Have you ever seen those photos on Instagram or the internet and just thought to yourself, that can’t be true, no place in the world looks like that? While I did plenty of times, especially when I saw photos of the tunnel of love in Ukraine passing by on my phone, because which train track could be that magical, enchanting, just simply so beautiful! There was only one way to find out if this fairytale railway would look the same in real life, and that would be by visiting it. So when we finally decided to visit Ukraine this year I knew this place had to be on my Ukraine bucket list. Now you are probably wondering, is it really as magical as it looks? The truth: it’s even more magical in real life and the pictures honestly don’t do it justice. If it wasn’t for the mosquitoes, I honestly could have stayed here for hours. Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about visiting the tunnel of love in Ukraine so you can have the same enchanting and magical experience as we had.
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Where is the Tunnel of Love
First things first, you can’t add the tunnel of love to your Ukraine itinerary without actually knowing where the tunnel of love is located, sadly it isn’t within close proximity to Kiev, which means you will have to leave the capital and go on a slight adventure to see the Tunnel of Love. To get here you will have to make your way to Rivne, from Rivne to Klevan and from Klevan to the love tunnel. And while this sounds rather difficult, and perhaps too much work, it was actually pretty easy getting there without a guide and without speaking Ukrainian or Russian. We have added a map so you can see the exact location of the tunnel of love, below the map we will describe in detail how you can get to the tunnel of love with the help of public transport yourself!
How to get to the Tunnel of Love
As we have only used public transport to get to the tunnel of love we will describe the exact steps (including costs) on how to get to the tunnel of love. The first step of getting to the tunnel of love is by making your way to the city of Rivne. Rivne (рівне) is located between Lviv and Kiev, and can be reached easily from either cities. As both cities are worth your time Rivne makes it a perfect in between stop. However, the journey doesn’t end there, from here you will still have to make your way to the town of Klevan and from here to the love tunnel, but honestly, trust us, it is way easier then it sounds. So without further ado, let’s discuss how to actually get to Rivne (step 1) and how to get from here to Klevan (step 2) and on to the tunnel of love (step 3).
Step 1: How to get to Rivne from Lviv
The easiest way, in our opinion, to get from Lviv to Rivne is by taking the train. There are trains leaving daily to Rivne, sometimes even two trains a day, both taking a rough 2 hours and 45 minutes. The easiest way to make sure you have a spot on the train is by buying a ticket online as the train can get quite busy. The train makes a couple of stops in between Lviv and Rivne so be sure not to leave the train prematurely. The train is in a 3+3 seat setting, with the seats facing each other. We paid roughly $8.50 for two tickets in August 2019. Once you reach the train station in Lviv look for your platform on the info board in the entry hall of the station. As two trains leave from the platforms in Lviv look for the direction sign on the train (РІВНЕ) to be sure you don’t miss your train.
How to book your train ticket online: Tickets can be booked through the Ukrainian booking system (available in English) or another option is to book tickets with Omio. We opted for the latter for almost all the train tickets we bought as our credit cards did not always work on the Ukrainian website. The only downside, at least the ones we found, about booking with Omio is that you don’t have the option of picking your seats. Omio also gives you other transport options, if they are available, which can sometimes be cheaper. However, as we prefer trains over buses and planes we simply booked the train for all our journeys through Ukraine. In the end both websites sent us the tickets to our emails within a couple of minutes.
How to get to Rivne from Kiev
We actually only took the journey from Rivne to Kiev, as we came from the direction of Lviv, but I assume that the other way around will be roughly the same experience. We took a sleeper train (during the day) from Rivne to Kiev, but, from Kiev to Rivne there is also the option to take a different train and book a third class seat instead. The trains take roughly 7 to 8 hours to arrive in Rivne. If you choose for the sleeper train (like we did from Rivne to Kiev) then the train will leave at roughly 7.30am and arrive in Rivne at 2.30pm (in August 2019) and you will have the possibility of booking a bed in a third, second or first class sleeper, we opted for the third class sleeper as this is the most budget friendly option. Interested in the exact prices of the trains and the time schedule, read the paragraph above on how we booked our train tickets for Ukraine!
Step 2: How to get to Klevan from Rivne
The next part sounds a little bit more difficult, bus is actually fairly easy. From wherever you may be in Rivne, make your way to the train station. Now if you are standing with your back to the train station you will see a bus station across the street, slightly on the left, this is where your mini bus (marshrutka) to Klevan will be leaving from. There are no set time table or platforms for the bus departures, simply look at the signs of the buses and look for the one that says Klevan (Клевань). The buses leave every 15 – 30 min from our understanding. We ended up waiting a rough 5 minutes before our bus left for Klevan. In August 2019 the trip to Klevan was 28 UAH ($1.10) per person and the (bumpy) ride took roughly 45 min.
TIP: before you sit down show the driver a picture of the tunnel of love, not only will you be sure that you will get on the right bus, if you are lucky your driver will inform you when you are at your stop. You know you need to get of the bus when you see the massive sign as pictured below (from the bus it will be on the right hand side). The actual bus stop is a rough 30m past the sign so you simply have to walk back to the sign to start your journey to the love tunnel.
Step 3: How to get to the Tunnel of Love from Klevan
It is the sign above that indicates the start of the road to the love tunnel. From the sign to the start of the love tunnel it is 1.3km, which is a 20 min walk depending on your pace. Simply follow the road till you get to the love tunnel; there is only one crossing on the road but there will be another sign posted, in both Ukrainian and English, pointing you in the right direction. When you see the railway crossing as picture below you will know you are at the right place. Cross the railways (but be careful of trains coming your way) and walk another 100m towards the shops further up the road, here, on the right hand side of the track, you will find the start of the tunnel of love.
How to get back to Rivne: After you are done exploring the tunnel of love simply make your way back to the bus stop you got off from, but now go to the bus stop on the other side of the road to be sure you get on a bus back to Rivne and not further into Klevan. Just keep an eye out for a marshrutka with the sign “рівне”. The price of a ticket will be the same as the price of a ticket to get to Klevan (28 UAH per person in August 2019).
Walking Through The Tunnel of Love
So now that you have finally made it to the tunnel of love, let the enchanting experience begin. While the tunnel of love is quite pretty at the beginning of the track already, I would personally recommend walking a rough 500m to 1km into the tunnel (if you survive the mosquitoes). The further you go into the tunnel the denser the vegetation becomes, and the less people you will come across. While we saw many people at the start of the tunnel, after walking a rough 15 min into the tunnel we were all by ourselves, making the experience even more magical. We visited the tunnel in early August 2019 and found the tunnel to still be in its beautiful green glory, but I could imagine it looking even better at the end of spring when the trees are in full bloom.
While we not sure if it is true we heard that the tunnel is currently still in use, not by passenger trains, but as an industrial track, so better be safe then sorry and be sure to pay attention to see if no trains are coming. The total length of the track is roughly 3km and it is said that couples that visit the couple can make a wish, and if the love of the couple is real, then their wish will come true.
Tunnel of Love: Know Before You Go
While we have described above how to get to the tunnel of love, and what it is like to walk through the tunnel of love, there are a couple of things that you should know before you go to the tunnel of love. So instead of spreading these tips around the post we thought it would be easiest to make a little list for you to make sure you have all the info at hand:
- Best time to visit the tunnel of love in Ukraine – You have probably seen the iconic shots of a tunnel of green, and probably this is what you are going for. Needless to say you won’t find this during the winter months, although a picture in snow seems quite the magical experience as well. Our advise would be to visit the tunnel of love at the end of spring when the trees are in full bloom or at the beginning of the summer. At the end of the summer leaves will start falling, and while the tunnel of love in autumn seems just gorgeous, some of the photos on the search results of Google seem slightly photoshopped in our opinion.
- The blood sucking mosquitoes of the tunnel of love – While the tunnel of love is an enchanting and fairytale like experience, the blood sucking mosquitoes that hang around there sure are not. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of mosquitoes hanging around the tracks all waiting for you to be their lunch. So bring mosquito spray, or perhaps a bottle of two. While we sprayed ourselves from head till toe in mosquito spray the mosquitoes still made their way through our shirts leaving us each with around 15 mosquito bites. If it wasn’t for the mosquito spray I am sure it would have been 100 mosquito bites. So yes, be prepared, spray under your clothes as well, perhaps leave those shorts at home.
- Photography at the tunnel of love – While we had a clear sky and a sunny day, many of the light was blocked due to the trees, and if we would go again we would be sure to bring our tripod. We had planned on bringing it, but simply forgot it (oops) and definitely regret not checking our gear in the morning. Not only will you be able to take sharper shots will a longer exposure time, but you will also be able to get some shots with your partner, it is the tunnel of love after all.
Have you visited the tunnel of love and perhaps have any other tips our readers should know about? Be sure to share it with us in the comment section down below!
Where to stay in Rivne
There are plenty of hotels and hostels to pick from when staying in Rivne, the decision, however, may be where in the city to stay. If you are simply visiting the tunnel of love then you might want to stay closer to the train station to avoid having to take other buses. Planning on exploring Rivne a bit as well like we did? Then it might pay off to stay a bit further away from the train station. We stayed at Full House Hotel & Capsule Hostel and absolutely loved our stay. Budget friendly prices, helpful staff, and right next to a bus stop to take you to the city centre and train station. However, if you are looking for something a bit more central or perhaps more luxurious check out the map below to find a place that suits your needs!
Where to go after the Tunnel of Love
While the tunnel of love might be the highlight of your visit to Rivne, it is definitely worth checking the city out as well, you can read our full post here on 8 best things to do in Rivne. From Rivne make your way to your next destination, perhaps the city of Lviv? Or the beautiful capital of Ukraine, Kiev?
And there you have it, everything you need to know about visiting the tunnel of love all by yourself. Have any questions left? Be sure to ask them in the comment section down below.