Ultra Budget Chernobyl & Transnistria February Tour
Our range of Chernobyl & Transnistria tours have been a YPT favourite for a number of years. In order to make it easier on prospective travellers both economically and logistically, we bring you the Transnistria & Chernobyl Ultra Budget Tour!
The tour kicks off in Kiev and finishes in Bucharest with much to see and do in between. We can help and advise travel arrangements to and from these two cities. We will be spending a day in Chernobyl and our contacts in Pripyat mean, we can usually sneak in some secret sites that we are not allowed to write about! This is an exclusive private tour that ensures we see all that we are not supposed to.
We will then continue on the night train to Odessa, then onto Tiraspol, Capital of the breakaway republic of Transnistria. If you do not know anything about the place, Google it. If you want off the beaten track, this is it. We will be spending our time here in a true Soviet time warp hotel. We then visit Moldova, the only ex-Soviet republic to vote the communists back in, before taking the overnight train to Bucharest to round off the tour. Bucharest is also a flight hub which will make it easier to arrange onward flights
Sunday 23rd February
- Arrival at your own leisure to Kiev, check into our centrally located accommodation.
- Free afternoon in Kiev with option to join our shooting and tank driving extension where you’ll get your hands on Soviet era weaponry and behind the wheel of a Soviet tank!
- Meet your YPT guide and the rest of the group at the hotel around 18:00 and head out for group drinks and dinner at the legendary Hospital Bar, a Kiev favourite known as one of the top 25 places to drink in before you die. Here we’ll enjoy some medically themed, entertaining shots featuring a fair bit of fire and syringes full of vodka!
- Overnight in hotel.
Monday 24th February
- We’ll get up nice and early to get on our comfortable AC minibus to the Chernobyl exclusion zone. On the way there,we stop for breakfast at a well stocked gas station as well as watch a documentary on the disaster.The journey to the first checkpoint will take around two hours.
- On arrival, we go through the entry procedure and processing of our permits. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to one hour.
- Visit the village Zalissya, the main square of the town of Chernobyl.
- Lunch at the Workers Cafe (no produce is grown on site).
- Visit the Dock, local shops, Monument to the Firefighters, exposition of the remotely operated machines, hills of the buried village Kopachi, rustic kindergarten, panoramic angle of NPPA and the new sarcophagus, the Stone Road sign of Pripyat, Bridge of Death, Lenin Street, the main square of Pripyat, supermarket, Amusement Park, School #3 (with gas masks), and the olympic swimming pool.
- Visit Duga 3, nicknamed the “Russian Woodpecker,” a Soviet “over-the-horizon” radar at its base “Chernobyl 2.”
- We will also try our best to visit some sights we cannot mention online.
- Transfer back to Kiev and grab supplies for the night train to Kiev
- Overnight on the train
Tuesday 25th February
- We’ll arrive in the early morning, store our bags in the station and head out in Odessa for a tour of the city followed by some free time.
- We’ll enjoy breakfast nearby before we meet our local Odessan guide who will take us away from the charming side of Odessa and show us the dark side of this city.
- This is the ‘Odessa Depression’ tour, prepare for abandoned Stalin era factories, abandoned Soviet brothels and nightclubs and the killing ground of hundreds of victims of the Odessa mafia.
- After the tour you will have free time to explore downtown Odessa.
- We’ll meet back at the train station later in the evening to collect the bags And meet our fixers.
- We’ll departure via private transport for the 3 hour drive to Tiraspol, capital of the breakaway, rebel republic of Transnistria.
- On arrival in Tiraspol, we register with immigration and KGB/MGB before transferring to the local version of the Soviet Inn tourist hotel. This is the quintessential Soviet experience in the region’s original tourist hotel.
- We go for dinner at a local institution and then head into the cellar of a club called ‘Mafia’ to try out some Russian style karaoke!
- Overnight in Soviet Hotel.
Wednesday 27th February
- For breakfast we’ll head to a great, Ukrainian restaurant in Tiraspol. Be prepared to wash away your hangover as they’ll well known for handing out complimentary shots of pepper Vodka, whether it’s 9:00am or not!
- We’ll then kick off our city tour of Tiraspol and stop at the flea market in Tiraspol, here it’s possible to buy all kinds of Soviet antiques for rock bottom prices. You never know what you will find!
- Walk down the main street called October 25th street which has a billboard of former President Smirnoff: The warlord who turned president for almost twenty years. We’ll see the embassies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the foreboding HQ of the infamous Sheriff organization and stop at a bookshop to pick up some Russian and Transnistrian nationalist paraphernalia, a mug with Putin or a fridge magnet of ICBMs firing across the atmosphere, why not?
- We’ll then stop at the impressive House of the Soviets, built in Stalinist style with a large bust of Lenin outside.
- We’ll mix with students at the Dolce Vita cafe, an inexpensive place with great buffet style food and the eatery of choice for students at nearby Tiraspol university.
- We’ll then transfer to the other end of October 25th street to see the North Korean style statue of Russian General Suvorov. Surrounding it are the flags of Russia, Transnistria and the breakaway brotherhood states of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.
- Have you picture taken in front of a giant crest of Transnistria featuring the hammer and sickle!
- Visit Parliament, housing one of the biggest statues of Lenin outside Russia.
- Visit the Eternal Flame Memorial complex dedicated to the Soviet-Afghan war, WW2 and the Transnistrian civil war. Check out the battle-damaged T-34 monument to WW2, it’s permitted to climb on it and get an awesome photo.
- We’ll then switch it up and board an old Soviet ferry without an engine and cross the Dniester river to see how the village people live across from Tiraspol. This is an area truly lost in the USSR!
- We’ll visit a still functioning palace of culture with an enormous head of Lenin outside, pockmarked with Kalashnikov bullet holes after Moldovan troops symbolically executed him during the civil war.
- We’ll then visit a stunning and completely self-sufficient monastery complex that has to be seen to be believed. We know many of the priests there and sometimes they allow us to sample their incredible homemade wine, however, this is subject to whether the one priest with the key is available on the day.
- We pay a visit to a local store which hasn’t changed since the USSR and still uses an abacus to calculate the total. Here we’ll stock up on $3 Kvint Cognac (One of the best Cognacs in the Soviet era), $1 Vodka and local smoked cheese.
- We then head to a stunning viewpoint and Soviet obelisk that was one of the most brutal battlefields during WW2. In the Russian speaking world, it’s respect to the dead to raise a shot of Cognac or Vodka in their honour and we’ll do just that!
- Return to Tiraspol and head for dinner at 7Fridays, a Tiraspol institution!
- Overnight in Tiraspol
Thursday 28th February
- We’ll grab breakfast and head to the town of Bender.
- After breakfast we Transfer to Bender, one of Transnistria’s biggest cities and a site of fierce fighting during the civil war. We enter one of the largest outdoor markets in all of Transnistria. Guests will be able to shop and buy anything they want at very, very low prices. Also, many opportunities for old world type photos. This is a true old school, Russian market. Expect pigs heads, spices and everything imaginable for sale.
- We leave the market and continue walking down the main street until we reach the main church in the center, well renovated and a favorite place for couples to get married. Here you can buy inexpensive Russian Orthodox jewellery and icons.
- We’ll check out the city hall which has been left exactly as it was during the civil war and is still filled with bullet holes.
- We continue walking down the main street until we arrive at Lenin Park. We view the main fountain, the bust of Lenin before going into the local cinema which is largely unchanged since Soviet times except Mission Impossible is playing instead of Soviet propaganda.
- We continue to walk down the main street until we reach the train station, renovated and well maintained. It seems like a ghost town because only a few trains stop here, and there are almost no passengers. Besides the train station is an old Soviet train from WWII with the hammer and sickle on the front.
- We’ll have lunch in the town at a local cafe called CCCP, this is designed to create a sense of nostalgia for locals and is packed with original Soviet memorabilia and great food.
- We head to the river to check out ‘The Great October’ theme park. There are old amusement rides including bumper cars and mini Ferris wheels here. A scene right out of the 1950s, it may look abandoned but the rides are still operating and are very cheap.
- After Bender, we’ll board our bus for the short two-hour journey to Chisinau, the capital of Europe’s least visited country: Moldova!
- Check into the local Soviet-era hotel and head out for dinner and drinks at an incredible steakhouse.
- Overnight in Chisinau.
Friday 29th February
- After breakfast, we’ll start our city walking tour of Chisinau. We’ll visit the abandoned National Hotel, see one of the most stunning monasteries in the city which was thankfully spared destruction under Communism, see the infamous city prison which has been declared a breach of human rights amongst other things.
- We’ll see the enormous World War II Memorial and climb some tanks and surface to air missiles at the Military Museum!
- Visit the local flea market, great for antiques and Soviet kitsch!
- Lunch at a local Soviet-style canteen followed by free time in the city.
- We’ll board the Soviet-era night train to Bucharest, at the border, you will see the train being lifted into the air as the wheels are changed due to different gauges of rail between the former USSR and Romania.
- Overnight on the train.
Saturday 1st March
- Arrival in Bucharest around 6:00 am
- We will wish each other farewell as we have breakfast at the station
- End of tour. YPT can help you organize further arrangements in Bucharest or international connections
- Explore the photographer’s paradise that is the Chernobyl area complete with cooling towers and reactors, including a visit to the self-settlers to see what life in the zone is like!
- Visit Tiraspol, the capital of the unrecognized country of Transnistria, seeing all the sights and even stopping at the university to chat with students.
- Check out the war relics in YPT’s favourite named place, the city of Bender, Transnistria
- Explore the dark past of Odessa from it’s Mafia killing fields and former Soviet brothels
Inclusions and Exclusions
Tour price inclusion:
- All accommodation in twin-share hotels
- All transport as per itinerary
- 24 hour services of a bilingual, YPT tour leader and local English speaking tour guides
Tour price exclusion:
- Travel insurance
- Single supplement (€150)
- Pre-tour accommodation (€40)