Ukraine

Top 5 places to see and things to do in Kiev, Ukraine

(Last Updated On: 08/07/2019)

I didn’t know what to expect from my first trip to visit Kiev, Ukraine. It was actually my first time ever in the country itself and even if I didn’t have any expectations I was more than ready to get to know this country and explore its capital city.

And I loved it, big time.

Kiev is huge, busy and cosmopolitan but it also hides so many of beautiful monuments and places well worth a visit. I’ve been there for 3 days yet I didn’t manage to see everything that I’ve hoped for. So whenever I have a chance I’ll gladly return to Kiev and see more of it.

But in the meantime here are a few places to see and things to do in Kiev when you visit the city for the first time.

Tip for you: if you want to take the most of your time in Kiev be sure to stay somewhere in the center, preferably close to Khreschatyk as you will be nearby many attractions and all metro lines. Check the best deals and details on accommodation in Kiev here (click!)

When you arrive at Borispol airport you can easily get to the center with the affordable private transport! Click here to see the details and book the transfer!

Things to do in Kiev

Pechersk Lavra

A must visit place for everyone. This huge complex of Cave Monasteries is over 1000 years old and is listed on UNESCO World’s Heritage List.

Since the foundation, it’s been the very center of Eastern Orthodox Church in that part of the world. The monasteries are incredibly beautiful, with golden domes that shine in the sun.

But the insides are even better! Rich adornments make them look like from a fairytale. When walking around the Pechersk Lavra you have a feeling that it’s a special place for Ukraine as the atmosphere there is definitely elegiac.

things to do in Kiev

In the oldest monastery, a special gem is hidden – graves of monks in the underground corridors. You just need to buy and light a candle and follow the people into the labyrinth of narrow lanes with coffins on both sides. The place felt pretty spooky but it was really interesting and I’m glad I didn’t freak out and visited it after all.

To admire the greatness and enormity of Lavra it’s best to go to the other side of the Dnieper River from where the view is stunning. Walking around the Lavra and visiting all the monasteries, museums and belltowers takes a few good hours but is definitely worth all the time and money.

You can also visit Pechersk Lavra with a private tour (highly recommended!). Click here to see the details and prices!

things to do in Kiev

Museum of the Great Patriotic War

That was with no doubts my favorite place in Kiev!

The Museum is located just next to the Pechersk Lavra but is like from another world. The complex is a memorial commemorating the German-Soviet war and it was opened in the current location on 9th May 1981.

This must have been the most surreal place I’ve ever visited. It’s a park full of war machines: tanks, cars, planes. There are also huge Soviet monuments and the Soviet war songs are played in the background.

things to do in Kiev

But the best thing in that Museum is a huge monument of Mother Ukraine that overlooks the area and can be seen from far away. And by huge I mean 102 meters high! It’s enormous and mind-blowing!

You can take a lift and visit the viewing platform in the head of the sculpture – sadly it was closed when I was there, that would have been quite an experience! I’ve found a tour focused on the Museum and Mother Ukraine statue and next time I’m going to take it as it sounds really great! Check the details here!

things to do in Kiev

Maidan Nezalezhnosti and Khreshchatyk street

Let’s stay in the post-Soviet spirit. Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) is the very center of Kiev and the place where the main events in the city happen. The most known one was the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the recent revolution in 2014 – the whole world could see this place in the news then.

Maidan is surrounded by the massive buildings – fine examples or Soviet architecture typical for the Stalin times. The best view of the Square is from the bridge and the view platform next to the Hotel Ukraine.

things to do in Kiev

The most important street that goes from Maidan Nezalezhnosti is Khreshchatyk. It’s wide, with 4 lanes each way and over 1 km long.

The street was completely destroyed during World War II but was rebuilt in the post-war Soviet style. It’s busy on the weekdays but closes on the weekends and serves as pedestrian zones.

All the main institutions are located there: City Administration, Main Post Office or few Ministries. Khreshchatyk is on the list of 20 most expensive streets in Europe and that’s definitely the place to be in Kiev.

I strolled down the street at least 10 times during my visit and each time I could spot something new, interesting, exciting. But simply looking at people there is the best thing one can do.

things to do in Kiev

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral and St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery

When looking at Maidan Nezalezhnosti from the viewing platform you can spot golden domes in the back. These belong to Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, the oldest church in Kiev that is also on UNESCO World Heritage List.

The complex isn’t as big as Pechersk Lavra but consists quite a few buildings, among them, are the Cathedral, Bell Tower or the high school. This unique place got its name from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and is of such an outstanding beauty too.

/ things to do in Kiev

Not far from Saint Sophia’s another shining golden domes can be seen – these belong to St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery. This one can be visited for free and it’s definitely worth coming inside.

The monastery dates back to the Middle Ages but it was demolished just before World War II and recently re-opened. It’s worth to spend a while and inspect all the details closely as the building is very rich in all the adornments.

You can visit both monasteries as well as other top attractions of the city during Highlights of Kiev sightseeing tour! Click here for more details and prices!

things to do in Kiev

Andriyivskyy Descent and Podil

Too bad Andriyiskyy Descent was under construction when I was in Kiev. This part of Ukrainian capital feels like a small town and not a huge city.

It’s the area where Kiev’s artists used to live and places like Mikhail Bulgakov’s house are located. Probably that’s why it’s often called “Montmartre of Kiev”.

It’s best to see the area from the surrounding hills and Zamkova Hora that offer spectacular views or this colorful part of the city.

things to do in Kiev

Podil is quite the contrary to the upper part of the city. The buildings are smaller, colorful and charming, the streets are narrow and the life goes by there much slower. Yet a lot of interesting places, museums and monasteries are located there.

It’s worth to spend an afternoon there to take a rest from the busy monumental center or the overwhelming beauty of UNESCO monasteries.

You can learn more about the area during Andrew Descent & Podil District Tour! Click here for more details!

things to do in Kiev


PLAN YOUR TRIP TO KIEV

With over 15 years of independent traveling, I’ve learned which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust the 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 through 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 your 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 a 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 saves you time and money. Click here to see and book the best day tours in Kiev.


For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:

  • Would you like to travel to Central/Eastern Europe or the Balkans? Let me help you with travel planning! Click here for more details!
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  • Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
  • I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Kiev too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Antonina
    30/01/2015 at 05:09

    All the familiar and beloved places.

    • Reply
      kami
      31/01/2015 at 20:59

      I’m glad I could bring back some good memories to you :)

  • Reply
    Wayne Seto
    17/05/2015 at 06:08

    I’ve never been Europe, but you’ve definitely given a reason to with this post! Amazing photos.

    • Reply
      kami
      19/06/2015 at 23:29

      Thanks! You definitely should visit Europe soon, it’s really cool!

  • Reply
    Our Dream Destinations for 2016 - Reflections Enroute
    03/01/2016 at 08:28

    […] do! Lviv is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and I bet you will fall in love with it too! Kiev, the capital, can show you the best of East: gold-dome churches and impressice Soviet architecture […]

  • Reply
    Steve Sherwood
    04/12/2017 at 09:53

    Hi Kami, my name is Steve. ive never been out of the States but I’m traveling to Kiev for my first visit out of the states. what about Dialects? I only speak English. and what about Money exchange? I’m trying to learn every thing I can before going. should I use a card to pay for things I buy? the truth is I met a lady on a dating site and want to look a little like I know what I’m doing. I appreciate any help you can give me. thank you. steve

    • Reply
      kami
      27/12/2017 at 17:40

      Hi Steve! I think in Kiev in most cases you should be fine with English as a lot of people, especially young, can speak the language. As for money I always use ATMs but you can exchange them in lots of places around (i.e. shops) and you can pay by card as well. Kiev is amazing and I’m sure you will enjoy your time there a lot! If you need any more help feel free to join my FB group (you can find the link in the post in the yellow frame) – I’m sure members will help you!

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