Ukraine

Is Kiev worth visiting?

(Last Updated On: 26/11/2018)
Lately I’ve been getting quite many travel related questions from friends and readers and I thought it might be actually better to answer them in here so not only the asking person would benefit from my answer. Who knows, maybe some of you are also wondering about these issues and may use my answers (I hope so!). And if you also have some questions about travelling, places to visit, prices, getting around, safety, solo travel etc feel free to contact me, post your question in the comment here or in my FB page, I’ll be more than happy to answer!


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A friend of mine asked me couple of days ago if it’s worth to visit Kiev, Ukraine. She was already in Lviv last year and liked it a lot (no wonder, I loved it there as well, I still have to cover this trip here on the blog). Recently she found cheap tickets to Kiev (Katowice-Kiev with Wizzair, less than 200PLN/50€ return) but didn’t know if she should book them or not. And the question came up. I bet you already know my answer ;)

I was there in April 2012, only for the weekend as I found some pretty cheap flights too. I must say I didn’t know much about Kiev before visiting it, nothing rung a bell when I thought of this city. The only reason why I’ve decided to go there was the price and the fact I haven’t been to Ukraine before (even if it’s the closest country from where I live). In Poland we know a lot about Lviv as back in time it used to be a Polish city but that’s where our knowledge about Ukraine ends, sadly.

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It is a huge city but you can spend 48 hours in Kiev and see a lot! The population is around 3 milions and you can clearly see it: the road from Borispol airport leads through suburbs with tall post-Soviet blocks, the metro is a constant flow of people – you don’t need to think how to exit the station, the crowd will take you there for sure – main streets are busy with people, especially on the weekends when wide Khreshchatyk street is for pedestrians. Kiev is considered the cultural and spiritual center of Eastern Europe and with 12 centuries of rich history it well deserves this title.

There are so many things to see in Kiev that 3 days I’ve spent there weren’t enough. I’ve already written the post about top 5 things to see there but these are just main attractions. Your days there will be busy with visiting numerous golden dome churches that will left you speachless, admiring great examples of monumental post-Soviet architecture, relaxing in various parks and eating delicious yet heavy Ukrainian food (the post about it comming soon!). And for more adventurous people there are Chernobyl tours available – I didn’t have time to go there but I’d definiely love to, I have a reason to go back!

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But Kiev might be a challenging destination too. Even if things imporoved after last year European Football Championships and the tourism infrastructure (including lots of good and affordable accomodation possibilities) is really good there you might be slightly overwhelmed – what I love about Eastern Europe and what makes it special may not be so fascinating to everyone. It seems chaotic, busy, dirty (even if it’s not) and the post-Soviet spirit is very much felt. Also you might expect some minor language issues if you don’t know Cyrylic letters (I spent one afternoon just before the trip to learn them, it still took me a while to understand what’s going on around me but it definitely was much easier!) but well, there’re always hands and smile to help! Kiev also seemed like a safe city to me. Of course don’t go into the dark backstreets, use the common sense, like everywhere else and you will be fine!

If you think that when you’ve already visited Lviv you don’t have to go to Kiev you’re so wrong! These cities are so far from being similar. While Lviv has the XIXth century Galician charm, feels like a small town and is full of baroque churches and old tenements that need renovation Kiev is the oposite. Monumental post-Soviet architecture, wide streets, golden domed Orthodox churches and the real Eastern Europe atmosphere. But I think in every country it’s like that: Warsaw – Krakow, Berlin – Munchen, Amsterdam-Rotterdam are all so different from each other, and these are just few examples! So my suggestion? Visit both cities!

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So if anyone else has doubts if it’s worth going to Kiev I can recommend it with my whole heart! This city is so interesting, so complex, so full of great places that when leaving Kiev after the busy days of exploting you’ll already think about returning there. I know I do!


PLAN YOUR TRIP TO KIEV

With over 15 years of independent travelling I’ve learnt which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust following websites:

Flights – I search for the best deals on either Momondo or SkyScanner. Both search numerous sites to find the best offers. I also really like the “everywhere” option when searching for the flights as it often gives me the inspiration, if not for this trip then for the next time.

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation thgrough Booking.com. They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if you plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs. I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use few times. Check the best deals on accommodation in Kiev here.

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road (I’ve learnt my lesson). I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me. Check the insurance options for your trip here!

Guide books – I do like reading a guide book before and during the trip. Depending on the destination I usually buy either Lonely Planet or Bradt. You can get your guidebooks for Kiev here: Bradt / Lonely Planet. If you are looking for a good guide book about Ukraine that would help you prepare for the trip a fellow blogger and an Ukraine native Lena wrote “Insane Ukraine: Your Guide to Hassle-Free Travel” – click here to get your copy!

Day tours in Kiev – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that save you time and money. Click here to see and book the best day tours in Kiev.


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If you think of visiting Ukraine or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Antonina
    30/01/2015 at 04:58

    I’m so glad I’ve discovered your blog and had chance to read about the city I miss so much. If I had a chance to visit the capital of my motherland, I would do that right away!

    • Reply
      kami
      31/01/2015 at 20:58

      Kiev is really such a fantastic city! I would love to visit it again! Hopefully you will get a chance to return there soon too!

  • Reply
    Alex Uher
    03/12/2015 at 19:25

    I like Kiev, cool town, been there twice and found myself wanting more. Also must admit the Chernobyl trip I did 6 years ago or so was a highlight

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      04/12/2015 at 19:10

      that’s what I’d love to do as well, Chernobyl is so high on my list!!

    • Reply
      Alex Uher
      04/12/2015 at 19:13

      Do it for sure. I went before it was (cough) legal actually with the coolest tour guide ever. We did have a moment where he was madly wielding the Geiger counter as we drove further into the irradiated forest and the levels were off the charts. Ya pretty sure that was a bad idea. Oh and the French guy on my your who declared when we reached Pripryat that “he had been here many times before and could lead us all” because he played some video game.

      • Reply
        Nik S
        31/03/2016 at 13:08

        Haha. I know that game, it’s very good actually, called Stalker.

        I think I shall visit Kiev on my way back from China.

  • Reply
    Agnieszka Ptaszyńska
    03/12/2015 at 20:50

    bardzo mi się podoba tytuł “Kami answers:…”

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      04/12/2015 at 19:10

      musze do tego chyba wrócić…

  • Reply
    Pauline McCarthy
    04/12/2015 at 00:24

    Want to go to Kiev!! Booked a trip to India next!

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      04/12/2015 at 19:10

      India sounds pretty amazing too!

  • Reply
    Kinga
    04/12/2015 at 14:01

    There’s a blogger (The Hungry Partier) who made a really nice snapchat story from Kiev and it was actually him who convinced me to visit. :-) I’ve been to Lviv and loved it too.

    • Reply
      kami
      07/12/2015 at 23:22

      Kiev is so different from Lviv but also amazing in its own way! I prefer Lviv but Kiev is pretty high on my list too! And I really should finally figure out snapchat!

  • Reply
    RC
    22/08/2016 at 03:21

    Would you recommend Kiev for a brown skinned person? I am American, half black half white… Can you give me an honest assessment? Obviousl you can’t tell the future, but the general atmosphere for people of color?

    • Reply
      kami
      31/08/2016 at 12:48

      I’ve seen couple of black people in Kiev and they seemed to be just fine there. I would say it’s ok to travel there. You might get some looks but I think not more than that. I felt really safe in Kiev!

  • Reply
    Victoria
    09/02/2017 at 21:01

    I’m in love with Kiev since the first time I visited it in my youth. The city is amazing, eternal, ancient, beautiful. I enjoy my occupation of a Kiev private guide. As I’m really proud showing Kiev around to the tourists.. Thank you for the nice review and warm words,Kami!

    • Reply
      kami
      10/02/2017 at 15:44

      I really enjoy Kiev too, such a wonderful place it is! It’s always such a pleasure to return there!

  • Reply
    Jane
    24/06/2017 at 22:42

    I’ve been in Kiev twice. First time in business so didn’t have time for sightseeing, ukrainian food etc. Second time didn’t prepare for the meeting with this city as well, but took a local guide just for a few hours to show me around. In general its quite lovely place with nice people. I wish someday i will have enough time for this site.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 21:25

      Kiev really is a nice and worth visiting place, isn’t it? I hope you enjoyed your stays there!

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