Kiev, also spelt Kyiv, will surprise and delight with its many magnificent churches, lush green spaces and interesting history. The capital of Ukraine is perfectly safe to travel to, despite what many believe. And once you lay eyes on the beautiful Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, 11th-century Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery, the gargantuan Motherland Monument (Rodina Mat), and the atmospheric Bessarabka market, you’ll be thrilled you decided to visit Kiev.
As of April 2018, Kiev (or Kyiv) and most of western Ukraine is perfectly safe to travel to. Just as you would in any big city, it’s a good idea to be street savvy and keep your belongings close at hand when you’re in a crowded place. Most people speak English in Kiev and the locals are friendly and welcoming. As long as you use common sense, you shouldn’t have any problems feeling safe in Kiev.
That being said, the country is at war and the eastern border areas like the Donbass are places of conflict. Do your research before you plan a trip to other Ukraine cities. Kiev itself is a long way away from the problem parts of Ukraine, but it’s still worth keeping up to date with the situation before you go out there.
The population in Kiev is quickly approaching three million, which makes it the seventh most populous city in Europe. Visit Kiev and discover for yourself all the reasons why it’s one of the most exciting and modern cities in the world.
Whether you’re foodie, a photographer or a history buff, there are plenty of things to do in Kiev city centre. The Saint Sophia Cathedral, one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine, is a top attraction here and one of the oldest and most famous places in the city. The first foundations were laid on this Kiev City site between 1037 and 1011, and there are still some frescoes inside that date back to this time. Climb up to the belltower and you’ll be treated to 360-degree views of Kyiv.
There are a number of great museums in Kiev if you want to learn more about the city’s history and culture. Some highlights are the Khanenko Museum of Arts, the National Museum of Ukrainian History and the outdoor Mid-Dnipro Museum of Folk Architecture and Life.
When you’re craving a bit of green space, Victory Park (Park Peremoha) in the Dneprovskiy district is a great place to walk, jog, or simply unwind on a bench near the artificial lake. And Feofaniya, near the southern outskirts of the city, is a bit further out but still worth strolling around for a bit of peace, quiet and nature.
Kiev is also home to a complex metro system and the world’s deepest underground, Arsenalna, which sits 105.5 metres below ground. To put that into context, the deepest station in London is Hampstead, which is a measly 58.5 metres deep.
Apart from the fact that it’s brimming with cultural attractions, another thing that makes Kiev city centre appealing is the low cost of living. One-bedroom apartments in the city centre go for the equivalent of just £320 per month on average, and you can expect to get a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant for about £13.
(Speaking of food, many people wrongly believe that Chicken Kiev comes from the Ukrainian capital. In fact, the dish was apparently invented by a Russian chef in the 1800’s, and it only got its name when it was marketed for Russian restaurants in Europe and America.)
The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl took place on 26 April 1986 in the town of Pripyat, 104km north of Kiev. During a late-night safety test, a series of events caused a steam explosion and open-air graphite fire in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. This fire sent up radioactive material that is believed to have caused about 4,000 deaths in exposed areas of what was then the Soviet Union.
These days, 30 years after the disaster, Pripyat is, oddly, a popular tourist attraction, with an estimated 10,000 visitors per year. Day tours offer a glimpse at the long-abandoned ghost town, but visitors are advised not to sit on or touch anything. The Ukrainian government has permitted entry into the areas around Chernobyl, but you must go with a certified tour director. And while the government has given the go-ahead, that doesn’t mean Chernobyl is perfectly safe now. Decide whether it’s really worth it to take the risk.