One of my best travels lately in Europe was definitely to Kiev. I’m impressed by the elegant city. There is so much to see in Kiev, I don’t even know where to start describing my experience. I will just give you a glimpse of what I did, hoping it will convince you to visit.
Take the bus+metro from the airport (Bus 322 just outside the terminal, and M3) or taxi but only official ones. Public transport is in general cheaper than ice cream. Crazy. So use public transport whenever you can.
With the help of a local that gave me some great tips, I walked around a lot and got to see many beautiful places.
It’s a very walkable city but with many busses and metro. The metro is just one of the pleasures of Kiev. It’s a clean and fast subway system and it is easy to navigate.
Kiev can seem quite foreign to many tourists, as most signposts are in Cyrillic script. It’s still largely a city where few people know English, but I found some youth with very good language skills. Make it fun and learn a bit of Cyrillic before coming here.
There are many good restaurants all across the city. For a super cheap experience eat at Puzata Hata (chain)- already prepared Ukranian food and you just point out what you want. In case you prefer fancy/modern not-already-prepared food, one of the best restaurants in town is Spotykach but a bit more expensive (for Ukranian standards). For the coffee/tea lovers, you will be happy to know that there are takeaway coffee/tea options in every street and park- have your takeaway reusable cups ready. I saw people drinking coffee with a straw- a bit odd and keep an eye on it so you are not given one with your coffee.
What I recommend and will describe more is a scenic but a bit demanding walk along the river.
You will have a long day following this path however, you can take the bus for some parts and when going back to the centre. I stayed quite central in an Airbnb apartment so my path started at the Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti). From there you go up to the St. Michael Golden-Domed Monastery and have a look around. Behind it, the park starts (Volodymyrska hill) and walk down from there but not all the way down and stay for the most of the road somewhere between the river and the upper part of the hill. Walk along that way for the next 5 km. Your end station should be at the Motherland monument. If you still have any energy left at the end you can also go all the way down to the river and see the monument dedicated to the founding brothers. I was exhausted and just wanted ice cream and bus back. Bus number 24 will take you to the Independence Square for 4 UAU.
What will you see if you follow the path :
1. Independence square or Maidan Nezalezhnosti
Since the start of Ukraine’s independence movement in 1990, the square has been the traditional place for political rallies, including four large-scale radical protest campaigns: the 1990 student “Revolution on Granite”, the 2001 “Ukraine without Kuchma”, the 2004 Orange Revolution, and the 2013–14 Euromaidan. Maidan is also a regular site for non-political displays and events.
2. St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Cathedral, bell tower, refectory, gates
Build in the middle ages and is still a functioning monastery.
3. Volodymyr The Great Monument
It is the oldest sculptural monument (1853) in Kiev, a dominating feature of the Dnieper’s banks, and one of the city’s symbols.
4. Dnieper river
This is the 4th biggest river of Europe. Known as Borysthenes to the ancients, the river was (9th–11th cent.) a commercial route for the Vikings, Slavs, and Byzantines.
5. Observation decks/points
6. The Friendship of Nations arch
This steel rainbow was erected in 1983 to commemorate the unification of Ukraine and Russia in 1653. The monument is supposed to symbolize friendship and mutual respect between the two nations. As you can imagine the statue is a bit controversial these days especially because Russia and Ukraine are not the best friends. However, the arch is special, it’s huge and the crowds swarm the monument’s platform to enjoy spectacular views of the Dnieper River.
7. Museum of water (I did not visit it)
8. Park bridge
Just a bridge connecting two parks.
9. Dynamo stadium
10. Mariyiansky Palace
Despite the long over 1500-year history, Kiev can’t boast of old palaces and castles since there were quite a few tragic pages in its history. Actually, until now only Mariyiansky palace survived and it surely attracts attention. It’s now the official ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine but in the past, it was also a military headquarters and thermal bath.
11. Mariinskyi Park
12. Supreme Council of Ukraine
13. Restaurants where you can have lunch
14. Ukrainian Genocide Holodomor memorial
15. Kiev Pechersk Lavra Orthodox monastery
Come here for the history of the Orthodox church. It reminds me of Vatican in a way by size and importance for the Orthodox Christians. It’s listed in the UNESCO World Heritage and it’s best known for its underground church in the caves.
6. The Motherland Monument
The statue is a war monument and the size of 62 metres is considerable. You can’t miss it even if you would want to. She stands on top of a hill and on top of a National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War. It might have reminded me a bit of Statue of Liberty in New York.
17. Founders of Kyiv Monument (I did not see it)
Kyi, Shchek and Khoryv are three legendary brothers often mentioned along with their sister Lybid, who were supposedly the founders of the medieval city of Kyiv, now the capital of Ukraine.
18. Many monuments/statues in between the stops
If you like to explore and just walk around like me you will find a lot of nice places in every corner. The walk from Independence square in any direction will take you somewhere interesting. For example, the shopping street down to the Besorabskiy market- there are also many underground stores, like Globus in which you can spend hours just walking and looking at stores.