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» Travel » Reports » Ukraine Trip Report: Kiev to London and Back for $150

Kiev to London and Back for $150 USD

By RJD, 2007

Discount airlines such as Ryanair do not yet fly to Ukraine and do not plan to do so within the next few years
(correction: as of 2009 Wizzair has several low-cost flights in and out of Kiev)
, but tourists and residents of Ukraine can take advantage of flights to and from cities right across the Ukrainian border:
Rseszow, Poland (Ryanair)
Kosice, Slovakia (Sky Europe)
If you buy tickets several weeks or months in advance, you can get very cheap flights to and from these cities. From Kosice and Rseszow there are well-trodden transportation routes to Ukraine.
My trip from Kiev to London and back involved an overnight train ride to Lviv arriving at 4:30 a.m. From there I could have waited till about 5:30 and taken the first bus from the train station to the border town of Schehyny, but I decided to move as quickly as possible and hired a taxi to drive me the 90 kilometers to the border. There is a huge line of cars at the border, but pedestrians can cross much quicker by walking down a long walkway surrounded by high fences and passing through Ukrainian customs and passport control, then Polish passport control and customs. A non-Ukrainian, non-Polish foreigner here is a bit of a curiosity, and you should not be given problems if you don't have much luggage with you. Note that all the locals are preoccupied with smuggling cigarettes and vodka from Ukraine to Poland above the amount allowed by law. They tape cigarettes to their legs and other body parts... It's a sight to be seen. You may have to wait in line a bit. That's why I got there as early as I could.
On the Polish side you are met by a minibus to nearby Przemysl (the route ends right by the train station), where I took an electric train to Rzeszow. In front of the Rseszow train station there is a special bus to the airport that gets to the airport a little over an hour before the flight to London. This is easily enough time to get checked in at the small airport. From there Ryanair takes you to the London Stansted airport, and a not-so-cheap bus takes you into London proper.
All that, repeated in the opposite order on the way back, comes out to anywhere from $150 to $200 USD, depending on how cheap your flight ends up being and whether or not you take a taxi to the Ukrainian border from Lviv. The total time en route is a little under 24 hours both ways. A direct flight from Kiev to London will typically cost from $350 to $550 round-trip.
Be aware that there are other ways of crossing the Ukraine-Poland border. There is a direct train to Rseszow (destination: Krakow) that costs more than what I describe here, because it is an international train and has to have its axles adjusted at the border to accommodate the different track width.
As I am aware, the route to Kosice, Slovakia, is very similar, but somewhat longer from Kiev.