27 amazing things to do in Kyiv Ukraine

I was just in Ukraine, and I have to say: WOW!

Besides the fact that the country is beautiful and very affordable, there are like a million things to do in Kyiv! And the best thing is that they’re really unique to Ukraine!

You can visit some beautiful colorful churches, go shopping, see a war exhibition with nuclear missiles and sit in the cockpit of a bomber aircraft, eat at a secret underground restaurant where you need a password to get in, or even go to the beach.

Kyiv has it going on, and there’s not nearly enough hype about this amazing capital!

Brace yourself. There’s gonna be A LOT of photos and info.

Read next: 25 things to do in Lviv 

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Best things to do in Kyiv, Ukraine

How to get around

Kyiv is HUGE. Like, it has almost 3 million inhabitants, and you instantly get that feeling. Luckily, many of the things to do in Kyiv are located in clusters, so you won’t need to run all over town.

As for how to get around, I recommend Uber! That’s what we did because it’s convenient, super easy, and very affordable.

A trip through Kyiv costs around $2 (no matter where you go), and your Uber car arrives – squeaky clean and sometimes serving snacks – within minutes.

You can, of course, take the bus, the metro, or regular taxis. But trust me, Uber is the way to go. 

Kyiv, Ukraine

Kyiv or Kiev

It’s Kyiv. And while you might not think it’s such a big deal, it matters to Ukrainians. “Kiev” comes from the Russian way of pronouncing Ukraine’s capital name – and as you know, they’re not on the best of terms!

Many Ukrainians associate “Kiev” with Russian suppression back when the Russian empire banned the use of the Ukrainian language in print.

So, if you go to Kyiv, do locals a favor and spell their capital the right way – Kyiv. 

How much time do you need?

We spent three days in Kyiv, and I could easily have spent more. When that’s said, you can see everything on this list in three days.

Although you’ll need a full day if you’re going to Chernobyl. I’ll dedicate a post to Chernobyl soon with all the info you need to visit, so stay tuned.

Looking for the best things to do in Kyiv, Ukraine? Find the most interesting sights in this ultimate travel guide, incl. UNESCO sites like Pechersk Lavra, St. Andrews and much more. #kyiv #ukraine

Is Ukraine safe?

⚠️ 2024 update!

At the moment, it’s not safe to visit Ukraine because of the Russian invasion.

This is how it usually is in Ukraine

Lots of people have asked and still ask me if it’s safe to visit Ukraine. 

This is a valid question. 

Yes, part of Ukraine is occupied by Russia and troubled by political turmoil, but it has little direct impact on the rest of the country. If you avoid the current hot spots – Crimea in the south, and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Eastern Ukraine – you will be fine! Remember, Ukraine is a huge country, about the size of Texas, and the war with Russia affects only a small part of it. 

I traveled through Ukraine with my friend, and we visited Kyiv, Chernobyl, and Lviv. Not once did I feel unsafe or just a little exposed. Quite the opposite, actually. The Ukrainian men I met were very gentlemen-like, the locals were kind and trusting, everything ran on time, it was much more upscale than I thought, and the atmosphere was positive and friendly.

Like, people just randomly walk into restaurants from the street to use the bathroom, and no one bats an eye. The WiFi is also open at most hotels, cafes, and restaurants for everyone to use. Ukraine hasn’t been corrupted by tourism, and that’s a huge reason to visit now.

I told my mom several times that I felt more safe in Kyiv than I do in some parts of Paris or other European capitals. I wouldn’t think twice about going here alone as a solo female traveler or bringing my kids. And tourism is on the rise – much more so than you’d think.

Now, with that question out of the way, let’s take a look at all the fun and unique things to do in Kyiv. Because there’s a whole bunch!

What to do in Kyiv

1. St. Michael’s Golden domed monastery

Entrance: free

Kyiv has a lot to offer when it comes to sightseeing. And one of the first things you’ll notice there are the golden domes and vibrant churches. 

St. Michael’s Golden domed monastery, named after Kyiv’s patron saint, is one of the most colorful churches.

It’s a new copy of the original church from 1108, which was torn down by the Soviets in 1937. From the outside, it’s super beautiful, but it’s just as impressive on the inside.

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine

2. St. Sophia’s cathedral

Entrance: Grounds (20 UAH), cathedral (80 UAH) bell tower (40 UAH)

At the opposite end of the street, you’ll find St. Sophia’s Cathedral; a UNESCO world heritage site. 

St. Sophia is Kyiv’s oldest standing church. Inside, you’ll find original frescos and mosaics, dating back to 1017 when the cathedral was built. You can climb the bell tower to get a great view of Kyiv.


3. St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral

Entrance: Free

Another colorful church is St. Volodymyr’s cathedral. It’s not one of the most popular churches in Kyiv, but it does have some of the most beautiful art nouveau interiors.

There was a service when we visited, so I didn’t get any pictures inside. But I highly recommend visiting, so you can see for yourself!

St. Volodymyr’s cathedral was built in the late 19th century to mark 900 years of Orthodox Christianity in the city. The yellow exterior and blue domes are very typical Byzantine style.


4. Golden Gate

The Golden Gate is a reconstructed medieval gateway dating back to 1037.

It was built during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise (I love those names of the Ukrainian and Russian rulers).

It might not look like much, but it’s in fact included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Back in the day, it was an almost 10-meter high stone fortress tower, used as the main gate to the town.

And part of it still stands today. 

Kyiv, Ukraine

5. National Opera House

Just down the street from the Golden Gate, you’ll find Kyiv’s National Opera House.

I love visiting opera houses when I travel. They’re so pretty and grandeur (especially on the inside).

Kyiv, Ukraine

6. Kyiv University

We drove past this building one day and I was like: WHOA! We need to go back there so I can photograph it!

Then the day after, we were meeting our Chernobyl tour group, and guess where the meeting point turned out to be? Iiii’m so lucky, lucky!

Anyways, this super red building is the University of Kyiv. I just think it’s super cool and unique to the former USSR.

Kyiv, Ukraine

7. St. Cyril’s Monastery

Another beautiful green-roofed church is St. Cyril’s Monastery and church. This 12th-century monument has some really stunning frescos, icons, and paintings by Mikhail Vrubel inside.

It was built in 1139 and is one of three buildings in Kyiv remaining from the Tatar Mongol conquest.

8. Maidan Nezalezhosti

In the heart of Kyiv, you’ll find Maidan Nezalezhosti. It’s also known as Independence Square because it’s the nation’s meeting point.

This is where pro-independence protests happened in the 1990s and the Orange Revolution in 2004.

It’s also here that the Euromaidan Revolution took place in 2013–14 when the square was transformed into an urban guerrilla camp besieged by government forces. 

Today, it’s very peaceful. And during the weekends, there are fountain shows and concerts. 

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine

9. House with Chimeras

Not far from Maidan Nezalezhost, you’ll find a really cool Art Nouveau building: House with Chimeras.

It was built by architect Vladislav Gorodezhkii for his family in 1901-1902. 

Inside and outside, the building is decorated with quaint sculptures, like fish, elephants, antelopes, and snakes. It’s worth visiting!

10. Ukrainian House

The Ukrainian House, also known as The International Convention Center, is the largest International exhibition and convention center in Kyiv.

It’s located between Maidan Nezalezhost and Friendship of Nations Arch, so make sure to notice if you walk by. 

Kyiv, Ukraine

11. Friendship of Nations Arch

We visited the Friendship of Nations Arch on a Sunday, which means it was busy! Yep.

You can’t see it in this picture here, because everyone was either right behind me or behind the arch.

There was a huge barbeque serving delicious kebabs, a concert, and a Red Bull truck serving all kinds of fun drinks. So, with drinks in hand, we joined the festivities and enjoyed the views (see below).

Kyiv, Ukraine
The Glass Bridge is to the left
Kyiv, Ukraine
Views from behind the Arch and/or the Glass Bridge

12. Glass Bridge

Right next to the Friendship of Nations Arch, you’ll find the Glass Bridge.

As you can see, it was very crowded when we visited. We drove under it a couple of times during our time in Kyiv, though, and it wasn’t so crowded then!

Kyiv, Ukraine
And here are all those people I talked about

13. Museum of the Local Conflicts

So, everything on this list up until now can be seen in one day.

The war museums and sights, we’re now going to look at, are located in another part of town, so it makes sense to see them together.  

We took an Uber to the sight furthest away – the Museum of the Local Conflicts. 

This museum is a huge collection of military artillery and vehicles. The collection is split in two. The first one is free to access and includes a few classic Soviet tank designs, rocket launchers, and an attack helicopter Mil Mi-24.

The second one is just around the corner and costs a few hryvnia to enter. You’ll find aircrafts, including a Lisunov Li-2 (a license-built Soviet copy of the Douglas C-47, where you can enter to sit in the cockpit – I highly recommend it!).

Also on display is a tactical nuclear missile, a few aircrafts, cannons, and even a submarine and an armored train. It’s a really cool exhibition!

Kyiv, Ukraine
The free collection
Kyiv, Ukraine
Inside a bomber aircraft
Kyiv, Ukraine

14. Museum of Great Patriotic War

If you walk a little further, you’ll reach The Museum of Great Patriotic War (as World War II is known in Ukraine).

The museum was built in 1981 as a memorial to the defenders and victims of WWII – a war that killed more than 8 million Ukrainians. 

In front of the museum (which is located under the Motherland statue), you’ll find some interesting sculptures and statues commemorating the soldiers and the victory of the USSR in the war.

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine
Outside the museum
Kyiv, Ukraine

15. Mother Ukraine

Right next to the museum, you’ll find the iconic Motherland statue – one of the youngest WWII memorials of the USSR.

Remember seeing these motherland statues in my posts from Georgia and Armenia?

The Mother Ukraine statue was built in the 1980s under the then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. 

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine

16. Resurrection of Christ Church

I don’t have much info on this church. But you’ll find it walking from the war museums towards Pechersk Lavra.

It’s got a little memorial inside the gate, just before you enter the church. 

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine

17. Pechersk Lavra

A few hundred meters further up the road, there’s Pechersk Lavra – one of – if not THE – most stunning sights in Kyiv.

In Ukrainian, a lavra is a senior monastery, while pecherska means ‘of the caves’. And caves, you shall find!

In fact, just beneath the large complex is an underground labyrinth lined with mummified monks! The tunnels are dark and narrow, and you’ll make your way through them with a small candle in hand (pictures are not allowed).

The Monastery of the Kiev Caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why!

Located above ground, you can find some really beautiful buildings, which include several churches (with VERY impressive interior), and a bell tower (that you can climb). Pechersk Lavra should be at the top of your list of things to do in Kyiv!

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine

18. Holodomor Genocide Museum

When you’re done exploring the Lavra, walk a little further up the road to the Holodomor Genocide Museum.

It’s not really a museum. It’s a monument to the victims of the Holodomor Genocide in 1933. This was a famine, intentionally caused by Stalin in 1932-33, on the Ukrainian peasantry who resisted Soviet policies.

The brutal artificial famine – which during the Soviet Union era was denied, dismissed, and hidden from world scrutiny for over six decades – is one of the worst famines in European history.

It killed millions of Ukrainians. 

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine
You can see Pechersk Lavra in the background

19. The eternal flame and obelisk

Next to the monument is a 26m high obelisk with an eternal flame. It was installed in 1957 and encloses a grave of an Unknown Soldier.

The Eternal Fire is also a reminder of the heroic deeds during WWII.

Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine

20. Hotel Salyut

The last stop on the road is the Hotel Salyut.

You might not find this particularly interesting, but you know how I feel about Brutalist architecture style! So, naturally, I had to include a photo of this weird beauty.

Kyiv, Ukraine

21. St. Andrew’s Cathedral

On day three, you can see the rest on the list.

Price: Platform 10 UAH

This baroque masterpiece was built in 1754 by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who also designed the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. You can’t enter the church, but trust me, St. Andrew’s Cathedral is amazingly beautiful from the outside!

22. Get a Thai massage

Yes. Sometimes, a Thai massage is just the perfect remedy – particularly when you’ve walked 10 kilometers in a day and really need to relax. Plus, massages are dirt cheap in Ukraine!

We went to the best-rated massage place on Tripadvisor – Elephant Spa – which is close to Independence Square.

And it was seriously just like being in Thailand. From the sawadee kaaa when we entered, to the scent of incense sticks and the very authentic oil massages. I loved it!

Kyiv, Ukraine
Aaand then off to the hotel pool!

23. Arsenalna metro

Did you know that Kyiv has the deepest metro in the world? Well, they do. It’s called Arsenalna Metro, and an escalator will lead you 105.5 m into the underground for a metro ride. 

24. Go to the beach

And maybe even more puzzling – did you know that Kyiv has beaches? Not one or two, but several!

Though Kyiv is hundreds of kilometers from the sea, the city has 75 kilometers of sandy beaches. The best beaches include:

  • Jeans Beach Club in Hidropark (jet ski rental, swimming pools and bars with waiters)
  • Molodizhnyi Beach in Hidropark (play volleyball and swim)
  • Trukhaniv island (with small bays)
Kyiv, Ukraine
Trukhaniv island

25. Lesnaya market

Lesnaya market is a flea market, conveniently located just next to Lisova metro station (15 minutes from the city centre).

Also known as ‘the holy grail of Kyiv second-hand wares’, Lesnaya has been hyped by magazines like Vogue for the mountains of Soviet apparel, where you might find a rare Gucci or Chloé item for just a few hryvnias. 

Other fun markets in Kyiv include:

  • Petrovka Flea Market (mostly electronics and books)
  • Vladimirsky Market (food)
  • Bessarabka (food)
  • Kurazh Bazar (the largest flea market in Kyiv)
Kyiv, Ukraine

26. National Chernobyl Museum

Price: 10 UAH. Photos: add 30 UAH to the admission price. 

Another of the most interesting things to do in Kyiv is to visit the National Chernobyl Museum.

Here, you can find an extensive collection of artifacts, mutated plants and trees, a mommy of a mutated animal, and photographs of similar subjects.

They all document the catastrophic nuclear disaster that occurred in Chernobyl on 26th April 1986. The small museum includes three exhibit halls. It’s closed on Sundays.

Read next: How to plan a safe Chernobyl trip

27. Visit the real Chernobyl

If you have the time and interest, I highly recommend that you visit the real Chernobyl.

You can visit the site of the disaster, see Reactor 4 and the rest of the power plant, and visit the ghost town of Pripyat.

It’s safe to enter today, and I’ll write an in-depth guide on how to visit very soon. In the meantime, you can check out my stories from Chernobyl on Instagram.


What to eat in Kyiv

So, while I absolutely loved Ukraine. And I really do. I can’t stop talking about it. I did not love the food there.

Maybe it was just us being unlucky with the restaurants (that we found, highly rated, on Tripadvisor). Or maybe Ukrainian food is just not my cup of tea. Either way, I found it rather bland and tasteless. 

We had one great and very pricey dish at a steakhouse, but that’s about it. And the Georgian food (which you’ll find a lot of) was disappointing – especially after having tasted the real deal in Georgia.

When that’s said, there are some dishes you should try in Kyiv, like:

  • Borsch (beetroot soup)
  • Chicken Kyiv (breaded chicken)
  • Deruny (potato pancakes)
  • Varenyky (Ukrainian dumplings also known as «pierogi»). 

And when you’re in Kyiv or Lviv, you MUST try one of the secret restaurants where you need a password to enter.

It’s such a fun experience and very typical Ukrainian! I recommend visiting the nationalistic-themed Last Barricade restaurant in the Globus shopping mall at Independence Square (the password is: “Boritesya-poborete”).

The food is not the best I’ve had, but the experience was more than worth it!

Kyiv, Ukraine
The legendary Chicken Kyiv at the Last Barricade
Kyiv, Ukraine
Beetroot and fierce Ukrainian vodka!

Where to stay in Kyiv

We stayed at Independence Square, and it was the perfect spot! Close to everything – attractions, shopping, restaurants, metro.

Podil is also a popular place to stay, a bit more quiet. But I really loved being at the heart of it all. 

We stayed at Khreschatyk City Center Hotel, an upscale hotel with beautiful rooms and the nicest concierge, Alexander. He helped us book massages and tables at restaurants. Find the latest prices here. 

Kyiv, Ukraine

FAQ – Best things to do in Kiev

Is it worth visiting Kyiv?

Absolutely. Kyiv isn’t just the capital of Ukraine; it’s a city where history and modernity blend seamlessly.

From the golden domes of St. Sophia’s Cathedral to the bustling Independence Square, there’s a mix of serene beauty and vibrant city life waiting for you.

What is Kyiv best known for?

Kyiv is famous for its historical landmarks like the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and the Motherland Monument.

But it’s not all about the past; the city’s lively streets, filled with art galleries, cafes, and bars, show its modern, vibrant side.

Why is Kiev so popular?

Kyiv’s popularity comes from its unique combination of rich history, cultural depth, and welcoming atmosphere.

It’s a city where every corner tells a story, from ancient cathedrals to contemporary street art. Plus, its affordability makes it a hit for travelers seeking value without compromising on experiences.

Why is Ukraine worth visiting?

Ukraine is a beautiful country full of historical sites and cultural richness.

Beyond Kyiv, you can explore the Carpathian Mountains for breathtaking landscapes or the Black Sea coast for relaxing beaches.

The diversity of experiences, from the charm of Lviv’s old town to the resilience and warmth of its people, makes Ukraine a standout destination.

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  1. Great blog on Kyiv ! My grandparents came from there and migrated to Canada when they were young. Both sets. I always wanted to go there to visit my roots. I’m sorry you didn’t like the food ! I love the borscht and perogies ! They were a staple in my family growing up ! I love Thai massages too ! It’s s must do to have massages while travelling! ❤

  2. Your information has been incredibly helpful to me, and I am so grateful for the time and effort you put into gathering and presenting it. Your expertise and knowledge on the subject are truly impressive, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from you. Thank you so much for your generosity and support.

  3. Thank you so much for providing me with such detailed and insightful information. Your knowledge and expertise on the subject are truly impressive, and I feel fortunate to have access to your insights. Your generosity in sharing your time and expertise is greatly appreciated

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