Last Updated December, 2020
I have never ever thought that I would ever, ever write about my hometown Khmelnytskyi. This small provincial city in Ukraine is not really famous for anything and has no historical value. Locals, not to say foreigners, almost never visit and don’t know much about it. Yet, I thought why not write a few words and let you take a look at this destination through the eyes of a local. Let’s give it a credit. Even though Khmelnitskyi is not that special, it is nice.
Khmelnytskyi (Khmelnitsky, or Khmelnitskyi, different people refer to it differently) is conveniently located between Ternopil and Vinnytsia and on the main highway between Kyiv and Chernivtsi. Train from Kyiv to Lviv as well as many other trains stop there which makes it easy to spend a few hours or an entire day in this city before continuing your journey.
Some foreign guests come to Khmelnytskyi to teach English, volunteer, participate in various events, or with a medical tourism purpose. If you are one of those guests and don’t know much about what to expect, I hope this post will shed some light.
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Short History Of Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Nowadays the large and densely populated city of Khmelnitsky was once a small settlement. The first mention of it occurs in the 15th century but back then it was called Ploskirov or Ploskirovets. For three centuries when the city was part of Poland, it served as the center of a small (at that time) region. It had a modest production, different fairs, and the development of handicrafts. Yet, the importance of the city for a long time was quite small.
The population of Ploskirov for many centuries did not exceed three thousand people. During the same time, as a small estate, it belonged to a noble family who significantly advanced the development of trade and crafts. Ploskirov started to prosper and gain fame thanks to the solid production of carpets. However, throughout many years, different wars were devastating the land, turning it into a battlefield and bringing it down.
Since 1795 the city became part of the Russian Empire and later part of the USSR.
In 1822, a terrible fire burned out almost everything. And until 1870, a year when the railway was built, life was pretty tough. However, with a new railway road, the influx of a new population started to grow and everything began to actively change.
Gradually, factories (and breweries) started to pop up around the city, offering new jobs and attracting more people. At the same time, with the bigger population, in 1892, the first theater was opened along with a school, women’s gymnasium, and a commercial school.
In 1954, Proskuriv received a new name. In honor of the leader of the War of Independence Bohdan Khmelnytsky, people started to call it Khmelnytsky too. From this year on, the city began to actively build up and all the buildings erected during that time are the face of modern Khmelnitsky. This is the reason why many structures and apartment complexes look soviet today.
Quick Facts About Khmelnytskyi
And here are a few facts about Khmelnitskyi city to give you an idea of what it is like.
– Modern-day Khmelnytskyi is home to over 200 thousand people. To be exact, at the end of 2020 the population was 273 thousand.
– Khmelnytskyi is a small compact city. It is growing quickly and attracting young families with kids. A bigger population includes people 25-45 years old. Many young people live here and choose to return after graduation in other cities.
– The center of the city is very small. It has a main pedestrian street (Proskurivska Street) with various cafes, restaurants, and stores. Also, there are a few green areas nearby with two large parks (Shevchenko Park and Park Chekmana on the waterfront), they are clean and neat.
– The city authorities try to take care of the environment. They encourage electric vehicles, recycle garbage, keep greenspaces chemical-free, and plant pollinator-friendly plants.
– There is a mix of different styles of architecture here. Although there are many buildings from the beginning of the last century and USSR times, they are gradually being replaced by new modern construction.
– Khmelnistky is considered one of the best cities to live in Ukraine. Among all Ukrainian cities, it has the lowest cost of living, cheap goods and services, and high earnings among the residents. The crime rate is low and the city is safe.
– It is quiet and cozy, has many parks and squares as well as hundreds of cafes, coffee houses, and fancy restaurants. For a city with less than 300,000 population, having so many dining establishments is pretty extraordinary. Although, it is still not Lviv or Kyiv where the number of cafes is completely mind-blowing.
– Khmelnytsky provides excellent conditions for entrepreneurs. It is a fantastic destination to come to open a new business while having a quiet, slow-paced lifestyle.
– While there are not many architectural wonders or historical monuments (like in other cities), Khmelnitsky region is rich with gorgeous nature and smaller towns. It has a lot to offer to a tourist. Kam’yanets-Podil’skyi, Medzhybizh, or Bakota are just some of those spots. If you have a car, you can drive to places that people from all over Ukraine come to see.
– For years, Khmelnitsky had a poor recreation area. But many things changed and improved. Today, the city has all what it needs to provide residents with many opportunities for recreation. Sports grounds, basketball courts, soccer fields, playgrounds for kids, benches, fountains, biking paths, a nice public beach, and even a waterpark are all those details that make a living here more comfortable.
– Among the problems or disadvantages of the city is the pollution of the Pivdennyi Bug River. However, a local mayor (who got elected for the fourth time) is doing a lot for the city. One of his projects for the next couple of years is to clean up the river. He is now repairing old roads, greening up the city, improving infrastructure, and creating more comfortable conditions for a living. So hopefully the situation with the river will change soon too.
What Can You Expect From Khmelnytskyi City?
To be able to receive an answer to this question, it would be better to understand at first what is the goal of your trip.
Are you coming for a day before heading to Kam’yanets-Podilskyi or Bakota? Do you plan to visit a friend or volunteer during the summer? Would you like to get medical treatment or consult a doctor? Or perhaps you are seriously considering to move to Khmelnytskyi or open a business here. Depending on the reason, this city can surprise or disappoint you.
If you are a tourist and thinking to check out a new city in Ukraine, Khmelnitskyi can be really a nice place to stop at on the way to another destination. Other than that, coming here independently from the opposite side of the country just for a few days won’t give you much. Unless you plan to combine a tour with a visit to a doctor, shopping, or road trip in the region.
Khmelnytskyi Has the Cheapest Shopping in Ukraine
When it comes to shopping, Khmelnitsky has a huge wholesale clothing market with an area of 6 sq. km. There, prices for clothing and footwear are usually two or three times lower than anywhere else in Ukraine. While each year the market slowly decreases in size, it still offers a wide range of goods from various countries at very good prices.
Traditionally, residents of the capital and other regions come to Khmelnitsky for shopping and some agencies even organize shop tours on weekends. Good rail and road connections with other regions only contribute to the influx of buyers into the market.
It Also Has the Cheapest Real Estate
Along with the wholesale market, the real estate market is developing very well too. You can easily buy a new flat in one of 77 new buildings at various stages of construction for about $10-$15 thousand. A newly renovated 1-bedroom apartment in a new building with all new furniture in the central part of the city costs between $35-$40 thousand. The same apartment away from the center will cost $25-$35 thousand.
For many people who have funds and plan to live in Ukraine, Khmelnytskyi can be a good city to invest in real estate. The pace of life is slow and people are relaxed. And the city is developing and has potential.
If you also plan to move here to go to University or work as a digital nomad, you can expect to find cheap flats for rent ($150-$200 per month for a nice furnished apartment) and excellent Internet.
Khmelnytskyi Has Favorable Geographic Location
Khmelnitskyi as a city is built in a very good location. It is in the middle between important cities and within only a few hours from beautiful nature. Making a base here is very convenient for people who want to live in a quiet small city while being able to travel from time to time.
If a few years ago going to a town or village within Khmelnitsky region was a challenge due to the horrible condition of roads, these days the situation is changing significantly. The Ukrainian government is building roads and getting places now is much easier and quicker. Also, with an excellent railway connection, it provides a high level of transport accessibility.
Recently, Mark and I went on a road trip to the Carpathian Mountains through Chernivtsi and it took us only 6 hours to get there (in the past it could take 10 minimum). On the way to the Carpathians, there were dozens of landmarks and natural wonders worth seeing. Khmelnitskyi region on its own has countless attractions that you’d want to explore on day trips or weekend getaways. Chernivtsi, Kam’yanets, Sataniv (wellness city), Ternopil, Rivne are all places that it’s easy to get to.
As well as Kyiv, Lviv, or Odesa. You can easily hop on a high-speed train and be in a new city within a few hours only. Romania and Moldava are also a short drive away. The authorities also invest in building the airport, so hopefully, in a few years, Khmelnytskyi will be well-connected with other Ukrainian and European cities.
It Is An Attractive City For Starting a Business
For foreigners who look to get a residency based on investment in the business, Khmelnytskyi can be a great pick. The local government is doing a lot to support small businesses and simplify the procedure for obtaining permits. Among some main features are:
– Simplification of state registration of business entities.
– Relatively high-quality of the labor force and availability of a skilled workforce on the market.
– The largest wholesale center in Ukraine retail.
– The procedure of buying land is also more simple than in other regions.
Of course, you still have to face local bureaucracy here. As a foreigner, you’d need to hire a lawyer and translator. But overall, the procedure for opening a business in Khmelnytskyi is more straightforward and simple.
Things to Do in Khmelnytskyi
The center is rather small and easy to walk around in a few hours. The center basically includes Proskurivska Street with adjacent streets, Shevchenko Square and Park Chekmana. In good weather, you can rent a bike and cruise around the city, going all the way to the Ozerna neighborhood and Dendropark.
If you have time, visit the Museum of Khmelnistkyi city (better with a guide) or the Museum of Photography. The second one has a huge collection of cameras, including ancient Soviet copies and a number of very interesting photos.
On a summer or early fall day, outdoorsy souls will enjoy Bilyy Krolyk Serf Cafe. Besides a super cozy atmosphere by the river with amazing views, it also rents out kayaks and paddleboards. But to be honest, I love this spot at any time of the year. Coffee, views, and atmosphere are always fantastic.
For the best coffee, stop at Feelin’ Good Coffee on Proskurivs’koho Pidpillya St, 79. These guys have amazing croissants and just the best coffee (almond and coconut milk is on offer too). Right around the corner is another coffee place Elephant with a lovely atmosphere, good coffee, and gingerbread. Their second location is HOME by Feelin’good on Volodymyrs’ka St, 71.
For very good pierogi and dumplings, I recommend Pel’meni-Varenyky on Proskurivs’ka St, 45. Gastrocafe Craft has delicious burgers and Mr. Lou restaurant is offering Chinese food (with Chinese owner and cooks).
But to speak frankly, there are many more excellent restaurants and cafes around the city. You can easily walk in any of them on Proskurivs’ka street and get something delicious at a good price. The only problem is that the majority don’t speak English, so you may need to use a translator to read the menu.
Best Hotels in Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
To be honest, Khmelnytskyi doesn’t have a lot of outstanding hotels. There are just a few and I include them on the list.
Arena Hotel – one of a few hotels in the city with the best service and highest level of comfort. It is somewhat pricey for a city of this level but the hotel is modern, clean, and has an excellent location. There is an option to book a room with breakfast and a jacuzzi.
DREAM Hostel – although it is not a hotel, I still wanted to mention a few words about this property. Here, you’ll find not only bunk beds but beautiful brand new rooms for 2 or 4 people. Overall, the property is very clean, nicely decorated, and cozy. Plus, it has the best location as it’s facing the main pedestrian Proskurivs’ka St. All main venues are within walking distance.
Lybid – Plaza – a boutique hotel in a very central location with very good service. They have comfortable rooms with all essentials, a restaurant with international food, kids’ playroom, and entertainment. For the hotel of this level in the center, prices are very decent.
Lovely Studio in the Center With the City View – and here is a new cozy studio apartment on the central street with a beautiful view. Clean, comfy, cozy, and comes at a very good price.