Often called “the mother of Slavic cities,” Kiev (Kyiv) is Ukraine’s political, cultural and economic capital. Ukraine has only been an independent nation since 1991, but the city of Kiev has a long history, much of which has been preserved in its architecture and the city’s myriad museums. Kiev, Ukraine isn’t on everyone’s travel radar, but solo travelers, couples and families can all enjoy the sights and attractions of the city.
Planning Your Trip
Weather-wise, the most pleasant times to visit Kiev are during the spring and autumn. In winter it can be cold and cloudy, with an average of only one hour a day of sunlight in December and January. January and February are the coldest months, with average low temperatures around 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The summer months of June, July and August tend to be hot, humid and rainy, although the average high remains in the mid-70s. Many locals head to the Crimean during this time, and indoor attractions such as theaters and museums may be closed or have their hours cut.
Travel to Kiev
Kiev’s Boryspil International Airport is located about 22 miles east of the city center. The domestic airport, Zhulyany, is less five miles southwest of the city. As of 2010, European budget airlines Ryan Air and Easy Jet did not yet offer service to Kiev, but flights on Ukraine Air, Aerosvit and Kiy Avia were available. If you’re flying from North America, chances are you will need to take a connecting flight from another European city. By bus you will arrive at one of Kiev’s seven terminals, although Central Bus Station operates many of the long-haul journeys. The city’s main train station is known as Vokzal, but taking the bus tends to be faster than taking the train. Two domestic bus companies with service to Kiev are Autolux and Gunsel.
Travel Around Kiev
The quickest and easiest way to get around the city is by the metro, although all signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet. You can also travel by bus, trolley, tram or taxi. When it comes to taxis, you can often get a better rate by calling ahead for a metered taxi instead of simply taking the first taxi you find waiting outside restaurants or hotels. If you’re linguistically inclined, it can be worth learning the Cyrillic alphabet so you can read signs and have a better idea of where you’re going.
Things to See
In Kiev you can keep yourself busy visiting churches, monasteries, art galleries and museums. Be sure to walk up Andriyivsky Uzviz, Kiev’s main thoroughfare, and to check out the Desyatynna Church ruins at the archaeological site just beyond the street. You can browse local art at Bereznitskiy Gallery and wander through caverns that serve as monk mausoleums at Kievo-Pecherska Lavra. The Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum features information on the disaster as well as exhibits relating to the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl site.
Kiev offers a wide range of accommodation, from five-star hotels to budget hostels. Long-term vacation rentals and nightly apartment rentals are also available. You can also stay on the Dnipro River in a “boatel” like Perlina Dnipra Hotel, Bakkara Floatel or UYTA Dniprovskiy Captain Club Floatel.
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