Tips on Traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv is a wonderful city to spend a vacation. City with a great history and European future. But to make the most of your visit you definitely need to prepare and make a plan in advance. Especially if you are limited in time and want to see more. You would probably need to know some small but important for a traveller issues which I’ll speak about in this article. I’d like to help take the stress out of your trip, here are my top tourist tips you’d better know before coming to Kyiv.
- Ukrainian hryvnia is the only legal method of payment for the goods and services in Ukraine.
- Exchange money booths and branches of banks are all over the city. No problems to change USD, Euro. My advice – never exchange money in the airport. The difference with the “city” currency rates is huge.
- Ukraine is still most a cash economy. Yet, credit cards are widely used in large cities. So in Kyiv use of credit cards is normal. American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are commonly accepted.
- Tipping is very much welcome in Ukrainian restaurants, like up to 10% is normal.
- There are ATMs for both buying and selling cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum in Kyiv. As there is no official restriction on the use of cryptocurrencies, some Ukrainian companies now accept bitcoins as payment.
- Food is very cheap, and delicious. Try Ukrainian borsch (a bright beet-focused soup containing veggies and meat), varenyky (filled dumplings), holubtsi (stuffed cabbage with minced meat ). Restaurants like Puzata Khata, Drova, Dva Gusya, Oliv’e will help you save your budget.
- Drinking tap water in Kyiv is not recommended, better buy the bottled stuff – it’s cheap.
- Before traveling to Ukraine, check if your insurance company will give you good support overseas.
- In Ukraine state hospitals are in poor conditions. For medical services, it is better to go to private clinics like Borys, Dobrobut. Remember that in case of any emergency it is always better to contact the Embassy of your country.
- In case you need any pills, pharmacies are in every corner of Kyiv streets.
- If you stay in Ukraine for more than 3 days, buy a prepaid SIM card. You can get monthly tariff plan that offers mobile communication and 3G data at 3 dollars.
- Free wi-fi is available practically at every eating place: restaurant, cafe, coffee shops; shopping malls; at some metro stations. Just ask the staff to give you password.
- Plugs and wall sockets differ from North America and the U.K., being of European two pin style. Take an International power adaptor and a power converter. Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz.
- The most convenient way to reach the city center from Boryspil and Zhulyany airports is by taxi.
- Alternatively, you can take the “Sky Bus” from Boryspil Airport to the Kyiv Central Railway station. And then get to your hotel/accommodation by metro.
- Uber is way cheaper than taxis.
- Kyiv should be seen on foot. Most of the famous and ancient landmarks are located in one area. The variety and contrast of Kyiv buildings is impressive. You will find buildings of different epochs, from princely times to ultramodern buildings.
- Sightseeing is cheap. Admission fees cost from 10 to 200 UAH.
- Plan your visit to Kyiv so that you could see the Old Town area, Upper Town, and Podil – the Lower Town. In each of these areas is the centuries-old history of the city. Better intrust your plans to Kiev private guide who will create the best and most optimal itinerary for your Kiev tours.
- Kyiv is a safe place for tourists. Anyway, keep your valuables and wallet well hidden in crowded places, in high traffic areas. Street thieves exist in every capital of the world.
- The brand new National Police of Ukraine patrols Kyiv streets. They monitor abidance by traffic rules and public security.
- Don’t be afraid to speak Russian in Kyiv if you know it. Moreover if you are a foreigner. Kyivans speak both languages – Russian and Ukrainian.
- Avoid all travel to Crimea and the Eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Just forget about it.
Climate and weather
- Summers are very hot in Kyiv, especially July and August. Winters are really cold. The lowest temperature is in January, February. Frosts can reach -15-20 degrees Celsius.
- Kyiv looks the most beautiful in the blossoming May, and in the mid-September – mid-October.
- If you are invited to someone’s home, take off your shoes inside. Ukrainians never wear their shoes at home. For that purpose we have slippers, and for the guests as well. Also, it is desirable to bring a gift: a bottle of wine, a cake, a box of candies, especially if there are children at that house.
- Dress neatly and not old fashioned. First impressions are very important for Ukrainians. You will notice that on the street, people will look first at your clothes, then at your face.
- In Orthodox churches women cover their heads with scarves or hats, and men take off their hats.
- In public transport give up your seat to mothers with children and the elderly.
- When in nightclub never argue with a drunk Ukrainian man. Seriously. Just stand up and leave the place.
- Ukrainian women love flowers. If you have a dating, bring a bouquet of flowers. Even if it’s a small one but fresh and pretty, she will be happy. Always buy an odd number of flowers. In Ukraine an even number of flowers are for the dead and graves.
- Ukrainians are very friendly and hospitable. Especially with foreigners, especially in Kyiv. Visit public places, activities, meet locals, and make friends.
Souvenirs from Kyiv
- Ukrainian traditional embroidered shirt
- Pottery with Ukrainian traditional ornament
- Painted Easter eggs – “pysanka”
- Porcelain ware with Petrykivka ornament
- Orthodox icons
- Straw amulets for home
- Carved and painted wooden caskets