Volyn region is replete with beauty: where to unwind in nature and see history
Hidden in the middle of Polissia forests, shrouded in legends from the pages of Lesya Ukrainka's works, the Volyn region has a long and rich (almost thousand-year, as you can imagine!) history from the times of Kyivan Rus. Not only numerous architectural and historical monuments have been preserved in a small region that hides the secrets of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish Commonwealth, but also unique nature-made objects that will enchant any traveler.
🏰 Cultural landmarks
Anyway, most travelers begin their experience of Volyn from Lutsk, an ancient Kyivan Rus city. One of the city's gems is Lutsk Castle, the oldest building in the city. At first glance, it may seem that you've seen this castle somewhere… Well, if you open your wallet, you can see it on a 200-hryvnia banknote. The castle was founded in 1340 and served as the residence of princes, and after the unification of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1569, the castle became the residence of the king in Volyn Voivodeship. Today, Lubart's Castle, as it's often called, is one of the oldest and best-preserved in Ukraine, with a tower overlooking the surrounding area and with a museum of bells and a museum of printed books inside. Here you can feel like a medieval knight and a respectable lady from the time of Lithuanian rule, and climbing the high walls of the castle will be great fun for both children and adults.
How to get there: Lubart Castle is located in Lutsk at 1A Kafedralna Street
Volodymyr was the glorious capital of the Galician princes and is now considered one of the oldest settlements in all of Ukraine (the first record was in the "Tale of Bygone Years" in 988). In Volodymyr-Volynskyi, everything breathes with history. Each epoch has left its traces here, including on architecture, so fans of ancient churches will have something to please their eye. Among the most interesting buildings of the city is the white-stone Assumption Cathedral of the time of Mstislav Iziaslavych with the bishop's palace and bell tower (XII century), St. Basil's Rotunda Church (XII-XIV centuries), which has no analogs in world architecture, the Church of Joachim and Anna (XVIII century), St. Nicholas Church (XVIII century). You should also visit the earthen castle ramparts (XIII-XIV centuries), the Lutheran Church, the Dominican Monastery, and the Chapel of St. Volodymyr.
How to get there: the city is located 75 km from Lutsk on the H22 highway, the most convenient way to get there is your car or intercity bus.
Near Volodymyr, in the village of Zymne, there's one of Ukraine's oldest monasteries, Sviatohirskyi Assumption Monastery (X century), which was built by Prince Volodymyr; it was his residence. The entire complex consists of the Assumption Cathedral (XV century), several churches, caves of the XI-XII centuries, defensive monastery walls with towers (XV century), and a bell tower. The main shrine of the monastery is the Zymne Icon of the Mother of God, which is considered to be healing. In addition, there was an ancient settlement (VI-IX centuries) near the monastery at one time. We won't leave out in the cold the landscapes that open from here to the valley of the Luha river and Volodymyr-Volynskyi.
How to get there: the village is located 10 kilometers from the center of Volodymyr-Volynskyi, can be reached by car, bus or bicycle from Volodymyr.
Sacred objects, besides being spiritual content, can be beautiful. Video with the surroundings of the monastery here:
The city of Olyka is one of the oldest cities in Volyn, along with Lutsk and Volodymyr-Volynskyi. The first record of the city was in the Hypatian Codex in 1149, and although now the size of the city isn't impressive, the number of historical monuments per 1 square meter may make Olyka the most attractive place in the region. After accepting the Magdeburg right in the 16th century, the city became the residence of a noble Radziwill family, who lived here until 1939. Today, the Radziwill castle, the Trinity Church with a magnate's tomb (XVII century), which is considered the most stunning in Volyn, the ancient Church of Peter and Paul (XV century), which adorns the portal with a triangular pediment, the baroque Church of Purification of St. Mary (XVII century), which is the oldest Orthodox church in Olyka, reminds us of ancient glory. Of course, it's difficult to hide the consequences of the war and Soviet rule, but this town fascinates and transports guests to the distant centuries of its flourishing past.
How to get there: the city is located in Kivertsi district, 40 km from Lutsk, at the intersection of roads between Rivne, Dubno, and Lutsk, the most convenient way to get there is your vehicle or intercity bus.
This small town, located in the south of the Volyn region, is known to everyone from history textbooks because it was the location of the largest battle between the army of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi and Poland during the National Liberation War in the middle of the XVII century. According to historical sources, the number of Poles was about 300 thousand people, and Ukrainians with Crimean Tatars were up to 130 thousand. In fact, most of the monuments of Berestechko are connected with the Cossack times. Thus, the "Cossack Graves" memorial was erected in 1914 on the site of the battle. This complex includes the St. George's Monastery (XX century), the wooden St. Michael's Church (XVII century), and the pantheon of fallen Cossacks. Be sure to visit Berestechko and the Church of the Holy Trinity (XVII century), which is part of the eponymous cathedral (XX century); both impress with their grandeur and elegance. Also near Berestechko, there's the local "sea," Khrinnyky reservoir, the largest artificial water body in the region.
How to get there: the city is located in the Horokhiv district, 65 km from Lutsk, the most convenient way to get there is by car or intercity bus.
Sites of Lesya Ukrainka
Lesya Ukrainka (Larysa Kosach) was born in the Zhytomyr region, but spent her childhood and youth in Volyn, so she's considered one of the most prominent residents of this region. There are many places associated with her and named after her, and one of the most significant ones in her life was the estate near the village of Kolodiazhne near Kovel, where Lesya spent her childhood and began writing her first works. Today there's a museum named after her. Also in the Kovel district, namely in the Nechymne area (20 km from Kovel), there's another museum of Lesya Ukrainka. It's interesting that in this area, the poet spent the entire summer and later described it in "Forest Song." Another museum operates in Lutsk, on Drahomanova Street, where Lesya's father once lived and she spent several months of her life there.
How to get there: the village of Kolodiazhne is located 65 km from Lutsk, on the way to the town of Kovel. The best way to get there is by car or intercity bus.
🌳 Places for outdoor recreation
In terms of popularity, this place isn't inferior to the most famous Ukrainian resorts. The National Nature Park, created in 1983, is a group of about 25 lakes, some of which are among the largest in Ukraine. Lake Svitiaz is the deepest in Ukraine, over 58 meters (it's information for those who like to collect the best places)! The lakes are known for their great recreation opportunities. There are both children's camps and a variety of accommodation for any budget. The rich nature of the national park allows you to fully enjoy Polissia because, besides crystal clear lakes, it's also a nesting place for numerous birds, a fish habitat, and extensive areas of deciduous forests. On the lakes, you can dive into passive recreation, as well as more active one: boating, kayaking, hiking, wakeboarding, and cycling. And don't forget, August is the last summer month when you can try something new.
How to get there: Shatsk Lakes are located 160 km from the city of Lutsk. It's most convenient to get there by vehicle or intercity bus.
You can enjoy the scenery here:
Lake Luka near Liutka Village
In addition to the popular Shatsk Lakes, there are many other places in Volyn where you can enjoy relaxing by the water among forests and endless plains. One of such places is the picturesque Lake Luka, which, at first glance, is nothing special, but it still conquers us with the quiet surroundings, magnificent nature, and the lack of many tourists, as in the Shatsk Lakes. And if you have the opportunity to stay here in tents, then this place in good weather has an incredible view of the Milky Way at night.
How to get there: The lake is located on the outskirts of the village of Liutka, Stara Vyzhivka district, 125 km from Lutsk. It is best to get your vehicle on the E85 highway.
Prypiat-Stokhid National Nature Park
The picturesque nature park, located among the Polissia forests, reminds many travelers of the Amazon. Indeed, the Stokhid river has a hundred courses; together with Pripyat, numerous branches and straits make it an ideal place for rafting and enjoying nature. Shrubs and forests that descend close to the shore hide many plants and animals listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. In such places, you can connect with nature as much as possible and relax your mind from the noise of big cities.
How to get there: The national park is located 160 km from Lutsk on the highway P14 near the border with Belarus, the most convenient way to get there is your car.
The Okonsk springs are called the "Volyn miracle" because the natural springs of karst water, rich in minerals, hit the surface and create a unique hydrological object, which is now a reserve. The water here is so pure that they breed king trout in the ponds around the springs, the fish, most demanding on water quality. (In Ukraine, there are several places where this fish survives in natural conditions, one of which is Okonsk springs). In addition, there are several exciting features; the water isn't aerated and the temperature is maintained at 8-9 degrees all year round, even in severe frosts. The water, meanwhile, is surprisingly tasty; according to legend, the springs were even a stop for the troops of Severin Nalyvaiko and Bohdan Khmelnytskyi. That's why stopping here is a must-do for those on the road: you can take water with you because its freshness is preserved even for a few days.
How to get there: Okonsk springs are located in the south of Okonsk, Manevychi district, Volyn region, 70 km from Lutsk on the P14 highway; it's most convenient to get there by your vehicle.