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The Ultimate Kiev Travel Guide – A Fantastic Kiev Guide

Events in Ukraine have horrified the world, and while travel to this amazing city is off the books for now, we hope the situation changes soon, and for the best! Meanwhile we’ll keep this post live with our fond memories and hopes for better days for our Ukrainian friends.

You probably never thought of visiting Kiev, Ukraine on vacation, did you? It’s an amazing city, with gorgeous architecture, and food. That’s why this Kiev travel guide is truly a must!

Even if Kiev, or the Ukraine in general, may not be on your tourist radar, maybe it should be! We were totally taken by surprise by travel in the Ukraine, and Kiev, being one of the most welcoming capital cities in Eastern Europe, is brimming with fantastic sights and attractions.

Traveling in Europe, Eastern Europe that is is getting more and more popular, and we think that Ukraine should be one of the first places to try!

We know that Ukraine has certainly had it’s problems in the past. The secessionist movement and loss of the Crimea to Russia was a major blow to both the national psyche and international tourism.

However, Ukraine is a beautiful country filled with amazing sights, delicious food, and friendly people and unless you need to go to some of the troubled regions, your trip to Ukraine will be completely safe and highly rewarding.

The capital, Kiev (or Kyiv as it is known to locals), is the natural starting point for any visit to the country so we’ve created this Kiev travel guide to help visitors get the most out of their time there. So, with our help, start planning your visit to Kiev now.

In this article, you will learn about:

Things to do in Kiev - Churches and Cathedrals.
The golden domed towers sparkle on the Kiev skyline.

Kiev, Ukraine Travel Blog, and Tips

One of our goals, after moving to our current location (Vilseck area) in Germany near the Czech border, was to visit as many Eastern Europe countries as possible. Travel in these former, Soviet countries is fascinating and completely different than other parts of Europe.

It’s always interesting to see the changes and hear the stories of life in these places that were off limits to us for so long.

In every case we discover that people are the same everywhere, they have pride in their homes and countries and are often eager to share and show off what they have to visitors. We’ve found this to be true in so many places including Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and now Ukraine.

Kiev tourist sites includes Independence Square.
Independence Square, in the center of the city, was our first stop!

You just might want to pin these so you don’t forget to plan for a trip to Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev, fresh and surprising...real travel. Plan a visit to Ukraine!
Kiev, fresh and surprising...real travel. Plan a visit to Ukraine!

Kiev was almost completely destroyed during the World War Two, so most of what you see today is newer construction or reconstruction.

Many of the major sights, such as St. Sophia’s Cathedral, have survived (almost inexplicably considering the waves of destruction that have passed over the city) and are shining examples of Ukrainian heritage.

So, if you’re wondering what to do in Kiev, the city today is an eclectic mix of medieval, Baroque, Soviet, and modern-day architecture with an oddly charming character inherited from sporadic green spaces, vast open public squares, marching concrete block apartment buildings, and rare neighborhood jewels.

Top Things To Do as Part of Your Kiev Travel Guide

Jim standing in front of I love Kyiv sign.
Take the obligatory “I heart Kyiv” selfie…at one of the Kyiv hot spots.

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Monastery of the Caves)

UNESCO World Heritage Site inscribe on the list in 1990 along with St. Sophia, Pechersk Lavra is the most important historical site in the city. There are two parts here, the caves underground where visitors can view mummified monks, underground chapels, and religious icons and the above ground museum complex.

You could easily spend an entire day here, exploring the caves, visiting the various museums, and succumbing to the enchanting meelodies and scented incensed interiors of the churches and cathedrals.

Lavrska St, 15, Kyiv, Ukraine, 01015
Bus Stop: Kyievo-Pecherska lavra; 24, 24A, 38

The gorgeous gold and silver icons and colorful frescoes found throughout Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.
Kiev Pechersk Lavra complex includes the beautifully restored Cathedral of the Assumption

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Micro-Miniatures Museum

One of Kiev's attractions is the amazing micro-miniatures museum shown here.
Inside the Kiev Micro-miniatures museum. You won’t spend much time here, but I guarantee you will be amazed.

One of the must see Kiev museums, the Micro-miniature Museum, is also found in the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Cultural and Historical Reserve. The collection here is made up of the incredibly diminutive works of Mykola Syadristy.

There’s not much to see here, pardon the pun, but the collection of impossibly small sculptures blew my mind. Definitely include this in your visit to the monastery grounds.

Lavrska St, 15, Kyiv, Ukraine, 01015
Bus Stop: Kyievo-Pecherska lavra; 24, 24A, 38

Ukrainian Treasures Museum

Crown and skeleton in the National Treasures Museum.
Looking for things to do in Kiev? Check out the National Treasures Museum! It provides an eye-opening trip through Ukrainian history

Another must see museum in the Pecersk Lavara complex. Filled with treasures from all eras of Ukrainian history. It includes treasure and hordes from stone age, neolithic, Scythian, Vikings, Mongolian, Jewish and Christian Ukrainians.

This is an amazing collection with well signed and carefully thought out presentations.

Lavrska St, 15, Kyiv, Ukraine, 01015
Bus Stop: Kyievo-Pecherska lavra; 24, 24A, 38

Andriivsky Uzviz (Andrews Descent)

Kiev street art.
Street art on Andrews Descent, one of the best in the city.

Perhaps the best collection of older Kiev architecture can be found in the Podil neighborhood and along Andrews Descent.

This is the perfect place to get a glimpse of what Kiev might have been like before the Soviets and Germans, before the Battle of Kiev laid waste to so much of the city. Sitting like a jewel at the top of the hill, overlooking all of the Baroque splendor below, sits the colorfully extravagant Saint Andres cathedral.

At the bottom of the hill, stop in at the One Street Museum with its collection of artifacts showing what life was like during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Kiev,

Cooking Lessons

Not sure what to do in Kiev? We always try to book a cooking lesson, and this one was fantastic in our guide’s house. As you know, we love those dumplings and just had to make the Ukrainian version called Varenyky.

It’s always so much fun to hang out in the kitchen, meeting new friends, sharing stories about food and family, and, of course, trying new dishes. Don’t be shy, put on an apron, and get in there!

Cooking lessons - Jim cracks an egg.
Learning to make varenyky and borscht. When in Ukraine, cook and eat like a Ukrainian!

Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square)

Independence Square is a highlight of any Kiev travel guide.

In many ways this is the heart of the city where revolutions have started and ended.

This is the place to go in the evening for some interesting people watching and the fountain music and light show must be seen and experienced to be believed. If you’re in Kiev during the summer months, don’t miss the nightly show.

Bus/Metro: Maidan Nezalezhnosti; 24, 114, M2

Try The National Dish in Kiev

Borscht in Ukraine.
Ukrainian borscht is the national dish for a good reason!

I couldn’t get enough borscht on our trip to Kiev. I have had this earthy, delicious soup in several countries, but Ukrainian borscht is reportedly the original and, I have to say, it is my favorite.

The sweet and tangy clear sangria-colored broth with just the right amount of vegetables, meat, and herbs combine into a subtle, mouthwatering treat.

I found the best borscht was the pot we made during our cooking lesson; homemade is always best.

Kiev Travel Guide Information

Kiev is a large sprawling city with nearly 3 million inhabitants. Most of the tourist attractions are found in the central district, however, and getting around is pretty easy.

Most visitors will find Kiev a very affordable, inexpensive city. Hotels, food, shopping, are all found at prices much lower than in western European countries.

Shopping at Zhitnii Market in this Kiev travel guide.
Shopping in the Zhitnii Market offers a chance to rub elbows with the locals and really spread your dollar or euro far.

Kiev Travel Guide – Getting into Kiev

Kiev Boryspil (KBP) Airport and Kiev Zhuliany (IEV) Airport provide air connections to the rest of the world.

Most international flights go in and out of Boryspil about 35 km from the city center. Wizz Air, however, is a cheap airline that connects to several other Eastern European destinations and it flies into Zhuliany.

Other good options with affordable flights include Ukraine International Air and Smart Wings. There have been rumors of a Ryanair flight for a few years now, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Getting Into Kiev From The Airport

After collecting bags at Boryspil and exiting through customs, just head outside from the arrivals hall in terminal D. Here you’ll find line 322, the Kyiv Sky Bus, which will whisk you off into the city for a mere 80 UAH (about $2).

Buy your tickets on board from the driver and then settle in for the ride. It takes about an hour to get to the central train station.

At Zhuliany, passengers exit arrivals and hop aboard From there you can use the metro or bus to get to your final destination. Alternatively, you can take a taxi for about 400 UAH (about $15) or an Uber for a little less. Check with your hotel, as well, since most will happily arrange your transfer.

A Baroque tower in Kiev and must-see in any Kiev travel guide.
The architecture of this beautiful city is one of the biggest draws to Kyiv.

Navigating Your Way To Kiev Attractions

Transportation in Kiev is cheap by most European or US standards. A bus or metro ticket costs less than a dollar and can take you pretty much anywhere in the city.

The buses are a range of soviet era, belching diesel beasts all the way up to sleek and modern electric trolleys.

Google maps covers the public transportation in the Kiev pretty well, so it is pretty easy to navigate your way around the city.

Tickets for the bus system can be bought at small kiosks found near many bus stops or, even easier, aboard the bus. Just look for the attendant wearing an official-looking vest.

Don’t forget to validate your ticket immediately to avoid an uncomfortable situations and possible fines.

Kiev Travel Blog Power tip: Buy several tickets at once so you don’t have to fumble around for small notes or cause delays for other passengers while the attendant counts out your change.

Kiev Travel Guide – Weather

Kiev is pretty far north, at 50 degrees it is similar to Frankfurt, London, or Calgary. Its long, hot summer days are sometimes too hot (we were there during a horrible heat wave) and the short, cold winter days can be blustery and bone chilling.

The best seasons, of course are spring and fall if that fits into your travel schedules.

Police Cars in front of a statue in Kiev, Ukraine.

Kiev Travel Guide – What to Eat

As we mentioned earlier, eating out in Kiev is inexpensive with a large variety of delicious options available. Some of our favorites are listed here.

Ostannya Barykada or OB

This hidden, themed bar and restaurant showcases modern Ukrainian food in a historical setting. Don’t be surprised if your waiter or waitress offers a tour of the place when you enter.

There are a number of artifacts on display from the revolutions that have rocked the city over the past several decades.

The food and cocktails are excellent, but you won’t get through the secret entrance if you don’t know the password! A must-see as part of your Kiev travel guide!

Puzata Hata

Kontraktova Square, 2/1, Kyiv, Ukraine, 04070
+380 44 391 4699 (Walk ins welcome)

We ate at the Globus mall Puzata Hata on our first night. We were amazed at the quantities, selection and prices of these traditional Ukrainian dishes served up cafeteria style

There is another, larger branch near Andrew’s Descent.

Syndicate Beer & Grill

Mykhaila Omelianovycha-Pavlenka St, 4/6, Kyiv, Ukraine, 02000
+380 50 307 5793 (Reservations recommended)

This modern brew pub with a delicious selection of beer serves some tasty Ukrainian and international dishes. Prices are a little higher here, but the decor and food is top notch.

Panda Ice Cream – We loved stopping in at this small, cute, friendly, yummy gelato shop right across the street from our apartment.

The weather outside was hot beyond imagining, but the sweet, creamy gelato was cool and refreshing with a surprising mix of traditional and non-traditional flavors.

Ukrainian hand-painted eggs.
Ukrainian hand-painted eggs. Look closely, some tours offer these lessons as well.


We had an amazing time visiting this Eastern European capital and we really hope that this Kiev travel guide will help you plan the perfect trip this fantastic city in Ukraine!

Author Bio: Jim Vail, is a travel, food, and video creator and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 15 years. For many years he lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands, and he’s visited over 90 countries.

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Kiev, fresh and surprising...real travel. Plan a visit to Ukraine!


Wednesday 13th of June 2018

Makes me feel better! Thank you.

Corinne Vail

Thursday 14th of June 2018

You'll enjoy it!


Sunday 10th of June 2018

We'll be there in August Jim/Corrine. Looking forward to it. Any issues with language? I know most people don't speak English and there's the different alphabet. How'd you manage?

Corinne Vail

Monday 11th of June 2018

Frank, We really didn't have any problems. English is widely spoken, and if we ran into someone who didn't speak it, they knew someone who did. I don't think you need to worry! I can't wait to hear what you think! Have fun.

Sandy N Vyjay

Thursday 18th of January 2018

Loved reading this post about Kiev. Ukraine is such a lovely country which probably has not received its due as a tourist destination. The buildings and churches of Kiev look so grand and magnificent. It has such an alluring old world charm. Your guide is really useful as we do not have much information about the place available online.

Corinne Vail

Friday 19th of January 2018

Sandy, I hope it's useful. We agree, when planning, it was difficult to find out information. I hope you get there soon and really enjoy it as much as we did.


Thursday 18th of January 2018

Great article. My husband had been to Kiev few years back but he did not bring many photos. Today, I got to see the place through your photos.

Corinne Vail

Thursday 18th of January 2018

Varsha, Kiev is a vibrant and dynamic city. I'll bet it's changed a little in the last couple of years.


Wednesday 17th of January 2018

The Ukraine is such an amazing place to visit with so much to do. It's cool you did cooking classes, food is such an important part of a countries culture and I think cooking classes are a great way to get to know it!

Jim Vail

Wednesday 17th of January 2018

You are so right Josh! We love taking cooking lessons and spending time in kitchens around the world.