• 25 August 2020

Kiev is the vibrant capital of Ukraine. It is also the cultural and scientific capital of Eastern Europe. New growth in the generation of tourism has people from all over the world drawn to the city’s rich culture and history, flamboyant architecture and lush greenery.  Since the city has so much to offer, we have compiled the top 10 reasons to visit Kiev in Ukraine. 

Kiev (known officially as Kyiv in Ukranian) offers many diverse activities to enjoy! From kayaking in the city’s river to appreciating the golden onion domes on many of the city’s cathedrals – you’re sure in for a treat in this Eastern European gem. 

1. You can do a tour of Chernobyl

You’ve seen the movies, documentaries and Netflix series about it. But travel to Kiev Ukraine, and you can see this notorious destination first-hand! It’s your chance to see the ghost town of Pripyat in real life. 

Being Europe’s 7th-most populous city, you’d probably be quite surprised to hear that the country’s capital is only a 2-hour drive away from the nuclear catastrophe that was Chernobyl.

The 1986 accident was caused by an eruption of radioactive substances into the air and has been regarded as the worst of its kind. Fortunately, tours to the devastated site are offered, and many commence from Kiev. And, don’t worry, the tour areas have been deemed safe for tourists and visitors; with no danger of radiation. 

On the tour, you’ll visit the former power plant, as well as browse through the deserted city of Pripyat. However, don’t be expecting the same depictions as the films; this is a pilgrimage that seeks to educate the public about the harmful effects the explosion had on the locals and the rest of the continent. 

Chernobyl theme park reasons to visit Kiev
The abandoned amusement park in the centre of the city of Pripyat, in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine.

2. It has the world’s deepest metro station

Kiev travelling and commuting is much ‘deeper’ than you think. Using public transport may be the standard procedure for locals. However, tourists will find one particular metro station to be pretty exciting. It’s located almost a whopping 106-metres below ground.

To be specific, we’re talking about the Arsenalna Metro Station that forms part of the Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska route. While catching a train so deep below the surface may seem thrilling, the actual act of escalating downwards is also really intriguing for all newcomers.

You’ll have to descend down two lengthy escalators, which will help you arrive at the metro stop after 5-minutes. The positioning of the metro station is a result of the Dnieper River being where the entrance is, which obviously became an obstacle in the design of the station. But, this didn’t dishearten the Ukrainian architects, who went as far below the surface as they could so that commuting would be possible.

World's deepest metro station reasons to visit Kiev
Travelling stairs of the deepest station in the world, Arsenalna in Kiev Metro.

3. It’s one of the continent’s greenest cities

Ukraine’s vibrant capital is surprisingly lush, with spacious green parks trailing around the Dnieper River. It has even been said that you can walk from one side of the city to the other, and remain in the shade the whole time!

In fact, in 2017, Kiev was voted Europe’s greenest metropolis! More than half of the land it takes up is forested, and just outside of the city you’ll find yourself lost in extensive pine forests. Besides greenery, rolling hills are scattered throughout the city, ideal for sunset pictures and hikes.

What makes Kiev unique is that its parks are all close to one another. You’ll find many of the parks along the Dnieper River, Kiev’s prized possession. This river is responsible for Kiev’s port identity, as well as many leisure activities for the locals. These include kayaking to the islands in the middle of the river, among others.

Kiev also offers great swimming beaches and areas for locals and tourists to swim within the Dnieper River.

Dnieper river and Truchaniv island from above reasons to visit Kiev
Dnieper river and Truchaniv island from above.

4. It’s home to delicious, authentic Ukrainian cuisine

A trip to Kiev is guaranteed to be an experience to remember for your taste buds! Ukrainian cuisine is complex, hearty and delicious. Many popular dishes are the result of years and years of cooking traditions coming together. You can look forward to dishes made up of a number of ingredients and flavour profiles that work surprisingly well when combined.

When in Kiev, try out borscht (beetroot soup), chicken Kiev, Salo (pork fat usually enjoyed on rye bread), varenyky (filled dumplings), perepichka (sausage fried in dough – a popular street food) and horilka which is Ukrainian vodka – you can even try chilli infused vodka!

One of the best places to try a variety of traditional Ukrainian food is the Bessarabsky Market. The indoor market sits in the central heart of the city and is one of the landmarks of Kiev.

Traditional borscht from Ukraine reasons to visit Kiev
Enjoy authentic Ukrainian borscht on your trip to Kiev.

5. The city has emerged from a tumultuous past and has thousands of years worth of history

Recently, Kiev has emerged as a great tourist destination after shaking off the effects of a tumultuous past. From being a member of the Soviet Union and surviving two world wars, to the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution.

Kiev is one of Eastern Europe’s oldest cities. Life around the city itself has ancient origins stretching back to the Stone Age. Kiev was said to have been founded between the 4th and 9th century –  the city even celebrated its 1,500th anniversary in 1982! Today, you can learn more about Kiev’s fascinating history at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine and on great city tours

Monument of Independence reasons to visit Kiev
Monument of Independence, Kiev.

6. You’ll see one of the largest collections of the world’s smallest objects

Every capital has a number of museums. Ukraine’s capital has a pretty exciting and unique one – the Museum of Microminiatures. The objects in this museum are tiny; all sized in millimetres and handcrafted locally.

This museum is a great reflection of how Kiev’s artistic scene is thriving. The details on these objects are extremely intricate and all handmade.

And all the exhibited miniature artworks were all handmade by one Ukrainian man – Mykola Syadristy. This self-taught micro artist makes mind-boggling creations, which you’ll be able to admire in the museum.

These include a chessboard on a pin’s head as well as what is said to be the world’s smallest book, being 0.6 square millimetres. So, you’ll really learn to appreciate the smaller things in life here.

For those looking for a unique museum experience, check out the Museum of Toilet History. 

Museum of microminiatures reasons to visit Kiev
Museum of microminiatures in Kiev.

7. There are almost 1000 palaces and churches to explore

When you look at Kiev from a satellite map, you’ll see lots of green. But, when you look at Kiev from the ground or from a plane, you’ll see lots of gold. 

Kiev is a really old city, with archaeological traces dating as far back as the 5th century. The grandeur of its golden-domed cathedrals and churches make it an exciting destination for architecture buffs. The city itself is has religious roots and is a central spot for Orhodox Chirstians. One of the most impressive cathedrals is Saint Sophia Cathedral, built to rival Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.  

When admiring the city, you’ll be gasping after every corner you turn. The capital wasn’t nicknamed the ‘City of Domes’ for no reason.

Couple standing in front of St Sophia Cathedral reasons to visit Kiev
St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.

8. You can admire the eclectic mix of architecture style

Kiev is home to a unique and diverse mix of architecture styles. Studying the city’s architecture is a great way to see the history of the city, paved along its streets. 

Kiev is home to a monastic complex that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s called the Pechersk Lavra complex, a religious compound that holds a lot of value for Eastern European Christians. This is because, along with the gilded and golden domes, it includes the city’s oldest Church and a Ukrainian Baroque Bell Tower. There are also some man-made Subterranean caves beneath the surface of the complex that can be explored.

As a whole, the city is distinct in its buildings’ designs, including Ukrainian Baroque, Art-Nouveau and Soviet Futurism.

In addition to the magnificent churches and cathedrals, you’ll see impressive theatres, mansions, universities and government buildings. Some notable buildings to visit are the National Opera of Ukraine,  House with Chimeras, the House of the Weeping Widow, and the Hotel Salut.

View of Pechersk Lavra Monastery reasons to visit Kiev
Pechersk Lavra Monastery looking over the Dniepr River in Kiev.

9. Enjoy getting to know the welcoming locals

This city, which is rich with culture and history, also boasts warm and inviting locals. After the recent revolution, tourism has emerged as a great way to revitalize Kiev. Locals are keen to show off all the great things their city has to offer! 

Set out on a local tour of the city or join an excursion nearby Kiev for insight into the city and its people. Another great way to meet locals is to find vibey local restaurants, bars or even one of the nightlife venues to meet new people. 

Man leading local group tour in Kiev reasons to visit Kiev
Join a local tour to learn more about the city.

10. It’s affordable!

Kiev is definitely a budget-friendly European destination. Especially when compared to it’s more expensive neighbours in Western Europe.  You can enjoy entrance to monuments as well as great food and drinks for super reasonable prices. A shot of vodka will cost around $2-3. Keep in mind while you’re in Kiev, the currency used is the hryvnia (₴).  €1 equals approximately ₴30 hryvnia and $1 will equal approximately ₴27.

Women taking photo of gold dome building in Kiev reasons to visit Kiev
See the sights and make the most of your time in Kiev – without breaking the bank!

Kiev remains relatively unknown, leaving it authentic and full of undiscovered monuments. This capital is a great space for nature adventurers and swimming fanatics, while still being a historically crucial attraction.

The city of domes should definitely be on your bucket list. Whether you’re soaking in the marvellous architecture in downtown Kiev, or unravelling the country’s rich history – you are sure to have a blast.

Questions & Comments

  1. Kyiv, not Kiev!

    • Heather Cameron says:

      Hi Sergey, thank you for your comment! We understand that “Kyiv” is the official Ukrainian spelling and we do our best to use both. For this blog, we opted to use “Kiev” because the majority of the major English-speaking news outlets and search engines continue to use this spelling. Thank you again for highlighting that info and for commenting!

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