How to visit Chernobyl Ukraine – 5 essential things to know before you go


What’s it like to visit a place that has been made uninhabitable by a nuclear disaster?  How to visit Chernobyl, Ukraine and is Chernobyl safe to visit? Can anything live there? The answers might just surprise you. Read what it’s like to visit one of the most infamous disaster sites of modern history. It is one of the most well known dark tourism sights in Europe. Can you actually visit Chernobyl and what to know before you go.


Can you actually visit Chernobyl Pripyat Ukraine
A tree sprouts through the rubble in Pripyat’s main square



History of Chernobyl


Soviet soldier mural at Chernobyl


In the midst of the cold war the Soviet Union were going full steam ahead with the nuclear race against the West. Unfortunately strict deadlines and a no nonsense approach to consequences for those responsible for delays meant corners were cut. None so disastrously evident as the building of Chernobyl nuclear power plant. During testing to shut down the reactor no. 4 in the event of an emergency, a true disaster unfolded. Quickly becoming one of the worst man made disasters in history. The events that followed furthered the casualties with the Soviet leaders refusing to admit to what had happened or take any responsibility. Until a station in Sweden pinpointed the origin of the radiation now sweeping across Europe. Without the unwittingly suicidal actions of the brave emergency services further reactors would have been affected and the whole of Europe wiped out.


Duga radar Chernobyl Ukraine


It’s estimated that the amount of radioactive material was 400 times more than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Where is Chernobyl?


Chernobyl sits in the mid north of Ukraine. A two hour drive from the capital, one of my favourite cities with it’s post soviet charm and ample things to do in Kiev and close to the border with Belarus. Did you know that more towns in Belarus were actually affected by the disaster then in Ukraine itself? It is a full day trip with several sites to visit such as Pripyat town (a purpose built Soviet town for plant workers), Duga Radar (the largest of its time), the red forest, the nuclear power plant, Chernobyl city itself as well as an old school and some rural areas.


Visit Duga Radar Chernobyl

The ‘over the horizon detection system’ was built as an early warning system against nuclear attack. It stands at 492 feet high and 2300 feet long.

The final death toll is estimated at 4000 people, from cancers and radiation poisoning.

World Health Organisation

What is Chernobyl like?



It is something that has to be seen to be believed. Nowhere have I felt more angry at the human race but also totally astounded by nature’s ability to recover. Buildings lay abandoned and ransacked while trees sprout from the rubble. Horses put there to ‘test’ livability now thrive and roam freely. Bears, deer, moose, and even stray dogs call this place, uninhabitable by human standards, home. It’s tragic, depressing, incomprehensible and uplifting all at the same time. A truly unique place to gain a different perspective of the world.


Abandoned soviet mural Pripyat


How to visit Chernobyl Ukraine/ How much does it cost to visit Chernobyl?


Reactor number 4 how to visit Chernobyl Ukraine
Reactor number 4; now encased in the worlds largest movable structure.


It is best to visit Chernobyl with an organised tour like Chernobyl tours. Tours to Chernobyl start at $99 for a full day. You will cross a border style checkpoint where passports are required and you are given a dosimeter to check radiation levels. Wear long sleeves and covered clothing to reduce saturation in to the skin. You can actually visit Chernobyl reactor number 4, so there is definitely some exposure due to the close proximity.


Chernobyl tours
Pripyat’s theme park was never actually operational as the events of April 26 1986 meant it never opened.

Are there places to eat in Chernobyl? Top tip – Bring you’re own snacks and lunch. There is one Soviet style canteen in the zone which you can see without having to eat in. Best avoided unless you’re into re-hydrated, mass prepared food!


Is it safe to visit Chernobyl?


Chernobyl tours is it safe to visit Chernobyl


If you’re very concerned probably best not to go! But levels have been lowered with activities such as topsoil removal, and tours are cancelled if there are events like forest fires that could disrupt the radiation levels. Metal in particular seems to hold the radiation so best not to touch anything hey. But the guides are mad enough to return every day so it can’t be that dangerous to visit Chernobyl!


Can you actually visit Chernobyl?


Ca you actually visit Chernobyl Ukraine


Of course. Go everywhere. See everything. Expand your knowledge of the world and be a better human because of it! Visiting Hiroshima in Japan gave me some invaluable insight in to the effect that the use of nuclear has had and is still having on the world. Chernobyl really brought this home and is a shocking example of the impact we can have on the world. But it is also an amazing and unique example of how nature can recover and even thrive without human intervention. It really is quite an intense day out that you won’t be forgetting in a hurry!


Staying in Kiev? Check out these posts on the top 5 places to eat in Kiev as well as the top 10 weird things to do in Kiev, Ukraine!


How To Visit Chernobyl 2022
Ukraine Map
Check out all the best bits of our trip to the Ukraine here on Google maps.

How to travel better for less

Skyscanner – For flights at the best prices this is my go to site. I have also started using them for car hire and they can’t be beat! – I always book with this site if looking for cheap accommodation as the filters are so easy to use. Become a genius member after five bookings and get great discounts too!

Air BnB – Sometimes you can find great local places to stay on Air BnB. In some countries, like Cuba, it’s the only way to book!

Transferwise – A debit card you can use all over the world and get great exchange rates with no hidden fees. This bank has saved me £100’s in bank fees!

Monzo – A similar travel card to the above with additional features like joint accounts and bill splitting.

World Nomads – Travel insurance is one of the most important things you can have while travelling. Don’t leave home without it! World Nomads provide the very best cover.

Ethical Superstore – My go to site for cleaning products, eco clothing and even groceries. All ethically tagged and delivered free from plastic packaging. Plus eco friendly alternatives to your toiletries.

Omio – The place to go for all of your public transport needs in Europe. Save a bundle!

G Adventures – A sustainable, fun, responsible travel company. I’ve travelled with them many times and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their amazing trips.

Contiki – The day job. Group travel for 18/35 year olds and memories to last a lifetime.

Hey, some links in this post are to affiliate sites. If you purchase something through them, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

A note on Amazon Affiliates – LW no longer uses this program, instead focusing on eco friendly alternatives. Read the reasons why here. LW will not profit from any links that may remain on this site. Please advise us if you spot any. Thanks!

Travel like a pro

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Lost Wanders gives you the tools you need to know right now to work less and travel more.

Jo Williams

A Brit that got fed up of the 9 to 5 corporate life, I sold everything to become a full time wanderer. Having travelled to over 70 countries so far, I share my money-saving tips and secrets from inside the travel industry. Hoping to inspire you to work less and travel more.

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