Flying in and out of Ukraine
Last update: July 29, 2010 (info about discount airlines)
Ukraine's main international airport is Kyiv Boryspil (Kiev Borispol), with over 50 international destinations. All other airports in Ukraine offer no more than a dozen international destinations. You can browse existing flights at the KiyAvia site.
Ukrainian cities with airports
|*Kiev has two airports — Boryspil (mostly international flights) and Zhuliany (some domestic flights)|
Prices for domestic flights used to be quite low by western standards, but have now caught up. For example, one can fly from Kiev to most cities around Ukraine for $60-120 USD. Rates are typically for one-way tickets, and return tickets are bought separately. Here is a complete list of prices.
Discount airlines in Ukraine
As of summer 2010 there is just one discount carrier operating in Ukraine: WizzAir. This is wonderful news for cheap air travel to and from Ukraine.
Where to buy plane tickets in Ukraine
Tickets can be bought at KiyAvia offices around Ukraine (English speaking representatives are available) and booked online at their English-language website. WizzAir tickets must be bought through the WizzAir website.
I do not know whether the price of international plane tickets differs if you buy them through KiyAvia as opposed to the airline company itself. Here is a list of all international airline offices in Kiev.
Kyiv Boryspil airport
This is the airport that most international visitors fly through on their way to Ukraine. It is located about 15 km from the southeast edge of Kiev and the nearest metro station ("Boryspilska"), and 40 km from the city center. The airport has a reasonably priced hotel and is in the process of expansion.
Buses to Boryspil airport
I recommend using the comfortable and convenient "Polit" buses that travel from the Kiev train station to Boryspil and back every 20-30 minutes 24 hours a day. Late at night (between 23:00 and 6:00) the bus runs about every hour. Fare is 20 UAH ($4 USD) one way (in 2007); advance reservation is not possible.
The bus starts in front of the southern train station (the new building), has a 5-minute stop next to Ploscha Peremohy ("Victory Square") at a place that's hard to find, and then stops just outside of Kharkivska metro station on its way to Boryspil. The total driving time is from 50 minutes if there's no traffic to 1 hour 20 minutes in heavy traffic. The bus waits directly in front of the right exit of the airport terminal, so it's easy to find. Buses have a baggage compartment.
Taking a taxi to and from Boryspil airport
As you get off the plane and enter the airport commons area, expect to be assaulted by taxi drivers asking up to 300 UAH (near $40 USD) for a taxi ride into Kiev. If you're a hard bargainer, you may get the price down to as low as 120 UAH, but it's better to have someone meet you with a car or just take the Polit bus.
Transportation to and from other airports in Ukraine
No matter what airport you fly into or out of in Ukraine, realize that there are always two general transportation options: "normal" and "VIP." The normal option is a bus or marshrutka (minibus), and the VIP option is to take a costly taxi. The taxi drivers will try to make it seem like there is no other way to get into town but by taxi, or that the bus is "unreliable" or "uncomfortable," but don't take their word for it. The vast majority of Ukrainians save money and choose the "normal" option.
It makes sense to take a taxi if: 1) you don't know how to get to your destination in town by normal means, 2) you are carrying too much luggage to get on the metro or carry yourself, or 3) if the consequences of wrinkling your business suit would be disastrous.