Are Ukrainians Friendly?

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

Tim Cahill

It is hard to put labels on the whole country and state with complete certainty that people there are all funny, grumpy or friendly. After all, we are all different. But I’ve decided to visit 5 most popular Ukrainian tourist destinations to answer the question: are most of the Ukrainians friendly?

Kyiv City

Friendliness level: High

Kyiv is the main city of Ukraine and can serve as both transit town and the final destination of any journey. Statistically, Kyiv attracts majority of tourists from Germany, US and UK. I love Kyiv for its beauty, unceasing social and cultural everyday life. As a capital, it is full of young and active people, always open for communication. Crazy pace of life, constant festivals and social events create amazing atmosphere.

No problems: In shopping malls, cafes and in the central streets people are welcoming and easy to talk to.

Possible problems: As a megalopolis, Kyiv has pretty high crime rate, so be careful late at night, especially in labour districts like Troieshchyna or Vynogradar. Moreover, the latest political situation sometimes can cause public disturbance with not so happy people out in the streets.

Uzhgorod City

Friendliness level: High

Western Ukraine is well-known for its hospitality, and Uzhgorod isn’t an exception. Even though it is a small town, its population includes ethnic groups of Hungarians, Polish and Austrians. Uzhgorod gives a very European impression even though the people there often struggle with job finding and prefer to work abroad. Main tourist attractions are beautiful historical buildings and annual Sakura Festival.

No problems: The city mostly lives off the tourists and that’s why you’ll meet the nicest attitude.

Possible problems: I’ve noticed that drivers in Uzhgorod rarely stop at crosswalks and don’t drive safely in general, so you need to be a double careful while crossing the streets.

Odessa City

Friendliness level: Medium

If people told you, that Odessa is a unique city with unique people, they were right. It seems, that people of Odessa have built their own sense of humor and view of life. And oh do they proud of it. I’d say, that you might need some time to get used to the ethnic humor of people in Odessa and their way of interacting. Because commonly, it may sound a bit rude. But overall, Odessa is a city where you want to come back again and again.

No problems: I’ve met absolutely no problems in restaurants in the center of the city. Attentive stuff and the best service. I also find the fact that people go to the local parks almost every evening to listen free concerts and relax together absolutely adorable.

Possible problems:Scams and pickpocketing in crowded places. And for God’s sake, if you doubt your bargain abilities, don’t even try buying something at the local markets like Privoz.

Lviv City

Friendliness level: Extreme

Honestly, I don’t know any other city where people welcome you with open arms like they do it in Lviv. People seem happier there, with wide smiles on their faces and extreme hospitality. What’ve impressed me the most, is the caring attitude of the apartment owners. Very polite, they often offer homemade sweets, treats and can be flexible with the time schedule.

No problems:Personally I’ve never experienced any rude treatment while visiting Lviv. People on the streets were very polite and ready to talk.

Possible problems:Even though Lviv is a big regional city, it basically turns out at night. Of course, you can find night clubs and bars, but the streets become extremely dark and deserted.

Chernihiv City

Friendliness level: High

As a small city, Chernihiv has its own calming vibes. Walking in the streets make you feel like everybody know each other as people often stop to talk or greet each other. In my experience, people in small towns are more friendly and open for conversation. And this is exactly the Chernihiv case. Being a border town for a long time have developed a special welcoming attitude towards foreign guests.

No problems: All tourist attractions and eatery places have great stuff, polite and friendly. The streets are filled with families with kids which creates a very homelike atmosphere.

Possible problems: I actually can’t remember any harsh situation in communication matter. It is a very quiet town and people are friendly but pretty indifferent.

10 things that prove Ukrainian friendliness.

  1. Underground safety. The Ukrainian underground is equipped with heavy swinging doors, which can hit pretty hard, if you won’t catch it in time. Ukrainians always hold the door open for the person behind.
  2. Hospitality. Ukrainians show their hospitality on so many levels: from the friendly greetings at the airports to the gatherings at home. If you are invited to somebody’s home, get yourself ready for the lots of treats, drinks and fun.
  3. English speaking. The majority of people under 35 can understand and speak English.This fact really helps in the communication process.
  4. Ready to help.8 out of 10 will stop and give you an advice or show direction, if you ask.
  5. Great sense of humor. Ukrainians prefer to deal with stress and minor troubles with humor. They can be pretty sarcastic, but never mean.
  6. Trust. Despite political and economical hardships, people trust each other even in small things. For example, you can often witness how people pass the passenger fare in small local buses without being concerned whether someone can take it.
  7. Politeness. You will see people offering seats in public transport to seniors, pregnant women or people with kids all the time. I personally believe, that this is a definitive sign of an overall positive personal development and kindness.
  8. Ease of communication.The young people in Ukraine are outgoing and very sociable. It is very easy to start a conversation and receive a smile in reply.
  9. Sentimentality. People in Ukraine are very sentimental. The situation in the country during past several decades have proved that Ukrainians are always ready to help those in need.
  10. Mutual help.Ukrainians are always ready to help out a young mother with a heavy baby stroller or a person who was injured or felt sick in the street.The amount of non-indifferent people is truly inspiring.

Overall, Ukrainians are friendly. Of course, I can’t promise that you won’t witness any rude attitude, but after all, we are all people with our own problems and lifestyle. Ukrainians are happy to show a hospitality, so go for it!

INSIGHT: Nowadays, Ukrainians can be very sensitive in the matter of politics. I would recommend avoiding such topics in conversation if you don’t know your opponent well.

I’m a fellow traveller and explorer of Ukraine. Based in Kyiv. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I’m very friendly and always open to discussing new projects, interesting ideas or opportunities to be part of Ukraine.
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