A Quick Kiev Travel Guide for Westerners
This Kiev travel guide exists because a lot of people are apprehensive of this beautiful city. And I wanted to make sure that enough information is out there that people will take the leap and book a trip.
It’s why this website exists.
THE QUICK KIEV TRAVEL GUIDE
IN A PARAGRAPH: Kiev is a big, Former Soviet Union capital city with a lot going on. It is really a mini New York City. However, Kiev is still plagued by some corruption issues within it’s government, but is perfectly safe.
COST: Kiev is incredibly cheap at the moment, due to a very strong US dollar in comparison. You can easily eat a nice meal out for two people for ten dollars or less.
WHERE TO STAY: There are a lot of choices:
- Maidan Square, Khreshchatyk Street: Both of these are centrally located and would do well for a stay. Maidan and K Street are often a bit crowded, while Arena is more of a “business” area and will get a bit quieter at times. Generally speaking, you can stay as far South as the Olympic Stadium and still be considered in the center. The further you get from Arena the quieter it will be.
- Arena: Generally speaking, you can stay as far South as the Olympic Stadium and still be considered in the center. The further you get from Arena the quieter it will be.
- Podil: The historic area that is incredibly charming. It will be quieter and farther away, but it has a lot to offer. In addition, it’s only a 5 minute metro ride to the Maidan station, so you’re not too far.
You should expect to pay ~$30 a night for a nice AirBNB in the center as of writing this.
FOOD: Ukrainian food can be hit or miss. Puzata Hata is incredibly cheap traditional cafeteria style food (we’re talking full, big meals for $2). You can expect a variety of meal and potato dishes at Ukrainian restaurants, and don’t forget to try the borsch!
The real gems food-wise in Kiev though are the Georgian and Turkish venues. Kiev surprisingly has a lot of Middle Eastern influence (expats), and they bring their incredibly flavorful cuisine, too.
Keep an eye out for business lunches, too. These are pre-selected 3-4 course meals which can usually be had for about $5. Some personal favorites include Pervak and BEEF (both near Arena City).
DRINKING WATER: You cannot drink the tap water. Buy bottled water in big jugs (about $1 each).
LANGUAGE SITUATION: The English level is quite poor. Even younger people often don’t speak it, or are hesitant to speak it. It’s important to note that many can understand but are very shy to speak it. Learning a few basic phrases that simply asks them if they speak English will go miles. In addition, you should make sure to do it quietly. Do not put them on a spotlight where they could be embarrassed and shy to speak English. Do it subtly to avoid attention and they will appreciate it.
LEVEL OF FRIENDLINESS TO WESTERNERS: Ukrainians at first are very hesitant to be friendly to you. They’re naturally suspicious as to why you’re in their country. And it’s understandable, especially given how much of a sex tourist reputation Ukraine has. Over time they will warm up (i.e. if you frequent the same coffee shops every day, etc.)
TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT: You can take a taxi from the airport to the city center for about $15 USD. You can also take busses, but the drivers probably won’t speak English. If you’re new to Ukraine and your Russian is poor, it’s best to just pay for the taxi. Make sure you get an official airport taxi, who will give you the price beforehand.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: The metro is amazing. You can ride as far as you want and as long as you want for a measly 4 UAH (15 cents USD). The busses are usually not air conditioned and far more questionable, comfort-wise.
RIDE SHARES/TAXI: You can take a taxi across the city for just a few bucks. However, getting one is a whole different story. I recommend downloading and utilizing the app Uklon. Uber is also just coming to Kiev, which is good for Westerners. You can try to take taxis off the street, but you will be paying a “foreign tax” (i.e. double the local rate).
SAFETY: Kiev is actually very safe, but don’t be stupid. Be aware of the scammers on the main street who will try to hustle you for money to play with their monkeys.
BEAUTY: Kiev is extremely green, and has a lot of beautiful Orthodox churches and Soviet architecture.
THINGS TO DO: There’s a lot.
- Mother Motherland
- President’s Mansion
- The Descent
- Podil District
- Golden Gate
- Take a metro to one of the districts with blocks and blocks of Soviet housing…incredible.
- And much more!
CONCLUSION: KIEV TRAVEL GUIDE
I obviously love Kiev and continue to come back.
Hope you have enjoyed this Kiev travel guide.
…and see you soon.
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