Kyiv in Ukraine is a very diverse city, in any tourist guidebook, you will definitely find a comprehensive list of sights, landmarks, museums that must be visited on a trip to the capital of Ukraine. Ancient history, architecture, culture, art, shopping, nightlife, and delicious traditional Ukrainian food – it’s quite easy to spend a week in the capital of Ukraine. There are just so many things to do in Kyiv!
The increasing number of tourists from all over the world during the last years proves that the city is definitely worth visiting and exploring. And if you are worried about your safety, please don’t be! Cause in Kyiv nowadays you are safer than in many other Western European cities. Hiring a Kiev private guide is a great option to go off the beaten track to discover a different, more authentic side of the city.
With that in mind, here’s a list of things to do in Kyiv to help you make the most of your time in the beautiful city.
- Admire beautiful Orthodox cathedrals and churches
When you are in Kyiv first and foremost you notice golden domes of the numerous Orthodox cathedrals and churches. It’s a well-known fact, Kyiv is a cradle of the East Slavic Orthodox world. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims come to the capital of Ukraine every year in search of spiritual enlightenment.
Here in Kyiv, you should definitely visit St.Sophia Cathedral which is an original 11-century church with fascinating mosaics and frescos all over the walls inside the cathedral. St.Sophia is an outstanding monument of Old Slavic architecture of the Kyivan Rus period, the main temple of Kyivan metropolitans of 11-19 centuries. Nowadays It is a museum, not a live church, paid entrance is required to get on the territory of the architectural complex.
One more Unesco site in Kyiv is Kyiv Pechersk Lavra Monastery and Caves also founded in the 11th century. Inside the underground caves are kept imperishable relics of the monks that lived and prayed in the caves their whole lives. They are considered saints for the Orthodox believers. On the territory with cathedrals, you can admire the beautiful churches of the 18-20th centuries and the stunning Grand Bell Tower.
- Discover prodigious murals and street art in the backyards of the city
In recent years Kyiv has seen a real street art boom, with many large-scale drawings being painted on the walls of the city buildings. Talented artists from Ukraine, Portugal, Argentina, Spain, Australia diluted the urban landscape of Kyiv with portraits, landscapes, and abstractions. With this new street art movement, the Ukrainian capital aims to take its rightful place in the world’s street art arena.
- Dive into art
Kyiv has various art galleries and museums. Some of them are located in the 19-century mansions that belonged to Ukrainian magnates of the 19th – early 20th centuries. In the buildings that managed to survive Bolshevic’s occupation and destruction, you can also observe not only amazing collections of art objects, paintings but also the interior and furniture of that time period.
I especially would recommend you visit the Kyiv Museum of Russian Art which is located in the family mansion that belonged to Tereshchenko, the family of Ukrainian sugar magnates and patrons of art. And neighboring to this museum is located one more – The Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Arts. In its collection are unique paintings, sculptures, tableware, decorative art of the Ancient world, works from Western Europe and the Far East, Byzantine icons of 6th – 7th centuries, and more. I highly recommend all who are interested in that kind of art visiting these amazing museums.
- Go underground to the deepest metro station in the world
This is in Kyiv is located the deepest metro station in the world – “Arsenalna” station. It lies nearly 350 feet (105.5 meters) beneath the city, making it the deepest station in the world. To get to the train platforms passengers have to take two escalators. Such a one-way journey takes around 5 minutes.
Arsenalna’s depth is attributed to Kyiv’s geography. The station entrance lies at top of a steep valley next to the Dnipro River whose high banks rise above the rest of the city. The adjacent station, “Dnipro”, lies just above ground level close to the river bank before the metro line goes into the ground under Dnipro’s high banks. In order to avoid a steep descent, the Arsenalna station had to be built on the same level which required the station’s entrance to be at the top of the banks, more than a hundred meters above.
- Enjoy the serenity of the city botanical gardens
Right in the center of the city is located one of Kyiv’s botanical gardens – Fomin Botanical garden. Founded in 1939 by Kyiv University is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Ukraine, occupies an area of only 22 hectares. The whole territory of the garden is divided into two parts – the scientific and park. The park area is free and open to the public at any time. Especially crowded the garden becomes in late April and May, during flowering magnolias, of which there are about 40 species. If you visit Kyiv at this time of the year never skip this wonderful place!
- Spend a day in Pirogovo – open-air museum of Folk Architecture and Life
Pirogovo is an open-air museum located 12 km from Kyiv. It is the largest open-air museum in Europe and is also known as the Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Ukraine. The territory of the museum is spread across 370 acres and it shows the rural lifestyle of different regions of Ukraine. Pirogovo is an ethnographic treasury of Ukraine where you can immerse into the rural life of Ukrainian villages of 16-19 centuries.
The formation of this open-air museum started in 1969 and today counts 70,000 items of Ukrainian household and traditional cultural items such as embroidered fabrics, carpets, ceramics, metal and wooden pieces, glass works, paintings, folk musical instruments. There is the oldest wooden church from 1750. And it is a working church, not just a historical monument.
- Take a river cruise along the Dnipro river
There are several places in Kyiv where the boat ships depart. The easiest to get and convenient are: at the River Port near the metro station Poshtova Ploshcha, the other one near the “Dnipro” metro station. Within a 1 or 1,5-hour boat ship tours, you will admire the picturesque scenery of the Right and the Left Bank of Kyiv. The sights include the stunning domes of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Vydybetsky Monastery, St. Andrew’s Church and the Magdeburg Rights monument. There are also two longer boat trips, the tours last 3 hours. These cruises are more captivating as they follow the Dnipro River upstream to the Kyiv Reservoir, which is locals call Kyiv Sea.
- Explore the city on foot
It is impossible to tell about Kyiv sites briefly. Kyiv is a city with more than thousand-year history. And I highly recommend you to explore the city on foot. The central area and Old Town are very compact and the main landmarks are located close to each other. The Upper Town area with its sights and landmarks is the same convenient for a walking tour. You can easily make your own route after googling the most famous and interesting places to be seen in Kyiv. Or you can book a 6-hour guided walking Kiev tour with a knowledgeable guide or do a 3-hour Old Town Kiev tour with a guide through the city center. Any option is fine and depends only on your individual preferences, travel experience, and possibilities.
I know, this list of 8 things to do in Kyiv is not quite massive. There are so many other tourist attractions in Kyiv. I haven’t mentioned the fabulous nightlife, the numerous amazing restaurants, cocktail bars, pubs, and beautiful gardens, landscaped parks. It all boils down to personal preferences, but I am beyond positive Kyiv will take your breath away. Once having visited it you will always dream of coming back.
If you’d like to explore more of Kyiv and visit some off the beaten track places you can book any of the Kyiv tours with BEST KIEV GUIDE, a passionate Kiev tour guide that offers interesting and engaging tours around the Kyiv city. Below there are some of the city tour options to explore Kyiv and its highlights:
- Kyiv Pechersk Lavra tour
- Soviet Kyiv tour
- WWII Museum complex tour
- Kyiv Street Art tour
- Jewish Heritage in Kyiv tour
- Aristocratic Pechersk Mansions tour
- Kyiv Hidden Energies tour
If you have any questions about planning your trip to Kyiv leave a comment at the end of the post I’ll be happy to help you and give an insider tip.