Ah, the capital of Ukraine! I bet every Ukrainian learner has got a list of things to do in Kyiv. Some feel like searching for Soviet memorabilia, some are looking for ancient cathedrals, while others are into contemporary hipster culture. Kyiv has a treat for everyone. I’ve been living here for 12 years and the hardest part about writing this text was choosing only five things. I’ve managed though, so come with me on this little trip.
First things first: go to Khreshchatyk, the main street of Ukraine. Being wide and picturesque, it never fails to impress tourists. The street was destroyed completely during World War II. After its reconstruction, chestnut trees were planted on both sides. Later, they became symbols of Kyiv. Hence, it’s a good idea to come here in May when the trees are in bloom.
Just like any other central street, it’s filled with shops, cafes and people – both locals and foreigners. You won’t find a livelier place in the city. I recommend coming here on the weekend when the road is closed for cars and you can walk freely.
Have you heard this unofficial anthem of Kyiv? In the music video, you can see Khreshchatyk in the 90s:
What to do? Break dancers have dance-offs here in the evenings. To watch them, go to McDonalds next to Khreshchatyk subway station.
Собор Святої Софії (Saint Sophia’s Cathedral)
From Khreshatyk, go across Maidan square and climb up Sofiivska street to Saint Sophia’s Cathedral. Built in the 11th century, it still amazes people from all corners of the world. It is one of the few monuments from the time of Kievan Rus. It was the place of the first Ukrainian library. It is a part of a church complex that combines different architectural styles. Saint Sophia’s Cathedral is home to priceless paintings and Christian icons.
What to do? Climb to the top of the bell tower any day between 10 am and 6 pm. This is one of the greatest viewpoints to see Old Kyiv.
Андріївський узвіз (Andriivskyi Descent)
The Andriivskyi Descent is to the left of Sofiivska square. The street is filled with history; the brick road, old houses, and historical lanterns all tell their quiet tales. Along this street, there are stalls with souvenirs to remember Kyiv by. You will see theaters and museums on the way. The nicest sight is Saint Andrew’s Church. It is ancient and mesmerizing. If you turn right after passing the church, you’ll enter Artists Alley (Алея художників). The name doesn’t lie: there are artists exhibiting their paintings proudly.
What to do? The only problem with Andriivskyi Descent is that there are so many things to do. You can easily lose track of time. My recommendation is to go all the way along Artists Alley. It ends with our most recent sight, a glass bridge. It is a real challenge for your self-preservation instinct!
At the bottom of Andriivskyi Descent there is Podil – the main entertainment district for locals. There is a bit of everything: churches, monuments and historical buildings. There are also bars, pubs and cafes. It’s famous for its young vibe. The National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy is situated in the heart of Podil, so there are always plenty of students roaming about. Its part has recently been closed for cars. Thanks to this, the area became even more tourist-friendly.
What to do? Go on a ride on our newest Ferris wheel.
Take a tour in Kyiv with Khrystyna (main character of the Season 3 of the Ukrainian Lesson Podcast) and learn more about Podil and other neighborhoods in the capital of Ukraine:
ULP 3-108 Екскурсія Києвом – Kyiv tour + Participle in Ukrainian
ВДНГ (Expocenter of Ukraine)
When you get bored with the crowded city center, take the subway to the Виставковий центр station [vystavkovyi tsentr]. There is a huge exhibition complex there. Built in 1958, this is one for Soviet architecture lovers.
ВДНГ stands for Виставка досягнень народного господарства (Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy). It changed its name to Національний експоцентр України (National Expocenter of Ukraine) but nobody calls it so in Kyiv.
You may walk around its many pavilions to admire the variety of architectural styles. Inside, there are different exhibitions which change from time to time. If there’s something that interests you – science, cinema, agriculture – don’t hesitate to come in.
What to do? Ride a horse. Seriously, there are stables here! And the complex is surrounded by a garden slowly becoming Holosiivskyi forest so there are plenty of picturesque paths.
Needless to say, this isn’t an exhaustive list. You are very welcome to come here and make your own notes on things to do in Kyiv. However, I’m certain you won’t regret going to my favorite places.
Ласкаво просимо! Welcome!
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