In 1918 Kiev became the capital of the newly-independent Ukraine. Today Kiev (aka Kyiv) is one of the largest and most important cities in Eastern Europe and is at the forefront of the country’s industry, science, education and culture. The city was officially founded in the 5th century and is a treasure chest of historic, artistic and architectural gems. One of the best ways to find your way around and get an introduction to the many architectural attractions is to join a free walking tour guided by enthusiastic locals. Of course your visit would be incomplete without trying some traditional Ukrainian cuisine at Tsarske Selo or Kanapa CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.St. Sophia’s Cathedral
Built in the 11th century, St. Sophia’s Cathedral is an outstanding example of Kievan Rus architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This remarkable building was designed to outdo the splendor of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and to celebrate the official adoption of Christianity in 988. The interior of this masterpiece of architectural brilliance is equally amazing and you can see perfectly preserved mosaics and frescoes dating back to the 11th century. The best way to fully appreciate the history and splendor of the church is to book an English tour guide to show you around – this way you will also skip the queues at this popular tourist attraction.
St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Volodymyrska St 24, Kiev, Ukraine, 01001, Phone: +38-44-278-26-20
2.Mystetski Arsenal - The Art Arsenal
© Mystetski Arsenal – The Art Arsenal
The Art Arsenal is an arts, culture and museum complex located in the Old Arsenal building dating to 1798, in the historic Pechersk citadel in Kiev. The mission of the Art Arsenal is to showcase and promote emerging Kiev arts, including modern and contemporary art, music, theatre and literature. The complex hosts regular art exhibitions and the annual Arsenal International Book Festival. The Arsenal is definitely worth a visit just to see the splendid old building which was built on the site of a former female monastery. Interestingly, archaeological excavations in the courtyard of the structure have revealed remains thought to be those of the original Church of the Ascension.
Art Arsenal, Lavrska Street 10-12, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: +38-44-288-52-25
3.St. Andrew’s Church
St. Andrew’s Church is major Kiev landmark, constructed between 1747 and 1754 in the Baroque style. This ornately decorated blue and gold cathedral was designed by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who also designed the wonderful Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Regrettably, the church was built on an unstable hilltop which has required extensive engineering to prevent this national treasure from falling into ruin. The exterior is based on the traditional 5-dome, cross-shaped Ukrainian church style. The interior contains a wealth of decorative gilded stucco and wood carvings. Highlights include the Chair for Sermons and the impressive Royal Gate. Currently the interior of the church is being renovated and it is planned to reopen in 2020.
St. Andrew’s Church, 23 Andrew’s Descent, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone:+38-44-599-00-05
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4.Mikhail Bulgakov Museum
The renowned 20th century Russian writer, medical doctor and playwright was born in Kiev in 1891. The gifted writer spent several years during the early 1900’s living in the home which is now a museum dedicated to his life and achievements. Bulgakov is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita which was published after his death in 1940. The museum exhibits a large collection of the writer and his family’s belongings including photos, postcards and books. The contents of the house have been carefully preserved to represent a family home in the early 1900’s. You can book a guided tour with an English-speaking guide who will bring Bulgakov’s story to life.
Mikhail Bulgakov Museum, Andriivskyi Descent 13 A, Kiev, Ukraine, 02000, Phone: +38-44-425-19-91
5.National Art Museum of Ukraine
Located in an impressive neo-classic building which was completed in 1904, the National Art Museum of Ukraine is essential viewing for all art enthusiasts. The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Ukrainian art, and its permanent collection numbers over 40,000 pieces. The collection spans several centuries and includes work from as early at the 12th century as well as modern contemporary works of art. To fully appreciate the collections you can book an English-speaking tour guide who will explain the historical events which influenced Ukrainian art through the ages. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday – closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
National Art Museum of Ukraine, 6 Hrushevskogo St, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: +38-44-278-13-57
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6.Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery
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The Kiev Pechersk (citadel) Lavra Monastery is the second oldest and most important surviving Christian monastery of its kind in contemporary Ukraine. Founded in the mid 11th century, the monastery catacombs are the final resting place of more than 120 saints and the site is an important pilgrimage destination. The sprawling monastery covers over 20 hectares of land and you will definitely need an English speaking guided to unlock the secrets and history of this remarkable cradle of Ukrainian Christianity which is sometimes compared to the Vatican in Rome. Although it is possible to buy an inexpensive entry ticket and explore on your own, it would be a better idea to look out for free walking tours which include the Monastery.
Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery, vul. Lavrska 21, Kiev, 01015 Ukraine, Phone: +38-44-280-30-71
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Mariinski Palace is a most impressive baroque building which is the ceremonial residence of Ukraine’s president. The beautiful palace is centrally located in the Pechersk citadel and is surrounded by formal gardens and green parks. The palace was built in 1750 and today welcomes royalty and dignitaries for summits, receptions and other official engagements. The interior of the palace is seldom open to the public due to an on-going restoration program, but visitors are welcome to admire the outside of the building from the beautiful parks and gardens which surround it. If you are eager to see the interior of the palace check with local tour companies on your arrival in Kiev – your visit may coincide with a rare open day.
Mariinski Palace, 5A Mykhaila Hrushevskoho St, Kiev, Ukraine, 01008
8.National Botanical Garden and Greenhouse Complexes
Kiev’s magnificent National Botanical Garden and Greenhouse complexes are a must-see attraction for any garden and nature lover. The garden covers an area in excess of 129 hectares and is divided into areas representing a vast diversity of geographical regions of the world. One minute you can be strolling through an arboretum which is home to over 1000 species of trees and shrubs while the next minute you can be admiring tropical and sub-tropical plants in the greenhouses. The enormous greenhouse complexes contain an Orchidarium, cacti and succulent garden and a wonderful collection of azaleas and camellias. You are advised to wear comfortable shoes and look forward to a wonderful nature experience.
National Botanical Garden and Greenhouse Complexes, 1 Tymiriazievska St, Kiev, Ukraine 01014, Phone: +38-44-285-41-05
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9.St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery
As far back as 1108 there has been a church of St. Michael on the site of the present-day St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery. Originally a very modest wooden church was built and later replaced by a stone structure. Over the centuries the building was enlarged and dramatically renovated including the addition of an inn for visiting pilgrims. However, in 1936 the cathedral was blown up and all the priceless mosaics and frescos were looted or destroyed. The extravagantly decorated church you will see today is the result of a painstaking restoration process. In the small museum (located in the Bell Tower) you can admire fragments of the original frescos and other treasures recovered during archaeological excavations which took place around 1994-1995.
St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Triokhsviatytelska St 8, Kiev, Ukraine, 01601, Phone: +38-44-228-87-20
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10.The National Opera of Ukraine
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The National Opera of Ukraine is based in a very special opera house which opened in 1901, after a previous state opera house had burned down. The Opera House is an exceptionally lavish affair decorated with elaborate stucco, Venetian mirrors, marble staircases and more. At that time, the opera had the largest stage in Russia and could accommodate 1,650 spectators. Over the next decades various changes have been made including enlarging the orchestra pit to accommodate 100 musicians. Attending the National Opera or a ballet at the Opera could be the highlight of your visit to Kiev. Alternatively you can join a guided tour of this wonderful building.
The National Opera of Ukraine, Vladimirskaya St 50, Kiev, Ukraine 01030, Phone: +38-44-235-26-06
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11.The Motherland Monument
Dominating the Kiev skyline, the massive Motherland Monument forms part of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War. The massive steel statue stands 102mt tall and was completed in 1981, to honor the Heroes of the Soviet Union during WWII. If you are feeling fit and energetic you can climb to the top of the statue. First you will travel to the chest level of the statue by elevator, before climbing up the arm to the viewing platform in the shield. The final ascent includes a 22mt ladder, 10mt of which is vertical, but you will be rewarded for your efforts with excellent views of Kiev city. Guided climb tours are available in English.
The Motherland Monument, Zapecherna St, Kiev, Ukraine, 02000
12.Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War
The Museum of the History of the Ukraine in the Second World War was established to bring greater understanding of the origins and tragedies of the war and of the remarkable resilience of the Ukrainian people in their fight against the Nazi regime. The permanent exhibits cover 16 halls arranged over 3 floors and cover topics such as survival strategies during the occupation, sociocides and genocides and the country’s struggle for independence. The exhibits also include several artistic installations and multimedia exhibits which invite reflection. Various interactive group quests and guided group tours are available which will really enhance your visit. After touring the museum you can climb to the top of the Motherland Monument which forms part of the museum complex.
The Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, 27 Lavrska St, Kiev, Ukraine 02000, Phone: +38-44-285-94-52
13.Pyrohiv Open-air Museum
At the Pyrohiv Open-air Museum you can step back in time and learn all you need to know about Ukrainian history, culture and traditions. The sprawling complex celebrates the ancient architecture and crafts of the various Ukrainian regions. As you make your way through the landscaped complex you will see examples of traditional houses, barns and other village structures spanning over 400 years from the 16th to the 20th century. The museum is also home to a treasure chest of over 100 thousand examples of arts and crafts including folk clothing, pottery, fabrics and much more. You are welcome to enjoy a walking tour of the museum at your own pace or you can join one of several guided interactive tours.
Pyrohiv Open-air Museum, Academician Tronko St 1, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: +38-98-913-80-07
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14.St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral
The neo-Byzantine Saint Volodymyr’s Cathedral is an important and imposing landmark in Kiev and is essential viewing for all art and architecture enthusiasts. Home to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the cathedral was completed in 1882 and boasts a 49m-high main dome and seven cupolas. The cathedral miraculously survived intact through several wars and all the amazing interior decoration is original. You can admire a wonderful collection of brightly-colored mosaics and frescoes, all executed by masters of their craft, including the famous artist Victor Vasnetsov. The cathedral still operates as a place of worship but visitors are welcome to come in and soak up the tranquil atmosphere.
St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, 20 Shevchenko Blvd, Kiev, Ukraine
15.The Golden Gates
When you visit the Golden Gates of Kiev you will see a recent reconstruction of the outstanding medieval gateway which was originally built in 1037. Built partly for defense and partly as a ceremonial gateway to the city, the original Golden Gate had fallen into ruins and been partially buried under a mound of soil. As part of the celebrations of the 1,500 year anniversary of the establishment of Kiev, it was decided to restore and rebuild the ancient gateway in 1982. Although there was no accurate record of the original gate, the reconstruction has adhered to legendary accounts of the impressive structure which included a small church with a gilded dome.
The Golden Gates, 40A Volodymyrska St, Kiev, Ukraine
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16.National Expocenter of Ukraine
When you need to take a break from all the historic attractions in Kiev you can spend a few relaxing hours at the National Expocenter of Ukraine. The Expocenter host dozens of national and international exhibitions and fairs each year, but the complex also includes a beautiful park area where you can enjoy some fresh air and exercise. In addition to the forest and park zones you will find a variety of activities for all ages including a summer amusement park, a fantasy park for children and a petting zoo. You can hire a variety of electric scooters, bikes and boards or have hours of fun at the SkyPark Rope Park.
National Expocenter of Ukraine, 1 Akademika Hlushkova Ave, Kiev, Ukraine 03127, Phone: +38-44-596-91-01
17.St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Cathedral
Dating back to 1909, St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Cathedral is the second-oldest Catholic Church in Kiev and is well worth a visit if you love architecture. Built in the classic neo-Gothic style, the cathedral features three naves with a cross nave and two towers. The lofty towers reach a height of 60 meters, while the height of the inner dome is 36 meters. The beautiful interior of the cathedral is understated and provides a good comparison to the bright colors of St. Volodymyr’s Orthodox Cathedral. For many years the lovely building was used as a storage place and a concert venue but since 1992 Roman Catholic worship has resumed at the cathedral.
St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Cathedral, 75 Velyka Vasylkivska St, Kiev, Ukraine, 03150
When you feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of Kiev for an hour or two you can make your way to Feofaniya Park, which is located on the outskirts of the city. Here you will find a large landscaped park area which you are welcome to explore. There are numerous walks and hikes and plenty of places where you can just sit on a bench and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Pretty summer flowers and lovely fall colors ensure that the park is attractive in all seasons. The very impressive Cathedral of St. Panteleimon towers over the park and can be admired from several spots. There are playgrounds for the children and you can bring along a picnic to enjoy in the park.
Feofaniya Park, Akademika Lebedeva St. 32, Kiev, Phone: +38-44-526-20-51
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19.Pinchuk Art Center
The Pinchuk Art Center is well worth a visit for all art lovers. The museum was opened in 2006 by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, and showcases an ever-changing collection of contemporary art by established and emerging artists from Ukraine and further afield. The exhibitions can sometimes be a little unusual and extrovert but all art lovers will find something to admire and remember. The center also offers a variety of on-line educational lectures and courses for aspiring artists. When you have finished your tour of the center you can enjoy a great coffee in the top-floor coffee shop which also offers excellent views of the city.
Pinchuk Art Center, 1 Baseina St, Kiev, Ukraine, 01004, Phone: +38-44-590-08-58
Located in an historic wooden building dating back to the 19th century, Kanapa Restaurant is the place to go to sample a new and modern take on traditional Ukrainian cuisine. Headed by a young and innovative chef, Kanapa prides itself on using only the finest locally produced ingredients cooked to perfection. Kanapa features an oyster bar and you can expect to find a variety of fine caviar to start off with. Everything looks and tastes beautiful and the restaurant has won several awards. A couple of the modern Ukrainian dishes you can try include Borsch with Smoked Pear, Plum and Doughnuts and Black Dumplings with Pike Perch.
Kanapa, Andriivs’kyi Descent 19, Kiev, Ukraine 01025, Phone: +38-44-425-45-48
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© Imbir Cafe
Catering mainly to vegetarians and vegans, Café Imbir (which means “Café Ginger” in Ukraine) is a very pleasant restaurant/cafe situated near the center of Kiev. The restaurant invites you to step inside and find out just how delicious and heart-warming vegetarian cuisine can be. The menu features delicious breakfasts (with or without dairy products) such as Vegan Tofu Omelet with Toast and Avo and Ginger Pear Pancakes with Blackberry Sauce. For lunch or dinner you can tuck into various meat-free burgers and sandwiches or tasty mains like their Grilled Eggplant with Smoked Curry Sauce or Paneer with Nori and Julienne Vegetables. They also serve delectable deserts and ice creams.
Imbir Café, 7 Zhilyanskaya St, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: +38-44-287-61-80
© Pizzeria Napulé
Yes, you can find a genuine Italian Pizza in the heart of Kiev. Pizzeria Napulé serves up a choice of over 30 delicious and authentic Italian pizzas, all baked in a traditional Italian wood-fired oven. The restaurant is overlooked by Chef Giuseppe Irollo, who hails from Naples and has earned certification for producing authentic Neapolitan pizzas. Classic toppings include all your Italian favorites like tomatoes, mushrooms, oregano, basil and parmesan, as well as anchovies, salami, prosciutto and seafood. For a decadent dessert you can order a dessert Nutella Pizza. In addition to pizzas the restaurant also serves a selection of starters, salads, pastas and meat and fish entrees.
Pizzeria Napulé, 9 Mechnikova Street, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: +38-44-303-90-20
© Tsarske Selo
Located in the heart of Kiev, in what was once a gunpowder storage facility in the tsar’s stronghold, Tsarske Selo is a charming family restaurant where you can savor genuine Ukrainian cuisine. The interior of the restaurant is welcoming and cozy – filled with typical Ukraine folk décor and there is an outdoor seating area for good-weather days. To enhance the atmosphere the wait staff is dressed in traditional folk costume. The portions are generous and a few of the most popular menu items include an authentic Borscht and cranberry vodka. As you enjoy your lunch or dinner you can listen to some traditional music.
Tsarske Selo, 22 Lavrskaya St, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: +38-44-280-30-66
24.BEEF Meat and Wine
© BEEF Meat and Wine
BEEF invites all dedicated carnivores to come and savor a brilliant cut of meat in a modern, contemporary setting. The restaurant has won numerous awards including Best Meat Restaurant in Ukraine (three times since 2010). When you order a steak at BEEF you can expect a superior cut of perfectly marbled meat from the Creekstone Organic Farm in Kansas, USA. To enhance the flavor the meats are all cooked on an open Parilla grill or a wood-burning stove. Although the emphasis is squarely on showcasing meat, BEEF also serves a limited menu of delicious poultry and fish dishes. To accompany your meal you are invited to try the Wine of the Day or your choice from the wine list.
BEEF Meat and Wine, 11 Shota Rustaveli St, Kiev, Ukraine, Phone: +38-94-928-98-04
25.Vino e Cucina
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The Italians have always believed that great food and excellent wine is a match made in heaven. When you visit Vino e Cucina (Wine and Food) you can look forward to enjoying your favorite Italian cuisine accompanied by a brilliant glass or two of wine. Gourmands will be happy to know that the restaurants’ wine cellar boasts a collection of over 1000 wines of distinction from all around the world. The menu features a good selection of home-made pasta and pizza creations as well as excellent meat and fish entrees. Should you wish to try their famous Steak Tartare, it will be made to perfection at your table.
Vino e Cucina, 82 Sichovykh Striitsiv St, Kiev, Ukraine 02000, Phone: +38-44-499-14-13
25 Best Things to Do in Kiev, Ukraine
- St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Photo: RuslanKphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Mystetski Arsenal - The Art Arsenal, Photo: Mystetski Arsenal – The Art Arsenal
- St. Andrew’s Church, Photo: vvoe/stock.adobe.com
- Mikhail Bulgakov Museum, Photo: VoSilich/stock.adobe.com
- National Art Museum of Ukraine, Photo: Firefly/stock.adobe.com
- Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery, Photo: Vlada Z/stock.adobe.com
- Mariinski Palace, Photo: Sergii Figurnyi/stock.adobe.com
- National Botanical Garden and Greenhouse Complexes, Photo: arina_c/stock.adobe.com
- St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery, Photo: suronin/stock.adobe.com
- The National Opera of Ukraine, Photo: Alexey Ivanov/stock.adobe.com
- The Motherland Monument, Photo: Magryt/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com
- Pyrohiv Open-air Museum, Photo: panaramka/stock.adobe.com
- St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com
- The Golden Gates, Photo: beibaoke/stock.adobe.com
- National Expocenter of Ukraine, Photo: solkafa/stock.adobe.com
- St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Cathedral, Photo: evgenij84/stock.adobe.com
- Feofaniya Park, Photo: lyulkamazurkev/stock.adobe.com
- Pinchuk Art Center, Photo: schankz/stock.adobe.com
- Kanapa, Photo: Kanapa
- Imbir Cafe, Photo: Imbir Cafe
- Pizzeria Napule, Photo: Pizzeria Napulé
- Tsarske Selo, Photo: Tsarske Selo
- BEEF Meat and Wine, Photo: BEEF Meat and Wine
- Vino e Cucina, Photo: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: joyt/stock.adobe.com
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