a protected area, so it is strictly prohibited to pick flowers listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. You can admire the snow-white carpet of wildflowers and take memorable photos from special viewing decks.
Gorgany Nature Preserve
This gem of the Carpathian mountain system attracts, wins, and stays in memory forever. Gorgany cannot be mistaken for any other mountain range. Graystone fields covered with green lichens, dense spruce and beech forests with windbreaks in the valleys, scattering of blooming snowdrops and orchids create an incredible environment. You will not find a crowd of tourists here. Gorgany is conquered by those who are not afraid of challenges and gravitate to pristine wilderness and bewitching silence.
Synevyr National Park
This mountainous place is rightfully considered to be one of the most recognizable spots of the Ukrainian Carpathians. Here you can wander along the paths of centuries-old evergreen forests, admire murmuring streams and waterfalls, the beauty of the Synevyr Lake, visit the Brown Bears Rehabilitation Center and the Museum of Timber Rafting, see seven wooden and stone churches that have been preserved to this day.
Brown Bears Rehabilitation Center
The Synevyr park has a fenced area of 12 hectares. Here professional zoologists and veterinarians nurse bears from all over Ukraine. Brown bears that lived in captivity or were affected by natural disasters are adapted to a new life and, where possible, restore their natural instincts. They are taught to fit themselves into the natural living environment. Over time, the center’s wards begin to search for food on their own, dig dens, and some of them even go into hibernation.
Another natural attraction that should be added to the list of major tourist spots is located in the northwest of the Carpathians. This National Nature Park features preserved pristine beech forests, as well as spruce and fir trees that are more than 100 years old. Make sure to visit Tustan, a historical and cultural reserve famous for the ruins of an ancient defensive fortress, explore the Mertve Ozero (Dead Lake), and taste mineral water from each of the seventeen natural springs.
This rock-cave complex in Yaremche is one of the most fascinating and exciting natural and historical places in the Carpathian region. In ancient times, there was a pagan sanctuary here. A skete was established with the advent of Christianity, then a fortress was built to protect the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia. For centuries, many caves, manholes, and passages used to help the mountaineers to hide from enemies. The majestic rocks got their name because of Oleksa Dovbush, a famous folk hero. Here visitors can go on a tour to the rock-cave complex, ride horses, go mountaineering along the set routes, take part in mountain tourism competitions.
Carpathian caves represent one of the most mysterious natural treasures of this mountain kingdom. They are found in almost every area luring those with a thirst for adventure into the underground world. The Crystal Cave, Europe’s oldest gypsum cave near the village of Kryvche, is the most popular one among tourists. The underground grotto welcomes visitors with many galleries and passages, as well as a special microclimate produced by high humidity and increased air ionization.
The Druzhba Cave (also known as Romania) in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve is no less interesting and mysterious. Here there are a lot of huge stalactites and an underground stream.
Mountain lakes are the prime jewels of the Ukrainian Carpathians
The Carpathian mountain ranges conceal more than 130 lakes. Most of them are the result of thousand-year struggles between rock and ice. But there are also those that were made by human hands. Many water bodies have become tourist locations and are ready to reveal all their secrets to guests.
The most famous mountain lake in Ukraine is justly considered to be one of the main natural attractions of the Carpathians. According to legend, the blue-eyed princess Syn’ fell in love with a shepherd named Vyr. Her wealthy father could not allow his heiress to marry a commoner and ordered a huge boulder to be pushed down onto the young man. With grief, the beautiful girl cried out a whole lake of tears and disappeared in it. In commemoration of their tragic love, sculptures of lovers carved from wood were installed on the shore. In folklore, Synevyr is called the “Sea Eye” because of the pupil-like islet in its center. Swimming in the lake is not an option. Even on hot summer days, the water does not warm up above +13°C. But everyone can admire the incredibly picturesque shores and take memorable photos from the viewing decks.
The Khashchevans’ke Lake is considered to be unusual because it resembles a regular rectangle surrounded by mountain slopes immersed in bright greenery and meadows. Those who enjoy fishing like this lake greatly. The locals call it “Rybnitsya” (fishing vessel) because of mountain trout that can be found in its crystal clear waters.
The lake is located in the Hutsulshchyna National Park and is considered to be one of the deepest mountain lakes in the Carpathians. This water body is surrounded by beech forests, meadows, and swamps, which are covered with a variegated carpet of primroses, ferns, and wild herbs during spring. According to one of the legends, a beautiful Hutsul girl led the Tatars to the ice surface covered with snow. After the campfire was made, the ice cracked and the enemies with all their possessions went under the water, while the brave beautiful girl turned into a white swan and flew away.
The Zhuravlyne Lake is better known as the Merve Lake (Dead Lake). Dark, opaque water, mossy shores, a water stretch littered with mossy brushwood, carry visitors’ imagination to the fairytale about mysterious Mavkas and forest dwellers. Due to the high content of hydrogen sulfide in the water, there are no vegetation and living organisms. On the other hand, there are lots of cranberries (“zhuravlyna” in Ukrainian) on the mossy carpet of the swampy shores. This was how the lake got its name – Zhuravlyne.
This lake is of the alpine type. It is located in the Chornohora range at an altitude of 1,510 m. A crystal clear water bode of glacial origin is surrounded by mountain pines and junipers growing on its shores. Despite the fact that its depth does not exceed 1m, the water remains cold even on hot summer days.
This is the highest mountain lake in the Carpathians located at an altitude of 1,800 m in the crater of the majestic peaks of Brebeneskul and Hutyn Tomnatyk. Translated from Romanian, its name means periwinkle comparing the color of lake water with the bright blue flower. Just as in all alpine lakes, the water temperature does not rise above 13°C even in summer, so there are not many enthusiasts who want to swim in Brebeneskul.
This water body at the foot of Mount Turkul is the most mysterious and unpredictable lake. Local residents believe that souls of sinners and suicides live in it, and by disrupting the water surface you can cause bad weather. Indeed, the weather in the valley changes in the blink of an eye. The clear sky is filled with thunderclouds, a piercing wind rises and heavy rain begins with hail, thunder, and lightning. If you are made of sterner stuff, be sure to visit this attraction of the Chornohora range.
Another Carpathian gem located high in the mountains and shrouded in secrets and legends. This incredibly transparent lake is divided into two water bodies connected by a thin stream. One part of it is large and rounded; the other resembles a crescent. For its unusual shape, Vorozhes’ka received the folk name – Triton. According to the legend, two brothers drowned in the lake –they were in love with one beautiful girl and competed for courage. The brothers tried to swim across the lake, but a sudden storm killed them both.
The salty lakes of Solotvyno are a real “Dead Sea” in the Carpathians. The water salinity reaches 200%, and the temperature is + 27° in summer. Every year, thousands of tourists come to rest and improve their health to the water bodies formed on the site of the former salt mine. Water and organic mud rich in trace elements and bromine ions help to treat many diseases.
This is the largest artificial water body in Ukraine, which tourists call the Carpathian Sea. Located in Bukovel, the famous resort, it annually welcomes thousands of tourists. The lake is well-known for its crystal clear water, as well as for its extensive infrastructure. The shore hosts well-equipped beach areas with beach chairs and soft sun loungers, beach volleyball, swimming pools for young tourists, and numerous water attractions. Fans of speed and extreme sports have access to jet skiing, water skiing, catamaran, and SUP boards, a diving school, rope jumping, and other entertainment options. Make sure to enjoy an unforgettable flight across the lake on the high-speed zip line.
The Carpathians: what to see if we enjoy museums and architectural monuments
The cultural and educational program of the Carpathians is no less exciting than experiencing their natural attractions.
Stare Selo (Old Village)
The Museum of Architecture and Life of Transcarpathia is located in the village of Kolochava. Its territory features more than two dozen reproduced and reconstructed buildings, including a parish school, a tavern, a country bathhouse, houses of a shepherd and weaver, a gendarme station, a smithy, as well as other buildings and dwellings of Ukrainian highlanders.
Also, the skansen territory hosts the Museum of Kolochava Narrow-Gauge Railway. Here you can learn interesting facts from the history of the Transcarpathian narrow-gauge railway, see passenger cars that lumberjacks used to go to work in the mountains, and freight cars used to transport cattle and timber. The main jewel of the museum is a real operative steam locomotive assembled at a German plant in the middle of the last century. It was in operation until 2008.
Roman Kumlyk Museum
This private museum of Hutsul lifestyle, ethnography, and musical instruments is in Verkhovyna. Here visitors can see household items, national Hutsul clothes, and folk musical instruments: cymbals, trembitas, hollowed violins, mouth harps. The owners of this collection personally conduct tours, talk about the peculiarities of the Hutsuls’ family life, wedding traditions, forestry, and rafting, and perform music for the visitors playing the exhibited musical instruments.
This ethnopark is a popular outing destination located in Bukovel. It introduces visitors to the lifestyle, rituals, and traditions of Ukrainian highlanders – Hutsuls, Lemkos, and Boykos. The ethnographic complex includes a petting zoo, an art gallery, creative workshops where master classes of folk crafts are given, a one-of-a-kind photo zone, as well as a recreation and entertainment area. Also, the territory features unique monuments of wooden architecture of the 19th–early 20th centuries, which were dismantled and transported here from different parts of the Ukrainian Carpathians.
Park-Museum of the Carpathians in Miniature
This unique open-air museum is located in Yaremche. All 18 exhibited objects are exact miniature copies of famous Carpathian landmarks. Churches, monasteries, and Hutsulʹshchyna museum-restaurant, Vorokhta stone bridges, the Probiy waterfall, station in Tatariv, and other tourist spots are replicated in miniature.
Pysanka Museum (Easter Egg Museum)
Kolomyia hosts a one-of-a-kind museum where you can get acquainted with the art of painting Easter eggs. The 14-meter building of the museum is an exhibit as well. The collection includes more than 12,000 decorative eggs collected from all over Ukraine and around the world. The major exhibit is a 500-year-old Easter egg found in Lviv during archaeological excavations.
The Mukachevo Castle is one of the most popular and most frequently visited locations of Transcarpathia. The medieval castle on a hill is a working museum that can be entered via a wooden bridge. Tourists can see the former military barracks, food and weapons depots, walk along the “Corridor of Death” – a long tunnel leading from the Middle Castle to the Upper one, where intruders were poured molten resin on through holes in the ceiling.
The hunting castle erected at the end of the 19th century in the Beregvar tract is an exquisite structure with Gothic towers and a red-tiled roof. Today this historic building is a working sanatorium surrounded by a beautiful arboretum with a glycerin spring and a picturesque lake.
St. Miklos Castle (Chynadiiovo)
Another architectural monument of the 14-19 centuries is located near Mukachevo in the village of Chynadiiovo. Currently, the building is under restoration, so only the first floor of the fortress is open to visitors. There are portraits of all the owners of the castle and an exposition of Celtic and Scythian cultures in the spacious lobby and halls.
On the Zamkova Hora, a hill above Uzhgorod historical center, there is a majestic thick-walled fortress featuring heavy watchtowers with mouths of loopholes. There is no knowing when it was built, but the first mention of this defensive structure is found in written sources of the 9th century. Now the regional history museum operates within the castle walls, and the preserved dungeons provide the opportunity to see a torture room and prison cells.
The castle is located in the village of Serednje, just 20 km from Uzhgorod. It is also known as the Castle of the Order of Knights Templars. This customs fortress was built on the “salt road” from the Carpathian region to Europe in the 12th century. And only a few walls have survived to this day. However, even these remains of the tower give an idea of the features of the Romanesque style in medieval architecture.
An active men’s monastery that once was the Orthodox center of Galicia, as well as the safe shelter for local villagers to hide from enemies. Pilgrims come here to ask for repentance and healing, to touch the main shrine of the skete – the Blessed Stone. This name was given to a small cave in the mountain, which used to be the home of the first monks in these lands.
The Austrian viaduct at Vorokhta is one of four viaducts located within the village. It is one of the longest arched bridges in Europe. This picturesque stone structure erected across the Prut River in 1895 was a railway bridge in operation until 2000. Today trains do not run across the bridge, so the location is open for walks.
The wooden church is the main landmark of the village of Polyanytsya. The first church on the banks of the Prutets’ River was built at the beginning of the 20th century and was destroyed by fire in 1946. The sacred place was recreated by Yuri Timofey, a talented craftsman in the 1990s. The new church resembles the original building and is an example of Hutsul architecture.
Book a cozy room in the Stara Pravda Ethno Hotel and discover the landmarks and wonders of the Carpathians. We are sure you will want to come back here again and again!