Ukraine - Kiev


After I returned from Chernobyl, I spent a few days looking around Kiev.

The best selection of Kiev Metro maps I found were the Kiev Metro Plan 2020 (which I think includes future lines to be constructed between now and 2020, overlaid onto a city map) and this more diagrammatic Kiev Metro map with station names in Cryllic - which you’ll need when looking at station signs! More info on the Kiev Metro website.

My recommendations on things to do are first to take a free tour (facebook, @FreeToursKyiv) from Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square (aka Indepdence Sq) at either 12am or 4pm. Just turn up and look for someone with a blue Free Tours flag.

St. Sophia’s Cathedral is a World Heritage site, built over nine centuries by Prince Yaroslav the Wise who was laid to rest inside. It was named after the famous St Sophia’s Cathedral in Constantinople. The bell tower is 76m high, and was completed in 1752. It costs 2 Hr to enter the grounds, with tickets available from the kiosk around the corner from the bell tower entrance. Entrance to the bell tower costs an additional 5 Hr.  Open 10:00-17:00 except on Wed when it closes at 16:00. Closest metro is Zoloti Vorota. Links: In Your Pocket - St Sophia’s Cathedral, Google Maps - St Sophia’s Cathedral

The Caves Monastery or Pecherska Lavra was created by monks in 1051, and is the most holy place in Kiev. It is hard to find as you have to pass through one of two church compounds, then find the road down the hill, and descend to the entrance to the caves. The actual caves are really narrow tunnels - which were VERY packed when I visited - so don’t even think about visiting if you’re even a little claustrophobic. There’s no lighting, so take advantage of the candles on offer at the entrance. Closest metro is Arsenalna. Google Maps Percherska Lavra.

St. Michael’s Cathedral looks old, but is actually pretty recent!  In 1936 the Soviets blew up the original (which was constructed in middle-ages) to build something new, but didn’t get round to it, and used the land for sports. It was re-built by the new Ukraine and completed in 1999. Entrance is free, but you can’t take photographs inside.

St Andrew’s Church is a Baroque church at the top of Andriivs‘kyi uzviz. Built in 1754, it‘s one of the rare buildings in Kyiv that has managed to avoid serious damage or reconstruction. The ticket window is near the base of the steps, and English tours are available. Open 10:00 - 18:00, closed on Wed.  Closest Metro: Poshtova Ploscha. In Your Pocket - St Andrew’s Church

The Great Patriotic War Museum and complex, which opened in 1981 is an interesting place to look around outside, or visit the exhibits, and also the home for the 62m titanium statue of a woman (Rodina Mat or Motherland) holding a 12-ton sword and a shield. The museum is full of interesting relics to see, and not understanding Russian isn’t a big issue. You can see a more traditional version of the above image on my 360cities page for the Great Patriotic War memorial. Admission is 4Hr.

I didn’t visit the Chernobyl Museum although I did hear good comments about it.  Metro station Kontraktovaya. Open 10:00-17:45. Sat closes at 16:45. Closed on Sunday and last Monday of the month. Admission 5 Hr

The above image was a bandstand in Park Volodimirski close to St Michel’s Cathedral. I created a 360x180 panoramic shot using a touch of HDR, and then distorted it using a little-planet technique.

Food & Drinks

My restaurant recommendation would be Pervak - which is has a 19th centuary Ukrainian theme. Closest Metro: Lev Tolstovo. Tel: +380 44 235 0952. Links: Pervak on Foursquare.

Wato is a good bar that’s also pretty central - with their own locally-brewed beers on tap and food available.  Links: Wato on Foursquare

If you want something a little more up-market, the Budda Bar has a chilled coctail bar atmosphere. Links: Buddha Bar on Foursquare, Buddha Bar on Qype.

Hotel

I stayed at the Sherborne Hotel, which did the job, was close enough to all of the main attractions within the city and was pretty reasonably priced. You can find my review on Qype.

Airport

Kiev Airport is Boryspil, which is miles from anywhere; about 40 kms out of town. As soon as you emerge into the arrivals hall the customary Ukrainian greeting of “Foreigners, let’s rip them off” is cried out. So burrow your way through hordes where the only word you need is Nyet! (there are 2 ATMs in the arrivals hall that you can use to get your grvynias (UAH). When I arrived there, there was a lady sitting under a TAXI sign - who, it turned out represented the ‘official’ taxis. I could probably have gone outside to haggle, but wasn’t in the mood - so just paid up for the official service.

Photographs

You can see the highlights of my Kiev and Chernobyl photos in my image gallery, or checkout the slide-show below, or view them in-situ on the Google map below that. You can also view the images, key waypoints and photos in a full screen preview, or download the KMZ file yourself for use in Google Earth on your desktop.