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15 reasons to visit Transcarpathia: advices for tourists from local folks

A universal cheat-sheet, ready for use (and sharing)

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We are often asked questions like “And why Transcarpathia is worthwhile visiting?” You may be absolutely sure that we know the answer very well: we have been writing on the topic in our articles, interviews and researches for the last 6 years almost every day.


At the same time, to make up a summary of our labors and make our lives easier (without repeating the same things another hundred times) – here is this article and original illustrations to it.

It will definitely come in handy for all Transcarpathians intending to invite friends of theirs. And also – for those who have never been to Transcarpathia – to pay a visit finally. Or – for those who have been to the westernmost region of Ukraine a couple of times but still looking for reasons to come again and again.

We will be grateful for any additions to the article: add comments, stating reasons and arguments for visiting Transcarpathia.

1gory

Mountains

Recreation in Carpathians – sounds magic and no other arguments needed. But what is worth mentioning is that virtually every district of Transcarpathia has mountains of its own, although the highest peaks are located in Rakhiv district. Here is the top-10 list: Hoverla (2061 m), Brebeneskul (2036 m), Petros (2020 m), Hutyn Tomnatyk (2016 m), Rebra (2001 m);  Munchel (1998 m) – not to be confused with Mount Menchul (1294 m) in Perechyn area; Turkul (1933 m), Pip Ivan of Maramures (1936 m), Pozhyzhevsksa (1885 m), Blyznytsia (1881 m). If you think that such “fly-high” options are meant only for experienced mountain hikers, you will easily find about a hundred of others, less difficult to climb but no less beautiful.

2kuhnya

Cuisine

Gastronomy and culinary are those points of contact helping us learn a new city or a country. Food can tell the history and traditions, at times no worse than a guide. And, sometimes, even better – if it’s a tour on empty belly. Both for Ukrainian and foreign tourists, Transcarpathian cuisine is most often a pleasant discovery and an important reason to come to Transcarpathia. It combines the culinary traditions of Ukrainians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Romanians, Czechs, Poles, Jews. Here is the top-10 list of dishes we recommend to taste if you’re in Transcarpathia for the first time or far from the first time: bohrach, banosh with bryndza and pork cracklings, rokot-krumpli, lecho, paprikash, knodels with Sehedynskiy goulash, podbyvani lopatki, loczi pecsenie, hambovtsi, kifliks.

3zamky

Castles

The most well-known castles of Transcarpathia in Ukraine are Palanok in Mukachevo, Uzhhorod castle and Nevytskiy. However, there are many more of them, at least 12. And each is worth your attention. Castles of Uzhhorod, Mukachevo, Nevytskiy, Seredne, Chinadievo, Bronyka, Kvasy, Borzhava, Korolevo, Khust, Vyshkovo. Some of them turned to ruins long ago and others place museums.


4termalni

Thermal waters

Curing properties if thermal waters have been enjoyed by the mankind for several centuries now. It is recreation and health and a second breath for your body, so weary of daily routine and labors. Transcarpathia can boast of over 10 thermal swimming pools, each having its own, unique in composition, thermal water and chemistry. Here are the most popular of them: thermal pools in the village of Kosyno in Berehovo area; “Zhayvoronok” (the Skylark) and “Zakarpattia” (Transcarpathia) in Berehovo; “Tepli vody” (Warm Waters) in the village of Veliatyno in Khust area; “Teplytsia” in Vynohradiv; “Zolota Hora” (Golden Mount) in Uzhhorod; “Derenivska Kupil” (Plunge Tub of Dereniv) and “Thermal Star” – in the village of Nyzhne (Lower) Solotvyno of Uzhhorod District.

5mineral

Mineral waters

There are over 500 acting sources of various mineral water in Ukraine, the majority of which are located right in Transcarpathia – about 360 of them. In the vicinity of Mizhhirya, Rakhiv, Svaliava, Mukachevo and Tiachiv towns. Each of the springs has a different chemical composition and, respectively, the water makes a different curing and tonic effect. A list of most well-known mineral waters in Transcarpathia will include the following: “Poliana Kvasova”, “Poliana Kupel”, “Luzhanska”, “Shayanska”, “Ploskivska”, “Borzhavska”. However, some waters are proper drinking table ones, some part of them belong to drinking medicinal and table group and still others are drinking medicinal only.

Transcarpathian spa resorts featuring mineral waters are commonly located in fabulously picturesque areas, so it is twice as pleasant and effective to recover with a mineral water viewing a nice mountain scene. No matter if it is Svaliava, Irshava or Uzhhorod area.

Mineral spring with open access: Soymynske spring (village of Soymy), village of Kvasy, Solochynske spring, Svaliava spring, Poliana spring, the “Poliana Kvasova” spring, Luzhanske spring.

6vyno

Wines

A conversation on this subject is likely to become endless. Transcarpathians take special proud in their local wines, both home-made and produced by local winemakers and those by winemaking companies that present Transcarpathian wines all over the country and abroad.

Lets’ start with the local winemakers. Definitely, there are a few hundreds of them; however, the most experienced and productive ones are few dozens in numbers. You just have to visit the January festival of Chervene Vyno (The Red Wine) in Mukachevo in order to get familiarized to each of them and “take a small glass of decent wine from a true landlord” (in Transcarpathia local language you will hear: “upyty poharchyk paradnoho vyna vied hazdy”). It is difficult to mention all of them and not to forget anyone but still here are some important surnames to add to your checklist: Ivan Ursta, Karl Shosh, Vasyl Antalovskiy, Ruslan Oros, Vasyly Nagy, Oleksandr Kovach.

There are also two industrial wine workshops functioning in the region – Chateau Chizay and Cotnar. Both are located in Berehovo.


7sakura

The sakuras (Oriental Cherry tree)

“So whenever are the sakuras are going to be in bloom over there?” Starting from March it is almost the most important question to Transcarpathians from outlanders. We don’t mind answering it but the thing is that the blossom period used to be stable before. And in the last few years you should not expect the blossom during the May holidays, exactly to match the holiday you are planning. Usually the blooming starts in early April and finishes in 2-week’s time. The most attractive towns with sakuras are Uzhhorod and Mukachevo. Here you will find whole lanes of them, and trees planted right in the urban space, close to hundred-year-old mansions.

Special festivals, cookies, wines, jams, wines, sport events and others are devoted to sakuras. Here is the proof:

8zelenyj Turyzm

Resort villages and eco-tourism

The best recreational option for city residents, living at a crazy pace of life. The more so that a trip to a town, even a small one, still remains a trip from a city into another one. Meanwhile, if you choose a cottage in the countryside, the format will be quite different, the pace is slowed down and you draw in a great lungful of fresh mountain air. In Transcarpathia, it is often one of the best options to see the local charm, taste home-made dishes, hear Transcarpathian dialect and perceive what life is like for the local folks.

You will find hundreds of programs at the sites offering accommodation and there is one thing we can recommend: don’t be afraid of going freestyle with the districts. Whether you choose Berehovo or Rakhov district, the pleasure will be greatest. However, your picture of Transcarpathia will be different in both cases.

9eco Vyronb

Organic production and goods

This item could be easily joined with that entitled “Cuisine” but in fact they are a bit different things. Sometimes you will see even Transcarpathians themselves searching through private selling points and among elderly female village farmers, with a limited quantity of home-made cheese, milk, meat; searching for quality ecological goods for years. But fortunately, for the last few years the number of farming households producing food items with the concept “the same quality as for myself” in mind.

We have already published articles on some of them, and are going to do so for the others. Here is a list for some: cheeses from Nyzhne (Lower) Selyshche; meat products from the ecofarm “Zelenyi Hai” (Greenwood); juices, syrups, meat, cheese and palynka from “Pan Eco” (Mr. Eco); dry-cured delicacies and goat cheese by Gashpar from Mukachevo; then, honey and lots of other stuff. But if you’re a tourist and made use of the previous item, you will find authentic products with the locals, amazingly different from those sold in supermarkets.

10kava

The Coffee


There are many points where you may drink good coffee stuff, in many cities. Sure, we get used to local cafes and the coffee we drink every day, so it’s hard to be satisfied with it in other cities, with different tastes and traditions. However, we recommend to visit Transcarpathia and Uzhhorod in particular not only because of coffee but chasing the cafes, too. There is some special air and vibe about them, only to be found in this city.

11chany

The tubs

The best Transcarpathian spa is its tubs. Get boiled in the healing water – this is the target of many visitors, and the locals never miss a single opportunity for that.  The tubs, called here “chan” are largish metal pots, filled with mineral water, add herbs and essential oils. The “chans” may be of various size, with a different capacity, respectively, from 2 to 10 people. The whole procedure takes place in the open air and in any season. Often there is a small pool with cold water close by, and the visitor takes a dive a few times in an hour, reaching the temperature contrast. The common water temperature in a chan is 40oC.

It is mostly the village of Lumshory that is associated with authentic “chan” but there are a few dozens of similar ones in Transcarpathia – in Berehovo, Velikiy (Great) Berezniy, Vynohradiv, MIzhhirya, Mukachevo, Perechyn, Rakhiv areas and elsewhere in the region.

12aktvidpochunok

Outdoor activities

The biggest spa resorts of the region, as well as in smaller villages where locals invite tourists, will surely feature some options for amateurs of outdoor activities. Firstly, it may be just hiking and watching scenery, these may last for hours. Runs and bike rides, both within the towns and around them, let’s say about woods and trips to the local castles. In winter it’s about skiing. Some camping sites provide for ZIP-line, adventure parks, horse clubs, fishing sites. The main thing is to make decision on what your party want.

13modernism

The modernism architecture in Uzhhorod

While planning a trip to Uzhhorod, make sure to take a few hours of your time to the modernism architecture of the city in particular. That is the real Uzhhorod, the history and mood beloved by the city’s patriots.

14minisculp

The mini sculptures

The whole country has heard of them and the local folks know each of them by face. The project launched a few years ago by the sculptor Mykhaylo Kolodko and the tourism expert Fedir Shandor, quickly grew up from a one-time event into a large-scale city project and then a regional one. There are about 30 of them around the city, and, once you’re here, you may easily spend a whole day doing a quest “Searchig the mini’s” and learning the city on foot.

15shtefanyo

Sweets by Valentine Shtefanio


The sweets by Valentine Shtefanio do not need any special presentation for Transcarpathians, and tourists mark them in their rating lists for tasting and visiting, not lower than in top-5. And this is definitely not just by accident: the outstanding tastes and shapes, and always top quality. It is Valentine who is the creator of the “Uzhhorod” tart – a city’s landmark and a powerful attraction. Apart from the cookies, the confectionaries offer chocolate, marshmallow, candies, bread, croissants and macarons.


Disclaimer: the present material is presented by the civic community of “Institute of Central European Strategy” with the support by US Agency for International Development (USAID). Creating the material became possible with sincere support from the American people as provided via US Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents or the material is a sole responsibility of the civic community of “Institute of Central European Strategy” and does not necessarily reflect opinion of USAID or USA government. Reproduction and use of any part of this material in any format, including graphical, electronic, copying or using in any other way whatsoever is prohibited without a link to the original source.

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Text: Rosana Tuzhanska

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