The Secret Snow Kingdom of Dragobrat. How to Visit

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Accessible in winter only by sturdy four-wheel drive vehicles, Dragobrat is a hidden mountain-top ski village with cozy bars, great views, Carpathian herbal hot tubs, sweeping views, and snowy slopes. If you want posh, go to the Bukovel resort. If you want adventure: Dragobrat.
Dragobrat panorama

Dragobrat panorama

Dragobrat – To reach this picturesque Transcarpathian hidden mountain enclave, one must take a Soviet-era military vehicle or some sturdy Land Rover-esque SUV with amazing suspension, through deep snow and ditches on a narrow rising mountain path, on an hour-long journey. Five hours from Lviv, we left our car in a riverside lot in the village of Yasinya, guarded by a massive pig. We called this place «Ukrainian Mexico,» a little rustic and wild.

Mr. Pig, in Yasyna. His house is an old Soviet jeep-truck, the sort of which will take you up the mountain. 

Then, in the dark, our driver collected us in his green Soviet-era jeep-truck. And soon we were tossed and jolted around up and down left and right, now and then glimpsing in the moonlight a steep drop off out the window. We stopped halfway up the mountain in a pristine, tranquil snowbound forest, while the driver applied the snow tires – and we still had maybe 20 minutes of holding on tightly amid the wild jolts. If you want to sip a beer or some drink, I recommend bringing a straw.

Atop the mountain, sits a small, lively village. There’s a sleek bar cheekily called G7 – though this is not the sort of ritzy Four Seasons place where a G7 summit would ever be held. But if you want to have a clandestine meeting in a pleasant village of cozy restaurants, bars, and guest houses, it’s your spot. There’s a small community of people, Ukrainians and foreigners who live here year round: people who like some peace away from the rest of the world.

This is quite different from Bukovel, Ukraine’s most popular and posher ski resort.

There are many off-piste and free-riding skiing and snowboarding opportunities here (and hiking in the warmer months), with views of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest mountain. 

Read more: Ukrainian Ski Resorts Begin the Season. Locations and Prices. 

My favorite bar is a place called Rizdvo, or «Christmas»: As you drive up, you’ll see its Christmas lights perched on a high ridge. It’s near a base of the ski slopes, a little separate from the village and, with candles, rugs, sometimes live music or a DJ, and large windows, it has a great Alpine vibe, with fine coffee, wine, spirits, and tasty food. It feels like a coffeehouse at the end of the world, or some ultra-exclusive resort because it is so small. 

Rizdvo bar

Throughout the village, you’ll see signs saying, «Чан,» or «chan,» which is an outdoor wood-fired Carpathian herbal hot tub. Roll around in the snow, soak in the tub, take a sauna, and repeat. 

An example of a chan – not at Dragobrat but also in the same region of Zakarpattia (screen shot from regional tourism video with some amazing scenes). 

Many of the guest houses here will also prepare meals including dinner. If you want some nicer alcohol, you might wish to bring your own, but there are plenty of good things to eat and drink in the village.

On the return home, in daylight, the perspective was different, perhaps more wild now that we could see beyond the edge of the road, but, as one friend said, it was therapeutic: You can’t think of too much as you get jostled about and so you have no occasion after a rejuvenating time in the mountains to be sad or anxious of Monday ahead.

Local villagers out for a morning constitutional

I like places that have a veil of separation from the normal world: an island off of South Carolina reachable only via an hour-long contemplative ferry ride – and this place. Modern life is complex enough to require a proper re-entry phase.

The Free Rider was a pleasant simple place to stay, with great views, hearty dinner and breakfast included, sauna and chan), just 10 minute stroll to the village, 2 minute walk to the slopes, and a 5 minute walk to the great Rizdvo. 

You could take a train to Yasinya or Vorokta and then hire a jeep-taxi to Dragobrat. Your guest house in Dragobrat can help, or write us at Lviv Now via Facebook. You can book trains here, and you can learn about a special skier-express train here. Find out ski details here

Find Karpaty Express on Instagram for jeep-taxi information.

After these Words:

Find out ski details here

[Like this:

You could take a train to Yasinya or Vorokta and then hire a jeep-taxi to Dragobrat. Your guest house in Dragobrat can help, or write us at Lviv Now via Facebook. You can book trains here, and you can learn about a special skier-express train here. Find out ski details here

Find Karpaty Express on Instagram for jeep-taxi information. 

Check out Google maps to explore the area.  ]

Read more about this region in the summer: Finding the Fantastic in District 13.

By Joe Lindsley

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Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.

 



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