Gloom, rain, and Dracula lurking just around the corner? Well, that might be the card Romania is playing in their Transcarpathian region, but when it comes to the Ukrainian part of the same mountains, the story is quite the opposite. Transcarpathia in Ukraine is all about warm, sunny weather, lots of fruit and delicious — even though not overly intoxicating — light wine. And… well, yeah — maybe one or two ghost stories in the local castles, no more.
Uzhgorod may start off seeming a bit provincial, but if you are a digital nomad looking for some peace and quiet, this is the place to go to. Not to mention that the town is ridiculously — incredibly — cheap. I guess we’ve all been on that stage — looking for some R&R but not wanting to spend too much because nobody pays you to vacation. Well, this is the place to go to.
On the one hand, it’s still a city (or city-ish) with pubs and clubs and sights to see. On the other one, the prices are so low, you can vacation all you like and not even come close to running out of your cash stack. A separate room for two people in a downtown hostel starts at about 12-13$. As usual, there is no upper limit for the fancier hotels, but the baseline is more than affordable, especially given that downtown hostels are clean and private. If you are looking for a simple place to spend the night and plan to keep sightseeing all day long, what else could you possibly want? If it’s a part-time sightseeing/ part-time working trip, an average hotel starts at approximately 24$ a day.
A generous dinner for two with alcohol is about 18-20$ (yeap, that little) and lunch for two (no booze) is 3-4$ (no kidding!!). Plus, if you feel like going on a shopping spree, this town will surprise you even more. Two national borders (Slovakia and Hungary) are basically in the walking distance, and (I am pretty sure this phenomenon has a lot to do with smuggling) you can get yourself 5-6 new outfits for less than 100$. Crazy, right?
What’s not crazy, though, is the life tempo. Uzhgorod is very — VERY — still. People do not walk here; they float. Nobody ever seems to be in a rush. So, if you’re an active kind of person, I would not recommend staying more than a couple of days — might get a bit boring once you’ve slept, eaten, strolled down the old cobblestone streets, and taken 3-4 looks at Uzh, the local river.
The most notable sight is definitely a castle, conveniently located right in the city center. A few historical facts before we jump straight to the photos. The site traces back to the IXth century, and it has been a museum since 1947. Given the robust history of the region, it’s no wonder the building switched many hands and countries, including Hungary and Austria.
Front Castle Wall in Uzhgorod, traces back to XII century
The most amazing part of this castle is the internal yard, especially colorful and peaceful in autumn. The bronze sculpture is not just a random bird. It is a mythological Turul, the national symbol of Hungary.
Uzhgorod castle well, depth 40 meters.
Back castle wall with modern Uzhgorod buildings in the background.
Uzhgorod castle interior, a bookcase in one of the rooms.
Uzhgorod castle interior, dining room.
Uzhgorod castle interior, various bric-a-brac at the coffee exposition.
Uzhgorod castle interior, more antiques at the coffee expo.
Fifty shades of autumn in Uzhgorod Castle inner patio.
But red and green still dominate.
With an occasional sky-blue.
And the best news is - this little town is just a preview of what Transcarpathia has to offer when it comes to Medieval castles, so stay tuned for more posts!