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 antiquity. But there is a fantastic beauty of the Pivdennyi Buh River, the charm of many city parks, and romantic coziness of the center.
Ukrainians from other cities and towns, not to say foreigners, rarely visit for tourism purposes 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 and understand its character.
Let’s give it a credit. Even though Khmelnitskyi is not special in any particular way, it is nice and comfortably compact. It’s also very safe and quickly developing. And among all Ukrainian cities, based on various ratings, it is in the top 5 cities where to live in Ukraine. In fact, now during the war, it is one of the safest and best cities where to stay, work, and study.
After living in many places around the world, Mark and I always love returning here to recharge, shop, visit doctors and just enjoy a leisurely lifestyle.
Khmelnytskyi (Khmelnitsky, or Khmelnitskyi, different people refer to it differently) is conveniently located between Ternopil and Vinnytsia and is on the main highway between Kyiv and Chernivtsi. Train from Kyiv to Lviv as well as many other trains stop here which makes it easy to spend a few hours or 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.
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 became the face of modern Khmelnitsky. This is the reason why many structures and apartment complexes look soviet today. Although in the central part, there is still a good presentation of neoclassical architecture.
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 250 thousand people. However, with the beginning of the war, this number increased since many people from Eastern and Southern Ukraine found shelter here when escaping Russian aggression. Also, many companies moved their productions here.
– 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 location here) 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.
– As I mentioned earlier, Khmelnistky is considered one of the best cities where to live in Ukraine. Among all Ukrainian cities, it has one of the lowest costs 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 in Western Ukraine), Khmelnitsky region (in other words Khmelnytskyi oblast) 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 (or rent 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 that 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 is the pollution of the Pivdennyi Bug River. However, a local mayor (who got elected for the fourth time) is improving the city so much. 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 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? Are you on your way to Kyiv-Lviv by train and making a quick stop here? 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 moving to Khmelnytskyi or opening a business here.
If you are a tourist and thinking to check out a new city in Ukraine, Khmelnitskyi can be really a nice place to stop on the way to another destination or where to come to spend a weekend. It’s not really a city for a long vacation, but rather for a multi-city tour, when coming here specifically to see a doctor, go on a road trip in the region, or settle down on a budget while working online.
Khmelnytskyi Offers Cheap Shopping
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
For many reasons, the real estate market here is developing very well. You can easily buy a new flat in one of 77 new buildings at various stages of construction for about $15-$20 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 place to invest in real estate. The pace of life is slow, the city is safe and fast developing (even during the war now it’s one of the safest cities where to be) and in a good location. It is constantly 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 ($200-$250 per month for a nice furnished apartment) with excellent Internet.
As for the area in Khmelnytskyi where to live long term, you’d want to look for neighborhoods such as:
– Ozerna (around the lake relatively young neighborhood. Many residents like this area because next to the residential sector there is a forest where you can relax).
– Micro district Vystavka (several schools, many kindergartens, a large number of supermarkets, markets, entertainment and health facilities. However, most apartment complexes here are old Soviet-looking high-rise buildings. It is very rare to find here new modern homes).
– Lezneve (It is an elite private sector with mainly private two and three-storey houses. Roads are bad in this area and there are fewer shops, you need to have a car when living here).
– Zarichchya (by the river many new modern apartment complexes).
– Dubovo (more private houses than high-rise buildings. Although getting to other neighborhoods from here is difficult).
– Center (area between Gagarina street and Prybuz’ka, all the way to Chekmana Park and even towards the railway station. It is a great place where to live (and stay) in Khmelnytskyi, although some neighborhoods near main roads are too loud during the week).
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, Moldava, and Poland are also a short drive away. So traveling to other countries in Europe is easy. And if you need to fly, reaching Lviv or Kyiv airport is not a problem.
The authorities also invest in building the airport, so hopefully, in a few years, Khmelnytskyi will be well-connected with the world.
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, 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.
Go for a walk to Independence Square, Ivan-Franko Park, and Park Chekmana. On the way to these places, you’ll be passing by information boards that have lots of details about the city, its past and history behind many buildings. So in this way, you’ll be able to go on a self-guided tour, getting a good idea of what Khmelnitskyi is like.
For more stories and tips, stop by the Tourist Center where center assistants can give more information about tourist attractions and local activities.
On a summer or early fall day, outdoorsy souls will enjoy White Rabbit Serf Cafe. It’s one of my favorite places where to get coffee with a view, meditate and go kayaking or paddleboarding on the river. But to be honest, I love this spot at any time of the year. Coffee, views, and atmosphere are always fantastic.
Best Places Where to Eat / Have Coffee in Khmelnytskyi
There are seriously so many places where you can have a big delish meal or enjoy a cup of coffee with sweets. Below are some of my favorite places in and around the center that you’ll enjoy too.
My Favorite Places for Street Coffee
– Veranda coffee – they have decaf, regular coffee, and various coffee drinks with alternative milk, teas, glintwine on a cold day, and many various desserts.
– City espresso – just across the road from Veranda coffee. There is always a long line here to get coffee which (even though it’s really good) is not very hot.
– Kav’yarnya on the Independence Square
– Cozy window – they also have a couple of tables outside during warmer months
Feelin’ Good Coffee – great coffee drinks (alternative milk and decaf available), amazing croissants, and lovely atmosphere. You can sit outside in the shade of trees and wrap up in a blanket even on a chilly day.
They also have another location HOME by Feelin’good with more food options and bigger indoor space. I like to sit by the panoramic window and have a view of the park.
Kavomolka – different types of coffee drinks (coconut, almond, banana milk available), desserts, and antique design. I often spend here a few hours while reading or surfing the Internet.
Mamyn Khlib – not really a coffee shop, more a bakery-cafe that I also love, located a few steps away from Kavomolka shop mentioned above. They specialize in strudels and cornflour pancakes. We like coming here for breakfast or mid-day quick meal with tea.
Barista Hub – on the central Proskurivska street. Good desserts and nice area, although due to central location they are always crowded.
Club Kavy – next door to Barista Hub. I love them for decaf almond milk cappuccino and sitting area outside.
Black Honey – also on the central street. If you don’t eat gluten/sugar, this is the place to go to grab a dessert on the central street.
Myata Espresso Bar – next place on Proskurivska street where to drink coffee with baked goodies, quiches or have a meal. They have an extensive menu and also very interesting design (on the second floor).
Coffee Boutique – just coffee and baked goodies, but we love this cafe for a hidden courtyard and super awesome atmosphere.
Lovely Place – another coffee shop that I absolutely love where to come to read or work on my laptop while sipping coffee with gluten/sugar free dessert. They also have quiches and Ukrainian dishes available.
Cafe Relax – coffee, cakes, donuts, sandwiches, and super awesome atmosphere!
Coma Coffee – it is a new place that opened during the war. If you are in the area, stop by to try their coffee and croissants, sit by the window and watch the life of a busy avenue.
Nebesnyi Myhdal’ – hidden between the buildings in a cute courtyard near Ivan Franko Park. Great coffee, dessert, and light food are on offer as well as a cool vibe.
Lviv Kav’yarnya – another pretty coffee shop with a big variety of hot drinks, snacks, and sweets.
Places Where to Eat in Khmelnytskyi
Cukernia Potocki – the biggest cafe-restaurant in the city, offering an extensive menu with unique beautifully made dishes. My family personally loves it for breakfast dishes and tea time, although they make incredible salads, meat dishes, cocktails, and pretty much anything else that you may think of. Additionally to beautiful indoor seating, an outside terrace and balcony are open in summer too.
They also have another location in the Oasis mall, but it mainly has cakes and other sweets with coffee and tea.
Goocha – next door from Cukernia and similar concept (and the same owner). They have excellent dinner options (including good ramen, Thai noodles) and cocktails.
JJ’s Burgers – our favorite burger place in the city. I love it particularly for a chicken burger with mango sauce and homestyle fries.
Boodni – breakfast all day long and coffee shop at the same time. Great place where to eat any time during the day. Besides breakfast, they also have very good salads and veggie bowls.
Lviv Croissants – sweet and sour croissants any time during the day. Try their own in-house made teas, they go with croissants much better than coffee.
Familiya – excellent restaurant for having traditional Ukrainian food or Mediterranean dish, steaks, salads, and tea with desserts.
Beef & Cake – steak and Ukrainian dishes.
Healthy Cafe Ola – amazing vegetarian cafe in Khmelnytskyi with a large menu. Since they are located on the premises of a language school, the seating area is designed for quiet gatherings, studying or working on your laptop. We often come here to do our work and dine. Prices are among the lowest in the city, so you can really sit and work all day long while having all your meals and not spending much.
Brewman – a restaurant lounge where to have breakfast or return better in the evening for filling dinner over the set of craft beers. On Fridays and Saturdays, there is live music. We often choose this place to celebrate a special occasion and choose a beer snack plate, burgers, pastas, and salads. We tried and enjoyed them all.
Garden at the European – more expensive restaurant with a large territory and elegant style decoration that offers simple dishes made in a more sophisticated way. It’s a nice place for special occasions and where to eat Ukrainian food in a garden environment.
Boutique OnWine – if you get to this part of the city, don’t miss this boutique wine shop. It is a super nice place where to have wine or a late cup of coffee paired with dessert.
Vinoteka Briosh – many people go here for coffee and cakes, but we love it for wine, wine platter and light snacks. It is a great place for chit-chats over wine in a relaxed atmosphere.
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 Khmelnytskyi Hotels
Until recent times, there were not many hotels in Khmelnytskyi. But lately, the situation started to change and a few nice properties popped up in the city. My recommendations are as follows:
Potocki Boutique Hotel – personally, my favorite hotel in Khmelnytskyi. It’s classy, elegant, and always up to the highest standard. It is somewhat pricey for a city of this level but the hotel is modern, clean, and has an excellent location. Cukernia Potocki restaurant that I recommended above is part of this hotel.
Arena Hotel – another newer hotel in the central part of the city with the best service and highest level of comfort. There is an option to book a room with breakfast and jacuzzi.
Reikartz hotel – one of the hotels of the Reikartz chain, adheres to the same high standards and offers excellency in everything. The location is also central, although from the side of Independence Square. On premises you’ll find a Georgian restaurant also mentioned above.
DREAM Hostel – although it is not a hotel, I still wanted to mention a few words about this property for people on a tight budget. 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.
Where to Rent a Car in Khmelnytskyi
If you happen to need to rent a car while in Khmelnytskyi city, I can recommend you this private company. It is run by two ladies who do a wonderful job. The owner’s name is Ljuba and manager’s name is Nastya, they both speak some English and provide excellent service.
We rented cars from them on so many occasions and every time it was an easy and enjoyable experience. I advise you get in touch with them via WhatsApp (you’ll find the number on the website) if you have any questions. Although the website is pretty straightforward and easy to navigate.
For most cities in Ukraine, I’d recommend you rent a car through VIP Cars since they have the best deals. But it doesn’t have any office in Khmelnytskyi, so it is much better to rent through a local company. Nastya and Ljuba proved their company is great.
And if you need tips on what driving in Ukraine is like, don’t miss my other post.
This is it for now, I hope you’ll have a wonderful time in my hometown!