Introducing guest bloggers Inessa & Natalie from Through a Travel Lens
Without any doubt, Kyiv is one of the most family-friendly destinations in Europe. Not only does it have lots of activities to offer, but this city is also very advantageous in terms of the budget. Ukraine is still one of the most under-the-radar countries, which makes it extremely affordable, while at the same time modern and exciting.
Kyiv holds a special place in the travel route around Ukraine, with its great mix of centuries-old churches from the times of Kievan Rus, Baroque buildings from the times of the empires, and impressive architecture that represents the Soviet monumentalism.
All of this is flavored with the vibes of modern city life. And don’t even get me started on numerous day trips that you can take if you decide to stay for more than 24 hours: to Chernihiv, the hidden gem of the country, to the Kyiv sea, national parks, and so much more!
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals
First things first, though. Ukraine often appears on the news with reports about armed conflicts and revolutions. This brings up a reasonable question. Okay, it is budget-friendly, but is it safe?
The answer is yes, absolutely. The days of the revolution in Kyiv are long gone. As for the armed conflict, it is contained in the eastern part of Ukraine, within certain parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. So, travel-wise, Kyiv is safe to visit.
What can you do with 24 hours in Kyiv?
Start from the heart of the city
The best way to start the day in Kyiv (after having breakfast, of course) is to head into the city’s Old Town and to walk one the streets where Kyiv was founded. It is Andriivsky descent, a cobbled street that starts by Andriivska church and ends around Kontraktova Plosha.
This street will be equally interesting for all ages. The mysterious castle of King Richard, which is believed to be haunted, and the no less mysterious house #13 where the legendary writer Mikhail Bulgakov lived are only some of many attractions to explore. There is a particularly peculiar room in this house #13, where a guide will offer you and your kids to walk through the secret closet, Harry Potter-style. I won’t say much more not to ruin it.
And if you take a small detour to Peyzazhna alley, you will reach the colorful park with statues from fairy tales. This is where the locals love taking their kids to play.
Also, if you did not have breakfast in your hotel, the street has lots of cafes to offer, from the Ukrainian-styled Kanapa to the Lviv Chocolate Workshop at the end of the descent. Careful with the last one, though. All of my little nieces and nephews get so excited about all the Willy Wonka-styled showcases, that usually refuse to leave.
Local’s food advice: I know that chicken Kyiv earned its fame as the ultimate hit of the Ukrainian cuisine but in fact, we the Ukrainians would trade this USSR dish for a plate of borsch (beetroot, potatoes, and sour cabbage soup) with pampushkas (buns in garlic sauce), or better yet, a plate of varenyky. These are dumplings with cottage cheese, potatoes, or cherries. In places like the Barvy restaurant, they make the dough for dumplings colorful, which the kids love!
Discover lots of activities by the river Dnipro
Located at the end of Andriivsky descent is the Ferris wheel with great views of the old town and the river. A ride costs 5 USD. From here, continue exploring the city by walking up the Sagaidachnogo street. At the end of it, there is the river station with regular boat tours around Dnipro, as well as a lovely pedestrian bridge. It leads to the Trukhaniv island, a big park where you can either rent bicycles, or relax on one of many beaches after an active morning.
Get into a giant soap bubble…
…there’s always a line to do it, which consists of both kids and adults. Wait, what? Let’s roll back a little.
Hidden in the beautiful Mariinsky part in the governmental quarters, there is an old water tower. Once, it used to supply water to the entire city. Today, it is a museum with great educational tours about water resources. One of the stops in this tour is a soap bubbles show. And everyone gets a chance to get inside a giant soap bubble.
What I also like about the old water tower is the route to it. It starts at the pedestrian bridge with its glass floor and a breathtaking panorama of Dnipro and leads you through the old and cozy part of the Mariinsky park. One of the other noteworthy stops here is the puppet theater and its fairytale-like statues that all the kids love so much. Cherry on top is the beautiful Mariinsky palace at the end of the route.
Discover the ethnic village
How would you like to take a look at the life of the Ukrainian village the way it was in the 1700s-1800s? Located near Teremky metro station, there is a unique open-air museum Pirogovo.
It is a big park with restored huts and churches brought here from many corners of Ukraine. The huts are opened for visitors, and you can peek inside the rooms and see how the people lived. There are also pottery workshops for families and the locals will guide you in making some authentic clay crockery.
Enjoy the evening in the city center
If you already did some research about Kyiv, you might’ve noticed how I avoided directing you to Khreshatyk in the first half of the day. There’s a reason for it. While the main artery of the city is a definite must-visit on the list of attractions in Kyiv, Khreshatyk is at its best in the evenings. Preferably, on weekends, when all eight lanes of this long and broad street turn into a pedestrian area.
It is not as exhausting as during the daytime, with all the summer heat. Plus, by evenings, lots of local musicians set up small stages and perform for the visitors for free. There is also a dancing fountain near Maydan Nezalezhnosti square, which keeps the kids entertained. And the adults, too.
To reward yourselves for an eventful day, I recommend stopping by the Milk Bar. It serves some of the best desserts in town. And who knows, maybe here, while sipping on refreshing lemonade, you will decide to stay in Ukraine for another day or two, at least to take a look at its legendary Golden Horshoe of Castles in the Lviv area, just a five-hour drive away from Kyiv?
Traveling to Kyiv: FAQ
What is the best area to stay in Kyiv?
While Khreshatyk is the main artery, I strongly recommend looking into areas near Klovska, Kontraktova Ploscha, Zoloty Vorota, or Pecherska metro stations. These are all also in the city center but within the quieter, cozier areas. Khreshatyk is great for walking, shopping, or wining and dining, but it is also loud and crowded, with lots of cars and constant traffic jams.
What is the best way to move around Kyiv?
Most of Kyiv’s attractions are within a walking distance. The city is perfect to be explored by feet. It is green, with lots of parks and alleys. I also recommend using the metro, as it is cheap, only 0.30 cents per ride per person. Plus, Kyiv’s central metro stations are a work of art. They are all themed and different from one another. Uber rides within the city center will cost no more than 3 USD. There are also public buses and trolleybuses, but these may be a bit of a stress for the guests that don’t speak Ukrainian.
When is the best time to visit Kyiv?
By all means, late spring is one love. Come in May to see chestnut trees, magnolias, and lilacs blooming. It is still not very hot (unlike in summer). Another great season is early fall, especially mid-September when all of the city’s greens turn into mesmerizing reds, yellows, oranges, and browns.
About the Bloggers
Inessa and Natalie are sisters and storytellers based in Kyiv, Ukraine. With one being a screenwriter, and the other one a photographer, they believe there are lots of untold stories about their country.
This is why together they started a Through a Travel Lens blog to encourage everyone to travel to Ukraine and to do so with a heart and mind open to adventures.
You can keep up with Inessa & Natalie’s adventures here:
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