When finally I got a chance to visit Chernihiv I couldn’t be any more excited. I just felt this city is special and with so many things to do in Chernihiv I even extended my stay there for one extra day to see it all (and, of course, in the end I didn’t visit all the Chernihiv attractions I had on my list).
I’m so surprised not so many people travel to Chernihiv and those who do, treat it mostly as one of the day trips from Kyiv (it’s probably the second most popular destination to visit from the capital, after Chernobyl tour).
But Chernihiv deserves more of your time! I spent there 3 days and I could easily have stayed there longer. Even if I don’t like the term “the hidden gem” this city is the hidden gem of Ukraine.
Read on why you should include Chernihiv in your Ukraine itinerary and plan your own trip to Chernihiv soon!
Where is Chernihiv, Ukraine
The city is often confused with Chernivtsi, in the south of Ukraine (I definitely recommend visiting it too!) but these two places couldn’t be any more different. I loved both of them!
A short history of Chernihiv
The first surprising thing about Chernihiv is the fact that this is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine. It was first mentioned in the year 907 but the first settlement was founded here already in the 7th century.
Chernihiv was the second most important and wealthiest place in the Kievan Rus and the seat of the Grand Principality of Chernigov. The prosperity time ended in 1239 with the Mongol invasion.
Over the centuries Chernihiv has changed its belongingness a few times. It was under the rule of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Tsardom of Russia, Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and eventually independent Ukraine.
Why visit Chernihiv
There are so many reasons to visit Chernihiv!
With such a long history you can be sure to find numerous centuries-old attractions there. But that’s not all the city offers! Laid-back atmosphere, pleasant parks and squares, lots of charming cafes and cool restaurants… the list can go on and on!
If you would like to experience the real Ukrainian spirit, a lovely place without too many tourists around – Chernihiv seems like the perfect option.
Chernihiv is also called “the city of legends” so you can be sure to learn some interesting stories from the long and eventful history of the city.
You might find the name of the city familiar as Chernihiv is home to one of the most popular beers in Ukraine – Chernihivske (however these days it is produced in other places in the country). But that’s still a good reason to visit the place, isn’t it?
How to get to Chernihiv
Getting to Chernihiv is actually really easy as the city is very well connected with Kyiv. You only need to get to Lisova metro station in the capital (the last stop on the first, red, line) – you can take the direct train from Vokzalna, Teatralna, Khreshchatyk or Arsenalna stations.
At Lisova you can find marshrutkas (minibuses) to Chernihiv on the right side when leaving the metro station. Look for the name “Чернігів”, you can also ask locals for the right minibus, they will point you to the correct one.
Marshrutkas depart frequently, the price should be around 150 UAH, the journey time is around 2 hours. In Chernihiv, you will arrive next to Hotel Ukraine, right in the center of the city.
You might also go to Chernihiv with the organized day trip from Kyiv. Click here for more details.
Where to stay in Chernihiv
During my trip to Chernihiv, I stayed in the Hotel Ukraine, mentioned above.
It’s nothing fancy, a decent 3-stars hotel, good enough for the few nights. I can definitely recommend it, especially for its perfect, central location – you are within a walking walk to most of the attractions of Chernihiv. Click here to check current price and book the place.
How to get around Chernihiv
Most of the places to see in Chernihiv are within a walking distance from each other.
However, a few attractions are located a bit further away. It’s not a problem though, as the public transport in Chernihiv is good and you can easily use it.
Chernihiv tourist information
The first thing you should do after arriving at Chernihiv is visiting the local tourist information center. It’s located across the street from Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Garden Square, near Krasna Square, at 9 Shevchenka Street. It’s open every day, April-September from 9 am to 7 pm, October-March from 9 am to 5 pm.
This is probably the best tourist information point I’ve seen in Ukraine.
The staff is knowledgable and passionate about their city, they can help you with just about everything and recommend you all the best attractions of Chernihiv. You can also get a map here that will be useful during your Chernihiv sightseeing.
What’s more, you can find signs with directions and information all over the city which makes exploring Chernihiv even easier.
The local tourist information center really is an example for the rest of the country of how things should be done to make the stay in their city pleasant and hassle-free!
You can check their website here and learn a bit about Chernihiv before visiting it.
Things to do in Chernihiv
And now, that you know all the practical Chernihiv travel tips it’s time to talk about what to see and do in Chernihiv. You will be surprised how many attractions the city so relatively unknown has!
Visit Dytynets Park and Historic cannon Val
This is the very heart of Old Chernihiv and it’s packed with the attractions so you will surely spend a lot of time there.
You can find here a few beautiful churches, including the oldest temple in Ukraine – Transfiguration Cathedral from 1037 – be sure to step inside too as the interior is beautiful too!
Another important building here is the Collegium from the beginning of the 18th century – it was the first institution in Left-Bank Ukraine offering higher education!
And don’t forget about the small but beautiful Cathedral of Borys and Hlib.
Dytynets is the oldest part of the city and used to be a fortified citadel. Today you can still find some remnants of those times when walking around, including probably the most photographed vista in Chernihiv – the 18th-century iron cannons with the beautiful St. Catherine Church in the background.
When wandering around you will also stumble across a magnificent statue of Taras Schevchenko – the most famous Ukrainian writer and a beautiful Lyzohub’s House.
But the best thing to do in Dytynets Park is to just walk around, admire beautiful views of the city and Desna river and enjoy the place. This is one of the most pleasant places in Chernihiv that can suck you in for hours!
Find even more beautiful churches
If you think those stunning old churches in Dytynets Park were the best of sacral architecture in Chernihiv you are wrong. There are more of them and each one is more beautiful than the previous one!
Across the street from Dytynets Park, you will find St. Catherine Church from the beginning of the 18th century. This is one of the best examples of the Ukrainian Baroque style with onion-shaped golden domes.
Right in the center of the city, there is Piatnytska Church from the 12th/13th century. The style is a bit raw, with red bricks, but it’s impressive nevertheless.
A bit further there is Yeletskyi monastery, originally from the 11th century it was rebuilt in the 17th century in the Baroque style. One of the many Chernihiv legends says that this was the burial place of the local Dracula.
But the most jaw-dropping sacral building you can see in Chernihiv is The Holy Trinity Cathedral from the end of the 17th century. It was built with the three-dimensional composition and is a mix of the Baroque and early classicism styles.
If you are lucky the bell tower might be open – it’s worth climbing up to admire the Cathedral from another, even more stunning perspective.
Go underground in St. Anthony Underground Caves
One of the most unique attractions of Chernihiv is St. Anthony Underground Caves – the cave system founded in 1069.
However, this is the place not for the faint-hearted. The system of underground corridors is narrow, dark in some parts and you can stumble upon bones of monks or relics of saints. This is such a fascinating place to visit, especially when you realize how old all the remnants around you are.
You might also meet a vampire there – that’s what happened to me when I saw the local teenagers having a photoshoot in the vampire costume, holding the candle. It was really difficult for me not to laugh, especially in such a sacred place.
Enjoy the vibrant city center
Center of Chernihiv is a vibrant area, full of cafes, restaurants, pleasant squares and parks. The very heart of it is the Krasna Square (named after the word “beautiful”, not “red” in Russian), with the impressive Taras Shevchenko Chernihiv Regional Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater and numerous other pretty buildings.
From here you can go to the nearby Square of Bogdan Khmelnitsky – a very nice park where locals like to relax. After the recent renovation, the statue of Bogdan Khmelnitsky was moved so now he is looking in the direction of Europe.
From Krasna Square you can also walk through the Alley of Heroes towards St. Catherine’s Church. Over the weekends and especially in the evenings you can expect lots of people enjoying the walk around and all the events taking place here. This is probably the most vibrant area of Chernihiv!
Find beautiful wooden houses
Not many people mention beautiful wooden architecture in Chernihiv but that’s what surprised me the most in the city. You can find around 200 stunning houses with carefully carved details, like lace all made from the wood. It’s even called “Wooden Lace of Chernihiv”!
Some of the houses are in the art nouveau style – I’ve never seen wooden art nouveau but it’s so beautiful!
You can find those houses all over the city – this map will definitely help you find the best locations!
Discover the local cafe scene
Ukraine, in general, has one of the best cafe scenes I’ve ever encountered and Chernihiv is no exception. You can find lots of charming cafes all over the center, either to sit down or to take away.
My favorite cafe was Fotel at Ser’ozhnikova Street near Dytynets Park, I visited it a few times during my trip to Chernihiv. Other places worth checking are Abazhur, Sharlotka, Coffee Boss, Coffee Corner, Chashka Espresso Bar or Tsapa.
Admire street art
When exploring Chernihiv you might accidentally stumble upon some nice murals.
Some good ones that I found were on the corner of Mstyslavs’ka and Het’mana Polubotka Streets, on Kotsyubyns’koho Street near Myru Avenue or at the corner of Ivana Mazepy and Victory Avenue.
Fall in love with the beautiful train station
Even if you are not planning to take the train to/from Chernihiv it is still worth to see the local train station. It’s located a bit away from the center (you can reach it by bus or trolleybus) but this is such a gem.
The train station looks like the palace but in fact, it was built only in 1949, in the style of pseudo-classicism of Stalin time, after the previous station building was destroyed by German bombs during World War 2.
The building is beautiful both inside and outside so be sure to see it properly!
Find the Soviet architecture
Fans of the Socialist modernism architecture will find some interesting buildings in Chernihiv too!
The most impressive ones are the River Harbor, located just below the Dytynets Park, and Wedding Palace (Civil State Registration Department) not far from the square of Bogdan Khmelnitsky.
You might also want to check Glory Memorial, dedicated to the Great Patriotic War (World War 2) – you can find it near Anthony Caves, or the bas-relief inside the bus station.
Enjoy the riverside
River Desna with its beaches is the popular recreational area in Chernihiv.
When I visited the city in October there was not much to do there and I focused on other things to do in Chernihiv. But in the summertime, it’s a bustling area with so many activities. Be sure to check it out if you visit Chernihiv in the warmer months!
Go for the day trips around
The city can be a great base to explore the Chernihiv region and beyond!
You can easily visit Kachanivka Palace (the beautiful neoclassical mansion), Nizhyn with its numerous Baroque churches or Sedniv (second oldest city in the region, after Chernihiv).
You might also want to visit nearby town Slavutych (that’s what I did) – the last city built during the Soviet Union times, for the former inhabitants of Chernobyl and Pripyat. It’s such a fascinating place to visit that not too many people seem to know about!
Is it worth to visit Chernihiv?
I think by now you can see that yes, it’s definitely worth visiting Chernihiv. The city has so much to offer and can be a great base to explore even less popular destinations within Ukraine.
While you can go to Chernihiv as the day trip from Kyiv I fully recommend staying there a bit longer to properly get to know and enjoy the city – it’s worth your time!
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