St. Andrews Church
One of the most iconic churches in Kiev, and almost certainly the most blue. Watching over Andreyivksy uzvi this beautiful church is almost 300 years old (constructed between 1747 and 1754) and is worth seeing in both the daytime and night. * When visiting churches in Ukraine as a female you must typically wear a headcover (such as a scarf).
Location for many events, markets, celebrations. When we were here there was an adorable Christmas market that still had the small-town vibes that are often lost in the more commercialized Christmas Markets or celebrations. This square more than anywhere else in Kiev made us feel the former splendor of the city and the power that was commanded from Kiev. Looking to one side you feel as though you’re in a Western Europe capital and to the other as though you’re deep in the heart of Russia.
Golden Gate Kiev
The original Golden Gate was the main gate of 11th Century Kiev. This reconstruction is an interpretation of what the original gate may have looked like. In truth, we wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it, but if you can fit it on your walking path through Kiev, it’s worth the stop. It is interesting to get some perspective on how these fortifications may have functioned nearly one thousand years ago.
St. Sophia’s Cathedral
Around a thousand years ago constructions started on this cathedral, this enormous cathedral is worth seeing both inside and out. The inside of the cathedral is densely covered in beautiful designs, mosaics, murals, and gold, and features numerous ancient ruins entombed in glass. Depending on how much time you have, you can elect to pay for entry only to the cathedral, with additional entry fees for the bell tower.
Kiev Pechersk Lavra
If you’re only going to make one tourist stop on your trip to Kiev, this should be it. Kiev Pechersk Lavra started as a cave monastery and you can still visit and walk through the somewhat claustrophobic but eerily beautiful tunnels. The monuments above the ground are no less awe-inspiring, and you can spend a few hours walking the grounds to see the numerous churches on the site. If you do visit, don’t miss the Great Lavra Belltower and the Dormition Cathedral – in our opinion the two most incredible structures on the grounds. When we visited it was cold and snowy, and we learned the hard way that you should expect to walk outdoors a bit between the buildings.
Park of Eternal Glory
A bit of a surprise find, this somber monument is worth the short walk from Pechersk Lavra. In the spring and summer, it’s a romantic green park but in the winter you really feel the tone of the memorial, surrounded by the cold and snow as you pay your respects to the fallen soldiers of past wars. After seeing the park’s obelisks and statues, you can enjoy one of the best views of Kiev and of the Pechersk Lavra.
Kiev Independence Square (Maidan)
I’m not going to tell you that this was our favorite stop, but it is interesting to see the location of so many political protests that were central to the formation and development of the country. We recommend that you check out a few old pictures from these protests and revolutions so that you can compare them to the open and peaceful space that exists today.
Walk Andreyivksy uzvi
It is perhaps the hippest neighborhood in Ukraine and home to many of the top restaurants in the city. Nightlife, markets, and theatres are crowned by the magnificent St. Andrews Church. You should plan to spend at least one day and one night here, as Kanapa restaurant is perhaps the best in the city, and it’s a great neighborhood to bar-hop or take in some theatre. Make sure to do your stretches before though, it’s quite a slope – better to start at the top near St. Andrews and work your way down having a few drinks and food along the way.
If you’ve finished the long walk down Andreyivksy uzvi and realized that you don’t want to walk back up after all those Horilka and Holubtsi take the funicular to catch a ride back to the top of the mountain. You get a great view of the city and some old-timey charm. Opened in 1905 it’s a great stop during the day or at night to see the city sparking (open 7 am – 10 pm)
Park Landscape Alley
This is one of those landmarks that really feel like they make a city unique. Fun and fanciful art and sculptures line the walkway of this park. Let yourself be a kid again enjoying the colorful landscape; one-half Alice in Wonderland, one half pop art, and one half bizarrely non-functional contrivance this park is a juxtaposition to some of the more brutalist architecture and often grey skies of Ukraine.
The first rule of Ostannya Barykada is that you don’t talk about Ostannya Barykada… from a hidden entrance to a surprise ride; you won’t be disappointing making this stop on your visit. Make sure you ask for a tour and soak up the historical knowledge of this seriously cool bar and restaurant. We don’t want to give too much away but rest assured this place isn’t just a one-shot gimmick. From our experience, the food wasn’t the best – very fatty meat cuts and a charcuterie board that left much to be desired. But the drinks and vibe were on point, the staff was cool, and the grungy historical atmosphere made you feel like you were in on the secret. Definitely worth checking out, but take a look at our “where to eat” section instead of eating here.
Kiev National Ballet / Shows in Kiev
One of our biggest regrets was missing out on a ballet performance from the Kiev National Ballet. One of the great things about ballet is that you don’t have to speak the language to enjoy the performance, and the Kiev National Ballet is well regarded internationally. If ballet isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other arts that can be enjoyed in Kiev. From a wonderful Opera to a puppet show, orchestra to a circus, it’s definitely worth checking timings for local performances.