With just over a million people, Odessa is Ukraine’s fourth-largest city. Set in the country’s south along the Black Sea coast, Odessa was founded in the late 18th century as a Russian naval fortress. For many years in the mid-19th century, it was a free port, becoming home to a multinational populace. In 1905, it was the site of a major Russian Revolution uprising by crew members of the Battleship Potemkin. The nice old town area has a beautiful opera house, and the city has many great beaches.
Having survived the Mongol Empire, WWII, Chernobyl, and Soviet rule, Kiev is the proud capital of the Ukraine. Filled with theaters, museums, religious sites, modern buildings and ancient ruins, the city of Kiev is the center of Ukrainian culture. The Monastery of the Caves, founded in 1015, and Saint Sophia Cathedral, founded in 1037, are both World Heritage Sites. The Museum of the Great Patriotic War, topped by the massive Motherland Statue, provides gorgeous views of the city below.
Also commonly spelled Kharkov, Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second-largest city, and with about a million and a half people, and a main cultural, educational and industrial city for the country. Founded in the 17th century, the city is in Ukraine’s northeast (not far from the Russian border) and served briefly as its capital in the early 20th century, after it became a Soviet republic. Kharkiv’s top attractions include its zoo, its history museum, Freedom (Svoboda) Square and the Holy Shroud Cathedral.