Want To Visit Chernobyl? Here’s How To Do It
HBO’s Chernobyl TV show is one that's brought out the best and worst in people. In one way, you could argue that it has brought out humanity's ability to connect with one of its greatest tragedies on an entirely new level
People resonated with a show that told a fairly niche, intense story to the point where it's now the highest-rated show in imdb's history. On the other hand, however, the pop culture clout of the show is such that people have been flocking to their droves to the actual Chernobyl to take in the sight of a real-life nuclear wasteland.
"We have seen a 35 percent rise in bookings," Victor Korol, director of the tour company SoloEast, that runs tours around the exclusion zone that still surrounds the plant, told CNN a few weeks ago. "Most of the people say they decided to book after seeing this show. It's almost as though they watch it and then jump on a plane over."
This can obviously be a good thing. Tourism is good for the local economy. However, it's also brought out the worst of Instagram culture, with influencers also descending on the site to take what could possibly be the most inappropriate selfies ever taken. Even the writer of the show has had to step in, telling people to cool it with the half-naked Instagram posts taken in the middle of a city where people quite literally lost their lives in a nuclear disaster.
Of course, this shouldn't take away from your own desire to experience and learn about what really happened here. Traveling to Chernobyl and its surrounding areas, vast swathes of which are still completely uninhabitable and will be for thousands of years to come, is an incredibly unique experience. The city of Pripyat, once home to the plant's workers and their families, is one of the world's most iconic ghost towns. But as with all sites here, it'll take some planning.
You can realistically do Chernobyl and its surroundings in a day if you so choose, but any mavericks out there should remember that you cannot get into Chernobyl without a licensed guide. Seriously. You won't be let in, and nor should you be. A 2600 km sq exclusion zone exists around the city and its surroundings, and unless you want to meet your end via either radiation poisoning or the business end of an AK-47, you'd be wise to stick to the tour groups.
Most tours to the city exist in day-trip form, and cover either the plant or the city of Pripyat for anywhere between $105-140. You can also sign up for a two or three day tour, some of which actually make use of a 3-star hotel inside the city of Chernobyl or accommodation directly outside the exclusion zone. They'll set you back roughly $105 a day.
Guided tours around Chernobyl's exclusion zone are nothing new, but the surge in popularity surrounding the city has given rise to an entirely new breed of stylish travel options. For around $4170, companies like Atlas Obscura are now offering 10 day guided tours around the area, taking in not only Pripyat and the immediate area surrounding the plant, but also taking travellers to experience the historic region of Bessarabia, the Pechersk Lavra monastery, the Odessa Catacombs, and the residence of former president Viktor Yanukovych.