Tourists numbers to Ukraine are on the rise with most trips passing through the country’s bustling, diverse and often unexpected capital- Kyiv. Most visitors will agree, Kyiv has much more to offer both residents and tourists than what first meets the eye and charms each and every person that walks through its parks, boulevards, streets and descents. Going beyond the initial perceptions of tall, brutalist buildings and monuments, spine-chilling temperatures, the sometimes overwhelming labyrinth of roads and the legacy of its turbulent past proves difficult for some. However, let us show you some aspects of the city which you may not know much about, which may raise a few eyebrows and may give you a glimpse of Kyiv’s more unique side and some of the serendipitous encounters with nature, architecture, culture and people you can expect to make. Begin your journey here…
Cheap, safe and green!
It’s no secret that Kyiv is a cheap place to visit, with your dollars, euros and pounds going much much further than in most other countries. Most visitors go away having wined, dined, toured, taxied and souvenier shopped, all at a fraction of the price of most fellow European cities. From hostels to 5* hotels, metro to uber, street food to a four-course meal, you’ll be sure to find a bargain right for you. An independent study by Hoppa and published in international press compared the cost of visiting of global cities, revealing Kyiv to be the world’s most economical! The figures speak for themselves regarding safety and clean air too, with Kyiv being above London, Istanbul and Los Angeles on urban safety and pollution ratings worldwide! With statistics like this, you may just see Kyiv in a whole new light for your next city break packed full of diverse, exciting and accessible tours!
Upper and lower town and the funicular
Upper town? Lower town? Most Kievans wouldn’t be able to tell you which one they prefer! Kyiv is made up of two parts, with the upper town centring around the iconic Independence Square, the architecturally unpredictable Lypky district, the two breathtaking cathedrals and the bright lights of the Palace of Sports, and the lower town of historic Podil and the Port, perfect for a riverside stroll with a coffee in hand! Experience both sides of the capital, with one of Ukraine’s two funiculars linking the two with amazing views over the river. Just had to Poschtova Ploscha to catch this Swiss-designed beauty up to the St Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery for less than €0,15! For those facing a steady climb, the St Andrew’s Descent connects the two, with cobbled streets lined with handmade souvenirs and endless artists selling their work.
Kiev is quirky- if you take a second look!
Kyiv has much to see and impress you, most of which you’d struggle to find anywhere else. Sometimes, all it takes is a local guide, a bit of research or a conversation with the person next to you to find out about something you’d never have expected to see. So, take a second glance as you walk through the streets of Kyiv, look around intently! For you don’t know what may be waiting for you in a seemingly normal building, in a hidden courtyard or far above your head! As well as an abundance of street art, take the Ravens near Zoloti Verota as an example- go and feed ravens and meet some locals in a secluded apartment courtyard in the city centre!
Car-free street days
Often the traffic in any city can really stop you just roaming free and switching off as you make your way to your favourite park or coffee spot. Well, in Kyiv, pedestrians reign most on the biggest boulevards of the city with car-free days. So feel free to cross the street with your friends, take photos and feel the city from street-level, not the subway. Khreschatyk and Petra Sahaidachnoho (near Kontraktova Ploschta) are the car-free favourites for the city’s parents pushing prams, skateboarders, rollerbladers and lovers hand in hand.
Coffee shop culture
Milan. Paris. Berlin. Kyiv?!
Filter? V60? Flat white?
Speciality coffee culture is seeing a boom in the city. Every month, the city centre streets are lined with more coffee shops, offering a different vibe and different brewing techniques to the last one. So if it’s to work, relax or chat with friends, you’ll be sure to find your spot for a caffeine fix where you’re sure to feel at home! Coffee culture is taken so seriously in Ukraine, there are even guidebooks of the best places…constantly needing updating, of course!
Colourful and weird buildings
Soviet architecture, despite Kyiv’s reputation, makes up only a fraction of what there is to see here! Art nouveau, baroque, renaissance, contemporary and various other architecture styles can be seen all over the city, perfectly preserved and each with their own turbulent story leading to its current function! So camera’s at the ready for some great contrasts as you explore time periods of Ukraine’s history through its architectural legacy. Podil and Lypky are great places to head for some unexpected sites!
Fun all year round
Not many cities offer snowboarding and skiing in winter and sunbathing, river cruises, bridge jumping and beach picnics in summer! Kyiv does just this! The beaches and shores of the Dnieper River, especially on the remote, green Truhaniv Island, are full most evenings and weekends with sun seekers, families and friends lying on towels. In winter, the sight of moon boots, ski goggles and snowboards in the metro is not a rare one! So whenever you come, you’ll see that Kyiv is a city best lived outdoors, be it on the street, on a park bench, on the beach or on the ski slope.
World’s deepest metro (and in English!)
One of the most widespread facts about the metro in Kyiv is that it is one of the deepest in the world, with escalators taking millions of passengers up to 100m below street level. But it doesn’t end there! A journey on the city’s fastest and most popular mode of transport is one through time and a unique insight into the diversity of the lives of ordinary Kievans relaxing, working and living in their city from the break of dawn to sunset.. all with one token! With all metro maps, announcements and machines in English, getting around has never been easier!
World cuisine appearing everywhere!
Like coffee, Kievan’s have a new food place to try every weekend. As well as traditional Ukrainian dishes, the world is on stage in Kyiv’s restaurants, with authentic Vietnamese, Turkish, Georgian, Chinese, Indian, Korean, vegetarian and vegan options and much more! There’s so many to see in a short visit, that you may consider a tour, visiting several, savouring each course at a different table. Kyiv is opening up to the world, its restaurants are just testimony to this!