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What to See and Experience on Your First Trip to Kiev – Kyiv, Ukraine?

What to See and Experience on Your First Trip to Kiev

If you're planning your first trip to Kiev – Kyiv, congratulations! One of the most underrated European capitals, Kyiv is also one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe that offers travelers a mix of architectural masterpieces, amazing food, legendary nightlife, and beautiful green nature.

Kyiv or Kiev?

"Kiev" is transliterated from Russian, the official language of late USSR. "Kyiv" is transliterated from Ukrainian, which is the official language of Ukraine. The Ukrainian government adopted Kyiv as its standard Latinization in 1995, making Kyiv mandatory for use in legislative and official acts.

The 1500-year-old city, with a population of nearly 3 million people, is known as a green city with two botanical gardens and numerous large and small parks around the city center.

Is it safe to travel to Kiev, Ukraine?

The center of Kyiv is one of the safest cities in the world. It has a good nightlife. Most of the night clubs in Kyiv, including many bars, brasseries, and cafés, is concentrated in the historic center, particularly along the crowded Khreschatyk Street, a very frequented by tourists and foreigners. On weekends and public holidays, the main street of Khreschatyk is closed to car traffic, becoming the area with the most active nightlife in Kyiv.

Kyiv in spring

When to go

Kyiv has hot summers and bitterly cold winters. The weather is always going to play a major factor in how your experience is. I prefer spring and autumn. Whatever season you choose, try to stay and experience the city during weekend as well.

The climate in Kiev is humid continental and the warmest months are between June and August when the average temperature can range from 13.8 to 24.8 °C (56.8 to 76.6 °F). The winter months between December and February have an average temperature that ranges from −4.6 to −1.1 °C (23.7 to 30.0 °F). You can expect snow on the ground between mid November and the end of March.

Kyiv, Ukraine

How to go

It’s never been easier to visit, with Ryanair launching direct flights from London Stansted to complement existing services operated by BA, Wizz Air, and Ukraine International. From Turkey, in addition to Ukraine International, Turkish Airlines, and Pegasus Airlines flies direct to Kyiv.

Architecture of Kyiv, Ukraine

What to see

Khreshchatyk, the main street of Kyiv, is where you should start your tour. It stretches from the European Square through the Maidan and to Bessarabska Square where the Besarabsky Market is located. Many tourists love to stroll up and down on this street. But you should see other streets parallel to the Khreshchatyk as well.

A short walk from the Independence Square Maidan Nezalezhnosti will take you into a different world where you will be surrounded by old buildings and mansions that are beautifully decorated.

House with Chimeras in Kyiv

Especially, The House with Chimeras also known as Horodecki House is an amazing brick building in the Art Nouveau style that you have to see. Decorated with animals, fairy-tale creatures, and underwater fauna, the building is a must-see and located in the Pechersk district on Bankova Street, 10, in front of the Administration of the President of Ukraine.

Independence Square Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the city's main square and one of the most popular places for meetings. Maidan Nezalezhnosti found fame as the epicenter of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution back in 2004. Here you will also find the Globus Shopping Center. There is also a large underground shopping center that you can access through Globus and metro.

Podil, Kyiv - Ukraine

Podil is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Kyiv, and the birthplace of the city's trade, commerce and industry. It attracts residents and tourists with beautiful architecture, historical monuments and bohemian atmosphere. People come here in the afternoon to walk through the old streets, eat and drink at unique restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs, listen to street music. Podil is very diverse area being home not only for the creative youth, but also for Kyiv millionaires and showbiz stars, inhabiting luxury apartments and penthouses in Vozdvizhenka, and many Orthodox Jews, who often choose to settle in here. You can also ride the gigantic Ferris wheel at Kontraktova Square.

Arsenalna is the metro station that you may want to visit. It is on Kyiv’s Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska line and is the world’s deepest at 105.5 meters (350 feet) below ground.

War Museum, Kyiv

The city has a bruising history, having been caught between the Nazis and the Soviets in the Second World War. The National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War is where to go to explore the nation’s role in the conflict and pay tribute to the some 10 million Ukrainians who lost their lives. Part of the museum has another reminder of the nation’s Soviet past, is the monstrous Motherland Monument.  at 102 meters tall. A shield bearing the emblem of the hammer and sickle survives despite a piece of legislation introduced in 2015 forbidding Soviet and Communist symbols from the country - Second World War monuments were excluded.

Ukrainian National Opera, Kyiv

The Ukrainian National Opera was built in 1856 and burnt down 40 years later and there was a competition for the new design. Viktor Shreter from Petersburg won and built the Renaissance style theatre in 1901. Many famous artists have performed here.

The Pyrohovo Museum of Folk Architecture is a popular open-air museum. Wooden churches, cottages, and windmills are divided into seven villages, each representing different corners of Ukraine – musicians often play at weekends.

Ukrainian National Museum of Chernobyl with an important and emotional message is definitely a place to see if you’re in Kyiv. The exhibition is big, informative and really well-made, so you will discover items such as photos of everyday life, videos portraying the most devastating nuclear accident to ever take place.

Long known as a mecca for painters, musicians, writers and artisans, the cobbled street of Andriivs’kyi Descent is one of the last remaining places to sense the atmosphere of the pre-Soviet or “old” Kyiv, as locals would say.

Churches: The Ukrainian capital boasts around 950 churches and cathedrals. Here are some of the most famous ones.

The stunning St. Sophia Cathedral — a UNESCO World Heritage site and Kyiv’s oldest Christian church, St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral, St. Andrew’s Church, Another UNESCO site - Pechersk Lavra, and St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral.

In the center of town is the bright yellow St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, built in honor of the prince who brought Christianity to Ukraine.

Pechersk Lavra, Kyiv

Another UNESCO site in Kyiv not to be missed is the Pechersk Lavra (monastery of the caves) — founded in 1051. If you don’t have claustrophobia, you can take candlelight and walk through the sacred caves lined with the tombs of 126 saints.

Regarded as one of the most beautiful churches in Kyiv, St Andrew's Church is a Baroque style church. The church was constructed between 1747 and 1754, to a design by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The church stands on a hill in the historic center of Kyiv. It is one of the most famous Orthodox temples in the Ukrainian capital.

Getting around

Kyiv has a reliable Metro system and it is a good option for getting around. Tokens are sold by cashiers and dispensers at stations. You may also think of buying a metro card for more convenience since some cashiers may refuse to sell you more than 1 token at a time. Buses can be overcrowded and inconvenient.

While traveling in Ukraine you benefit from the most affordable taxi prices in Europe. Getting around the city would typically cost you 60-140 Ukrainian hryvnias (~$2-5) per taxi ride. Don’t take a taxi on the road. You can use Uber but my choice will be Uklon. You can download its app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.

Where and what to eat

Puzata Hata is one of the most popular restaurant chains in Ukraine offering traditional Ukrainian cuisine. It is an excellent place for budget travelers to sample traditional Ukrainian cuisine. It is a self-service restaurant that you can find in several locations in Kyiv as well as in other Ukrainian cities such as Lviv, Kharkiv, and Odesa. The concept is the same at every Puzata Hata restaurant; you need to grab a tray and choose your dishes from the counter, take your drinks from the drinks section and head to the pay counter. You can pay either in cash or with the card. You can choose from plenty of soups and salads, meat and vegetable dishes, delicious pastries. Nothing is in English but you can just point at what you want. Popular dishes you should try while you're in town include borscht, chebureki, chicken Kiev, and vareniki.

 

Beyond Ukrainian cuisine, Kyiv is also an ideal place to try Georgian food, and Mama Manana is without any doubt one of the addresses that you don’t want to miss in the Ukrainian capital.

The city also has several Middle Eastern, European and Asian cuisine restaurants. Musafir - Middle Eastern, Cimes – Jewish – Middle Eastern, Tin Tin – Vietnamese & Asian, Sushiya – sushi Japanese & Asian are some of the other restaurants that I can recommend.

Where to shop

Gulliver shopping mall, Ocean Plaza, Globus, Skymall, Arena City, Lavina Mall are some of the shopping centers that you can visit. They are also a good place to visit during bad weather. For those looking for traditional shopping, you can’t beat the Bessarabka market. Set in a 1912 building, women sell fruit, vegetables, meat, and flowers. If you want high-end, mainstream brands, head to Khreshchatyk, which homes the luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Rolex, Vacheron Constantin, and upmarket Russian and Ukrainian designers.

For original souvenirs, we recommend you to go to the Andriyivskyi Descent.

Where to stay

There are plenty of hostels, hotels including internationally recognized brands, and apartments to choose from in the Ukrainian capital.

During my last visit to Kyiv, I stayed at Accor’s ibis Railway Station Kiev. Opened in 2018, ibis Railway Station Kiev offers ultimate comfort of modern & well-equipped rooms in a central location in the city. Located just next to the entrance of Kyiv’s Central Railway station that also houses Vokzalna Metro Station makes the hotel guests reach any part of the city in the fastest way. It is also very cheap compared to Uber or taxi. A single ride on metro costs ₴8, or Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH) which is approx. US$0.30 in May 2019. The international airport shuttle bus stop is also located in the walking distance.

 ibis Kiev Railway Station restaurant

Kyiv’s Central Railway station comprises two stations; Central and Southern - one of each side of the tracks. They are linked by an underground tunnel. The more modern Southern Station that you can recognize with its striking glass facade is where the ibis Railway Station Kiev is located. This part of the station has several 24 hours open restaurants; McDonald's, Puzata Hata, Mama Manana, KFC, Sushiya. There are also two supermarkets; EKO-Market and Novus just across the street. Head to Novus for a better shopping experience.

You can take a train from the railway station to other cities of Ukraine as well as to international destinations such as Warsaw, Bucharest, and Moscow.

The hotel is ideal for budget travelers seeking the ultimate comfort of modern & well-equipped rooms. Rooms have comfortable beds and blackout curtains that help you sleep through the night. If you have a chance, ask the rooms looking to the railway tracks for more silent nights.  And free high-speed Wi-Fi is what I love. For business meetings and conventions, the hotel offers fully equipped conference rooms.

ibis Kiev Railway Station room

The hotel’s bar and restaurant offers international food. Rich cooked buffet breakfast served from 4 am to 12 pm at ibis Kitchen Restaurant. 24/7 drinks and snacks available at the bar. The croissants served during breakfast are definitely the best in the city.

For reservations and more information visit hotel's website or book on booking.com





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