On various travel forums, I have come across the question: Is Kiev worth visiting? Whenever I see the question, I cannot help but smile to myself while mouthing my answer:
“Yes! Of course it is!” And not only because it is the capital of Ukraine, but also because Kiev is a phenomenal city, and one of Europe’s most important ones. Kiev is the womb of eastern European culture and Slavic civilization. All around the city you can find historic monuments as evidence of its ancient history and culture.
Naturally, stones and buildings alone do not make a city; its people do, and the people of Kiev are amazing! You might feel as though they are reserved and cautious (which is true), but give it time and allow yourself to socialize with them. You’ll soon discover their heartwarming friendliness, kindness, and appreciation for everyone who comes to visit and explore their city. Rest assured, they know how to have a good time and share it with Kiev’s guests. It is not an accident that the city is becoming the epicenter of partying and fun in Europe, with a nightlife scene that is second to none.
If this advice does not sell you on traveling to Kiev for your next vacation, let me tell you more about why you should start packing your bags now:
Kiev is ancient
Kiev is older than Moscow by a thousand years. Yes, you read that right!
Many people do not know this, but Kiev was the first Rus kingdom, the origin of today’s Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. It’s even called “the mother of Russian cities,” as it preceded almost all the major cities across the lands of these three Slavic nations.
The first settlements in Kiev go back twenty thousand years to the Upper Paleolithic Period, and the city of Kiev itself was established in the sixth century, reaching its golden age as the center of Kievan Rus federation during the tenth and twelfth centuries. That is not to mention its role during the reign of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, then the Kingdom of Poland, the Russian Empire, to USSR and finally independent Ukraine.
This legacy formed the city’s rich culture and gifted it with spectacular architectural mosaics and stunning monuments of different eras and times.
Kiev is vibrant
Kiev has a modern vibe and a true cosmopolitan spirit. It is one of the world’s trendiest cities that craves everything new and exciting.
Kiev is one of today’s IT giants, thanks to its large population of highly educated youth, who contribute to the city’s constant drive toward growth and modernization in every field of life. Ukraine is the fourth most educated nation and has the third most educated workforce in the world. This generation truly knows how to work hard and party even harder!
They also made Kiev the party capital of Eastern Europe and the host to its most exclusive nightlife scenes. Beyond that are the jaw-dropping adventures its daring you to experience. All that and more puts Kiev among the top tourist destinations in the world and makes it an amazing experience worth your time and money.
It is very affordable
It doesn’t cost much to travel to Kiev or to live there. In fact, as of 2014, Ukraine became known as the cheapest European country for tourists, and I can guarantee that you will not get the same value for your money anywhere else around the continent. And I am not talking about some mediocre level; on the contrary, you can stay in good hotels or apartments and dine in classy restaurants and cafés with a medium-to-small budget. To put it in numbers, you can have a great time in Kiev with a daily budget of $50-$100.
You will notice that Kiev is addicted to glamour and luxury, which you can enjoy at a fraction of the cost of somewhere else in Europe, but please be realistic: do not think that you will own the city with some pocket change!
It is realistic, however, to have a five-day vacation in the city and spend only $250. Setting your budget for the same duration at $1,000 will give you a killer time and amazing experiences that you will not stop telling everyone about for years to come!
Read my post Kiev Budget Guide to get the full picture of traveler’s expenses in Kiev.
It is safe for tourists
People love to have an opinion about everything regardless of how informed they are about it. Just try telling your friends you are traveling to Kiev, and one (if not many) of them will tell you he/she heard it is dangerous over there!
Despite popular urban myth, Kiev is a safe city for tourists. Certainly, the events of 2013-2014 and the 24/7 new cycle about the conflict with Russia raised people’s concerns, but try talking to anyone who has been to Kiev recently, and he/she will tell you that it might be safer than your own hometown.
Take five minutes to read Yes, Kiev Is Safe for Solo Travelers, and you will buy a ticket as soon as you are done reading!
People in Kiev have a lust for glamorous, lavish, and exciting parties all year round. Bars, cabarets, and Kiev nightclubs are amazing party houses; they know how to ignite exciting experiences and put on spectacular shows. You can easily develop a case of fun-overload while partying in Kiev!
Lavish clubs are the norm in the city, and the good news is that you can experience them at a fraction of the cost of somewhere else!
Review Kiev Nightlife Prices to find out how much a night of partying in Kiev may cost you.
Haven for adrenaline junkies!
Kiev is the ultimate destination for anyone who craves adrenaline, and I think we actually have the full package here, starting with one of the world’s most famous adventures: Pripyat, the Ghost City of Chernobyl.
If the skies are not for you, don’t worry, you will have the chance to explore the mystical Kiev underground labyrinth city of tunnels.
Another favorite adventure among adrenaline lovers visiting Kiev is driving a tank and shooting military-grade weapons. I recommend riding across the countryside if you are traveling to Kiev in the summer. There are many extreme adventures in Kiev to choose from. Browse some of them in my post Kiev Amazing Adventures to find the one that suits you.
Crowded with amazing monuments
Kiev is a city of many attractions. One of my friends used to say that Kiev is a city where you can go to a new place, do new things, dine and party in new places every day for a full month without doing the same thing twice. Well, he was absolutely right!
There are many monuments and tourist attractions to visit as well as many experiences to enjoy in Kiev. I find it impossible to list them all in one place, and not for lack of trying!
So, let me at least share with you a glimpse of what you can do and experience in Kiev:
Explore the golden-domed churches
The city’s spectacular golden-domed churches and cathedrals are an essential part of Kiev’s heritage and history and are among its most recognizable landmarks internationally.
The most famous among them are Kiev Monastery of Caves (Kiev Pechersk Lavra)–one thousand years old–and Saint Sophia Cathedral–nine hundred years old. Both are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
I also suggest you spend some time and visit Saint Volodymyr’s Cathedral and Saint Andrew’s Church. Also, do not miss the chance to tour Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery: its walls contain amazing stories of tears, pain, and resurrection, as the historic site was totally demolished in the mid-1930s by the Soviet regime before its reconstruction and re-opening over sixty years later in 1999, using many original parts of the old monastery.
A window into the spiritual cultural world of Kiev, each one of Kiev’s golden-domed churches is a treasure for lovers of architecture.
Descend into the world’s deepest metro station
Did you know that Kiev has the deepest metro station in the world?
The station is called Arsenalna. Riding its escalators will take you five or six minutes, ending at 105.5 meters (~346 feet) below the surface, to a simple platform that lacks the elegance or careful artistic designs of other stations like Golden Gate (Zoloti Vorota) station but holds the title of the world’s deepest metro station.
Discover the Motherland Monument
In my early days of guiding tourists in Kiev, I was amazed that all but few had no idea about the existence of this breathtaking monument and iconic symbol of our city.
Motherland Monument is the seventh tallest statue in the world according to many sources. At 102 meters (~335 feet) it is higher than the famous New York resident Statue of Liberty.
The monument offers great views of Kiev. You can observe it from two observation decks at 36 meters (~118 feet) and 91 meters (~298 feet) height.
Then tour the Second World War museums
The statute’s base hosts the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, a great attraction and monumental reminder of the high cost and unprecedented sacrifices of our nation alongside the rest of the former USSR nations during the war.
Surrounding the statue is 27 acres of open-air exhibition area that includes various Soviet-era weapons and equipment of different tanks, heavy artillery, armored boats, fighter jets, attack helicopters, and even a mobile strategic missile unit.
The rest of the territory is an artistic masterpiece. Its highlights include the breathtaking war panorama on the walls of the tunnel, midway between the main entrance and Motherland Monument, Battle of Dnieper Monument, and an ultimate tribute to all the fallen souls with the Flame of Glory.
So, are you ready to explore Kiev?
Comment below what you would like to experience in Kiev, and what places interest you the most. I am curious to know 🙂
Contact me if you wish to enjoy a private tour of Kiev or need help arranging your vacation. See you in Kiev!