Perhaps you’re a seasoned world traveller. You’ve hiked along the Appalachian Trail. You’ve seen the wildlife of Zimbabwe. And in between, you’ve stopped in Rome, Budapest, Rio de Janeiro, and Beijing. So why haven’t you crossed Kiev off your bucket list yet?
More importantly, why haven’t you added it?
When most people think of romantic getaways, Kiev typically isn’t the first destination that springs to mind. Nor is it at the top of the list when they think of historical gateways between Eastern and Western Europe. But for anyone who’s breathed in the distinctly crisp air of Kiev, marvelled at its breathtaking architecture or seen the waters of the Dnieper flow and curl with the changing seasons, they know they’ve witnessed a city unlike any other in Europe. A city rich in history. A city both bustling and serene. A city both modern and medieval. A city that knows both tradition and reinvention. A city welcoming you with open arms and an open heart. A city that is uniquely… Kiev.
What To See In Kiev
While Kiev is as renowned for its cathedrals and monuments as it is for its status as one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, to confine it to being an architectural marvel is to miss out on some of the sights that give Kiev a distinctly modern and unique hue. Yes, you’ll find plenty of history around every corner of the city and even a cobblestone street or two. But you’ll also see plenty of neon, public art and witness a thriving culture where the traditional and the contemporary merge in dazzling harmony.
St. Andrew’s Church, originally constructed in 1754, is one of the few buildings in Kiev which has managed to avoid major reconstruction. Its baroque splendor and opulent interior make it one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Kiev; perhaps second only to St. Sophia’s Cathedral, a heritage site dating back to the eleventh century which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ukraine and its national sanctuary. And while you’ll undoubtedly want to spend time at both, be sure not to miss St. Michael’s Monastery, an eighteenth century cathedral which currently houses the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and whose Byzantine interior has hypnotized visitors since its reconstruction in 1999.
But there’s said to be well over 300 churches, cathedrals and monasteries throughout Kiev. And while you don’t have to be religious to be overwhelmed by their ubiquitous presence, visiting them all could take almost a full year. The Golden Gate of Kiev is one of Ukraine’s most fiercely loved sources of national pride. While originally built in the eleventh century, it was demolished during the nineteenth century, only to be fully reconstructed in 1982 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of Kiev’s founding. But if it’s opulence you’re looking for, you can find it at Mezhyhirya Park. The former home of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, this 2.5 acre estate is now open to visitors and includes an ostrich farm, an automobile museum, man made lakes and a small church. No visit to Kiev would be complete without seeing Pechersk Lavra, a vast and sprawling complex of churches, bell towers (including the fabled Lavra Bell Tower, one of the largest free-standing bell towers in the world) and underground catacombs that draws over a million visitors each year. If you want a not-so-distant reminder of one of the most preventable disasters of the past fifty years, the Ukranian National Chernobyl Museum is a solemn and sobering reminder of the environmental consequences that occur as a result of carelessness. For a more uplifting experience, visit the National Art Museum of Ukraine. Also known as the Mystetskyi Arsenal, this meticulously kept eighteenth century gallery was designed to resemble a Greek temple and houses some of the most significant national treasures of Kiev, from Orthodox iconography to abstract expressionism.
Where To Eat In Kiev
Traditional cuisine in Kiev isn’t much different than the rest of the Ukraine—think stuffed cabbage, borscht, dumplings and hearty breads and you have a good idea of what to expect from national food. It’s meant to be filling, not haute cuisine. Street food reigns in Kiev; and the block long lines outside Kyivska Perepichka, an otherwise unassuming sausage stall, should be enough to convince you of that status. But Kiev is a city as modern as it is traditional, where deep culinary roots can meet the contemporary in surprising and delightfully offbeat ways.
Over the past seven years, Kanapa has risen to become one of the most celebrated restaurants not just in Kiev, but in all of Eastern Europe. Combining pre-evolutionary recipes with molecular cooking techniques, it may seem pricey, but will make your stay in Kiev unforgettable. Similarly, Shoti fuses simple but deceptively nuanced traditional Georgian cuisine with innovative and playful design thanks to Chef Aleksandre Baindurashvili’s mastery. And for a sense of just how cosmopolitan Kiev can be, a visit to BAO—the Ukraine’s first Chinese restaurant—is in order. Serving modern Chinese cuisine, it’s become famed across the Ukraine for its regular Sunday dim sum offerings and its elevated dining experience.
Nightlife in Kiev
Kiev nightlife is an exercise in contrast compared to the rest of the city. By day, it’s a traditionally blue collar culture, with numerous working class bars which seem frozen in time hidden in plain view. But Kiev’s sizable student population helps give way at night to clubs which are both trendy and welcoming. Like we said… it’s an exercise in contrast.
Alchemist, a subterranean (as in literally underground) hotspot in the center of Kiev serves an eclectic cocktail list to a bustling throng of tourists, locals and students. Though crowded on the weekends, Alchemist’s mix of live bands and some of the city’s best DJ’s have ensured its rightful place as one of Kiev’s premier nightclubs. Looking for something more subdued? True to its name, the Carribean Club is a cozy jazz nightclub which also provides live theater performances and one of the most painstakingly curated wine lists in all of Kiev. But if it’s glamour you’re looking for, De Luxe has you covered. Catering to a mix of local celebrities, wealthy businessmen and the young and beautiful, De Luxe combines the bustle of New York with the elite of Kiev. Bring your credit card and best wardrobe, however. Not only is it expensive, but strict face control is enforced.
Unlike many other European destinations, Kiev remains undiscovered—even in comparison to Moscow, Prague or Budapest. Kiev’s an afterthought, one that many visitors to Eastern Europe won’t realize until after they’ve planned for some of the more popular tourist hubs. Which is Kiev’s loss, but your gain.
As a result, Kiev is both free from pretense and gaudy commercialism. Its residents are down to earth, friendly and helpful. They know their roots but they have their eyes riveted ahead to the future. And it’s a future full of promise. A future that accepts both its history and the potential to reinvent itself. A future rooted in tradition yet bristling with the promise of innovation. And it’s a future you’ll find… only in Kiev.
If you’re looking for the gateway to Eastern Europe and beyond, look no further. At Simply Travel, our integrity is built on providing you with both information and exclusive tour packages you can’t find anywhere else. Whether you’re traveling to Kiev for the first time or have already experienced its wonder, we’ll help you get the most out of your stay. Visit us today at https://simplytravel.international/