Best Places to Visit in Kyiv, Ukraine (Recommended by Locals)

Best Places to Visit in Kyiv, Ukraine (Recommended by Locals)

Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine (that you likely recognize as Kiev, the old Russian spelling) is probably one of the most underrated capitals in Europe. It's a beautiful, cultural, historic, and cheap city to visit.

To help you on your way to getting the best from your visit to Kyiv, we asked Julia, a professional local tour guide, for the inside scoop on the best things to do in Kyiv - the must-eats, the most spectacular views of the city, and the coolest places to visit in Kyiv. Here are her top tips and ways to explore Kyiv and Ukrainian culture:


The best Kyiv attractions

1. Khreschatyk Street
2. Independence Square
3. St Andrew's Church
4. Landscape Alley
5. Pechersk Lavra
6. Motherland Monument
7. People's Friendship Arch
8. St Sophia's Cathedral
9. St Michael's Golden Dome Monastery
10. Kyiv Funicular
11. Postal Square


Just press play to have Julia guide you through the city herself or read on for more information about the best things to do and see in Kyiv.



1. Khreschatyk Street

Khreschatyk street, the main thoroughfare of Kyiv, is lined with several bars, restaurants, cafes, and world-renowned high-street brand stores. The street stretches 1.2 km from the European Square to Bessarabska Square, dissecting Independence Square on its way.
On weekends, the street is pedestrianized and welcomes street performers as well as party-goers. Khreschatyk street was largely destroyed during the Second World War and was rebuilt in a neo-classical style thereafter, much of which is still seen today, though the street has since undergone a few renovations in more recent times.


2. Independence Square


independence square kyiv

Source: Flickr - Jennifer Boyer (CC BY 2.0)

Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti, as locals call it, is the heart of Kyiv where most city events take place or start from. There is also a huge underground shopping mall called Globus, where you can find almost everything, from souvenirs and clothes to food and groceries.
It is the meeting point of the city and a hive of activity, particularly during the nightly fountain show and at weekends when concerts are commonplace. Maidan has, however, witnessed its fair share of remarkable, turbulent, history – the markers of which are present throughout the square. This is where the 2014 Ukrainian revolution took place (widely known as Euromaidan), which led to the overthrow of the Russian-backed government of Viktor Yanukovych.


3. St Andrew's Church

places to visit in kyiv st andrew church

The beautiful St. Andrew's Church was built in 1756 by renowned Italian architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, at the request of Queen Elisabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. It’s one of the most beautiful churches in Kyiv, located in the Podil district.

To get here, people must walk up Andriyivsky Uzviz which is a major tourist attraction in its own right, lined with stalls selling typical Ukranian souvenirs. The interior of Saint Andrew’s Church is not currently accessible, but you can get up to the terrace from where you’re afforded the most wonderful views of Podil and the Dnipro river.

See also: Free walking tours in Kyiv, Ukraine

4. Landscape Alley


landscape alley kyiv

Source: Wikimedia Commons - Xsandriel [CC BY-SA 4.0]

After visiting Saint Andrew’s Church, you can continue and go directly to Landscape Alley, located in the Old Town. It’s a free-entrance park for kids and adults, full of heroes from different fairy-tales and cartoons, and one of the most unique places to visit in Kyiv.
Slightly wacky, the style of the artworks in this wonderland is certainly imaginative, verging on abstract in places, and this is a great spot to take some unique pics as mementos or to give your Instagram game a little bit of quirk!
The park is a beautiful reprieve from the bustling urban life around it. Full of colorful mosaics and sculptures, as well as an Alice in Wonderland inspired playground, this is the perfect spot for resting your feet, but not your imagination.


5. Kyiv Pechersk Lavra


pechersk lavra kyiv

Source: Wikimedia - Falin [CC BY-SA 3.0]


Overlooking the Dnipro River, in Pechersk Lavra, this Eastern-Orthodox Christian monastery complex is one of the seven wonders of Kyiv. Known for its iconic golden domes, it is one of the most notable elements of the Kyiv skyline.
Also known as the Monastery of the Caves, the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra was built in the 11th Century, enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status, and attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.


6. Motherland Monument

motherland monument kyiv

Source: Flickr - Jorge Láscar [CC BY 2.0]


Near Pechersk Lavra, standing proudly atop a hill is the statue of the Strong Lady – The Motherland Monument (Batkivshchyna-Maty).

Installed in 1981 to honor the heroes of the Soviet Union, she is even higher than New York’s Statue of Liberty! For a small fee, you can get to the very top and enjoy the most breath-taking view of Kyiv.
There is also a fascinating museum housed in the base of the monument which, for any war-history fanatic, is certainly worth a visit: the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War.


7. People's Friendship Arch

Friendship arch kyiv

Source: Flickr - Jorge Láscar (CC BY 2.0)


While Independence square houses a 61-meter-tall victory column commemorating Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, not far away, fairly ironically, the 50-meter diameter People’s Friendship Arch is a bronze, rainbow-shaped monument that was unveiled in 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the USSR.
More ironically, perhaps, is the idea that the arch is a symbol of the close relationship and friendship between the two nations of Ukraine and Russia – a relationship that to say has been strained in recent times is somewhat of an understatement.
The entire area around the arch (named Druzhby Narodiv park) is a complex of several monuments and things to see, but the highlight of this spot is the view. From here you will be treated to one of the best views of the sunset.


8. Saint Sophia's Cathedral

st sohpia's cathedral kyiv

Source: Wikimedia Commons -Rbrechko (CC BY-SA 4.0)


A must visit in Kyiv is St. Sophia’s Square (Sofiivska Plosha). Here you can find the monument dedicated to Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Cossack leader who organized an uprising against Polish rule in the 17th century and protected Ukraine's national identity.

But the main draw here is Saint Sophia’s Cathedral. Built in the 11th century, it is the city’s oldest church and another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kyiv.
The impressive beauty of its exterior is reflected inside too as immaculate historic mosaics and intricate ancient frescoes are still on display to be marveled.


9. Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

st michaels golden domed monastery kyiv

Not to be outshone by St. Sophia’s Cathedral, St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery is just a stone’s throw away, and another of the quintessential must-see places in Kyiv.

Its iconic golden domes and blue exterior are synonymous with the Kyiv skyline and make for a remarkable sight to behold. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries in times of war. If you want to learn more about its fascinating history, pay a visit to the museum located in the bell-tower.


10. Kyiv Funicular

From the historic uptown to the more cosmopolitan downtown, you can come by funicular through Volodymyrska Hill. The 2.5-minute ride costs just €0.55. The 200-meter journey takes you down to Postal Square and Riverport in a most enjoyable way; don’t leave Kyiv without a trip in the funicular!


11. Postal Square

And once you find yourself in Postal Square, you’re in the ideal spot for a leisurely evening stroll. This is one of the city's oldest historic squares, in fact, archaeological finds here date back to the 4th century.

The riverboat station is also located here, from where you can take river cruises if you so desire, but one of the locals’ favorite activities is to walk along the banks of Dnipro river, enjoying the street food and relaxing atmosphere. So, why not do as the locals do?!

river port kyiv

Source: Wikimedia Commons - Dmitry A. Mottl (CC BY-SA 3.0)



Places to eat like a local in Kyiv

Ukraine may not be as world-renowned for its culinary culture as other nations, but if you’re one who likes to eat local and dine on delicious, authentic local cuisine when traveling, then Ukraine will not disappoint. The country is relatively cheap to visit for most people, and this is no more apparent than when it comes to dining, especially if you avoid the touristy restaurants and go where the locals love to eat. Here are some recommendations:


Puzata Hata Restaurant

One such place you cannot miss for cheap eats in Kyiv is Puzata Hata, or ‘Ukrainian dishes’, where you will enjoy, well, Ukrainian dishes, and for only a euro or two each. You can find many restaurants of this chain across the city.
For lunch, we recommend you start with borscht, traditional Ukrainian beetroot soup with meat, and it costs less than one dollar here. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the incredibly tasty Varenyky with cherry which are delightful Ukrainian dumplings.

cooked-dumplings-in-white-ceramic-bowl-939052 (1)

Bar Ostannya Barykada

Named "The Last Barricade" (Ostannya Barykada in Ukrainian), this stylish place located in the shopping mall Globus (Maidan Nezalezhnosti, 1) specializes in Ukrainian gastronomy and uses only local products. Here you will find plenty of tasty and affordable dishes such as Chicken Kyiv, turkey with crushed potatoes, the traditional holubtsi and Bigos. They also have good veggie options.



Located close to Klovska metro station, this restaurant is owned by Crimean Tatar immigrants (from the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed) and it offers delicious chebureki, grilled meats with fresh vegetables, kebabs, rice pilaf and "shurpa" soup, among other national dishes.



This popular local eatery, which also happens to be a chain, offers a great selection of seafood from the Black Sea. They have an ice stand with fresh fish where you can pick whatever you like, from fried sardines to oysters and mussels.


And that completes the ultimate list of things to do in Kyiv, as recommended by a true local.

The largest number of must-see landmarks in Kyiv are located in the city center and can be explored by foot, so be sure to book a free walking tour of Kyiv with passionate local tour guides on to really make sure you get the best from your time in this wonderful city.
Are there more suggestions you’d recommend in the Ukrainian capital? Let us know in the comments.
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