Seat of the Orange Revolution, Kiev’s big social heart hosts many concerts, performances and festivals, and it is thus known for its vibrant and lively atmosphere. Surrounded and embellished with fountains, monuments and an underground shopping mall, this is where real life happens.
The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War is a great place for getting a profound understanding of Kiev´s history and the impact it has made on the country today. This museum has both an indoor section and a big outdoor section with monuments and statues.
As one of the oldest building of the Ukraine, this historic Opera House invites you to an evening of classic opera or ballet, and the fabled mastery of its performing artists along with the stately ambiance of the building itself will make for a decidedly unique night out in Kiev. Prices are reasonable and the seating is good. but make sure to book in advance, as popular shows tend to get sold out early.
The funicular, connecting the district Podol with the upper part of the city, is an authentic and functional monument to Kiev's historic past and just another means of public transport for locals. Get in on the lower station (Poschtova Ploscha) and up to Andrew's descent and the upper station (Mykhailivska Ploscha) to save yourself a tiring climb uphill while taking in the spirit of the ages and also a great view.
The House with Chimaeras – also called the Gorodetsky house, after its creator – is mainly used by the government but even though it is closed to visitors, the facade alone makes it worth the trip: its exterior is generously decorated with sculptures of various animals and even sea monsters, and it gives the place a very eerie, yet enticing vibe.
One of the most ambitious projects on the Ukrainian art scene, Mystetski Arsenal, is a former military factory turned into National Art and Culture Museum Complex. Although contemporary art is in focus here, past exhibitions have already featured works of great masters such as Chagall or Picasso as well.
This fabled park bears traces of its imperial heritage, and it is most certainly worth a visit: apart from a leisurely stroll, you can enjoy one of the best views over the Dnipro river and also take a look at the Mariinsky Palace, the baroque ceremonial residence of the Ukrainian president.
Also known as the "Museum of Corruption", this former president's home gives visitors a good idea of the obscene opulence of Ukraine's former leader. This is a slightly alternative day trip but a must-see, for an insight into Ukraine's turbulent political past and present.
The mystical air, that surrounded both Bulgakov and his oeuvre, is omnipresent in the museum, as this is where the great author himself lived while working on "The White Guard". Joining a guided tour is highly recommended, but call ahead, as the museum may be overcrowded.
The Landscape Alley is a area located in the historical centre of Kiev, boasting a great playground and a 30 meter long mosaic as well as sculptures of cats, rabbits and other figures. While children will love to play around, art lovers will also enjoy this beautifully arranged quarter, as this is a real gem in the city.
This institution is one of the most popular museums in Kiev, as it gives a fascinating insight into the history of the old Andrew's Descent. One name, which is explored through historical documents and photos, is the famous writer Mikhail Bulgakov who used to live in building number 13.
This centrally located pub is the perfect spot for a relaxing beer sampling, as the place boasts its own small brewery as well as an open kitchen. Guests may observe the food and beer-making process directly through the transparent wall while waiting for their Ukrainian or European dishes of choice. Outdoor seating with a view is offered during the summer months.
This local chain is a true find for everyone who is travelling on low budget, as they offer a buffet with mostly Ukrainian but also international) food. Their restaurants are scattered all around the city, so check the website to find one closest to you and go there for having decent quality meals at very affordable prices
This authentic local restaurant is fully committed to its folk theme: the staff wears traditional Ukrainian clothing and the decor will turn your visit into somewhat of a trip to the museum. Make sure to try one of the traditional liquors ("nastoika") to get the full Ukrainian dining experience.
Aroma Espresso Bar is not exclusive to Kiev, as it is a worldwide chain that has been building up its reputation ever since the first little café in Israel was opened. However, take a break at one of their locations in town and enjoy both hot meals an as cold snacks, coming along with coffee and other drinks.
Arena is a stylish venue housing multiple nightclubs, restaurants, high-end stores and a Casino, and many of those are open all night. Time will fly as you explore the upscale establishments the Arena Entertainment Center has to offer, so start enjoying the night while it is still young.
At this upscale nightclub, you can dance the night away, as long as you follow the dress code as the face control may be rather strict. While there is a restaurant and bar on the first floor, another flight of stairs takes you to the dance floor, where the party vibe will catch you at the latest.
The boisterous Bessarabsky market with its fresh produce and incredible variety of fruit, vegetables and flowers is an essential stop for anyone looking for catching up the spirit of a lively marketplace. This authentic shopping experience should not be missed when in Kiev.
Located on the left river bank in the new part of town, this enormous mall houses a variety of local and international brands as well as a food court occupying an entire floor. There is also an affordable supermarket, Auchan, that offers both traditional Ukrainian food and international specialties.
Kiev's main artery, Khreshchatyk, is closed for traffic on weekends and holidays, and this makes shopping experience even more convenient. With its Globus Mall as well as numerous separate stores – both high-end and affordable –Khreshchatyk attracts hundreds of tourists and shoppers every day.
This Norwegian and off-the-beaten-path store in fish market-style and its restaurant are a unique experience in Kiev, as you can not only buy but also try seafood and sushi made with fresh ingredients on the spot. Be careful with the herring sandwiches, as locals warn that they are addictive!
Tucked away in a secluded spot while still right in the city centre, this "concept store" is mostly visited by locals and insiders. Started by two young enthusiasts, the shop offers both a collection of unique items created by Ukrainian designers for shopping as well as coffee and cake for a break.
This bookstore is frequented by local literature-lovers, as the variety of books is quite impressive – it even includes a foreign-language section, and lectures and recitals are often hosted as well. You can also exchange books, so just feel free to ask the staff about "bookcrossing".
The largest passenger airport in the Ukraine, Boryspil, is located 35 kilometers away from the city centre. The easiest way to get here is by Sky Bus, which connects the airport with Kiev's main railway station via the Kharkivska metro station: it runs with 15 minute intervals during day time and 30-45 minutes apart at night, and tickets may be purchased in terminals B and D or straight at the bus; the journey lasts about 50 minutes. There is a free airport shuttle bus circulating along the following route: Terminal D - Hotel - Terminal B (Bus terminal) - Hotel - Terminal D. Several long-distance bus routes directly from the airport are offered by the companies "Gunsel", "Autolux" and "Ukrbus", and all normally run via the central bus station. Taxis are available for hire as well, but make sure to agree on the price before departure.
The main business aviation airport in the Ukraine, Kyiv Zhulyany, is located only 8 kilometers to the South of the city centre. Due to its convenient location, getting here by public transport is easy and quite fast, as minibus routes 169, 565, 368, 302, 482, 496, 499 and trolleybus 22 route regularly.
Citiziens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Uzbekistan can enter the Ukraine without a visa for an indefinite stay, whereas holders of passports from all European countries and number of others can enter without a visa for a stay up to 90 days – use the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to check for individual requirements. All visitors who do need a visa can obtain one upon arrival at Kyiv Boryspil Airport, Kyiv International Airport (Zhuliany) and Odessa International Airport for a stay of up to 15 days, providing documents about either invitation or tourism or investment businesses.
The best time to visit Kiev is the summer season from May until September, as both the average temperature as well as rainfall are at their most visitor-friendly. However, this period is only second most crowded, as the charm of Christmas in Kiev attracts many visitors – do travel around New Year's/Christmas time (January 7th is when the latter is celebrated) to experience Kiev among festive locals.
Public transport runs from 05:45am to12am on trolleybuses, buses and the Metro, and mini-buses (shuttle buses) can stop anywhere along the route upon request. The fast, clean and very deep Metro has three lines that are fairly easy to navigate, as metro schemes are available at all stations.
The Central Post Office is a tourist attraction of its own, so make sure to visit it and possibly send a postcard or two to family and friends back home. Drop your mail off directly at the post office or use one of the yellow or blue post boxes scattered around the city. However, make sure it says "outside Kiev" if you are sending international mail. Delivery might take a while, so turn to a private delivery service in case you are in a rush.
Most of the pharmacies are open until late (24/7) and they have a good selection of both locally made and imported medicine. Many prescription drugs are available over the counter in the Ukraine due to regulation differences. One of them is Pharmacy Concept store on the main street.