Even though it doesn’t seem like that, but Kiev (also written as Kyiv) has been there for a long time; before we all knew what Ukraine and Russia were. Considered as one of the oldest settlements in Europe, it’s one of the first in the Slavic world too. Wandering through its historic streets, visiting museums, admiring various architectural styles are some of the best things to do in Kyiv.
Located in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is not spoiled by many tourists. Therefore you get an authentic experience in a relatively budget-friendly country. The capital, Kiev, is a great place to start your Ukrainian adventure and this travel guide will help you to pinpoint some of the best Kyiv attractions.
How to get to Kiev
There are two airports in Kiev – Boryspil International Airport and Kyiv International Airport (Zhuliany). First is the biggest airport only 29km from the town and serves intercontinental and the majority of international flights. Zhuliany, on the other hand, is about 7km away from the city center. Most of the budget-friendly airlines do fly here, along with bigger
Top Things to Do in Kiev
Kyiv boasts with many exciting things to do, including museums, gorgeous churches, and landmarks scattered across the city. Most of Kyiv attractions are located within a walking distance. So we never used public transport to go from one place to another.
Join the Free Walking Tour in Kiev
Similar to many capitals around the world, Kiev has its free walking tour to make you familiar with the city. The guides of such tours are usually locals, who know their city inside-out. Therefore, I highly recommend joining one of such tours. Free Tours Kyiv has several tours you can take, there is no booking required. Just show up at the designated place and enjoy it.
Do note that those tours are not entirely ‘free’; guides rely on your tips.
Visit the Independence Square
Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the most popular location in Kiev. This is where different concerts, festivals, protests, and significant events take place. Monument of Independence situated right in the center of the square makes it easy to recognize. You can’t miss it!
Walk down the Andriyivskyy Descent
Often called the “Montmartre” of Kiev, gorgeous and historical descent features lots of authentic Ukrainian souvenirs. And the most important site of the area is the beautiful St. Andrew’s Church.
Find the cute couple statue
Located near the Andriyvskyy Descent, this lovely statue of a couple is a favorite spot for many visitors. Dedicated to Pronya Sirkova and Svirid Golokhvastov, characters of play ‘After Two Hares,’ the statue is a famous spot for many tourists wanting to take a picture.
The plot is straightforward. One man promises two women to marry them – one for her wealth and another for love. During the play, all the characters end up in funny situations. And in the end, as the saying goes ‘if you run after two hares, you won’t catch either!’.
Local’s believe that the statue brings luck if you rub it, so make sure to touch those places once there.
Things to do in Kiev: Admire gorgeous churches
St. Sophia Cathedral is probably one of my favorite ones in Kiev. A UNESCO World Heritage site has 13 beautiful golden domes known for its ancient frescos and mosaics. Stroll through the gardens to relax, enjoy the peace, and carefully observe the only cathedral standing during WWII.
You can even go up the bell tower for scenic views of the city. However, you will need to buy tickets.
St. Michael Church is another magnificent church right down the street from the cathedral. The original one was destroyed during the Soviet-era in the 1930s, but it was reconstructed in 1999 after Ukraine declared independence in 1991.
St. Andrew’s Church, constructed between 1747-54, is the primary Baroque church of the city. Sitting on top of a small hill, this religious building overlooks the historic district of Podil. This 50m high church is gorgeous both from the outside and inside.
Pechersk Lavra is a famous complex of golden-domed churches and an underground tunnel leading to a graveyard of monks buried as mummies in caskets. You can also climb the bell tower to overlook the surrounding area.
- Opening Hours: every
day9 a.m – 6 p.m
- Entrance Fee: to the territory – 30 UAH, Bell Tower – 60 UAH
Feel the city vibe at Kreschatyk Street
It’s the main street of the capital, full of governmental buildings, stores, restaurants, and artistic displays. During WWII the entire street was destroyed by retreating Red Army troops. After the Soviet rule, the government
See the old gate of Kiev
The Golden Gate of Kiev was the primary gate of fortification of the city in the 11th
Admire unique Art Nouveau building
Often called Gorodetsky House, the House with Chimeras is a great example of an Art Nouveau architecture. Located in front of the President of Ukraine’s office, the building occasionally hosts diplomatic and official ceremonies. Due to the proximity to the Presidential Administration Building, the street turned into a pedestrian.
Built by a Ukrainian architect of Polish origin, Horodecki, the House with Chimaeras was originally constructed as his own apartment building at the beginning of the 20th century. However, after several years, he had to sell it due to financial troubles. Afterward, it changed owners several times.
The name of the building comes from its decorations featuring hunting scenes and exotic animals. The word ‘chimaera’ here refers to an architectural style and not to the mythology. In architecture, when animal figures adorn the building as decorative elements, it’s called
Visit Mariyinsky Palace
The palace is another jewel of Kiev architecture. This magnificent and majestic building dates back to the 18th century. Designed in Baroque style, the complex is open to the public to admire the architecture from the outside and wander through its gorgeous gardens. The palace sits on the hill at the bank of the Dnipro river, close to Maidan metro station.
Commissioned by Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter I, the palace was built by an Italian architect in 1750-55. It was a residence for the representatives of the royal family and nobles when visiting Kyiv. Unfortunately, she never managed to see her residence in real life. The first tenant of the palace became Catherine II.
Feel like a child at Park Landscape Alley
One of the cool things to do in Kiev is to visit the Park Landscape Alley. Tucked behind the crowded streets of the city, this park features cute, funny and a bit bizarre statues of animals. It’s a great place to go back to your childhood and have some fun. Sit down on a rabbit, crow, or cat benches, admire fountain of cheerful elephant and angles on the pillows.
Apart from walking in the park and taking lots of pictures, you’ll be treated with a stunning view of the historic Kiev and Dnieper river.
Appreciate the beauty of National Opera House
This Neo-Renaissance style Opera House in Kiev is another great spot for those who love admiring various architectural styles. The interior was redesigned in a classical style. And if you are an opera or ballet lover, make sure to attend any performance here. Tickets are not expensive and depend on the show you’d like to see. Check out their upcoming performances on their website.
Visit the deepest metro station in the world
Arsenalna Metro Station is a unique place, dug deep underground the city, lying nearly 105 meters below, making it the deepest metro station in the world!
As it’s so deep, the escalator takes about five minutes to reach the station or the exit. Moreover, there are multiple escalators and platforms to reach the station.
Arselalna Metro Station is part of the Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska line. On the maps, it’s marked with red color, so you won’t have a problem missing it.
Things to do in Kiev: Visit the museums in Kiev
Andriyivskyy Descent is also home to another cool place – One Street Museum. Here, you can learn more about the history of the area and see various historic items that total to more than 7,000 pieces.
Browse through historical documents, autographs, antique postcards and books, and photos of the dominating St. Andrew’s Church and the buildings of the district.
- Opening hours: Everyday 12 p.m – 6 p.m
- Entrance fee: 50 UAH; Guided Tour 200 UAH
National Museum Memorial to Holodomor Victims is a national museum devoted to the victims of the Holodomor Genocide of 1932-1933. Located near the Pechersk Lavra, the museum is a fascinating place to visit, both to see its architecture and learn more about the tragic history of many locals.
The museum includes a memorial complex and an underground Hall of Memory that displays permanent exhibitions and artifacts from the hunger periods. The symbolism of those horrific days and human sufferings are fully described on the territory and in its architecture.
I won’t tell you all the details of the architecture and its symbolism. It’s better to see it with your own eyes.
- Opening hours: Everyday 10 a.m – 6 p.m
- Entrance fee: Adult: 18 UAH; Students: 11 UAH; Pupils: 9 UAH
One of the unusual things to do in Kiev is to visit the Chernobyl Museum! I didn’t have time to go to the actual city of Chernobyl, so I decided to visit the museum instead. I am not a big museum fan, but I like this type of institution where you learn more about the historic disaster.
- Opening hours: Mon-Sat from 10 a.m – 6 p.m. Closed on Sundays
- Entrance fee: 10 UAH, to take pictures – 30 UAH, audio guide – 50 UAH
Visiting Chernobyl town is available via guided tours only, so join this one and also explore Prypiat and DUGA along the way.
If you love art, then visiting the National Art Museum of Ukraine will be a must-do in Kiev. The museum displays a great collection of works of Ukrainian artists and sculptors. Here, you can find graphics from Kievan Rus to the present day.
- Opening hours: Wed, Thur & Sun 10 a.m – 5 p.m; Fri 12 p.m – 7 p.m; Sat 11 a.m – 6 p.m. Closed: Mon & Tue
- Entrance fee: Adults – 20 UAH; Guided tour – 160 UAH.
What to eat in Kiev
Kiev has a bustling scene of cafes, restaurants, and bars. For instance, here’s the cool list of breakfast places in Kiev you might want to start the day at. Everyone can find a place that suits their culinary needs, but trying the staples of Ukrainian cuisine is a must!
The best traditional food you can try once in Ukraine is its world-famous Borsch, a soup made from grated beet stir-fried with tomatoes and other vegetables served with sour cream. It’s heavenly delicious!
Besides Borsch, you have to try another Ukrainian staple – Varenyky – the dumplings. The stuffing varies; you can have mashed potatoes, mushrooms, minced meat, pickled cabbage, and even cherries. And for more variety of local cuisine, here’s the list of the best Ukrainian dishes to try in Kiev.
The most affordable place to eat while in Kiev and the rest of Ukraine is Puzata Hata. During my whole trip across the country, this was the only place I ate.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Ukraine travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
- Book affordable flights on Skyscanner, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
- Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Ukraine, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
- Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda
- Pre-book your private transfer from Kyiv Zhyliany, Odesa, or Lviv airports
- Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
- Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here