Earlier this month I went on a trip to Warsaw and Kiev. I have been to Poland several times, but this was my first time to Ukraine. I was pretty excited when our flight landed in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine – and I absolutely loved the city!
1. Check out Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). The square is not called “Independence Square” for no reason. Over the past decades, the square has been a place for political rallies and revolutions. Most of us haven’t forgotten about the violent revolution that happened here a couple of years ago. There is a lot of history here, and the square is a must to visit when you are in Kiev.
2. Walk down Kiev’s main street, Khreschatyk. Maidan Nezalezhnosti is located at the end of the street. The street is crowded and both locals and tourists tend to hang out here. Along Khreschatyk Street you will find cafés, bars and restaurants. Sit down and do some fun people watching! You can also visit the shops along the street; there are both international brands like Zara and Mango and local (very cheap) brands.
3. Chill down at one of the city’s beach clubs. When we visited Kiev it was almost 30 degrees, and we were happy when we found a couple of beach clubs (I would call it pool clubs as there are no beaches here, only pools though). The entrance fee was around 100 NOK and we were able to enjoy the pool all day (we went to “City Beach Club”).
4. Walk along the river Dnipro and take a river cruise. Between the city and the river, there is a huge park, so we did not see much of the city from the river cruise – but it was still a nice experience, especially in the summer heat!
5. Check out St. Andrew’s church and walk down Andrew’s Decent, the hill leading down to the trendy neighborhood Podil located by the river. Along Andrew’s Decent you can find many of tourist shops and restaurants.
6. Go shopping! Ukraine is cheap compared to other European countries. Local products are of course very cheap, but we also found international brands to less than half of the price that we pay back in Norway. There are a few shops located along the main street, Khreschatyk, but I recommend visiting the big mall Ocean Plaza if you want to do some real shopping.
7. Visit Kiev Pechersk Lavra. Kiev Pechersk Lavra is a world heritage site, and it is called Kiev Monastery of the Caves in English. It is a huge complex consisting of several churches and caves, and the view from the top of the complex is amazing. I love the contrasts between the traditional soviet architecture on one side of the river, and the historic orthodox churches on the other side.
8. Drink and eat for nearly nothing. As mentioned – the prices are extremely low in Kiev. Some price examples; beer for 10 NOK, drinks cost 20 NOK and Italian pizzas are about 35 NOK. Sounds awesome, or what? Honestly I struggled a bit finding any good restaurants in Kiev, but I can recommend Spotykach for local food and il Molino for decent Italian food. For drinks, I recommend Buddha Bar, which is located on the main street.
9. Visit the city’s beautiful churches. There are so many of them! St. Sophia’s Cathedral is maybe the most famous one, and it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The nearby St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery is also worth a visit. Volodymyr Cathedral is another picturesque church.
We didn’t have much time in Kiev, and we didn’t get to do everything we wanted because of the heat. But, if I did have more time, I would definitely have visited the Pirogovo Open-Air Museum and I would have done a trip to Chernobyl. I really enjoyed my stay in Kiev, and I highly recommend a visit to the city! Many people are concerned about the safety when visiting Ukraine, but I felt completely safe in Kiev.