Ahh Kiev. A city which probably isn’t top of your bucket-list. In fact, it may not even be on there at all. However, I’m here to convince you why Kiev is worth a trip. Ever since I was young, I would visit Kiev every year with my family. As time went by, I started to fully appreciate how much the city has to offer. Yes, there has been some ongoing political unrest, but this doesn’t impact Kiev’s safety levels if you stay out of protests. As with most places, it’s all about being street-savvy. Not convinced on travels here? Let me (try) change your mind.
Start Your Mornings At Shevchenko Park:
Sticking to central locations doesn’t mean you have to miss out on nature. After all, take a look at Taras Shevchenko Park. Named after the Ukrainian poet, this park is one of Kiev’s most popular locations. Using Khreshchatyk Square as a starting point, due to being the area most tourists stay, you can walk to the park in less than 15 minutes to see why. The area has become a bit of a meeting point for locals to have informal get-together sessions with friends, whilst the tourists roam the pavements eyeing up the architecture and designs. Besides the fact evening strolls will expose you to live music, you’ll see fountains, statues, a traditional pancake stand, and even a playground to keep the little ones busy. Heck, kids can also ride ponies across the park. That’s why you’ll want to absorb your surroundings in the morning, when there are fewer people, with a helping of Ukrainian pancakes accompanied with coffee. Once you’re all fuelled up, head into Khreshchatyk Square.
Browse Kreshchatyk In The Afternoon:
I always say to my friends if you get lost, make your way back to Khreshchatyk because it’s the hub for everything. Not only are metro links incredibly easy to locate here, you’ll be in a zone where you’ll have plenty of choice with what to do next. My pick? The rows and rows of stores hidden in the underground mall. If that’s not your thing though, you might want to explore the historical offerings instead, such as ‘Independence Square’. Prefer something a bit more light-hearted? Feast your eyes on the musical fountains or pay a visit to the endless restaurants close by. It’s worth mentioning the road is closed off to cars on Sunday, meaning pedestrians can walk freely.
Something which surprises people is that following the Khreshchatyk streets will take you to a hidden beach, conveniently located through ‘Khreshchatyk Park’. It’s a bit of a trek to get here, but one that’s worth taking to see ‘Dnieper River’. Along the way, you’ll find the well-known ‘Friendship Arch’ landmark and a open stage, hosting events for the public. You’ll get a glorious bird’s eye view of the city from these locations.
It goes without saying, Eastern Europe is often associated with sensational-looking cathedrals. Kiev is no exception. You’ll want to make ‘Sophia’s Cathedral’ a priority, without a doubt. It’s known as being one of Kiev’s most picturesque sites. Another strong contender is ‘Golden Gate’, if architecture is your calling. Golden Gate is a popular choice for those interested in art, as the streets are home to metres of open art galleries. Locals will come here to sell paintings, and let me tell you, you’ll find a picture of virtually everything. If you’re STILL unsure, you might be won over by the fact Kiev has World Heritage Site status, thanks to the ‘Pechersk Lavra’. This spot is a historical Eastern Orthodox Monastery, where you can purchase homemade goods or take a tour of the underground caves. Hope you’re ready for narrow spaces!
Unsure what to eat whilst in Kiev? For national dishes, grab ‘Vareniki’, which are kind of like dumplings filled with cottage cheese. Tastes better than it sounds I promise. I actually have an easy recipe for you here. It’s also worth sipping on ‘Borscht’, a beetroot and cabbage soup. Again, one that tastes better than it sounds. As someone who has an Eastern European parent, I’ll be the first to admit traditionally Eastern European food doesn’t usually win over many people but give it a try. Don’t worry though, you won’t be hungry on your trip because Kiev is well prepared for tourists, in comparison to other Ukrainian cities. Which makes sense really, considering Kiev is a capital city and all.
Curious on how to get around? Stick to the metro. Yes, the buses around the city get you from A to B just fine but for someone new to Kiev, they can create confusion. The metro is just so much more efficient. The other reason why I’d suggest taking the metro is because some of the stations are absolutely beautiful, such as the ‘Zoloti Vorota’ stop. You’ll see what I mean when you get there 😉
In terms of spending, you’ll be blown away by how far certain currencies can stretch. If I use the example of the ‘British Pound’, a metro token costs 8 UAH at the time of writing. This equates to approximately 20 pence if going from the results of various currency converters. For this reason, Kiev can be an affordable holiday destination, depending on where you’re travelling from.
Finally, let’s talk languages. Russian is spoken in Kiev, but over recent years there’s been a real emphasis to uphold the Ukrainian language. This has led to some controversy in the country. Don’t panic though, as you’ll get by with English just fine. Whether all locals understand you is a different matter, but Google Translate can assist with that!
Have you ever been to Kiev? If you have, I’m so curious to hear your thoughts.
Until then, see you in the next post!