The ultimate guide to a mini-break in Kyiv

From revolutions to revolutionary, over the last five years, Ukraine’s capital has become a hot new destination for travellers. Kiev, (or as the locals prefer – Kyiv) straddles the banks of the river Dnieper and is boiling over with hidden gems, majestic cathedrals, historic cobbled streets and a culinary scene unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Here’s how we think you should spend your next mini-break exploring this ancient city. 

1. Where to stay?

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Ideally located in the centre of the Old Town, the Senator Apartments Maidan is the perfect place to stay during your short visit to the city. A stone’s throw away from Independence Square and Khreschatyk main street, you won’t have to travel far to get up close and personal with some of Kiev/Kyiv’s most notable attractions. Step out to beautiful street art, cafes, bars and restaurants right on your doorstep and venture up the hill to Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in a matter of minutes. Serviced every morning, the rooms are spacious with comfortable beds, incredible views and stylish interiors. With three locations across the city, each hotel is set in a magnificent, historical building that’ll make you fall in love before you’ve even stepped inside.

 

Senator Apartments Maidan – 8B Tarasa Shevchenka Ln. 

2. What to see?

Insider tip: Book a private walking tour of the city with Ukraine To Go and see all the hidden gems the city has to offer. These guided tours are a unique opportunity to experience Kiev/Kyiv like a local and can be tailored to suit everyone’s preferences and needs. Offering an airport transfer service as well as a VIP helicopter experience, there’s no better way to see the sights! 

Independence Square 

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Otherwise known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, independence Square is Kiev/Kyiv’s central square and one of the city’s most notable attractions. Located in the middle of Khreschatyk street, the area boasts six fountains, Independence Column topped with a statue of Berehynia and a series of dancing fountains that come alive to the beats of your favourite songs every evening. 

Khreschatyk 

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iStock holgs

Stretching from the European Square to Bessarabska, Khreschatyk is Kiev/Kyiv’s most famous street. Stretching on for 1.2 kilometres, the city’s main road is dominated by Stalinist style buildings on either side and is closed to cars on Sundays. Stop by Tsum department store and head to the 8th floor observation deck for stunning views over the central part of Kiev/Kyiv. Lined with all your favourite high street stores, this is the place to go if you’re in the mood to shop till you drop. 

Besarabsky Market – 2 Bessarabs'ka Square

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Located in the middle of Bessarabska Square, the indoor market hall is a great place to come and experience a taste of local culture. Bursting with stalls selling everything from fresh fruit to meat, fish and spices, Besarabsky is a hive of activity no matter the time of day. Get ready to haggle though as most of the produce lack price tags. To avoid being ripped off, come here with a local guide – they’ll help with the language barrier too! 

Street Art 

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One of Kiev/Kyiv’s best kept secrets is its abundance of beautiful street art that’s hidden throughout the city. Hosting over 150 pieces of public art, you’ll come across them when you least expect it. Produced by both national and international artists, the murals are often painted in lesser known parts of the city so it’s worth venturing into the more residential areas to begin your hunt. If you don’t fancy going on a wild goose chase, there are plenty of tours on offer that’ll do the hard work for you. 

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral – 24 Volodymyrska St 

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iStock Sergii Rudiuk

Kiev/Kyiv’s oldest standing church, Saint Sophia’s Cathedral was built in 1011 and is one of the only buildings in the city to have stood the test of time. Protected as a UNESCO site, the church is fronted by a white and azure bell tower and costs just three Ukrainian hryvnia to go inside. Built in celebration of Prince Yaroslav’s victory over the invading Pechenegs, the church features beautiful mosaics and frescos. One of the city’s most famous landmarks, this cathedral is not to be missed. 

Saint Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery – 8 Triokhsviatytelska St 

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iStock agustavop

Sitting on the right bank of the Dnieper river, Saint Michael’s is a functioning monastery as well as one of the most visited sights in the city. Located at the other end of proyizd Volodymyrsky to Saint Sophia’s, you can’t fail to notice the sky blue structure with its fairytale-like glistening golden domes. Named after Kiev/Kyiv’s patron saint, the monastery was rebuilt in 2001 to exactly replicate the original from 1108 that was destroyed in the war. Pay a visit to the museum in the bell tower and dig deeper into the past of one of the most important Orthodox temples in Ukraine.

Podil

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The birthplace of the city’s trade, Podil is one of the oldest and most historic neighbourhoods in Kiev/Kyiv. Take the funicular or walk down the cobbled Andriivs'kyi descent and spend the next few hours exploring the area. As the main cultural centre of the city, expect to see beautiful architecture, ancient monuments and museums all wrapped up in a bohemian atmosphere. In a place where old meets new, there’s no limits to how much you can explore this section of the city. 

3. Where to eat and drink?

The Burger – 5 Velyka Vasylkivska St 

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Situated in the middle of Arena City, the main hub for nightlife, The Burger is a cool, vibrant restaurant serving exactly what it says on the tin. Boasting an eclectic menu of cocktails and unique flavours, this is a great place to grab a casual bite for a great price. Part of a trio, finish off your meal with dessert at The Cake next door or start the party at The Bar upstairs. 

Kanapa – 19 Andriivs'kyi descent

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For traditional Ukrainian food, there’s no better place than Kanapa. Providing a unique gastronomic experience unlike anything you’ve ever had before, the menu features a selection of authentic recipes with a modern twist. Finding its home inside a preserved wooden 19th century building with a stone hall, Kanapa’s food is so photogenic you won’t be able to resist snapping some shots for Instagram. Order a tasting set and spend the evening nibbling on traditional dishes and sipping on green nettle beer. 

4. General tips?

Airport: Avoid waiting half an hour for an airport shuttle bus and ask your driver to drop you directly at Terminal F

 

Money: Ukraine uses its own currency which is approximately €1=30 UAH. Take out some cash for added piece of mind, but almost everywhere accepts cards.

 

Heading to Kiev/Kyiv soon? Be sure to tag us in your photos of what to do in Kiev/Kyiv using the hashtag #ryanairstories for the chance to be featured on our Instagram feed.

 

Flights to Kiev/Kyiv

 

- Lucy Norris