Friendly disclaimer! We want to be as accurate as possible, but given these challenging times, we urge you to recheck that the venues are open when you decide to visit.
Kiev, located in the eastern part of Ukraine, is nothing short of magical. A city that is fast evolving and looking to add many interesting facets to its identity, Kiev can seem caught in a time warp. Once the centre of the East Slavic civilization, the city today buzzes with a curious amalgamation of a rich historical past, the lingering tremors of revolution, marvellous architecture, exciting craft beer culture, and the arrival of startups that signals how times are changing.
It is impossible in Kiev to not get caught in this energy of transformation that locals have come to embody and travellers, celebrate. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest neighbourhoods of Kiev that transmit this heady vibe of the old and the new in a delicious concoction.
One cannot visit Kiev and not reserve time for Podil. It is that perfect place where the past and present blend together, with glimpses of the ephemeral future as youngsters, stroll down old streets amidst dilapidated buildings. Around the 12th century, Podil flourished as a trade centre that supported merchants and artisans.
The monumental architecture in this district is proof of its once glorious past, much of which was ruined during the great fire of 1811. Today, Podil buzzes with the energy of the youth who have engaged with its antiquities and brought them to new life. Do not miss the vibrant street art corners of the district at Andreyevsky Spusk.
Also, take a walk around to the Kontraktova Ploshchad (Trade Square), the Fountain of Samson, the Florovsky-Voznesensky Monastery and the Pharmacy Museum, to name just a few of the old world wonders still standing proud in Podil.
Nearest metro station: Poshtova Ploshcha
Pyrohiv is a rare gem in the outskirts of Kiev, an open-air museum where you come face-to-face with traditional Ukrainian culture, housing, landscape design and material culture. It is known as the National Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine which was constructed to depict the life of the common people.
The architecture here is quite different from the rest of Kiev, where opulent buildings speak of the lives of the once wealthy. Here, common Ukrainian homes, churches and land mills comprise the 300-odd folk buildings spread across 150 hectares of land. No mean feat!
The museum also hosts social and cultural events that give locals and travellers the chance to immerse into the traditional lifestyle of the people as it used to be between the 16th and 20th centuries. A visit to Kiev will definitely not be complete without spending some wholesome time in Pyrohiv.
Nearest metro station: Vystavkovy Tsentr
Besarabka or the Besarabsky Market is an indoor market located in Bessarabska Square. In the heart of Kiev, this marketplace is the focal point of all things fun. It is where the soul of urban Kiev is centred. Complete with terrific street food, fresh grocery, seafood, poultry, and everything from spices and flowers to cheese and honey. Besarabka is historic and reminiscent of 20th century Ukraine.
The marketplace thrives with activity and chatter as people of all ages gather here for delectable foods or late-night bar-hopping (do not forget to check out the Alchemist Bar). Art lovers can head over to Pinchuk Art Centre that features some of the most exciting names from the contemporary art world.
Address: Besarabsky Market
Opening hours: 6 am to 4 pm (all days)
Nearest metro stations: Palats Sportu, Ploshcha Lva Tolstoho, Teatralna and Khreshchatyk
Although not harped about, urban Kiev is filled with green spaces and parks, in the heart of the city. Nature is as celebrated as the city’s antiquated past. The delicate mixture of old buildings and blooming foliage in the middle of the city is uniquely picturesque and makes it ideal for relaxing walks.
A park that’s a must-see is the Japan-themed Kyoto Park that brings the flavour of the Far East right to the midst of Kiev! It was opened in 1972 as a symbol of Ukrainian-Japanese friendship. You will see a replica of Mount Fuji and hundreds of picture-perfect Sakura trees!
Address: Park Kioto
Nearest metro station: Lisova
Kiev in miniature
Imagine a city creating a space exclusively for its own miniature representation. Kiev in miniature is a mini version of the city and its many buildings, bridges and landmarks located in Hidropark, on the banks of the Dnieper River. The mini-city is built on a 1:33 scale and took nearly four years to construct over an area of 2 hectares. The attention to detail is amazing, and so are the miniature people who inhabit the city and bring it to ‘life’. If you are a lover of all things miniature, Kiev is the place for you and this mini-city may turn out to be your favourite haunt.
Address: Kiev in miniature
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10 am to 7 pm; Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 8 pm
Contact: (044) 516-46-10
Khreshchatyk is Kiev’s central road and one that branches out into the city’s diverse localities. Khreshchatyk is where you will begin to meet the city, through its eateries, book stores, cafes, stores and outlets of high-end brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. It is a window to the way Kiev is transforming, and how the youth are engaging with the opportunities offered by the world today. Even when you look down the alleys of history, you will be able to see how Khreshchatyk was ahead of its times – it was the first place in Kiev to receive water supply, electricity, gaslighting and sewerage, and also the first place to start running trams.
Location: Kiev, Ukraine, 02000
Lysa Hora, meaning “bald mountain”, is a scenic spot with panoramic views of Kiev. Locals frequent the place for picnics and get-togethers, especially during springtime when the whole place bursts with colourful flowers and foliage. What makes Lysa Hora famous, however, is far more than its stunning views and natural bounty.
As folklore goes, it is well-known for the occult and a popular haunt for practising witchcraft and paganism (much of which can be connected to Kiev’s Slavic history). The mountain also served as a site for the practice of witchcraft, satanic worship, and political executions.
Lysa Hora is a nature reserve today and is part of the Fortress Museum area. Statues of pagan deities are found scattered throughout the area and continue to lend an aura of mystery to this primordial spot of spirituality and mysticism.
Address: Kyiv, Ukraine, 02000
Nearest metro station: Vydubichi