We lived in Kiev for three years, from 2007 to 2010. Luckily, that was before the latest political turmoil of 2013/14, when the vibe was probably more relaxed and hopeful. Although, knowing Kiev just a bit, the city has probably recovered and is again hopping.
I have been wanting to compile our favorite places to see/do/eat for some time so I could share them with others who might be traveling/living there or are just curious. This post is of course from “expats” point of view and is a quick list of all the good stuff we recommend or have experienced while living there. Here we go:
- Walk around Podol/Podil (metro Kontraktova). Special architecture, special feel. Flat, by the river. Many good restaurants. Check out Zhitnyi rinok – huge old style covered fresh produce market. That was our “green market” where one could find great honey, fresh herbs, lime, cheese, dried fruits and nuts from Central Asia, various spices, in addition to great selection of fresh veggies and fruits.
- Andreevski spusk. Visit beautiful church and walk on cobblestone. There’s a huge arts and crafts market on weekends in spring/summer. We got some cool art there. Bulgakov house is located halfway down on the right. Our favorite French restaurant with real bistro feel is located there – Vernisazh.
- Take the funicular from Podol (metro Poshtova) up to the old town (stop near St Michaels church along the way).
- Downtown – Golden gate area. Great just to walk around, have some beer while people-watching. Also visit Shevchenko park, Botanical gardens, next to the Parliament.
- Weather-permitting, we enjoyed walking to Trukhaniv island, footbridge from friendship of people’s arch (big huge monument in upper town, with gorgeous views of city).
- Visit all the monasteries – Lavra, St Sophia, Vydubytsky
- Rodina mat (Iron lady, of course) & WW2 museum. Our older son Sasha’s most favorite place in Kiev. Huge outdoor museum with many cannons, tanks and aircrafts for little ones to climb on and explore. Amazing, huge post war sculptures celebrating victory and remembering those who died.
- Pirihova – ethno village a quick ride out of Kiev. Old wooden huts, churches and spectacular windmills sprawled across vast meadows and trails. During spring and summer, great festivals to check out, eat some street food, including amazing crepes and pyrogi.
- Zhuliany airport – another great place for kids to explore old soviet-era airplanes outside.
- Other kids’ favorites were national toy museum, Kiev water museum (pretty modern and interactive) and the puppet theater on a hill above European square, downtown.
- Good eats – We had some good food in Kiev, including great Georgian, Central Asian and Turkish restaurants as well as pretty good sushi (which is everywhere). For best pizza in town, if you like neapolitan style pizza, head to Napule (cozy atmosphere, good gelato and coffee too, kid friendly).
- Cocktails – Bar on 8 , rooftop bar and restaurant in Hyatt offers great views of sunsets and St Sophia. Really pleasant when the weather gets warm. During winter, inside bar is also fun.
- Outside of Kiev – Two elegant estates-turned-to parks outside the city are great for weekend strolls. Uman and Bila Tsirkva. Chernigyv was always easily accessible and charming. Lviv, located in Western Ukraine, close to the Polish border (we actually flew but trains could be an option too) is a picturesque town with many beautiful facades, squares and churches.
Here are some additional cool snaps that capture the overall feel and our vibe around the town.
For the end, here are some views from our window as seasons changed and a big goodbye to Kiev from Sasha. Hope you enjoyed this little story!