You’ve seen the pictures. A lush tree canopy over a train track, stillness and peace radiating from your computer screen. A leafy tunnel that looks like it leads to Narnia or Titania and Oberon’s realm or at the very least escape from your Monday blues. The Tunnel of Love is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Ukraine, if photos are to be believed (and not Photoshopped). I’ve had it on my ‘to-visit’ list for a year but kept putting it off. It’s not easy to get to the Tunnel of Love, and I was a little daunted by the trip.
Especially when I discovered I would need to take the bus.
Taking the bus in Ukraine is an adventure, especially when you don’t speak the language, but my trip to the Tunnel of Love went off without a hitch. Even if you’re not an experienced Ukrainian traveler, you can still make all your Instagram dreams come true with a quick stop by one of the world’s most famous industrial railways.
It’s all about knowing what to expect, so if you’re trying to plan a visit to the Tunnel of Love, here’s what you need to know—
How to Get to the Tunnel of Love from Kiev
The Tunnel of Love is actually in Klevan, Ukraine, a tiny rural town. I recommend basing yourself instead in nearby Rivne, which is a bigger transportation hub. To from from Kiev to Rivne, I’d recommend either the train or the bus.
The train is much easier for travelers to manage, but you have less flexibility. There’s only one ‘fast’ train between Kyiv and Rivne each day, so if you have to take one of the seven hour trains you’ll waste a lot of time.
Taking the bus from Kiev to Rivne means you’ll have more choice with depature times and you’ll get there faster. Many buses take between four and five hours – which means if you’re really pressed for time, you could actually do the Tunnel of Love as a daytrip from Kiev (not recommended, though).
For a quick trip like this, I use tickets.ua to find a bus. I definitely advise buying your ticket beforehand. Locals rock up with cash, but there are no guarantees the bus will have a seat and you might have to be a bit pushy to get through the crowd to the driver. And, if you don’t speak the language, it’s just better to have a ticket you can hand over than trying to negotiate the destination and fare.
Buying a bus ticket in Ukraine can be a total lottery. My bus to Rivne was a little mini bus going from Kyiv to Lviv, but my bus coming back was a big coach that had come from Poland and was going all the way to Kharkiv. Plan to show up at the bus station early. You’ll need time to find your bus, especially if it’s chaotic like at the Kyiv bus station. Also, your bus might arrive early and leave early! If this happens, hopefully the bus company will call you or text you, but it’s a good idea to plan to be at the bus station early anyway.
The bus station and train station are about a half hour walk from Rivne’s city center. I’d recommend getting a taxi to the center, especially if you arrive at night.
If you’re having a hard time getting “Rivne” to come up in transportation or hotel searches, try using the transliteration Rovno.
Getting to the Tunnel of Love from Rivne
Ok, the next part of the journey to the Tunnel of the Love involves a marshrutka, but don’t worry – this is actually the easiest part! Minibuses, called marshrutkas, leave from Rivne to Klevan (Клевань) starting at around 5:00am. They run every ten to fifteen minutes from outside the Rivne train station. Just walk over to the cluster of idly mini buses, find the one with the sign for Klevan (also probably the biggest crowd), and try to cram yourself on when the driver opens the door. It cost me 18 UAH one way, which is less than a dollar. The bus ride from Rivne to Klevan takes about 45 minutes, through the epitome of Ukrainian rural idyll. I mean, any time you can look out the window and see goats munching beside the road is a good day.
Once you get to Klevan, keep an eye out on the right side of the road for a white arrow sign pointing the direction to the Tunnel of Love / Тунель кохання, posted on Slovyanska Street (my marshrutka driver was pretty friendly and tried to point me in the right direction as I got off the bus, so if you’re anxious about getting off at the right place ask the driver to help). The marshrutka will stop right after the sign, so just backtrack and follow Slovyanska about twenty minutes to get to the Tunnel of Love. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you hear accordion music.
It’s also possible to take a taxi to the Tunnel of Love, though you’ll be paying way more than $2 roundtrip. I did not get price quotes for taxis, but to give you a rough idea, a friend and I paid about $25 total to hire a taxi for about three hours in Kamianents-Podilskyi. I suggest working with your accommodation to find a fairly priced taxi to the Tunnel of Love.
Exploring the Tunnel of Love
Though the train tracks spread in both directions, going to the right will get you the picture-perfect tunnel you came here for. The tunnel reeeally stretches — I walked about forty-five minutes before turning back and I wasn’t close to the ‘end’ of the track. I think my prettiest pictures are from about twenty minutes into the tunnel. Of course, it’s not just about the photos. The Tunnel of Love is every bit as breath-taking in real life as it is in the pictures that proliferate on Pinterest. Bring a picnic, find a spot to stop and journal, or just slow your walk down to a meander and relax your camera by your side (besides, the pictures all start to come out the same after the first fifty or so).
To get back to Rivne, just walk back to where you got off the marshrutka and cross the street. Watch for minibuses hurtling by and flag one down that says Rivne (Рівне) in the windshield.
How to Get from Lviv to the Tunnel of Love
Rivne is also well-connected to Lviv and Lutsk, so if you want to come from that direction (or head that way after) it’s an easy fix. Again I recommend using tickets.ua to find bus or trains heading in the direction you want.
With some planning and a bit of bravado, the seeing the Tunnel of Love really isn’t that difficult at all. I’m so glad I put in the effort to go (even solo!), and I hope that if the Tunnel of Love is really on your must-visit list, you feel confident in making your way to the Ukrainian countryside.
Would you like to visit the Tunnel of Love? What are you dream destinations that you learned about through the Internet – I need more fodder for my list now that I’m checking things off!
Looking for a place to stay? I stayed at Rivne Hostel, which was clean and comfortable. The bunk beds were comfortable, had individual lights and outlets, and didn’t squeak! The bathroom situation was a bit strange, with toilets in one room and the sink, mirror, and shower in another, but it wasn’t much of a problem. If you’re interested in something else, you can check out best Rivne hotel prices before you go.
If you’re coming to Ukraine, check out my Ukraine travel resources! Everything I know about this country I’m collecting into a Ukraine travel guide.
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