Skiing in Ukraine
Ukraine is hardly known internationally for its ski resorts, but there are actually plenty of places to ski in Ukraine. The ski industry is rapidly developing as downhill skiing in Ukraine catches up in popularity to the rest of the world. Over the past decade some decent resorts have appeared where one can have a real ski experience. Prices remain low by European standards, both for lift tickets and rental equipment. At the same time, there are numerous smaller ski areas in quaint small towns that are still quite untouched by modern civilization. Here the infrastructure may at times be irritating (or worse), but Carpathian villages often have a special charm that at least partially makes up for any inconveniences. You can read about and see pictures from my ski trip to such a village here.
When to go
Generally speaking there are considerable lift lines at all resorts on the weekends and short lines during weekdays during the main ski season (January to early March). Outside of this period lines will be shorter overall. The best time to go is after a good snowfall, since in most places slopes are not groomed and ice and moguls are common. In early December and April Drahobrat, Bukovel, and Mt. Trostyan at Slavske are usually the only skiable resorts.
Carpathian weather map with current temperatures and conditions in English
Weather forecasts of numerous mountain resorts in Russian at ski.sport.com.ua.
Let's categorize the downhill skiing opportunities that are available in Ukraine:
Carpathian ski resorts
These are Ukraine's best-equipped ski resorts that have some experience with foreigners. They have a variety of runs and decent infrastructure, though not yet near the level of European resorts. Only Bukovel has its own website in English. All resorts have hotels, cottages, and ski rental equipment. All of these resorts except Drahobrat (Dragobrat) are near towns or villages and have bars, cafes, and discoteques.
To go skiing at these resorts usually people book accommodations with a travel agency (see bottom of page) and then show up at the slopes. You can either pay for each life ride or buy a lift pass. You will encounter some chair lifts and many tow lifts. Lift lines are sometimes long on weekends. At these four resorts the snow is usually groomed daily. Lift break-downs are not uncommon at all Carpathian resorts.
Snow quality and quantity varies from day to day and season to season. The climate has been warming in recent decades, and the 2000-2001 winter was so warm that most resorts were open for no more than ten days (except for Dragobrat, which had a usual ski season from November to April). Generally the ski season is mid-December through mid-March, with skiing at Dragobrat continuing into April and even May.
|LOCATION AND ACCESS||SLOPES|
|Convenient location on Kyiv-Uzhhorod railroad, or a 120 km drive from Lviv.||Traditionally the most popular Carpathian ski resort; lifts on all sides of Mt. Trostyan (900 - 1230 m elevation) with lots of variety and all levels of difficulty; slopes 700 - 2000 m in length; other mountains available at Slavsko (700 - 1100 m in elevation).|
|120 km from Ivano-Frankivsk, accessible by car or bus.||Slopes 300 - 2300 m in length at 880 - 1240 m elevation; most modern and "elite" resort. Becoming more popular than Slavsko.|
|150 km from Lviv. Get off Kyiv-Uzhhorod train at Skole, take bus or taxi to resort.||Slopes up to 800 m in length with chair lift.|
|18 km from Yasinya village by off-road vehicle (local "taxis"), accessible from Ivano-Frankivsk by narrow-gauge train, minibus, or taxi.||Highest, snowiest, remotest resort in Ukraine (1300 - 1600 m); several lifts 400 - 1000 m in length or drive up to 3000 m long slope.|
Secondary Carpathian ski areas
These ski areas are not resorts per sé, but generally ski lifts scattered here and there. At most ski areas there are hotels and private rooms available for rent in the vicinity. Maybe at some of these places full-fledged resorts will eventually be created. Equipment can be rented both from locals and at the ski slopes themselves. Infrastructure is less well-developed than at the four major ski resorts above. Accommodations range from rented rooms in locals' homes to European-style suites.
Zhdenievo (near Mukacheve)
Pylypets/Podobovets - budding ski resort with two big mountains with long runs
Beskyd(near Verkhniy Studenyy) - very secluded ski area with lots of snow
Sinyak (near Mukacheve)
Polyana (near Svalyava)
Solochyn (near Svalyava)
Kosiv - heart of Hutsul country
How to book a ski trip in Ukraine
Organizing a ski trip is not difficult at all, and it does not matter whether you are a foreigner or a Ukrainian citizen. Many travel agencies in Ukraine can reserve lodging for you at ski areas in the Carpathians. My partners have a wide range of partners in the Carpathians and can organize your vacation at the most well-known Carpathian resorts, as well as smaller ski areas off the beaten path. Many of these hotels operate year-round and are just as good for a summer vacation in the mountains as for a winter ski trip.
Be aware that it is necessary to book weeks in advance for the period of Dec. 27 - Jan. 12. This is the holiday season, and rooms during this period can cost nearly twice as much! You'll need to inquire about prices during this period. Otherwise, bookings can often be confirmed within one or two days, so it is possible to go on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip.