A day or even a long weekend are never enough time to properly see and experience a city, but for those planning a short stopover or getaway Kiev offers spectacular architecture, great food and a buzzing city centre.
Hiring a local guide costs around $100 for the day and includes entrance to paid sights and taxis around the city. Airport transfers cost around $10 if booked with a local operator, Uber from $15 and up to $25 from the taxi rank at the airport.
A day won’t allow time to get outside of Kiev to see sights such as Chernobyl, but there is more than enough to keep you busy. Here are our top ten things to see and do in Kiev:
Saint Michaels Cathedral
This golden-domed, blue walled Orthodox monastery is located on the right bank of the Dnieper River, alongside the Foreign Ministry and is just a five hundred metre walk from the Saint Sofia Cathedral. The site is located in the historic administrative Uppertown and overlooks the city’s historical commercial and merchant quarter, the Podil neighbourhood.
The original cathedral was demolished by the Soviet authorities in the 1930s, but was reconstructed and opened in 1999 following Ukrainian independence in 1991. Entrance is free of charge, but photos inside the church are restricted.
Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square)
The Independence Square is the beating heart of the city, a place where Ukrainians of all ages come together daily to shop, sit and enjoy the sunshine, eat in bars and restaurants and enjoy the nightlife.
Beneath the Square is a massive shopping mall, with restaurants, while above the main highlights are the Independence Monument pillar, the Monument of the Founders of Kyiv and the Lach Gates – a reconstruction to commemorate the old medieval Kiev city gates.
The Square is surrounded by historic buildings and classic architecture, including several museums and the National Orchestra building.
Dnieper River Waterfront
The refurbished Waterfront area offers a fantastic insight into modern life in Kiev. Busy bars and restaurants serve a mix of local and western food, while nearby groups of young people dance the tango or socialise in parked areas.
The Waterfront offers views across to the sandy beaches of 38 islands that sit within the river system including Hidropark, while at night the Parkovy pedestrian bridge is illuminated beneath the gaze of Friendship Arch.
National Museum of the History of Ukraine
Located just above Saint Andrews church, the National Museum documents the history of Ukraine from the stone age to modern political events. Entry costs 60 UAH, and exhibitions include ethnographic material, archaeological items including a significant collection of Scythian art, historical paintings and sculptures, numismatic collections, early printed books, etc.
The cathedral is one of the Kiev’s best known landmarks and was the first heritage site in Ukraine to be inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aside from its main building, the cathedral includes an ensemble of supporting structures such as a bell tower which you can climb for a small extra fee.
Saint Andrew’s Church
This major Baroque church was constructed in 1747–1754, to a design by the Italian architect Bartolommeo Rastrelli and is famed for its detailed green and golden domes. The church sits upon a plinth, accessed by a grand staircase which leads to a viewing platform with views down to the Dnieper River and the rivers bridges. As of September 2017 the church is undergoing internal restoration, restricting access however a small entry fee of 10UAH is payable to access the viewing platform.
The Kiev Pechersk Lavr Monastery
Since its foundation as a cave monastery back in 1051 the sprawling Lavra has been a preeminent center of Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe. The monastery sits upon a hill overlooking the Dnieper River and across to the Motherland Monument. Together with the Saint Sophia Cathedral the Lavra was jointly inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most famous feature of the Lavr is iconic Great Lavr Bell Tower, the tallest structure in the area.
The shield features the emblem of the Soviet Union, making this statue controversial in a country where all Soviet signs and monuments were outlawed in 2015. Entry to the viewing platform is free, while Museum entry costs 20UAH.