Chernivtsi, like every city in the region, has a long and complicated history. A fortress existed here before the 13th century, butwas destroyed by Mongol invasion, later the settlement was part of Poland, Moldavia and Austria-Hungary (Chernivtsi was the capital of one of the regions - Bukovina, this was the time of greatest development). In 20th century Chernivtsi belonged to Romania, USSR and, since 1991, independent Ukraine.
The city was always very multinational, with the characteristic groups being Jews, Ukrainians, Romanians, Germans, Poles, and Roma, among others. In 1930, Jews were 27% of the population; today, it's 1.2%. During WWII Chernivtsi was captured by both sides. During the rule of Romanian military dictator Ion Antonescu, who was an Axis member and who cooperated with the Nazis, around 50,000 Bukovinian Jews were put in the local Ghetto and later moved to concentration camps. Romanian city mayor Traian Popovici and army officers were able to save 20,000 Chernivtsi Jews.
Chernivtsi has its own small airport. As of March 31, 2014, there are no scheduled flights serving the airport due to the recent political turmoil.
You can get to Chernivtsi by train either from Romania or from within Ukraine. The train from Kiev or Lviv is probably the best option as they are comfortable and cheap.
There are frequent minibuses from Lviv to Chernivtsi (costing UAH 106 as of end-2011). One daily bus serves Chernivtsi from Suceava. The bus from Chernivtsi to Suceava (UAH 68 as of end-2011) leaves at 07:00 every day arriving in Suceava in Romania around 10:30-11:00 depending on the number of people on the bus and therefore the time spent crossing the border. The central bus station is NOT close to the train station, but cabs are very cheap in Chernivtsi.
The city centre is small and you can manage it all by foot.
The old town is mainly of Baroque style. Most of Chernivtsi's attractions are located within the historical centre. Some of the centre is a pedestrian zone.
Main Square The town hall, the Museum of Arts, Taras Shevchenko monument, the old post office.
Chernivtsi National University the complex built in 19th century in historicist style used to be the palace of the Governor of Bukovina (in 2011 the residence was inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List). It is now open for visitors only in the afternoon. You can also visit its gardens and two churches.
The German Houseconcentrated cultural activities of the German speaking inhabitants of the city. Now although their number decreased signifigantly it is still active.
Old Synagogue now a cinema.
Old Bristol Hotel now a medical student dormitory
New Synagogue still active
Old Court of Justice now a seat of state administration
Russian Orthodox Church at the Russian Street
Monument of the Red Army in WWII Nearby is the Regional Museum and Chernivtsi biggest Orthodox Church.
Armenian Church now a concert hall
Saint Nikolay Orthodox Church, with twisted towers
Chernivsti Museum of Arts near the town hall. Exhibits local art from the 19th and 20th Centuries as well as regional applied arts.
Chernivtsi Municipal Museum dedicated to local history and natural history.
Ethnological Museum documenting rural life in Bukovina. This museum is located out the city centre.
Museum of Ukrainian Diaspora This museum focuses on the Ukrainian emmigration from Bukovina, but also shows some cultural exponents from the German diaspora in Chernivtsi.
Chernivtsi Museum of Bukovynian Jewish History and Culture, Teatralna square, 5/1. The Museum of Bukovynian Jewish History and Culture invites you to make a trip through time and feel the atmosphere of Jewish life in Bukovina in 1774-1941. The exhibition reflects the foundation, expansion and latterly decline of the Jewish community in the area. You’ll get the opportunity to see the unique documents and materials, authentic objects of the everyday life, exhibits of sacred objects and also you’ll get to know about the rich Jewish architectural heritage of the region.
Videnska Kava (Вiденськакава), vul. Kobylyanskoi. A coffee house with impressive dessert selection and wide variety of coffees and teas served.
There is a good Sushi bar near the theatre.
Café Français, ВУЛ. Українська 1, зі сторони Шептицького (near the city center), ☎ 51 84 33. 12h00-23h00 / 12pm-11pm. You can eat some french food in a very good restaurant. The "filet mignon with gratin dauphinois" is very delicious. The interior decoration is also french.
Винный погреб граф Воронцов (wine cellar Count Vorontsov, Sh. Aleyhema 11, Chernivtsi, ☎ (0372) 51-53-12. Situated in the very center of Chernivtsi, this is a very good place to settle down for a hearty meal at affordable prices in a 19th century decor.5-10 euro per person.
Chocolat, Kobylyans'koi St. (Walk down the street, and you'll see a big sign with Chocolat (in Cyrillic)). They have extremely thick chocolate here (served with a little bit of water to thin it a little). A must for chocolate lovers.
TIU Chernivtsi Backpackers, Apt 3 Sheptytskogo no 2 (Short bus ride from the train station), ☎ +380508857049, . checkin: 12.00; checkout: 11.00. We are English and Ukrainian owned and the best located hostel in Chernivtsi just 60 seconds from the central square you can book for free without booking charges via or own website. We can arrange English speaking tours of the Fortress at Khotin and Kamyanets Podilski We also make BBQs and excursions to the Carpathion Mountains Our hostel has a 12 bed dorm and private double bed room, the common room has computers, plasma tv with surround sound with english speaking channels and the kitchen is fully equipped.Dorm bed 10 - 11 EUR.
Hotel Bukovina, Holovna str 141 - This hotel is extremely well appointed for 250 UAH single and 385 UAH double deluxe. Both types of rooms come with a tasty and big breakfast (even by American standards). They are not of communist vintage and they have good refrigerators, flat screens, and lots of 4 star amenities (quality restaurants downstairs, room service, complimentary toiletries). The hotel sits across from the botanical gardens, between the bus station and the train station. Taxis from either should cost around 30 UAH.
Hotel Kiev, Holovna Str, 46. Friendly staff, affordable rooms (250Hr double room) and excellent location.
Ukrainian is nowadays the only official language in all of Ukraine (apart from Crimea) and it is also spoken by most of its population (about 70 percent speak it as their first language). Western Ukraine is also the part of Ukraine in which Ukrainian is indeed the strongest language in everyday life.
Notwithstanding most people you will come across in Chernivtsi will also speak Russian. If you leave to the surrounding villages this situation may change. Everyone understands Russian, but some may respond in Ukrainian, a language they feel more comfortable with. Ukrainian is only partially intelligible with Russian.
If you speak Polish or Slovak you may try it as well since these languages are relatively similar to Ukrainian. There is also a Polish minority in Chernivtsi.
As the entire Bukovina used to belong to Romania prior to WWII a large Romanian population in Northern Bukovina (about 20 percent!) still speaks Romanian. This is true mostly for the areas near the Romanian border, rather than the regional capital. As with other Romanian speakers they can also understand Italian and some other Romance languages to a certain extent.
English and German are the two most common foreign languages in Ukraine (except Russian) although you should not expect finding many speakers of these languages around. Some Jews in Chernivtsi may speak Yiddish which is intelligible with German and there are some elderly native German speakers.
Kamianets-Podilskyi used to be a county capital and still has a well preserved castle. It is about an hour away from Chernivtsi.