Whether you are interested in Kiev’s colorful history, looking for a place to stay, or planning a holiday, you will find what you need in this travel guide. This guide provides helpful information about Kiev, including history and culture, government and religion, top attractions, itineraries, sightseeing tours, when to go, what to do, accommodation and transportation, nightlife, architecture, shopping, real estate, and many more.
Kiev is a very cultural city with many things to see. Go through the sections to learn more about Kiev.
Kiev is the bustling capital city of Ukraine. Situated on the Dnipro River, this scenic place is one of the oldest (around 1550 years old) and most important cities in the region. It is the heart of Rus civilization, and survivor of many wars, genocides, and purges. Many architectural and historical landmarks are reconstructed or preserved here.
The architecture and art of Kiev are world gems. St. Sophia Cathedral, for example, has outstanding frescoes and mosaics dating back to the 11th century. Overlooking Podol (the city’s old section) is the Ukrainian Baroque Andriivska Church, much beloved by every Ukrainian
An essential attribute for all European capitals, whatever the size, is a quality shopping district -streets full of stores with attractive window displays and even more gorgeous treats inside. Kiev is well-endowed when it comes to shopping.
Shopping in Kiev is a rewarding cross-cultural experience, adding a lovely dimension to your vacation. There are a smart underground shopping mall and more traditional markets that are available for visitors who enjoy bargaining.
Flea markets are all around the city, with gems waiting to be discovered. They are extremely entertaining and have good value. The black market in Kiev is an exceptional bazaar with a network of small alleys. They offer anything from Rye bread to chocolates to vodkas.
The Metrograd Shopping Complex stretches from Khreshatyk to Lva Tolstoho square with many corridors and turns. You can buy shoes, clothes, toiletries, furniture, souvenirs, and books. There are wrapping services, pharmacies, sunbeds, and so much more. Experiencing the flea markets is a pleasant escape from tourist traps and is a nice way to mingle with the locals.
Khreschatyk is Kiev’s Oxford Street. Anything is offered here from cheap clothes to mobile to expensive watches and fine porcelain. You will be drawn towards the Globus’ striking glass atrium behind the Maidan Nezalezhnosti. The high-end Mandarin-Plaza is a great all-rounder with several excellent restaurants amid chic boutiques to satisfy hungry shoppers.
If you want to experience more traditional Ukrainian shopping, go to the Bessarabsky Rynok located at the corner of Prospect Shevchenka and Kreschatyk. You can find an informal collection of souvenir stallholders on the Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square. Souvenir vendors line Andrivsky Uziz but tourists will also find here authentic arts and crafts and very nice art galleries.
While many come to Kiev for its legendary architecture and other top attractions, many tourists also consider the city’s nightlife a perfect getaway after a stressful day of touring and exploring the city.
Kiev has a colorful and vibrant nightlife. From classy casinos to elite cocktail joints, underground rock venues, and fun and energetic nightclubs, there’s absolutely a wide choice of nightlife spots in Ukraine’s capital. Read on the descriptions below to get an idea about the city’s famous nightlife destinations.
Day or night, Kiev does not run out of fun and exciting activities! Take a pick from this list of nightlife options and discover more about Ukraine’s capital.
Offering an atmosphere of joy and freedom, nightclubs in Kiev are all ready to make tourists feel warmly welcomed in the city. Each nightclub in the city offers different music styles to give nightclub-goers an array of choices that would cater to their interest and taste. Among the top nightclubs in Kiev are Androgyne (26/2 Garmatnaya St.) which is a gay club known for its unusual shows; Bumerang (14 Radanskoy Ukraine St.) which is famous for its cozy ambiance; Caribbean Club (4 Komminterna St.) which is originally a restaurant serving Caribbean cuisines; Ganesha Lounge-bar (11 Artema St.) which stands out for its Easter style interior; and Magma (34a Lesi Ukrainki St.) which is popular for its light effects and decorations. Each of these clubs offers varied nightlife experience giving you more options.
Gambling has always been a great come-on to many tourists in Kiev. Since then many of them have come to the city to try their luck in some of Kiev’s top casinos. Among these casinos are Avalon (3 Leontovycha St.) which is among the largest in the city, Gorod (7 Pavla Tichini Ave.) which does not just have a casino but striptease shows and sports bar as well, Gabriela (1/2 Kreschatik St.) which is known for its luxurious atmosphere, and Grand Plaza (1 Peremogi Sq.) which is also a favorite of the high and elite in Kiev.
Wines and Spirits
Many tourists, particularly those enthusiasts and collectors, opt to bring home with them a bottle of vodka or gorilka – a Ukrainian variant of vodka – as a souvenir from the city. This actually logical because strong drinks have also been considered a symbol of the Slavonic culture. Today, you can purchase some the high-quality beverages in many of the supermarkets in Kiev. However, if you really want to drop by the city’s specialized shops, these are the places to be:
Champagne Winery Stolichny (Specialized Shop 1, 27 Syretskaya St.)
A bottle of Soviet Champagne has already been a staple in many Ukrainian families. New Years’, weddings, and other family holidays are incomplete without this beverage. Unlike the world-famous expensive French champagne, this champagne is meant for the average customers. However, they cannot be mistaken for Russian sparkling wine that’s often seen as poor quality. This champagne along with other beverages can be found at Champagne Winery Stolichny. It has a wide collection of wine labels, including award-winning ones produced by Kiev Champagne Winery.
Pernod Ricard Ukraine (47 Artema St.)
This well-known French company is among the world’s top spirits and wines operators. It was founded in 1975 and has since then developed into a giant network containing celebrated brands. It leads Kiev’s alcohol market being part of the country’s 10 biggest alcohol distributing and importing companies.
Stolichnaya Standard (16 Kudryavskaya St.)
Originally named as State Wine-Cellar Number 1, Kiev Distillery Stolichny Standard was founded in 1896 after the introduction of the Forth State Alcohol Monopoly. The store offers some of the best gorilkas in town, such as Stolichny Standard Firmova, Stolichny Standard Klasichna, Stolichny Standard Osobliva, Stolichny Standard Zubrivka. Each mentioned product has its own distinctive taste you will never forget.
The cinemas in Kiev boasts of meeting international modern standards with visual and audio equipment that are most up-to-date. Every year, a lot of cinema festivals are held in the Ukrainian capital and is often attended by many of the city’s famous figures. Some of the favorite cinemas in the city are Florence (31 Mayakovsky Ave.), Kiev Rus (93 Artema St.), Kinopanorama (19 Shota Rustaveli St.), Odesa (3 Peremogi Ave.), and Ukraine Theater (5 Architect Gorodetsky St.).
Kiev is not just a place to find breathtaking architecture; it is also where one can enjoy great sceneries and fresh air brought by its beautiful parks. Here are a few of these parks:
The Vladimirskaya Heel (Kostelnaya, Independence Square)
Offering a picturesque view of the city, this park is famous among many visitors. It is also the favorite dating place for many young couples in Kiev.
Mariinsky Park (M. Hrushevskogo St. (M. Arsenalnaya))
Located at the heart of the city, this park is one of the city’s most beautiful parks mainly for its English design. It has over 80 trees and lots of roses growing in it. Here you can also drop by the Peoples’ Friendship Arch, the Museum of the Water, and the Puppet Theatre. The Mariinsky Palace, one of the city’s greatest monuments, is also found here – which makes it more famous.
Fomin Botanical Garden (Comintern, 1)
This is among Ukraine’s oldest gardens. Currently, it is being used by Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University as a research institute. To complete this beautiful place, many botanists from different generations have gathered to complete the park’s wide collection of plants.
The Botanical Garden of the National Agrarian University (Frunze, 134)
This botanical garden has six research laboratories operating in it. It is also home to over eight hundred species of trees and a collection of subtropical and tropical plants.
M.M. Grishko National Botanic Garden (Tymiryazyevska, 1)
One of the world’s largest botanical gardens, this park is situated on Dnieper River’s right bank. It boasts of a wide collection of plants, including flower decorative, medicinal, decorative, and even technical plants.
The Siretsky Dendrological Park (Tiraspol, 43)
Zaretsky is located in the forest area of Dnieper’s riverbank. It contains over 500 tree species as well as a wide variety of shrubs and herbage. Tourists can also see here rare plant species, like cypress, cannoewood, hard pine, and the Far East yew.
Pushkin Park (Pobeda Avenue, 40)
Founded in 1899, this park is named after a poet, Alexander Pushkin in honor of the centenary of his birth. For the park to be built, spruces and larches, limes and oaks were planted in the area in the early 20th century. Scientists also prepared two thousand saplings and had the kids in the area come to celebrate planting in the park.
As a European country, football is also a sport that dominates Kiev. The city has, in fact, several professional and amateur football clubs, which include Arsenal Kyiv, Dynamo Kyiv, and FC Obolon Kyiv.
Of these three teams, all playing in the Ukrainian Premier League, Dynamo Kyiv is considered to be the most successful with its 13 USSR Championships, 9 USSR Cups, and 3 USSR Super Cups. In the history of the Soviet Top League, Dynamo is also considered to be the most successful club.
Aside from football, there are also other sports that keep the people in Kiev interested. These are ice hockey and basketball. Among the top professional clubs in these sports are Sokil Kyiv and BC Kyiv, respectively. Both these teams are playing in the country’s highest leagues.
1980 Summer Olympics
When the Soviet Union hosted the Summer Olympics in 1980, Kiev was among the venue to hold preliminary matches of the football tournament; the quarter-finals for the sport were also held in its Olympic Stadium. The said stadium was reconstructed specially for the said event.
On December 1, 2008, the full-scale reconstruction of the stadium started. The reconstruction was done to satisfy the standards of UEFA for the Euro 2012 football tournament. On October 8, 2011, the stadium was finally opened with President Viktor Yanukovich as one of the audience. The first major event that took place in the newly reconstructed stadium was the concert of Shakira, which was still especially planned to coincide with the Euro 2012 re-opening.
Kiev is an excellent city steeped in culture and history, so do not be surprised when it greets you with many great museums, art exhibits, and galleries. This makes it really hard for anyone interested in art and culture to know where to begin. Here are some of the must-see museums.
National Museum of Arts of Ukraine
The National Museum of Arts of Ukraine is situated in the premise of its predecessor, the first Kiev public museum. This fine museum houses more than 20,000 pieces of art, which include icons from the 12th to 18th centuries as well as pictures of Ukrainian artists from the 19th to 20th centuries.
National Museum of Literature of Ukraine
Founded in 1981, the National Museum of Literature of Ukraine is for those interested in Russian or Ukrainian literature. Established in the premises of former Galgan’s Collegium, the rich museum holds documents that tell about the growth of the Ukrainian national literature starting from the Kievan Rus’ times. Special topical collections include Russian and Ukrainian authors like Alexander Pushkin and Taras Shevchenko.
National History Museum of Ukraine
The National History Museum of Ukraine was founded in 1899 as a part of the Museum of Antiquities and Arts. The museum’s building is currently located in the Kyiv’s Dytynts territory. The museum houses the city’s richest archeological, numismatic, and ethnographic collection of applied and fine arts, with a collection of more than 600,000 exhibits.
Pechersk (Lavra) Historic and Cultural Preserve
Opened in 1926, this is one of the city’s best attractions. It has about 70 thousand monuments of culture and history of Ukraine. It holds pieces of church art such as old icons, church utensils, embroidery, woodcuts, manuscripts and many early printed books.
Kiev History Museum
Located in the city center, the Kiev History Museum is for those interested in the ancient city of Kiev. Compared to other museums in Kiev, this excellent museum is smaller in size. It houses more than artifacts that detail the city’s history.
National Museum of Taras Shevchenko
The National Museum of Taras Shevchenko was established in 1949. It houses the works of Taras Shevchenko and displays personals and autographs and of the country’s greatest poet and writer. This museum also displays his drawings and paintings, photographs, books, and many other documents. It has 24 halls of expositions that contain more than 4,000 items.
Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine
The Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine was founded in 1963 as a division of the Historic Museum. It primarily keeps and displays artifacts made from precious stones and metals. Its 130,000 exhibits tell the 3,000-year history of jewelry. Masterpieces of utmost significance include works made by the Scythian goldsmiths, Old Ru’ masters, East Slav, and various Ukrainian jewelers from the16th to 20th centuries.
Kiev Museum of Russian Art
Inaugurated in 1922, theKiev Museum of Russian Art is for anyone who loves art. It has a collection of more than 12,000 pieces of sculptures, paintings, applied, and graphic arts. The museum is renowned for its preservation of 12th- to 17th-century icons.
Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Ukraine
The Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Ukraine is a wonderful and unique open-air museum, the biggest of its kind in the world. It is a short drive from the city center in Pyronovo Village. It contains one of the very few 17th and 18th-century preserves of Ukrainian village life. Its exhibits include churches, huts, agricultural structures, mills, plus domestic appliances from the past centuries.
Chernobyl National Museum
The Chernobyl nuclear accident, the worst in the world, was one of Ukraine’s most tragic experiences under the Soviet Union. The Chernobyl National Museum exhibits signs from the ghost towns near Chernobyl, photos of human and animal deformities, and a miniature model of the nuclear reactor that caused the accident.