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Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine with almost a million people. One of the oldest cities in eastern Europe was the capital of Kievan Rus. Today, it’s in a pro-western region fighting for Ukraine to be in European Union. 

Kyiv incomprehensibly doesn’t belong to the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. And also that’s why I decided to visit it and show that it’s really worth spending at least a weekend. This is what you can see in a couple of days. 

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

 The Monastery of the Caves is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery, which is one of the biggest icons in Kyiv. This monastery was established in 1051 a was a center of cultural and spiritual life in Kievan Rus. Pechersk means cave and the whole complex is connected by tiny narrow tunnels, which were used by monks. 

Tip: I recommend starting right here. I got off on the metro station Dnipro, where is, by the way, quite a nice view of the river Dnieper. From there is a road up to the monastery and you enter by the back entrance so you avoid paying. Of course, I’m not encouraging you not to pay, the entrance fee is not high at all, it’s just to let you know about other options. I found it accidentally and I think it’s still a legal way to get in. Don’t miss the catacombs with the mummified saints in transparent coffins. They are covered by a traditional textile blanket and visible are just their burned hands. To enter the catacombs you have to have one of the candles that are always right next to the entrance door. Is forbidden to shine with any other light, so make sure you respect the place. Women must cover their heads. The tunnel is quite narrow and there are a lot of people during the weekends there. From the way out there is a row of stalls where you can get honey, wafers, or any other homemade products, but mostly there are religious souvenirs. 

If you get out from the complex to a street and head to the right you will get to the entrance of an orthodox complex. The entrance fee is under one euro and if you want to take a picture with a camera, you will need to pay extra.

How long does it take: 2 hours

Entrance fee: 30 UAH (0,90 EUR)

The Motherlad Monument

Info: This huge monument has 91 meters and was built in 1981 as a symbol of the victory of the Soviet Union during World War II. This was the last monument of this type in the Soviet Union and there is a museum on the first floor. 

Tip: If you go from Pechersk Lavra it is just 10 minutes by walking. In a way there, you can find a museum with old tanks, airplanes, rackets, etc.

How long does it take: up to one hour

Entrance fee: 10 UAH (0,30 EUR)

Mariyinsky park 

Info: The park was built in the 19th century and there are kiosks with food every day. During Euromaidan (Ukrainian revolution in 2014) it was one of the biggest fights between police and civilians. By the way, in the park, there is this baroque Mariyinsky palace, which is the residence of the president.

Tip: You can get to the park by bus n. 24 from the bus stop that is in front of the Pechersk Lavra. Don’t look for a ticket machine, people normally buy tickets inside a bus, there is a lady who will charge you 8 UAH (0,24 EUR). 

Maidan Nezalezhnosti

When you say Maidan, probably most Europeans remember the Ukrainian revolution, Euromaidan which took a place right here in 2013. This one wasn’t first, there were the pro-independence protests in 1990 and the Orange Revolution in 2004.

In the past, Maidan was a place where the families used to meet, there were a lot of people hanging around during the weekends, making the celebrations. but these days, after the revolution is the main square mostly the meeting point of protests, political parties, but also a memorial place. Around the monument, you can see the stands with photos of burning tires or army tents with information about what was happening during the Revolution. If you walk a bit up you will see a concrete wall full of pictures with names of the most important activists who died during the Euromaidan. 

Maidan is a place where all the main streets in the old center meet. 

St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery

Info: The Monastery was built in the 18th century, the exterior was rebuilt in baroque style, but the Interior remained byzantine style. The original domes were changed for new ones, which the Soviets destroyed.  

Tip: There is no fee to enter the monastery. Behind, it is a small park from which you can take a ride by cable car down to the river. 

St. Sophia’s Cathedral

Info: This orthodoxy cathedral was named after the famous Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. Saint Sophia’s Cathedral is from the 11th century and it’s the oldest church in Kyiv. There are many frescoes that are still originals. 

St. Andrew’s Church

This beautiful baroque church from the 18th century is situated in the old city center close to St. Michael’s Monastery. From this dominant Kyiv’s icon is a view of Podil district and Dnieper river. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to go inside, since the Interior has been closed for a few years. 

Except for these places, it’s also worth visiting the National Museum of the History of Ukraine, even though not everything is explained in English, it’s still worth visiting. You can find there everything from ancient times until nowadays.

How long does it take: 1 and a half hour

Entrance fee: 75 UAH (2,25 EUR)

Don’t forget to visit the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Podil. I have almost skipped it, but my laptop had some troubles so I decided to go and don’t regret it.

The whole feeling from the museum is quite dark and there is even a maquette of the explode of the power plant, many pictures, a protective suit, and everything is explained really well. 

Tip for a cheap hostel

To find a place to stay in Kyiv is really a no big deal and for a little money, you can find a quite nice place. But I decided to save some money and went to a hostel. It’s better to look for something on booking than Airbnb if you are looking for something cheaper and longer stay. I found a hostel for 40 euros per one week right on Maidan. Seriously. You can even find something for 24 euros, but probably won’t be able to survive. So if you want to go to a hostel I recommend Cloud 9. But don’t get scared, from outside you might feel like you are entering into a black hole, because everywhere is dark, but inside it’s quite solid. The furniture is obviously new and one wouldn’t say that you can get this for that cheap. In addition, there is really nice stuff, that is available 24/7. There is also a washer, microwave, fridge in a kitchen and the location is really good. 

The last tip

Memories from the last revolution that hit Ukraine are even after many years still fresh. No one wants to have any negative memories during the traveling, but what was happening in the center of Kyiv was really something unique, and the marks after this massacre are visible even today. That’s why I recommend watching the documentary Winter on Fire, which displays the history of the Revolution and places where the fights were happening. 

If you want to know more about the transportation in the city and how to get from and to the airports this article might be helpful.