Have you visited the cities of Kyiv, Lviv, and Odesa? Great, then it’s time to dive deeper into Ukraine. In the west of the country you will find the Carpathians, a mountain range that extends over Ukraine and four more countries. It is a Ukrainian region that is not so well known with the international tourist, but the Ukrainians have been enjoying holidays in the Carpathians for years. Fresh air, a green sloping landscape, and charming towns. This is a great destination for hiking and culture lovers. As for charming little towns, I can recommend visiting the multicultural town of Mukachevo. In this post I will share the top things to do in Mukachevo.
The Hungarian roots of Mukachevo
Mukachevo is a fairly young Ukrainian city. Until 1918 it belonged to the Austro-Hungarian empire and the majority of the population was Hungarian. Back then, the town had a different name: Munkács. Also, half of the population was Jewish, so the main languages were Hungarian and Yiddish. In the period between the First and Second World War, the city was part of Czechoslovakia. After World War II, the city was annexed by the Soviet Union. The gap following the deportation of the Jewish population in World War Two was filled with Ukrainian and Russian immigrants. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became an independent country in 1991, and Mukachevo became part of the new Zakarpattia province.
So in short: Mukachevo has a rich multicultural history and that alone makes it already an interesting place to visit.
How did we end up in Mukachevo?
We had plans to travel from Lviv (Ukraine) to Kosice (Slovakia). There is a direct train connection between these two cities, but this train leaves in Lviv at 3 am. To avoid this horrible night train ride, we decided to split our route to Slovakia into two parts. There are two options. Either we traveled via Uzhgorod (5 to 6 hours by train from Lviv) and then by bus to Kosice (4 hours travel time). Or we traveled via Mukachevo (4 hours by train from Lviv) and then by bus to Kosice (5 hours travel time). Even though Uzhgorod is closer to the Slovakian border, I still chose Mukachevo. The sights in this city looked really interesting!
Also, we didn’t take the train from Lviv to Mukachevo, but we used Bla Bla Car. This is a carpool service, where you buy a seat in a car that drives to or past your destination. We joined a family who drove from Lviv to their home town Berehove. Father and mother didn’t speak English. Luckily, their teenage daughter didn’t mind acting as a translator during the ride. It was an unforgettable ride and we even received an invitation to visit Berehove. Maybe someday!
What to do in Mukachevo?
Mukachevo is a small town. You can do all the sightseeing in one day. However, we decided to stay for two nights and it was perfect. This town has a relaxed atmosphere, a photogenic center, and an interesting multicultural history. All in all, it is a great rest stop on the way to Slovakia, Hungary, or further into Ukraine.
Stare at the mint green City Hall
The first photo I saw of Mukachevo was that of City Hall. I fell in love and could not wait to see this magnificent building in real life. It did not disappoint. The City Hall of Mukachevo was built in the beautiful style of Habsburg architecture. The most striking detail is the color. I could not get used to the minty green color. No matter how many times I walked past this building, I kept staring at it. You can find the City Hall at Dukhnovicha Street 2.
The center of Mukachevo runs from the Pushkina street via Kyryla i Mefodiia Square to Myru Street. This area is a car-free zone. In the city center you can also find these sights:
- St. Martin of Tours Cathedral: a Roman Catholic church with a beige color. The church has a strong Hungarian link and has a 100-year-old Hungarian organ inside. You can find this church on Myru street 2.
- Chimney Sweeper statue: a statue of a local chimney sweeper. Locals believe the statue brings good luck. If you touch the head of the cat, your wishes will come true.
- Orthodox church: a beautiful church with three pointy green chapels. You can find this church on Fedorova Street 2.
Find all the minis & geese
The city center of Mukachevo is not only photogenic, but it is also full of statues. At Pushkina Street you can find several historical monuments as well as a couple of other interesting statues. One of them is the mini sculpture of the Hungarian hero Ferenc Rakoczi II. The location is no coincidence, because until the Second World War this square was also called Ferenc Rakoczi. This is not the only mini sculpture by local artist Mikhail Kolodok. On Uzhhorodska street and at Palanok Castle you find more minis. Kolodok also carried out a second project in Mukachevo: the ‘goose route’. These are three bronze statues of geese dressed as a photographer, tourist, and brewer. In total, the city plans to create eleven sculptures. The reason why they choose the goose, is because this animal is one of the symbols of the holy St. Martin.
Wander through the Palanok Castle
This was the second reason why I chose Mukachevo over Uzhgorod: the Palanok Castle. In the fourteenth century, this castle was the seat of the Kingdom of Hungary. The position is particularly photogenic: on top of a 68-meter high volcanic hill. If you have a drone, it must be amazing to capture it from the sky. It is a giant castle consisting of three parts. After entering you walk from the lower section to the middle and upper section and you have different viewpoints. However, I didn’t think the castle rooms were that interesting. In my opinion, the exhibition looked outdated. The best thing about this castle is walking around and discovering the different wings.
Entrance fee Palanok Castle: 50 UAH. You can find the Palanok Castle on Hrafa fon Shenborna Street 42.
Tip: to get to the castle, hop on minibus number 3 from Myru street. You cannot buy tickets on the bus, you have to buy them at the kiosk. Make sure you have small notes because they cannot exchange big notes. The bus ticket is a receipt with a bar code that you have to scan when you get on the bus. Don’t board at the driver’s door, but in the middle. For returning to the city: buy bus tickets in the mini-market near the bus stop.
Time left? Extra sightseeing tips
- Saint Nicholas Monastery: this is a mint green Orthodox church along the water. Mukachevo clearly has a soft spot for mint green! The church is easy to reach. Follow the Latorica river from the Uzhhorodska bridge for about 20 to 30 minutes and you are there. You can find the monastery on Vasily Pronina street 2.
- Schonborn Palace: fifteen kilometers from Mukachevo you will find the castle of the Austrian Count of Schonborn. Today, it is the sanatorium. You can find the palace at Park Sanatorium Karpaty.
- Wine tasting in Celtic Yard: the Transcarpathian region is known for its wines. The wine tradition is linked to the Celts, who lived in this area centuries ago and supposedly produced wines. You can find the Celtic Yard on Pidlavochna street 1.