3-day tour to Chernobyl Zone and Nuclear power plant from inside

"Trust me, the story of the Zone goes way further than its barbed-wire border"

 

This tour is your opportunity to see the real Chernobyl Zone — to get a complete image of what is behind these lands and what is the post-Chernobyl life here.
You will go to origins, to ancient places, which now are so wild, that human is a guest there. You will spend nearly a full day inside the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, including the Control Room 4. You will walk by the streets of the dead city, to learn about the post-disaster legacy

With every location, a puzzle will get one more element. We will help you to understand the contexts, history and processes that are behind the real life here. And find the answer, why within the Zone the lands outside it are often called "The Great land"

Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Key features of this tour

  • Learn about past, present and future of the Chernobyl lands in 3 lands and more than 40 locations!
  • Visit to the Control Room of the Unit IV, Reactor III, unique SKALA reactor control computer is included.
  • We take care of all legal paperwork for permits and arrangements.
  • Data: hundreds of pictures in our databases and hours of stories.
  • Transfers with reliable vehicles and with skilled drivers. You can also use your own car, but we will need one or two seats for us.
  • Different pick-up and drop-off options — Kyiv or the main checkpoint of Dytiatky.
  • Comfortable accommodation in hotel STALKER in Dityatky village.
  • Restaurant-quality meals.
  • Our team speaks English, Slovak, Ukrainian, or Russian.
  • You can request that one of our special experts or advisors accompany you.

Book this tour to Chernobyl now:

E.g., 09.12.2021
Select the start day ("Day 1") of the tour. The NPP requires 15 full days for the permit clearance.
Check to have the personal expert-level guiding by Alex, evening discussions, and see our archives.
Learn a powerful story of life and afterlife of Pripyat while walking there together with its world-famous resident.
We will pick you on 6PM from Kyiv a day before the tour, and bring to Stalker Hotel&Hostel for a comfortable stay and rest. So you save money on stay in Kyiv and do not need to wake up super-early.
Let us know to make mailing easier.
By clicking "Submit" button below I agree with the Public Contract and confirm that all group members are at least 18 years old.

Detailed itinerary

If you are looking for a 2 day Chernobyl tour, check the price and program here.

(Optional) Day 0 — Evening transfer and an overnight stay

Kyiv — Hotel STALKER

We pick you up in Kyiv near your hotel or at the desired meeting point at 06:00 PM in the evening and transfer with a comfortable vehicle to the village of Dityatky, where the main checkpoint of the Zone is located. In two hours, we arrive at the STALKER hotel complex, where you meet our team. The hotel's name refers to the A. Tarkovsky eponymous movie, based on the Roadside Picnic novel. In Ukrainian, the word stalker exclusively means a person, who explores the Zone. 

We check you in and have dinner together. After this, we have an introductory briefing, give safety instructions, check the documents, and set up the plan for the next two days.

After this, you can have a good rest — as you will need a lot of power the next day.

Day 1 — The Old Times.

We say that the Zone without an appropriate understanding of local context and historical processes behind it is just a group of very beautiful ruins. The first day of our trip is an in-depth look to the background of Chernobyl land, and the life here years before the power plant was built. However, while you will see the power plant during this day a couple of times, it will remain as a shadowy facility located somewhere far; nevertheless, its influence will be visible on practically everything you will encounter. In certain meaning, this reflects the phenomenon of parallel realities this region faced in the 1970-s and 1980-s — having a super-modern nuclear facility at one side of the river, and archaic villages with traditional houses at another. And these realities practically did not intersect at all.

Kyiv/Hotel STALKER — Checkpoint Dityatky

If you choose not to have Day 0 overnight stay, we pick you up in Kyiv near your hotel or at the desired meeting point at 08:00 AM and come around 10:00 AM to checkpoint Dityatky.

If you stay overnight before, then at 08:00 in the morning, we have breakfast, and after we move to the checkpoint Dityatky — the main gate of the Chernobyl Zone, which is 1.5 km away from the hotel. You get your personal dosimeters, sign a paper that you are acknowledged with rules and regulations. Then we pass the entry control, enter the Zone and our journey starts.

Checkpoint Dityatky —  Bypass road of town of Chernobyl — The bridge over the river of Pripyat — Checkpoint Paryshiv-2

We take the main highway towards the town of Chernobyl. It takes around 30 minutes to get to our next stop, so we use this time to give you a basic introduction to the history of the area (which is complex, twisted, and often tragic). From time to time we will ask you to look for something specific; get used to this — as here everything is about small, but essential details.

In front of Chernobyl, we take a ring road, that leads to to the bridge over the river of Pripyat; during driving, it will be possible to see the giant silhouette of the power plant over the horizon. Behind the bridge, the checkpoint Paryshiv-2 is located.

Paryshiv-2 — Koshivka — Starosillya — Kryva Hora — Zymovysche — Krasno and back

We pass checkpoint Paryshiv-2 and drive to the north, to the places where not so many people go, but that still keeps the authenticity of the Chernobyl region. We start our exploration here intentionally, because especially here one can get an image of how life looked before a power plant was created.

Road to the NorthRoad to the North

These places, located between rivers, endless swamps, and dense forests, for centuries were a site for ancient neighborhoods. As physical access here was obstructed (a bridge was built only in 1989 as a part of post-disaster works), a traditional, pretty archaic way of life continued here, making these lands an epitome of Chernobyl Polissya culture, still in the focus of interest of historians and adventure seekers.

Abandoned post office in ZymovyscheAbandoned post office in Zymovysche

Abacus, such as those were used widely in the 80-sAbacus, such as those were used widely in the 80-s

Our major stops here are villages of Starosillya with its traditional wooden houses and hives for wild honey making; Kryva Hora, which burned to ashes in 2020. Zymovysche, which used to be a center of a very huge industrialized farm — so here is possible to find a lot of neglected agriculture machinery, visit a traditional cemetery, a post office, houses, and farm's dorms. At the very end of Zymovysche, we will pass a large, strangely-looking unfinished structure and then — a functional railway. Zymovysche will be our first contact with increased radioactivity — through this villages passes the Northern Track of contamination.

Niva Soviet harvesters in ZymovyscheNeglected Niva Soviet harvesters in Zymovysche

a traditional beehouseBort', a traditional beehouse

The destination is Krasno — a tiny village, where among other sights, such as its school, post office, and houses, a gem of traditional architecture located — a majestic St. Michael church, built from wood in 1800.

Church in KrasnoChurch in Krasno

Interior of the church in KrasnoInterior of the church in Krasno

A traditional cemetery in KrasnoA traditional cemetery in Krasno

You may expect that a return way will be just a ride, but here comes the magic; you will start to feel, that there is something more. Many objects, that we just passed through, but which you definitely noticed will start to be a part of a large puzzle — a strange building inZymovysche, rusty, torn away gates at Koshivka, powerful formations from the soil around the villages. Finally, we will stop at one secret place, where you will see the silhouette of the power plant rising over the horizon, and then realize you are standing on a giant flood protection dam.

The Chernobyl NPP is just few kilometers awayThe Chernobyl NPP is just few kilometers away

A bridge close to ChernobylA bridge close to Chernobyl

But, we just have started.

Back to Paryshiv-2 — Checkpoint Leliv — Chernobyl-2

Shortly after passing the Paryshiv-2 checkpoint, we enter the inner sub-zone of processing radioactive materials, or, as it is called inside — 10-km, or desyatka through the internal checkpoint named as Leliv after a nearby village. Here still stands the original checkpoint building, designed like an anti-radiation bunker.

Checkpoint LelivProtection bunker at Leliv

We drive to the north, and at some point turn to the military concrete road to drive approximately 6 km to Chernobyl-2. This formerly supersecret town is hidden in dense forests and was one of 6 components of Duga (eng. "Arc") over-the-horizon radar complex, designed in the 1970s to detect launches of U.S. ICBMs to the Soviet Union. Moreover, being a relic of the Cold War, a visit here is an excellent opportunity to learn about this historical period from the Soviet side, as well as about the Soviet military, and computer technologies of the Socialistic Block (many of which were unique).

Duga antenna arrayDuga antenna array

When we come to Chernobyl-2, we leave the car near its checkpoint, and continue on foot. Soon you will see a breathtaking antenna array raising over the trees. When you stand next to it, it is hard to comprehend its size — 148 x 500 m and 98 x 250 m. We go around its data processing center and other facilities, like vehicles service depot, fire station, and so on. 

Repair workshop at Duga siteRepair workshop at Duga site

In reality, Chernobyl-2 has nothing to do neither with power plant nor with Chernobyl disaster. However, only by visiting it you can get one more piece of the puzzle — the illustration of the real priorities of the Soviet Union. 

Chernobyl-2 — Leliv checkpoint - Town of Chernobyl

We pass contamination check-up at Leliv checkpoint, and then arrive to the town of Chernobyl.

Town of ChernobylTown of Chernobyl

During pre-NPP history, Chernobyl, known from 1193 was a central neighborhood of the Chernobyl Polissya region. Despite its long and complex history, it came to modern times as a relatively small and pretty usual town (with a population of just 13,700 as for 1986), that served as a cargo and passenger port of Pripyat river. As for the 1970s, it gave its name to Chernobyl NPP as the closest town existed in 1970 when the construction of the power plant started. This fact, along with bigger apartment blocks, built in the same period for contractors are nearly the only relations of it to a giant nuclear facility 12 km away from it.

After the evacuation of its residents, the town became a major site of deployment of organizations, services, and facilities that provide the functioning of the Zone. Currently, not counting a few dozens of self-settlers, it is a place of shift-stay for approximately 3,000 employees. It has basic infrastructure for this (up to hotels and stores), though its regime nature is clearly visible — for example, there is a curfew in the evening.

We make few stops here at the important places across the town. 

  • Monument to Those, Who Saved the World near the operating firefighters' department. We participated and coordinated the restoration of the monument in 2020.
  • Bay of ChREB (Chernobyl Vessel Repair Plant), where we can see original cargo ships left behind in the bay after 1986. If you played S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, then it will be in particular interesting, as this location was a prototype of Zaton with Skadovsk and Shevchenko cargo ships.
  • Jewish district — as Chernobyl had a Jewish diaspora in the past.
  • Robotic equipment, that was used during clean-up operations on Chernobyl NPP rooftops.
  • Central square with the Wormwood Star memorial and a large concrete map of the Zone.
  • Welcome sign of the city and a restored Soviet police checkpoint.

(Optional) Town of Chernobyl - Zalissya

If you will have wish and power, we can make a stop in Zalissya village. Contrary to all the neighborhoods we have seen at Krasno direction, this one is very different. Availability of transportation ways, as well as rapid development in 1980s made it the biggest in the area — here lived more than 3,000 people. It also was a site of a huge collective cattle farm. After this place, we go to the exit checkpoint.

Zalissya villageZalissya village

Zalissya - Checkpoint Dityatky — Hotel STALKER

 

We leave the village and drive to the Dityatky checkpoint, where we pass the contamination check-up (this time — with a stricter threshold) and exit the Zone. In a few minutes, we arrive to the hotel STALKER for dinner and rest. In the evening, it is a good idea to have free time for talks and drinks. We will be happy to answer your questions and cover some specific subjects you became interested in. 

Hotel StalkerStalker Hotel&Hostel

Hotel StalkerStalker Hotel&Hostel

Day 2 — Chernobyl Nuclear power plant tour

Hotel STALKER — Checkpoint Dityatky

At 07:30 in the morning, we have breakfast, and after we move to the checkpoint Dityatky, where we pass the entry control.

Checkpoint Dityatky — Cherevach — Zalissya — Checkpoint Leliv — Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

We take the familiar main highway towards the Chernobyl NPP. This time, behind the village of Kopachi, we turn right and enter the industrial site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, following the exhaust water channel that is used to connect the NPP with the cooling pond.

Chernobyl NPP panoramic viewPanorama of the Chernobyl NPP

Generally, people hardly imagine how huge this site is and how many structures are here. We pass the cooling towers of Units V and VI, ISF-2 storage for spent nuclear fuel, and stop at the turn of the road. Here opens the most impressive view to the main facilities of Chernobyl NPP. From here you can see the giant main structure, both operated and unfinished units, and the New Safe Confinement of Unit IV. This place is good to explain how organized the NPP's compound as well as to look at a few historical images.

Facilities of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, including Units III and IV.

We park at the NPP ABK-1 administrative building and meet the officers of the NPP to start our Chernobyl Nuclear power plant tour. This part of the program takes approximately 5 hours and includes multiple important locations. We ask you to take this visit seriously — as you are going to attend a functioning nuclear facility, where many good people lost their health and sometimes lives to overcome the results of Soviet mistakes. You will meet the true experts in the subject, so use this chance well and do not hesitate to ask questions to learn more — who knows, will you get such an opportunity again? 

  • ABK-1 Administration building
    This is the head office of Chernobyl NPP. Here you pass SICh (spectrometry of body), an ID, and security clearances, as well as visit the Fallout Shelter #1

    Chernobyl Fallout ShelterFallout Shelter #1

     
  • Clothes changing facility
    Here you have to change clothes to an internal one to proceed to the maximum-security area.
     
  • Golden corridor (Г-301)
    A 600-m long corridor that connects all the units. It has walls lined with anodized aluminum panels, the color of which gave the nickname for this place.


    Golden corridor ChernobylGolden corridor of Chernobyl

  • Central control room - CSchU (ЦЩУ)
    Control room for the energy distribution switchyard of the power plant. As the power plant continues to operate as an energy hub, this room allows controlling ongoing operations.

    Grid control of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power PlantGrid control of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

  • SKALA (СКАЛА) mainframe computer system 
    Reactor control computer system from 1973, based on ES EVM mainframe — a Soviet architectural clone of the IBM/360. While nowadays it is exceptionally hard to find devices like high-speed data tape reel drives or punch tape readers, here you can see them preserved in a perfect shape in their original machine hall equipped with an airtight dust-free zone.
    SKALA mainframe control panelsSKALA mainframe control panels

    SKALA mainframe computer airtight zoneSKALA mainframe computer airtight zone

  • Control room of Unit III - BSchU-III (БЩУ-3)
    Control room of Unit III. For its original purpose, it operated up to mid-December 2000, when Unit III was shut down. Technically, the control room of the infamous Unit IV used to look the same.

    Chernobyl Reactor 3 control roomChernobyl Reactor 3 control room

  • CZ-3 Unit III Reactor central hall (ЦЗ-3)
    Reactor III hall, the main place for technological operations. Here a famous mosaic-like cover of the upper biological shield is located, and you will be able to walk over it!

    III Reactor central hallChernobyl Reactor 3 control room

  • Unit III 3GCN main circulation pumps (3-ГЦН)
    Gigantic pumps were used to provide circulation of water through the active zone of the reactor of Unit III.
     
  • Valery Khodemchuck memorial
    A plaque installed on the wall separates Units III and IV in memory of V. Khodemchuck — operator of circulation pumps, that died during the explosion and whose body was never found. This place 
     
  • The room, where the history has changed — the Control room of Unit IV — BSchU-IV (БЩУ-4)
    The Control Room of Unit IV — a place from which Unit IV was controlled. Here remained the original control panel — the same, like at #3, but rusty, with marks of decontamination. In the dim light, it is possible to recognize the radiation level writings left on equipment by technicians in the past — that time when one had to spend as little time as possible here.

    Chernobyl Reactor 4 Control RoomChernobyl Reactor 4 Control Room

  • Canteen
    You pass one more spectrometry of your body after the visit to the maximum-security area and have a transfer with internal transport to the canteen for a lunch. Then, you continue to two more locations.
     
  • Observation point of NSC
    A square in ±200 m distance from the New Safe Confinement.
     
  • Information center of Shelter Object/NSC
    A place where you will learn very much new about the original Shelter Object, its design, and operation, as well as about the New Safe Confinement.

    Model of the Chernobyl SarcophagusModel of the Chernobyl Sarcophagus

After Chernobyl power plant tour, we continue on our van.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant — Pripyat welcome sign at the PTLRW Red Forest

We make a stop near the welcome sign of the city of Pripyat, which now is in the Red Forest. It is a territory, that faced extreme contamination from the western fallout track. Being an old and dense forest, it mostly had pine trees, which naturally have a high level of radiosensitivity. After fallout covered them, few zones of damage were formed — from minimal to lethal. In the lethal zone, all the trees and undergrowth died and got a distinctive rusty color, that gave a modern name for the area. During the winter of 1986, original trees were bulldozed and then buried in the ditches on site, and the new forest was planted.

PRIPYAT welcome sign in the red forest

Since then, the area is a major research spot of ecological processes. After a couple of forest fires in recent years, many modern trees got practically the same look as the original — so although it is not related to irradiation anymore, it allows us to imagine, how did the original Red Forest look like.

Pripyat welcome sign at the PTLRW Red Forest — City of Pripyat

We drive to Pripyat — the satellite town of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, established in 1970 and 16 years old only at the time of disaster. Designed for ~50000 residents it consists of 5 districts and more than 180 structures. As it faced very intensive decontamination, the levels of radioactivity there are generally not high except for minor small hotspots. Approximately up to 1997 this city was mostly used in pretty the same way as Chernobyl now — as a host for many organizations and companies of the Zone. Few facilities still operate in Pripyat.

Pripyat from abovePripyat from above

We leave our car at the central square and take a walk here for a basic introduction to the city. This day, it is more about getting a feeling of the place. We will return here tomorrow for a detailed exploration.

City of Pripyat  — PTLRW Red Forest  — Checkpoint Leliv  — Checkpoint Dityatky — Hotel STALKER

We leave the city by exactly the same road that was used for the evacuation of the city. We drive without stops and open windows, passing the Torch of Prometheus — a monument, that once was a welcome sign of the Chernobyl NPP, and eventually get back to the main highway. 

Red ForestRed Forest

At Leliv and Dityatky checkpoints, we pass the contamination check-ups and exit the Zone. In few minutes, we arrive to the hotel STALKER for dinner and rest.  

Day 3 — The Legacy

The third day of our journey focused on post-disaster events, and the core of the Zone &mdash city of Pripyat. But before that, we'd like to do something special.

Hotel STALKER — Checkpoint Dityatky — Opachichi — Kupuvate

After breakfast, we enter the Zone again. This time, in front of Cherevach bridge we turn right and drive by the wide, but nearly abandoned road, that was built after the accident to connect Chernobyl with Zeleny Mys liquidators' camp. After we pass Opachichi village, we arrive at Kupuvate — a village, where we can meet self-settlers and learn more, how do they live in a post-disaster world. These people intentionally returned to their homes in the Zone during 1987-1988.

Baba GanyaHanna Zavorotna from Kupuvate

We kindly remind, that although it is a possibility to see the unique phenomenon that in a few years will disappear (as these people are really old), self-settlers are alive people with their needs, problems, and changes of mood, though they are very friendly. So these meetings are not for entertainment and require respect and a certain understanding of local customs (we will help with this, but same time we prefer to warn). Please be ready, that it is a very emotive experience.

After this visit, we can check more places in the village, such as its traditional cemetery, as well as the former collective farm, that has been converted to a radiobiological center and operated in this form up to the mid-90-s.

Traditional cemetery at KupuvateTraditional cemetery at Kupuvate

Kupuvate — Chernobyl — Leliv checkpoint — City of Pripyat

We make a short technical stop in Chernobyl, then pass Leliv checkpoint and drive to Pripyat again.

We leave our car at the central square and explore the city on foot for the rest of the day — trust us, it is the best practice to walk there, not drive. We may take any route you would like, or go from oldest part to newest, covering major sights. 

Palace of culture Energetik in PripyatPalace of culture Energetik in Pripyat

Average list of locations depends on actual constraints, but normally we have time to cover famous locations as well as completely non-touristic places. We are flexible with this very much. It is a superb idea to pick the Last Days of Pripyat sub-tour for this day.

Abandoned playgroundAbandoned playground

Dawn by I. Litovchenko. One of multiple mosaics of Pripyat"Dawn" by I. Litovchenko. One of multiple mosaics of Pripyat

Interior of a grocery store in PripyatInterior of a grocery store in Pripyat

Please note, that especially in Pripyat it is officially forbidden to go inside structures, as it is really unsafe. Anyway, in fact in Pripyat, there are numerous places where you can perfectly see internals even without entering them.

Pripyat — Checkpoint Leliv — Chernobyl — Checkpoint Dityatky — Museum

We head to the exit. At the Dityatky checkpoint, we pass an already familiar contamination check-up. After this, we arrive at our secret museum — a carefully restored radiation control outpost from the Ilovnitsa village that operated in 1986-87, during the active phase of liquidation of consequences of disaster at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Here you can see various artifacts, operating equipment and immerse into the atmosphere of that time.

Dinner at STALKER restaurant & grill bar

We move to the STALKER hotel complex to have dinner and a final summary talk at the restaurant.

Dityatky — Transfer to Kyiv

After that, we drive to Kyiv back, where we will arrive approximately at 07:00...08:00 PM.

The price and what is included:

There are no hidden charges, we discuss everything beforehand. The price will include:

  • All documents and fees for the required permits, permissions for photo/video (which are an integral part of the permit) for the visit to the Zone.
  • The price includes a 3500 UAH/person fee by the power plant and is valid if you book the visit to NPP according to the instructions we will provide you with (so we can keep it cheaper for you and it takes a few minutes). We can make this booking for you, but in this case, additional charges will apply. Meals are not included, because the restaurant offers such a variety of meals, that we do not want to limit your choice.
  • Individual dosimetry control 
  • Guiding in English based on the itinerary above and chosen type (standard/authors)
  • Accommodation for 3 nights for the itinerary with an overnight stay, or for 2 nights if without (hostel rooms, or, by extra charge — hotel rooms). 
  • Transfer from Kyiv, within the Zone, and back by a minivan with a skilled driver that knows the Zone well.

Notices:

  • If you need help with airport transfer or booking your hotel, let us know.
  • A state permit is required for a visit to Chernobyl Zone. In order to obtain a permit, we need your full and accurate passport information and all details discussed before document submission.
  • In order to enter Ukraine you must have valid travel insurance that covers COVID cases as well. Please grab it with you, as authorities of the Zone check it selectively as well.
  • Due to certain permanently ongoing technological operations, certain locations or areas within the Zone may be closed for admission for few hours without further notice or announcement. . That affects ALL the tour operators, so the timing of tours is adjusted based on this. We strongly advise considering an overnight extension on the day before the tour in order to make your experience better (and richer — as overnight programs are longer).

 

Reviews on TripAdvisor

Read more reviews on TripAdvisor.