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KIEV TRAVEL ADVICE Watch Our Videos of Kiev

Kiev (Kyiv), is the capital of Ukraine and is its largest city with a population exceeding 2.5 million people. In fact, Kiev ranks as the 8th largest city in Europe!

Along with Odessa, Kiev is typical the first choice for first-time visitors to Ukraine, for several reasons including its extensive offering of international flight arrivals.

With this being a government center and a business center for the country, the city serves businessmen, dignitaries and vacationing tourists equally well.

Kiev is one of three Ukrainian cities with a metro and thus it is relatively easy to get around this large city.

It also has the most cultural, historic, athletic, and entertainment options for a tourist coming to Ukraine. Kiev has become quite a cosmopolitan place rivaling any city in East Europe in terms of what it offers to a visiting tourist. It's no wonder than most visitors to Kiev say they want to come back in the near future!

Scroll down for more on Kiev

Tourist Information

"Things to Do"/Sightseeing Attractions in Kiev

Kiev offers something for everyone. For history buffs, there are nearly 300 museums, some more worthy of a visit than others. Some of the more popular include Museum of the Great Patriotic War, the (Pyrohiv )Folk Architecture & Life Museum, and the Museum of Russian Art.

Most first-time visitors will want to visit at least one of the historic-religious sites such as the Golden Gate, St. Sofia, St. Michaels and/or Pechersk Lavra.

We strongly suggest visiting at least one park. Kiev is considered the "greenest" of the major cities in East Europe. The Botanical Gardens, Mariinskiy Park, Volodmyska Hirka, or Park of Eternal Glory are some of the nicer parks, all on the bank of thr Dnipro River.

Kiev Nightlife & Entertainment

Kiev nightlife has continued to grow over the past decade and now rivals most European cities with the diversity available.

Got dancing shoes? Kiev has several late-night dance clubs that go until the early morning hours – places like D'Lux, SkyBar & Decadence House at Arena, Sorry Babushka, Vodka Bar and Ajour offer fun dance music. And for those seeking some Latin salsa, check out Carribean Club.

Which are the best nighttime lounges? Buddha Bar, Indigo, Serebro, and Mantra as just a few of the places to consider.

Check out our nightlife videos to see some hot visual action at the hottest, trendiest lounges, brew houses, pubs, and dance clubs in Kiev, including some of the places with the best views and people-watching opportunities.

Dining In Kiev

Kiev has well over 1,000 well-established restaurants to choose from. That's why we have put so much time into our dining videos and dining reviews.

We strongly suggest checking out at least one or more of the authentic Ukrainian restaurants. Places with full Ukrainian décor include Kureni, Tsarke Selo, Taras Bulba and Kult RA. And for lunch, simpler options include the bistro Puzata Hata, or places like Vulyk, and Varenichnaya#1.

Ethnic and Japanese-Sushi places continue to be very trendy in Kiev. Ethnic/Continental places that continue to rank high as favorites include Whisky Corner, Antewerpen, Fellini, Le Cosmopolite and Lipsky Osobnyak.

The best way to select a restaurant? Use our videos and our maps to narrow down a place that looks appealing and is near-by. We have over 10 videos dedicated to dining in Kiev – let your taste buds follow the way!

Cafes & Lounges in Kiev

While Kiev doesn't have as many café or lounge options as Lviv or Odessa, it does have several places worthy of checking out, especially on a nice summer day. Places like Aroma, Kafka, and Repriza some of the popular hangouts.

Needing a coffee fix? You don't have to go to far to find a Coffee Life or Coffee House location.

Kiev Shopping

Eight years ago, shopping in Kiev was a lackluster chore. Today, Kiev hosts several new mega-malls as well as several high-end shopping streets.

Dreamtown and Ocean Plaza are the largest of the new shopping centres. For those hanging around Kreschatyk, you have Globus (underground) shopping centre, Mandarin Plaza, and Metrograd to keep you busy. And in 2015, Kiev awaits the grand opening of the renovated, historic TSUM shopping mall.

Our shopping video will also highlight the best place to pick up your Ukrainian souvenir – don't leave Kiev without a furry hat, a matryoshka doll or mini Lenin statue.

Yanukovych's Mansion: Museum of Corruption

Viktor Yanukovych's Mansion, now open to visitors as the "Museum of Corruption"

Kiev Nightlife at Arena City

Common Kiev nightlife hotspots include Shooters and Arena City Entertainment Complex

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Flights arriving at Kiev Borispol (Boryspil) Airport

Most international flights arrive to Kiev at Boryspil (Borispol) International Airport

Carry a Map of Kiev's Metro Stops

We suggest carrying a map of Kiev's metro stops with you at all times – it's the cheapest and best way around the city

Sponsored Link
Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kiev

The Hyatt Regency is one of the modern hotels that recently entered the Kiev lodging scene

5 Tips For a Fun & Worthwhile Visit to Kiev

Kiev is a cosmopolitan gem of a city offering a wide variety of interesting, fun and cultural things to do.

Being a large city (the eight largest in Europe!), Kiev can offer some confusion for first-time or repeat visitors as to where to spend their time, money and energy.

Here are some tips to help you optimize your visit:

1) Don't limit your city center walking to just Khreschatyk street.
Yes, Khreschatyk street is a fun way to take in the Kiev scene, do some people-watching and take in some shopping, however, it seems too many first-timers focus their energies only on this street.

After experiencing Khreschatyk once or twice we strongly encourage you to take in some of the other main streets including:

  • Volodymarska Street (AKA Vladimarskaya Street) – Running parallel with Khreschatyk, you can start at St. Michael's Golden Dome & Monastery, walk by St. Sofia, followed by the Golden Gate, past the Kiev History Museum and then finish up at the Shevchenko University and the park across the street.
  • Chervonoarmiiska Street (AKA Krasnoarmeiskaya Street) – this is the real street for shopping, some café action and a boatload of dining options. While most tourists are walking Khreschatyk, more and more locals are finding their way down this street.
  • Andriivskyi Descent – this is the famous winding street that takes you from the old uptown down to Podil district. A street market, outdoor cafes, art galleries and museums line this famous street of Kiev. Watch our video dedicated to this street!
  • Hrushevskoho Street (& turns into Ivana Mazepy Street). This street runs parallel with the Dnipro River and offers some views of the river from the various parks that are adjacent to the street. Here you can enjoy the Park of Eternal Glory, Pechersk Lavra and Mariinskiy Park all within a kilometer walking of one another. Many museums are also located on this walk.

2) Be Patient...and a little pro-active

Even in the capital city of Kiev service levels can be very slow, even slower than other European countries. It is not unusual for it to take 15 to 20 minutes to get your bill in a restaurant after asking for it.

Allow yourself sufficient time for a sit-down dinner. For us, we have learned to be patient and also have learned to expedite the process somewhat. For example, when the waitress first approaches the table for drink requests, we also will place our dinner order. Similarly we will ask for our final bill as we are finishing our meals if a waitress is in the area of our table. Service levels vary greatly in Kiev and we have found its best to contact the service personnel when they are range of our table, as you never know when her 20 minute cigarette break may interfere with you evening timetable.

Regardless of the service levels, we do strongly suggest you keep a friendly demeanor. We have seen too often a combative nature work against diners.

3) Take in some local culture

The city has over a thousand years of history behind it – so much of it unique to Western and Asian visitors. Even for those who are not history buffs should take in at least one museum, religious site or at a minimum, an authentic Ukrainian meal.

Please do try to take in a few of the below examples of Kiev's history & culture:

4) Arrive open minded...and open hearted

A common phrase heard on the streets of Kiev is "I didn't realize...". Kiev is full of surprises and those who arrive with certain preconceived notions usually leave with a different perspective than what they originally expected.

Kiev is a city that inspires the emotions, from its historic architecture, its modern shopping, beautiful and friendly people and its cosmopolitan cultural events, restaurants and nightlife. It's no wonder that most people who visit Kiev say they want to come back soon!

And while some people will get frustrated with some of the infrastructure or service issues commonly found in East Europe, most people find these to be mild inconveniences for a city that offers so much.

The local people may seem to be stoic at first but initiate a conversation and you will inevitably be welcomed with a smile and warm hospitality. And look out if you are not careful, you may fall in love with a local! Their warmth, charm and beauty is mesmerizing!

5) Be understanding of the local geopolitical situation

The Ukraine region has a long and varied history. To get a better understanding of ever-changing political eras of Europe, take a look at this interesting video on Europe Over the Years.

It is important to understand that heavy emotions are involved with the recent turmoil in Ukraine. One person may have lost a dear friend or family member in the fighting, another person may have lost his job, and someone else may be emotionally torn as one parent originates from Moscow and the other a local Ukrainian citizen. During Soviet times it was very common for Russian-based soldiers stationed in Ukraine to fall in love and to have children. Many of those children are now in their twenties and thirties and are in the crosshairs of the turmoil.

Kiev in particular, as the capital city, attracts people from throughout the country arriving for job and educational opportunities.

We encourage visitors to Ukraine to understand the delicate emotions involved in the turmoil and be cognizant of the sensitivities. The old adage of "do not speak of religion or politics with new acquaintances" is something to keep in mind. We encourage you meeting and interacting with the locals as the vast majority are wonderful people, however, we would suggest that you allow them to open up dialogs on any of the sensitive issues at hand. Some may want to discuss it...others may not.

Also be up-to-date on the situation, it will allow you to plan your trip accordingly, including any safety precautions you may want to consider. See our section under Q&A for more smart travel suggestions.

Flights arriving at Kiev Borispol (Boryspil) Airport

Most international flights arrive to Kiev at Boryspil (Borispol) International Airport

Carry a Map of Kiev's Metro Stops

We suggest carrying a map of Kiev's metro stops with you at all times – it's the cheapest and best way around the city

Sponsored Link
Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kiev

The Hyatt Regency is one of the modern hotels that recently entered the Kiev lodging scene

Ukraine Video Guide's General Advice for Visiting Kiev

Many of Kiev's best sites, restaurants and clubs are more than walking distance from the main drag. To manage your time, we strongly suggest familiarizing yourself with where your "must-visit" places are before walking aimlessly.

As a reminder, we encourage people to utilize our custom locator maps of Kiev to see where the top restaurants, nightclubs, attractions, and hotels are located in proximity to your lodging and the city center. Some of the most memorable dining and nighttime experiences are away from the city center. Zoom in, zoom out and organize your trip before arriving.

We also encourage you to get familiar with the underground metro. This will save you time and money compared to taxis and even for short distances are a very good way to avoid the inclement weather that can hit Kiev.

For first-timers, don't forget to view our travel tip videos to assist you during your initial visit to Kiev.

Common FAQs for Kiev

Below are some of the more common Kiev Question & Answers. Customized questions can also be directed to Ukraine Video Guide through our email and Skype Q&A services offered in our travel planning section of our website.

Q: I had a friend suggest to me that I visit Kiev (and Ukraine) for the first time. However I'm still trying to decide between Kiev and a few other cities, such as Paris, Berlin and Warsaw. Why choose Kiev?

A: We have many reasons (and videos!) to promote Kiev:

  • Relative Costs – Kiev is one of the most affordable capital cities in all of Europe – in fact a 7 day trip to Kiev could easily end up costing about ? the price of a trip to Paris or Rome. For those of you familiar with the Big Mac Index, Ukraine was the 4th cheapest country out of 48 evaluated, even cheaper than China, Thailand, Czech republic and other so-called affordable travel destinations.
  • Modernization of Ukraine – Ukraine invested billions of Euros in infrastructure improvements leading up to the Euro 2012 tournament. What remains are some of the newest airport terminals in all of Europe, speed trains connecting Lviv, Kiev, Kharkiv and Donetsk, renovated highways and beautiful parks in many cities.

    Private investment means modern new hotels, trendy restaurants, and many new shoppng centers.

  • Ukraine is "on sale" – Ukraine was hit hard during the financial crisis and is still hoping to see economic recovery.

    Since 2008, the local currency called the Ukrianian Hryvnia has depreciated 40% versus the US dollar. In 2008, the Hryvnia was trading at 4.5 times to the US dollar. Now it trades at over 10.

    What this means is that it takes just over half as many dollars to buy many local goods as it did in 2008. We love shopping at the grocery store for large soda and beer bottles under $1, and sweets for ? the price back home.

    During the 2014 turmoil apartment renters and hotels are offering even more tremendous deals to lure tourists.

    4) Cultural, Historic and Cosmopolitan Options Available – Kiev offers countless options for a visitor. Kiev has as many museums as nearly any city in Europe, some of the most diverse and awe-inspiring churches, numerous live performances of all types and amazing restaurants. Yes, Rome, Paris and other places may have comparable list of "to do" lists, but the prices to tackle them all are quite formidable. Can you get great Opera seats for under $10 USD in Western Europe?

We can go on, but we will let our videos help showcase the amazing city that Kiev is...

Q: What are the best options for getting to the city center once arriving at Borispyl Airport?

A: One of the great unknowns when traveling to East Europe is how the taxis would treat the foreigners.

As you depart customs you may get hounded by men offering rides to the city. It's always been discouraged to use these unofficial taxis, as they often may try to get higher rates than "official" taxi men

In preparation for the Euro2012 tournament, Kiev tried to make transfers to the city more in-line with other European cities. They granted official taxi and bus services to "Sky taxi" and "Sky Bus".

Sky Bus drops off passengers at the Kiev Railway Station, where there is a metro that can take your further around the city.

Sky Bus and Sky Taxi typically operate on a 24/7 basis.

Sky Taxi was named the official taxi company of Borispyl and should charge around 6.50 UAH per km. This typically would mean a charge of 22 to 28 € to the city centre, however, with every taxi ride you take in East Europe, confirm the pricing level before you depart.

For those renting apartments, you may want to consider "door to door" service and pay a flat fee for a transfer by that apartment group including being let into your flat. These transfers are usually between $30-50 USD. These people will meet you at the airport with a big sign.

It had been hoped that a speed rail line to the city would be up and running by the time of the Euro2012. It has been delayed a time or two, but it had still been hoped to eventually get built out.

For those taking busses immediately to another city, some of the large bus lines have stops at the Airport before departing town. Here you can pick up the Bus at the main bus terminal at the airport immediately across the street (slightly to your left) as you walk outside of Terminal B. Some busses only run 1-2 times a day to certain cities, so it is wise to know your travel schedule prior to arrival. UVG can assist with bus and train schedules as part of our travel planning services if needed.

Q: Should I be scared to come to Ukraine after the 2014 crisis events?

A: Each person must understand their own reasons for coming and the associated risk factors traveling to any city in the world. The events in Ukraine 2014 continue to change on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, and we will not pretend to be an up-to-the-minute resource for the geopolitical impacts in each region. Several of our friends have traveled or lived in Ukraine during 2014 and not reported problems.

That being said, we do suggest you follow general smart travel planning to any country you travel to including:

Historically most incidents between locals and foreigners had been limited to petty street crime, with pickpocketing being the number one reported crime. Tourist areas, Khreshatyk street and the metro were the main areas to be alert of this crime.

As in any foreign country, respect the locals, try to be neutral and quiet about your political, religious and sport affiliations and you have a much better change of avoiding any conflicts. Those who limit their time walking at night or by them selves also tend to limit any negative repercussions.

Those who have traveled to Ukraine in 2014 have been able to take advantage of some great discounted lodging and the favorable currency conditions.

Chicken Kiev in Ukraine

"Chicken Kiev" anyone? Many new cheap food, hotel and flight options have made Kiev an affordable travel destination

FC Dynamo plays at Kiev's NSC Olympic Stadium

The Olympic National Sports Comple (aka "Olimpiyskiy NSC") is home of FC Dynamo.

Kiev apartment view of Khreschatyk street

View of Khreschatyk street from a Kiev Apartment

Did You Know? 10 Interesting Facts About Kiev...

Ukraine Video Guide offers ten unique and interesting facts about Kiev:

  1. What Ukraine city in is larger than Paris, Rome, Vienna, Munich as well as Milan? Kiev! Kiev is the 8th largest city in Europe with a population of 2.8 million people. Only Madrid, Berlin, Athens, St. Petersburg London, Moscow, and Istanbul outrank Kiev. Moscow with nearly 12 million and Istanbul with 14.1 million qualify as mega-cities in our book!
  2. Arsenalnaya subway station is considered the deepest subway stop in the world. From the ground level it drops over 100 meters and is quite a long escalator ride to the bottom!
  3. Kiev was the initial capital of the Kievan Rus empire which was the first Russian state, originating in the late 9th century. Even today Russian's sometimes refer to Kiev as their motherland.
  4. By the 11th century, Kiev was the largest city in Europe. It is claimed to have been fifty times larger than London, and ten times larger than Paris!
  5. Most visitors overlook the Park of Miniatures, an amazing replication of the city. If you do don't have time to see much of the city, this is one way of taking it in quickly.
  6. It is said that the third most visited McDonald's in the world is the one across from the Kiev train station. "Over 2 million served" in a typical year!
  7. Kiev was the only CIS state to be named by the United Nations on the list for "top 30 European Green City Index", based on its high number of parks and green areas in the city center.
  8. Kiev is home of the largest air freighter in the world! The Mriya AN-225 "sky truck" was designed to carry enormous loads such as space rockets. In 2009, it was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for a single load – 187.6 tons! That's 375,000 lbs!
  9. Almost every visitor walks Khreshatyk street at least once. It has the unique distinction of being the shortest "main" street of any major city in the world – at just 1.2 km! However, it also ranks as one of the widest main streets.
  10. The first computer on continental Europe was built in Kiev! In 1950, as part of the USSR, Sergey Lebedev created a 'smart machine', the first electronic computer for mainland Europe while head of the Kiev Electrotechnical Institute. Eventually Lededev would play a key part in the Soviet space program that included calculating the trajectory of the first rocket to reach the moon's surface. So he was a rocket scientist and a computer inventor! What did you do today?
Kiev apartment view of Khreschatyk street

View of Khreschatyk street from a Kiev Apartment

Kiev History

Kiev's history goes back some fourteen hundred years! It is said that the original settlers (5th century) were brothers by the names of Shcek, Kyi and Khoryv, along with a sister Lybid. As a town developed the younger brothers honored their older brother by naming it Kiev (Kyiv).

There is much debate about a legendary story regarding St. Andrew the Apostle. According to the legend, he landed at the banks of the Dnipro River around 70 AD and proclaimed that a great Christian metropolis would later emerge here.

By the 9th century Kiev had developed into one of the international trading posts of continental Europe. In turn it had become the capital city of the east Slavic state – of which would be known as the Kievan Rus Empire.

The next 150 years would become an important time in Kiev history as tremendously important architecture advancements would come about – The Golden Gate, St. Sofia and Pechersk Lavra would all come into existence by 1100 AD and establish Kiev's image in the world. Some consider this to be Kiev's Renaissance or Golden-Age period.

It was no coincidence that during this period that Kiev also saw some of its most dynamic leaders – including Kiev Prince Volodymyr. The prince announced Christianity as its official language in 988 and Kiev soon saw itself rise as a center of Orthodox in East Europe.

In 1240 an invasion from the Mongals destroyed much of the city. Over the next few centuries Kiev would fall under rule of the several empires including the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1251-1569), the Grand Duchy of Moscow, (1283-1547) the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ( 1569-1795) and eventually the Russian Empire. (1721-1917).

Ukraine saw rapid changes as World War I spread through the region. It's estimated that the city changed rulers at least 15 times from 1917-1920 alone!

In 1917 the Central Rada, an Ukrainian self-governing body was established in the city. By November 1917 the region was declared part of the Independent Ukrainian People's Republic -with Kiev being the capital. This was short-lived and soon Kiev became an embattled war zone in the battles between Ukrainian, Polish and Russian Bolshevik troops, with a series of battles – including the Russian Revolution, Ukrainian-Soviet War, Polish-Ukrainian War and Polish-Soviet War.

In January 1918, the city was overtaken by Bolshevist troops. The Bolsheviks named Kharkiv as the capital of the "Soviets of the Ukraine." Just two month later Kiev would be occupied by Germans troops. With the eventual withdrawal of German troops, an independent Ukraine was declared in Kiev. However by May 1920, Kiev was briefly captured by the Polish Army and was later driven out by the Red Army. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was formed in 1922 and Kharkiv maintained its status of capital.

Under the Stalin Regime in the 1930s, most of Kiev suffered from inhumane famine commonly referred to as Holodomor.

In 1934 the capital of Ukrainian SSR was moved from Kharkiv to Kiev.

World War II saw the German's invasion of Kiev in September 1941. Kiev has heavily destroyed; only one building was left intact on Khreschatyk street. In November 1943, the Red Army was able to regain control of the city. Kiev remained under Soviet (USSR) control until it finally gained its independence in 1991.

Throughout its history the citizens of Kiev have remained proud and brave. Much more of Kiev's history can be found at Wikipedia.com or Britannia.com including a timeline here.

Kiev's Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti)

A view of the southern section of Kiev's Independence Square ("Maidan Nezalezhnosti")