How to travel to Chernobyl
Visiting Chernobyl, Ukraine step by step
Are you enchanted by the un(famous) Chernobyl Zone? Would you like to see it with your own eyes, but you have no idea how to get ready for such an adventure? We will answer all of your curious questions! This is a step-by-step travel guide for your Chernobyl visit.However, before heading to Ukraine, Kyiv, and Chernobyl, it is crucial to check out some facts and local rules. Once you are fully prepared, you will enjoy your Chernobyl adventure for 110%!
Visiting Chernobyl for the first time? Learn all you need to know!
Before learning new tips and tricks to make your travel to Chernobyl easier, let’s go through these four important facts.
What is the age limit for visiting Chernobyl?
🔞 In order to be permitted to enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one needs to be at least 18.
Which documents are needed for visiting Ukraine and exploring the Chernobyl Zone?
Your VALID travel passport is necessary for issuing permits to the Chernobyl Zone or the Chernobyl Power Plant, and you need to have it with you at all times during the whole Chernobyl tour.
The citizens of the following countries do not need a visa for a stay of up to 90 days (some for up to 30 days): Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Ecuador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Hong Kong, Israel, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Moldova, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, South Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Vatican City, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Uruguay & Uzbekistan.
If you are a citizen from a country not listed, you will not have a problem obtaining a tourist visa. Ukraine has issued electronic visas since 2018 and its cost is 20-30 USD.
❗ Be aware, your passport needs to be VALID FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS after your visit to Ukraine.
Tourists take pictures outside the New Safe Confinement, a metal dome encasing the destroyed reactor, at the closed Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, in Ukraine.
Is it safe to visit Chernobyl?
The answer is YES. The level of radiation is only above normal natural radiation background levels in some places of the Chernobyl zone. Most of these contaminated places are avoided during the Chernobyl tour, our trained ChernobylX guides will only take you to healthy non-hazardous places and trails. However, it is important to obey the rules and your guide and not to wander on your own.
💡 DID YOU KNOW?
During a one-day Chernobyl tour, you will probably get less radiation than during your flight to Kyiv.
☢️ WE at ChernobylX make sure you enjoy the safest Chernobyl tour. To ensure your absolute safety, during one day, two days, or private Chernobyl tours with ChernobylX you will have a (radiation safety) dosimetric control at least twice a day. Plus you get a free respirator and you can borrow a Geiger-Muller counter anytime at no cost.
Outlook of the Pripyat Amusement Park and the famous Ferris wheel.
Can I travel to Chernobyl, Ukraine during the COVID-19 pandemic?
YES! You are free to come to Ukraine nowadays, just check from which country you are coming, so you can follow the local quarantine rules, and the best and up-to-date info can be found here: https://visitukraine.today/.
Also, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is open for tourists during the COVID-19 pandemic with safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection.
COVID-19 information for entering Ukraine 🦠
When you are coming to Ukraine you must have:
- a document confirming the receipt of a full course of vaccination against COVID-19 with vaccines included by WHO in the list of approved for use in emergency situations; or
- a negative rapid test for the SARS-CoV-2 antigen (RAT, Ag) that was done no more than 72 hours before entry; or
- a certificate of a negative PCR test result done no more than 72 hours before the entry.
- Entering the territory of Ukraine you must have medical insurance covering observation and treatment of COVID-19.
Tourists exploring the area around the Polissya hotel in the city center of the abandoned city of Pripyat.
Source: NBC NEWS
ALL important information on travel advice in Ukraine, safety rules, COVID-19 tests, and where to get tested after arriving in Ukraine are available in our regularly updated blog Coronavirus (COVID-19) Travel advice in Ukraine.
For more details check the Information Page for Tourists and Visitors of Ukraine.
How to get to Chernobyl?
Exploring legendary Chernobyl and its iconic spots, enjoying a sleepover in a Chernobyl hotel, and uncovering hidden stories sound like a once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventure tourists. All you need to do is simply choose the tour you like the most from our offer HERE at least 3 days before your desired date and you are all set.
In order to take a Chernobyl tour, you must come to Kyiv, Ukraine. There are more options for you to consider – depending on where you travel from, you might take a plane, a train, a bus or drive directly to the Chernobyl Zone with your car. Let’s dive into it.
Check this map to see the exact location of Chernobyl.
Traveling to Ukraine by plane.
Source: Opera News
How to get to Kyiv, Ukraine by plane?
The fastest and the most comfortable way is by plane. There are two airports in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv – a smaller airport Zhuliany (IEV) or a big international airport Boryspil (KPB). The flight connections exist with all major European cities, including London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome, Prague, and Warsaw, or you could just find a connected flight from wherever you are coming from.
Booking flights to Kyiv at least 1 month ahead can help you get a return ticket from the UK, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, or Hungary for less than 100 euros (only a free carry-on bag included). Check Wizz Air or Ryanair – two low-cost companies with direct flights to Kyiv.
Flying to Kyiv from the UK
The plane is once again the comfiest and the easiest way giving you multiple flight options. If you come from the UK, you can reach Kyiv directly with multiple companies – Ukrainian FLY UIA, Wizz Air, or Ryanair are among the cheapest ones.
FLY UIA runs flights from London Gatwick (LGW) to Kyiv Boryspil (KBP) and back daily. The flight takes appx. 3h, 15 minutes. There is also an option to fly out to Kyiv (KPB) from London Heathrow (LHR), however, these flights are less frequent.
Wizz Air flies from London Luton (LTN) to Kyiv Zhulyany (IEV) and back on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The flight takes appx. 3h, 20 minutes.
Ryanair offers flights from London Stansted (STN) to Kyiv Boryspil (KBP) and back on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The trip takes appx. 3h, 05 minutes.
There are even more flights to Kyiv from various UK cities, but all of them include at least one transfer.
Passenger at the Boryspil international airport in Ukraine.
Source: Central Jets
Flying to Kyiv, Ukraine from the USA or Canada
Are you coming to Chernobyl from overseas? There are plenty of options for you to reach Kyiv, however, you have to get ready for one or more stops and change planes.
Easy, simple & cheaper alternative for the transatlantic passengers is to fly out from bigger cities with international airports such as New York JFK or Toronto International Airport, and once in Europe, it’s really easy to find a flight connection to international airport Kyiv Boryspil (KBP) or a smaller airport Zhuliany (IEV) located close to the Kyiv city center.
If you are looking for a cheaper flight ticket alternative, book a connecting flight from anywhere in Europe (London or Rome tend to have good flight ticket prices) to Kyiv with low-cost companies such as Ryanair, Wizz Air (be aware of the baggage policy – only carry-on is for free), or Ukrainian company FLY UIA which has very often one of the cheapest prices on the market with checked luggage included.
The fastest flights from the American or Canadian east coast to Kyiv include at least one stop and take on average at least 12 hours. The shorter it takes, the more expensive it gets and the price varies also according to season or flight occupancy. Booking at least 1 month ahead and using Momondo or Skyscanner will help you to find the best flight deals.
For a higher comfort, we recommend you to take a flight to Zhuliany (IEV) – it is a much smaller airport located within Kyiv, 9 kilometers from the city center (25 minutes by car).
Panoramic view of the Kyiv city center in Ukraine.
How to get to Kyiv city center from Boryspil or Zhuliany airport?
There are more options for you – a taxi, a train or a bus.
📍 Boryspil airport – Kyiv city center
A taxi ride to the city center from Boryspil airport takes 30 minutes and will cost you around 10-12 €. However, avoid taking a cab from the street as there is a high chance you will be overcharged. Use Uber (or its local version Uklon) or Bolt instead. Taxi rides within the city center should not exceed 5 €.
A new, efficient and comfy option to avoid traffic jams is to take a train to Central railway station – Kyiv-Pasazhyrsky, with trains departing every hour for 80 UAH/adult (2.55 €). You will reach the city center in less than 45 minutes. Boryspil Airport Railway station is located 100 meters north of terminal D and is easy to reach. Here is the train timetable.
You might also opt for a shuttle bus. Skybus runs shuttle busses from Boryspil to Kyiv Central railway station (line 322) every 15 minutes during the day and every 30-45 minutes at night. It costs 100 UAH/adult (3.19 €) and takes only 10 minutes longer than the train. The buses are recognizable by the striking purple colors and leave from terminal D. For the timetable check here.
The bus of Sky Bus company in front of Boryspil airport.
📍 Zhuliany – Kyiv Central station
Taxis (for approx 6 €), numerous minibusses (Marshrutka), and (trolley)buses run to and from Kyiv Zhuliany Airport regularly. The bus stop is situated 200 meters from Terminal A and Terminal D. Working hours are from 6:30 till 22:30.
🚌 Minibus (Marshrutka)
If you need to get to Kyiv’s central station, take minibus route 368 Boyarka – Starovokzalna St (every 16 minutes). The journey takes 20 minutes.
📍 Zhuliany – Kyiv city center
Trolleybus route 9 Kyiv Zhuliany Airport – Subway station Lva Tolstogo Square will take you to the Kyiv city center.
You might even take the following minibusses to get to the city center
- Minibus route 302: Vyshneve – Kontraktova Square
- Minibus route 482: Glushkova Ave. – Subway Station of Dorogozhichi
- Minibus route 496: Subway Stations of Lukyanivska and Teremki
- Minibus route 499: Subway Stations of Lukyanivska, Vasylkivska, Teremki
- Minibus route 565: Subway Stations of Shuliavska, Dorohozhychi, Petrivka
🚌 Bus and a metro 🚇
It takes around 35 minutes from Zhuliany Airport to the city center including one transfer. You can buy a ticket from the bus driver for 8.00 UAH (0,25 €), remember to validate it before taking a seat. To reach the center, you can change the bus at Shuliavska subway station to metro M1. From Shuliavska it’s two stops to metro station Vokzalna (central station) and five stops to metro station Khreshchatyk located in the city center. The Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kyiv is located 250 meters north of the Khreshchatyk subway station.
Tickets for the metro can be purchased at the ticket offices and ticket machines. A single journey costs again 8.00 UAH.
🚆Traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine by train
The train is very affordable, however not that comfortable, nor clean but definitely worth considering if you come from Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Poland. A return ticket for direct trains to Kyiv might not cost more than 100 €.
It takes more than a day to get to Kyiv from various European locations. The trains are divided into:
- class – lockable couchette car with 2 beds
- class – lockable couchette with 4 beds – ideal for a group of friends
- class- open coupe, beds are also in the aisle – the lowest comfort
Only the first and second classes come with A/C. In each wagon, there are shared toilets and washrooms with running water. There is no shower.
☢️ The prices of the Ukrainian trains depend on the train number – the higher the number is, the more expensive is the ticket.
You will find the train schedules only for Ukraine here. The ChernobylX pick-up point is at the main railway station in Kyiv (Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi).
❗ Make sure to check the actual train timetables since, during the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the international trains to Ukraine were temporarily stopped.
🚘Traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine by car
As of 2020, many of our tourists are coming to Chernobyl by car (if you book a Chernobyl private tour with ChernobylX, you can even save money when driving in your own car to and around Chernobyl with your tour guide).
However, even though the car is very flexible, it is not that comfortable since Ukrainian roads tend to be bumpy, and you are also at risk of getting stuck at the Ukrainian borders waiting for 3+ hours due to regular checks and COVID measurements.
While fuel is relatively cheap in Ukraine, be aware of fines or maybe even bribes.
TIP: A good travel companion is Waze – a crowd-sourced navigation app with speed, police, or traffic alerts.
💡 Wish to learn how to save money when traveling to Chernobyl or how to move around Kyiv? Read our blog 7 ways to save money when traveling to Chernobyl.
How to reach the Chernobyl zone from Kyiv?
From Kyiv, everything will be arranged by a ChernobylX guide, with whom you will meet usually at 7:30 AM on the first day of your excursion at the PICK-UP POINT at Kyiv Central railway station. For a private tour, we will pick you up at your hotel address in Kyiv.
The journey to the Chernobyl exclusion zone takes a maximum of 2 hours from Kyiv. Transportation to and around Chernobyl is conducted in a comfortable Mercedes Sprinter minibus with AC, WiFi, and a TV onboard. For private tours, we use a Mercedes or a Toyota SUV. The majority of places in Pripyat will be visited on foot.
Minibus and a Chernobyl newspaper provided by ChernobylX
Are you a history lover? Read more on Chernobyl history here or download our free e-book about 10 Myths and facts about Chernobyl.
🏨 Where to stay in Kyiv?
Since the ChernobylX group tours to Chernobyl start and finish at the Kyiv central railway station, we suggest you book some accommodation near the railway station. From here you also have a direct connection to the Borispil airport via SkyBus or an airport shuttle train.
Adventurers who are traveling with ChernobylX to Chernobyl can claim up to a 25% discount at the newly open Ibis hotel next to the pickup place of ChernobylX or a 10% discount in a more simple hotel called, FireInn, which is a 5-minute taxi ride from the pickup point.