Quintessentially European, but refreshingly unsullied by the onslaught of mass tourism, Ukraine and Moldova provide us with two of the continent’s surprisingly little-known gems.
Ukraine, with its blue lakes and green hills can boast no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the historic centre of Lviv, the wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathians and the cathedrals and monastic architecture of Kiev. The second largest country on the European continent, it was the birthplace of Russian Orthodoxy and has lain at the heart of the social changes that have beset this region for centuries. With a cultural pedigree that can trace its origins back to Byzantium and the Renaissance, its traditions and food span eons of influences that are just waiting to be discovered.
Sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is blessed with a climate that encourages year round tourism. Not an obvious destination for most tour operators, it is nonetheless blessed with some stunningly unspoiled charms. Its pride lies in its natural landscapes including Pădurea Domnească (the Royal Forest) and The Lower Prut (Prutul de Jos), but within this little slice of heaven you can also find ancient monasteries and historic forts, wineries that can justifiably hold their own with their French counterparts.