What Should You See and Do on Your First Visit to Kiev – Kyiv, Ukraine?

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If this is your first visit to Kiev – Kyiv, we congratulate you! Kyiv, one of Europe’s most underestimated capitals, is also one of the oldest towns in Eastern Europe, offering tourists an eclectic combination of architectural marvels, incredible gastronomy, famous nightlife, and a lush green environment.

What Should You See and Do on Your First Visit to Kiev - Kyiv, Ukraine?
What Should You See and Do on Your First Visit to Kiev – Kyiv, Ukraine?

Kiev or Kyiv?

“Kiev” is a transliteration of Russian, the late Soviet Union’s official language. “Kyiv” is a transliteration of Ukrainian, the country’s official language. Kyiv was approved as the standard Latinization by the Ukrainian government in 1995, making it mandatory for usage in legislative and administrative acts.

With a population of almost 3 million, the 1500-year-old city is regarded as a green metropolis, with two botanical gardens and several big and small parks located around the city center.

Is Kiev, Ukraine, a safe place to visit?

Kyiv’s central district is one of the safest in the world. It boasts excellent nightlife. The majority of Kyiv’s nightclubs, as well as several bars, brasseries, and cafés, are centered in the historic center, notably along busy Khreschatyk Street, which is extremely popular with visitors and foreigners. On weekends and public holidays, Khreschatyk’s main thoroughfare is closed to automobile traffic, transforming it into Kyiv’s most vibrant nightlife district.

When to depart

Kyiv’s summers are scorching and its winters are severely frigid. The weather will always play a significant role in how your trip unfolds. I enjoy the spring and fall seasons. Whichever season you select, make an effort to remain and enjoy the city over the weekend.

Kiev has a humid continental climate, and the hottest months are June and August when the average temperature ranges between 13.8 and 24.8 °C (56.8 and 76.6 °F). Between December and February, the average temperature fluctuates between 4.6 and 1.1 degrees Celsius (23.7 and 30.0 degrees Fahrenheit). Between mid-November and the end of March, snow is likely.

How to proceed

It’s never been simpler to visit, with Ryanair offering direct flights from London Stansted to supplement BA, Wizz Air, and Ukraine International’s existing services. Along with Ukraine International, Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines fly straight to Kyiv from Turkey.

What to look for

Khreshchatyk, Kyiv’s major thoroughfare, is the best place to begin your trip. It runs from the European Square via the Maidan to Bessarabska Square, which is home to the Bessarabsky Market. Numerous visitors like strolling up and down this boulevard. However, you should notice additional streets that run parallel to the Khreshchatyk.

A short stroll from Independence Square Maidan Nezalezhnosti will transport you to another universe filled with magnificently adorned ancient houses and palaces.

Specifically, The House with Chimeras, also known as Horodecki House, is an incredible brick Art Nouveau structure that you really must visit. The structure, which is decorated with animals, fairy-tale creatures, and aquatic fauna, is a must-see and is located in the Pechersk area on Bankova Street, 10, just across from the President of Ukraine’s Administration.

Square of Independence Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the city’s central square and a popular meeting spot. Maidan Nezalezhnosti rose to prominence in 2004 as the hub of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. Additionally, the Globus Shopping Center is located here. Additionally, there is a sizable subterranean shopping complex that is accessible through Globus and the subway.

Podil is one of Kyiv’s oldest neighborhoods and the cradle of the city’s business, industry, and trade. It draws inhabitants and tourists alike with its stunning architecture, historical landmarks, and bohemian vibe. Afternoon visitors come to stroll through the historic streets, dine and drink at various restaurants, cafés, pubs, and clubs, and listen to street music. Podil is a highly varied neighborhood, attracting not just creative young, but also Kyiv millionaires and entertainment celebrities who live in luxury flats and penthouses in Vozdvizhenka, as well as a large number of Orthodox Jews who frequently opt to move here. Additionally, you may ride the enormous Ferris wheel in Kontraktova Square.

Arsenalna is a metro stop worth seeing. It is located on Kyiv’s Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska line and is the world’s deepest tunnel, at 105.5 meters (350 ft).

The city has a tumultuous past, having been caught in the crossfire between Nazis and Soviets during World War II. The National Museum of Ukraine’s History in the Second World War is the place to go to learn about the country’s involvement in the fight and to pay respect to the approximately ten million Ukrainians who perished. Another relic of the country’s Soviet heritage is the enormous Motherland Monument, which stands at 102 meters tall. A shield with the hammer and sickle emblem persists despite a 2015 law prohibiting the use of Soviet and Communist symbols throughout the nation – Second World War monuments were exempt.

The Ukrainian National Opera was founded in 1856 and burned down 40 years later, prompting a competition to build a replacement one. In 1901, Viktor Shreter of Petersburg won and constructed the Renaissance-style theatre. Numerous well-known musicians have played here.

The Pyrohovo Folk Architecture Museum is a well-known open-air museum. Seven villages are split by wooden churches, houses, and windmills, each symbolizing a different region of Ukraine — musicians frequently perform on weekends.

The Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum, with its significant and emotive message, is a must-see if you’re in Kyiv. The exhibition is large, educational, and really well-made, and you’ll find artifacts such as photographs of ordinary life and movies depicting the most catastrophic nuclear disaster in history.

Long regarded as a haven for artists, singers, authors, and craftsmen, the cobblestoned street of Andriivs’kyi Descent is one of the few vestiges of pre-Soviet or “old” Kyiv, as residents refer to it.

Churches: Around 950 churches and cathedrals dot the Ukrainian capital. Here are a few of the most well-known.

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

The brilliant yellow St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, erected in honor of the prince who brought Christianity to Ukraine, is located in the town’s center.

Another must-see UNESCO property in Kyiv is the Pechersk Lavra (monastery of the caves), which was founded in 1051. If you do not suffer from claustrophobia, you may stroll into the hallowed caverns lined with the tombs of 126 saints by candlelight.

St Andrew’s Church is a Baroque-style church that is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Kyiv. Between 1747 and 1754, the church was built following the design of Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The church is located on a hill in Kyiv’s historic center. It is one of the city’s most prominent Orthodox temples.

Circumnavigating

Kyiv boasts a dependable Metro system that is an excellent way to move about. Tokens are sold at stations by cashiers and dispensers. Consider purchasing a metro card for additional convenience, as certain cashiers may refuse to sell you more than one token at a time. Buses may be congested and inconvenient at times.

While visiting in Ukraine, you may take advantage of the lowest taxi fares in Europe. Getting about the city often costs between 60 and 140 Ukrainian hryvnias (between $2 and $5) every taxi fare. Avoid taking a cab on the highway. You may use Uber, but my preference is for Uklon. You may access the software from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.

Where and what to eat

Puzata Hata is a renowned restaurant franchise in Ukraine that specializes in traditional Ukrainian cuisine. It’s a fantastic option for budget tourists interested in sampling authentic Ukrainian food. It is a self-service restaurant with outlets around Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities like Lviv, Kharkiv, and Odesa. At each Puzata Hata restaurant, you must take a tray and select your food from the counter, as well as your beverages from the drinks section, before proceeding to the pay counter. You can pay with cash or a credit card. There are several soups and salads, meat and veggie meals, and delectable desserts to pick from. Nothing is in English, but you may simply point to the items you choose. Borscht, chebureki, chicken Kiev, and vareniki are also popular meals to eat while in town.

Apart from Ukrainian cuisine, Kyiv is an excellent venue to sample Georgian cuisine, and Mama Manana is without a doubt one of the must-visit establishments in the Ukrainian city.

Additionally, the city boasts a number of restaurants serving Middle Eastern, European, and Asian cuisines. Other restaurants that I can recommend are Musafir – Middle Eastern, Cimes – Jewish – Middle Eastern, Tin Tin – Vietnamese & Asian, and Sushiya – sushi Japanese & Asian.

Where to shop

Gulliver retail mall, Ocean Plaza, Globus, Skymall, Arena City, and Lavina Mall are just a few of the shopping malls in the area. Additionally, they are an excellent spot to visit during inclement weather. For those seeking traditional shopping, the Bessarabka market is unbeatable. Women sell fruit, vegetables, meat, and flowers in this 1912 structure. If you’re looking for high-end, mainstream goods, head to Khreshchatyk, which is home to luxury labels like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Rolex, and Vacheron Constantin, as well as upscale Russian and Ukrainian designers.

We propose visiting the Andriyivskyi Descent for unique gifts.

Places to stay

In the Ukrainian capital, there are several hostels, hotels, including globally renowned brands, and flats to select from.

I stayed at Accor’s ibis Railway Station Kiev during my most recent visit to Kyiv. ibis Railway Station Kiev, which opened in 2018, offers optimum comfort in contemporary and well-equipped rooms in a strategic position in the city. Located just across from the entrance to Kyiv’s Central Railway Station, which also houses the Vokzalna Metro Station, the hotel’s visitors can easily reach any area of the city. Additionally, it is rather affordable when compared to Uber or a cab. A single metro ride costs 8, or around US$0.30 in Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH). Additionally, the international airport shuttle bus station is within walking distance.

Kyiv’s Central Railway Station is divided into two stations – one on each side of the lines. They are connected via a subterranean tube. The ibis Railway Station Kiev is housed in the more contemporary Southern Station, which is easily identifiable by its stunning glass exterior. This section of the station features numerous eateries that are open 24 hours a day: McDonald’s, Puzata Hata, Mama Manana, KFC, and Sushiya. Additionally, there are two supermarkets across the street: EKO-Market and Novus. Visit Novus for a more enjoyable buying experience.

From the railway station, you may board a train to neighboring towns in Ukraine or to foreign destinations like Warsaw, Bucharest, or Moscow.

The hotel is excellent for tourists on a budget who desire the greatest comfort of contemporary, well-equipped rooms. The rooms include plush mattresses and blackout curtains to ensure a restful night’s sleep. If you have the chance, inquire about additional silent nights in rooms facing the train lines. And I adore the complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. The hotel provides well-equipped conference rooms for corporate gatherings and conferences.

The hotel’s bar and restaurant provide a variety of foreign cuisines. From 4 a.m. to 12 p.m., ibis Kitchen Restaurant serves a delectable prepared buffet breakfast. At the bar, beverages and snacks are offered 24 hours a day. Breakfast croissants are unquestionably the greatest in the city.