Grand Tour of Kyiv

So I find it kind of funny that Ukraine is suddenly everywhere in the news because of this whole thing with Trump. Anyway I hope that it doesn’t turn people off on visiting Kiev, as it’s a great place to be honest.

Maybe one thing I should say is that Kiev is a relatively safe place. Like I don’t know about the crime statistics, but I guess it’s like any other normal metropolitan city. Crimes happen but it’s not a war zone. I’ve honestly seen more soldiers in Brussels than in Kiev. I’m not saying though that there isn’t something going on with Russia, but you would have to actually go to these border cities to actually experience this.

Maybe it is quite different to be a tourist in this city, and my view on it is quite simple from the outside, but my point is just this – I did not find anything dangerous in my going there.

Anyway! So serious stuff done, now for my list of interesting places to go.

  1. Deepest Metro Station (Arsenalna)

Google location

I honestly had no idea about this, it’s just that Arsenalna is one of the stops that gets you to the city center. I randomly told my colleagues the next day that damn that escalator ride was long (I timed it, it was 5 minutes in total) and they said oh yeah it’s one of the deepest metro stations. Lol.

Ok I mean there’s really not much to see here except for the “fun” of going up the escalator for 5 minutes – there’s no stairs option in case you were wondering.

Endless Escalator

2. Friendship of Nations Arch / People’s Friendship Arch

Google location

Much like most of soviet era monuments, the arch and monuments are grand and impressive. However my favorite part about this area is the observation deck overlooking the Dnipro and the path way that leads you to the back of the St Andrew’s Church and on to the Andriyivski Descent (Andriyivski Uzviz).

It’s a walk that’s definitely worth it and the observation deck here has one of the best sunset views of the city I’ve seen.

3. St. Andrew’s Church , Andriyivski Descent, Park around the National Museum of History of Ukraine

St. Andrew’s Church Google Location

National Museum of History of Ukraine Google Location

If you continue through one of the pathways from the friendship arch, you will eventually end up at the back of St. Andrew’s church and on Andriyivski Uzviz.

What can I say about St. Andrew’s? It’s pretty. When I was there the church itself was closed but you could visit the balcony for around 5 hryvnia (I think or was it 20). Honestly I don’t recommend it as anyway everywhere around this area are balconies with pretty much the same view.

St. Andrew’s Church

Andriyivski Descent is the artsy street of Kiev. It’s a really pretty street lined with restaurants, cafes and people selling souvenir items. Honestly it’s a nice place to walk by but I would not necessarily sit down and eat here.

the street at closing time

Nearby this church and street is the National Museum of History. I don’t really recommend the museum but rather the park where it is located. It’s got amazing views of the city and also a great place to see the sunset.

4. Lavra

Google Location

The Lavra is an Orthodox Christian Monastery and one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites in Kiev. The monastery itself is a compound where a number of churches can be found. The churches in the Lavra are one of the two things that stand out in the Kiev timeline (aside from the Motherland monument).

It’s really quite beautiful inside and the churches have all been well preserved. I did not try to go inside the churches though as I wasn’t sure if it was allowed or not. You are free to walk around the complex though.

5. Motherland monument

Google Location

This was no doubt my favorite monument. It’s literally the very first thing I saw upon arriving in Kiev. I mean, really, if you ever go – you will understand why. It’s HUGE.

From the lavra, it’s a short walk to the entrance of the park/museum of world war 2. The monument is part of the museum. There are some interesting displays outside, some vehicles, artillery used in WW2, as well as more soviet era monuments.

I was told that you previously could go up the top of the monument but for some reason (which I already forgot), this was stopped. Not sure if this is still currently the case but anyway if you are in Kiev, you could try to see.

6. Kiev Funicular

Google Location (Podil, Old Kyiv)

The Kiev Funicular, like the metro, is more of a convenient transportation method rather than something really interesting to do as a tourist. There isn’t much of a view on the funicular, assuming you can even get a place to have a view. It’s quite functional and I think a lot of local people use it to get up and down the hill efficiently as it connects Old Kyiv and Podil. It’s the same cost as one metro ride (8 hryvnias) and you only need to buy a token from the person at the till.

Funicular station from Podil

7. Kiev Port and Boat Ride

Google Location

One of the main features of Kyiv is the Dnipro river. Of course if there is a body of water, there is a port.

The port itself has been transformed into some sort of hipster art gallery and right outside are a bunch food stalls and open area dining right beside the river. It’s a nice place to hang out and eat. But of course, expect that food sold in the stalls are 2 times more expensive than normal.

As it is a port, there are of course boats. There is a not so popular mini boat tour that’s offered around the port. It’s a 1 hour boat ride that goes up and down the Dnipro. To be honest, there isn’t anything new to be seen and we were quite frustrated because it took 40 mins for the boat to depart. In any case, if nothing else to do and the weather is good, it’s a nice way to relax on the river. Bring your own food as food on the boat is also 2 times more expensive.

8. Podil

Google Location

Nearby the Kiev port is Podil. If you’re looking for where to eat out and have fun at night, Podil is the place to be. The area is full of bars and great restaurants.

I recommend Punkraft for beers and PR bar for cocktails.

9. Pishokhidnyy Mist Cherez Dnipro and the island

Google Location

From the Kyiv port, if you start walking towards the colorful bridge called “Pishokhidnyy Mist Cherez Dnipro” in google maps, you will be able to cross to reach the island on the other side of the river.

This bridge in itself is a nice place to walk as it is open only for pedestrians and bikes. When I was there in the summer, people were also bungee jumping off the bridge.

From the bridge, you will reach the island (I really don’t know what it’s called). It’s mostly a place for nature, biking but also there is a really great bar by the side of the beach where you can have a drink, eat dinner, watch a concert and when were there, watch a movie on the beach.

10. Independence Square

Google location

Ok so one of the places I always seemed to end up in was Independence Square. It’s hard to miss with the huge column in the middle of the square, a mall and the Ukraine hotel right behind it. It is also where 2 main metro lines intersect so I pretty much ended up having to take a metro from here or exit from here.

From the square you can walk either towards the Arch of Friendship or towards the sort of fancy shopping street (walk towards Teatralna). Along this way you’ll find many many restaurants (as usual) and a more of the high end shopping places as well as some souvenir shops along the way.

I went inside briefly to the Tsum department store and found a champagne bar on the top floor. Treated myself to some champagne and great views.

11. Holodomor memorial

Google location

To get to the lavra, we walked from Arsenalna station to there. On the way, we passed by this huge park which houses a number of different monuments and the Holodomor Genocide museum.

Being the ignorant person that I am, I had no idea about what this genocide was. I’m including this place in my list because it made me learn something new about history and people.

To know more about the genocide/famine, you can easily google it and read up on the wikipedia page.

Getting around these sights

Kiev as a city is quite huge, but in terms of seeing all the main sights, it’s possible to walk to most of them. You just need to plan what are the things close together (usually one leads to the other etc). The only 2 places that are quite far are the Lavra and the Motherland Monument. For that it’s best to take an uber (it’s cheap!) as I don’t think there is a metro station nearby.

(see my earlier post for more details on transportation)

Google Walking Tour

A colleague of mine made me a really cool walking tour which you can also follow by clicking here

Included in this walking tour are:

  • National Opera House
  • Golden Gates of Kyiv
  • St. Sophia Cathedral
  • St. Michael’s Cathedral
  • St. Andrew’s Church
  • Andriyivski Descent (Andriyivski Uzviz)
  • Postal Square (Poshtova Ploshcha)
  • Kiev Funicular

So there you go! I hope that this post will help people to be encouraged to visit Kyiv and see Ukraine as not just a place where Chernobyl was based from. 🙂

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