Kiev, the capital of the beautiful country of Ukraine, a city that is home to beautiful architecture and the most spectacular viewpoints, a city that could easily keep you busy for weeks. Visit Kiev for the beautiful churches, to learn more about Ukraine’s history, or to simply enjoy the coffee at one of the many cafes you’ll find across the city. Kiev was a city that surprised us, a city that quickly became one of our favourite European destinations, a city that we know we will return to in the near future. So curious to see why you should add Ukraine to your Eastern European itinerary, or perhaps what there is to do and see in Kiev? Keep on reading to find out how you could have an unforgettable 3 days in Kiev.
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3 Days in Kiev
3 Days in Kiev will give you just enough time to see some of the major sights of Kiev, but if you are looking to get a bit more off the beaten path you might want to consider longer. We spent a total of 5 nights in the city, but due to some unfortunate weather only got 3 full days worth of exploring done. One thing we knew for sure when standing at the train station is that we would be returning to Kiev in the near future to see what else this amazing city has to offer. Below we have created 3 day itineraries with activities and sights grouped together so you avoid having to either walk miles between sights, or wasting your time on traveling between sights using public transport. We have also created a map for you that you can access on your phone during your stay in Kiev so you know exactly where to go!
Day 1 in Kiev
Start your time in Kiev by exploring some of Ukraine’ s most beautiful sights, the absolute must sees, it is these sights that many people come to Kiev for, and we can’t blame them, they are some of the most beautiful sights we have seen in the whole of Ukraine. Day 1 starts in Old Kiev, one of the most scenic parts of the city. From the St.Andrew’s Church to Volodymyrska Hill, keep on reading to find out which sights should be on your first day in Kiev.
St.Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery
Next on the list, the St.Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery, and as you can see from the photo below you might know now where this monastery gets its name from. You can find the St.Michael’s Golden Monastery near the St. Andrew’s Church and honestly, both are equally as spectacular. The vibrant colours and the golden domes are simply beyond beautiful. An interesting fact about this monastery is that the original cathedral, was actually demolished in the 1930s by Soviet authorities. The cathedral that now can be seen is a remake of the original, and was built in 1999 after Ukraine regained independence.
Near the St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery you can find the funicular that will take you down the hill to the bottom close to the river side. Sadly, when we visited the funicular it was closed so we had to leave this off our itinerary! But I heard many people love taking the funicular, so just so you don’t have to miss out on it I have left it in the itinerary and on the map. A ride with the funicular is just as much as a ride with the metro, 8 UAH, a price you don’t want to leave this of your Kiev itinerary for.
Standing tall on top of a hill in Kiev it is hard to miss this beautiful church. The St. Andrew’s Church, built in a baroque style in the 1700s is an absolute must see when visiting Kiev. The church is covered by the most intricate details, from golden ornaments to the stunning domes of the church offering a beautiful view over the city. The St. Andrew’s Church is one of our favourite sights in Kiev and as such made it to day 1 of the list of things to do in Kiev. You can walk around the church where you will find a pathway offering the most spectacular views over the city, a perfect spot to be visited at sunrise, sunset or well any other time of the day really.
Just around the corner of the St. Andrew’s Church you can find the park of Volodymyrska Hill. This pathway starts at the St. Andrew’s Church and goes, along the back of the St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery to the Friendship of Nations Arch but if you are short on time then it might just be worth to admire a small section of the path near the St. Andrew’s Church. All the way along the path you will find the most stunning viewpoints over the city and the river, a place that is popular with locals during sunset, and we sure understood why. Admire some of the most spectacular views of Kiev before making your way down the hill to the next sight.
You might not want to wander off to far along the walkway of Volodymyrska Hill as the sightseeing on this side of the city is not done yet! Make your way along Andriivs’kyi Descent, a beautiful steep cobble stoned street filled with restaurants, cafes and vendors selling the most unique souvenirs. From the original Russian stacking dolls to Darth Vader stacking, magnets to add to your collection, this is the place to go shopping for souvenirs, but also to simply enjoys the views. Make your way down along this street to the next stop on this itinerary: Vozdvizhenka.
The slightly hidden neighbourhood of Vozdvizhenka is one that is often missed by travellers, while it is only a stone throw away from some of the major sights in Kiev. And while this neighbourhood isn’t home to any churches, cathedrals or monasteries, it is the neighbourhood and the facades of the buildings itself that are the attraction. Green, yellow, pink, blue, you will simply fined all colours in this mansion filled neighbourhood, paired with a couple of cafes and some stores these buildings are surrounded by green trees, an area that is so quiet and serene that you would almost forget that you are in the centre of Kiev. Wander through the streets to find the most colourful and photogenic corners, such as the one below before making your way to the last stop on the list of your first day in Kiev.
Explore Podil and to find some of Kiev best restaurants and cafes. Podil is a neighbourhood that is located at the bottom of the hill on which the St. Andrew’s Church is standing and it is perfect for those who love exploring neighbourhoods and to simply go and look for the best cafes and restaurants. However, that is not all there is to do in Podil, if you are interested you can also visit the Chernobyl Museum to learn more about the Chernobyl disaster that took place in 1986. Podil is a perfect place to end your day and to simply sit back, relax and have a coffee, a drink, some dinner or perhaps even all three of them!
Day 2 in Kiev
While you might feel like you’ve seen all that Kiev has to offer when it comes to stunning architecture, don’t worry, there is so much more to see. Day 2 will continue with exploring Old Kiev and the area of the famous Independence Square. From local markets to large shopping streets, day 2 involves a bit of walking, but combined with some stops for coffee and delicious food it will be another unforgettable day in Kiev.
St. Sophia’s Cathedral
Start your second day in Kiev by exploring the beautiful St. Sophia’s Cathedral. Climb to the bell tower for a beautiful view over the church, or admire the church from the out and inside, the St. Sophia’s Cathedral is another piece of beautiful architecture in Kiev. If you stand with your back towards the church and the bell tower you will actually be able to see St.Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery, those golden domes are truly hard to miss! You will find the most beautiful frescos and mosaic work at the St. Sophia’s Cathedral that dates back all the way to the 11th century, an absolute must see when visiting the beautiful city of Kiev.
Kiev’s Golden Gate
From St.Sophia’s Cathedral make your way to Kiev’s Golden Gate. The foundation of Kiev’s Golden Gate were laid during the 11th century, but sadly over the centuries much of the gate got destroyed and even covered for over half a century during the 18th century, so while you are not looking at the original golden gate, the location and the foundation of the gate still have an incredible rich history. The gate you can currently admire is a remake of the original Golden Gate, with the new structure covering the ancient brickwork. A beautiful structure to quickly drop by on your way to the next stop, or should you be interested you can learn more about the history of the Golden Gate inside!
St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral
From the Golden Gate make your way to, yes, another cathedral. But don’t worry cathedrals and churches is not all we are seeing today, however, a cathedral as beautiful as the St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral deserves a spot on the list. A bright yellow cathedral that is perhaps even more beautiful on the inside then on the outside. Golden covered walls, beautiful frescoes and paintings, honestly I could have stared at the interior for hours, as with every step you take there seems to be something new catching your eye. Entry to the cathedral is free, but if you want to take some photos or videos a small fee is required.
After having awed at the beauty of the St.Volodymyr’s Cathedral it is time to head to the market! We’ve seem to be coming across local markets everywhere in Ukraine, from Rivne to Kharkiv and in such matter also in Kiev. The reason Bessarabsky Market deserves a spot on this list is mainly due the central location of the market, making it easy to combine with some of the other major sights in Kiev. It is a perfect stop to admire the beautiful local produce or perhaps even quickly grab some fruits or some snacks to refuel for the rest of your day of exploring Kiev.
From the Bessarabsky Market walk along Khreschatyk Street, Kiev’s main street. Filled with shops, restaurants, cafes and the most massive buildings. An interesting fact about Khreschatyk Street is that this street was actually complete destroyed during the second world war, and after the war was rebuilt in the style of Stalinist architecture. The street, with a total length of 1.2km, is hard to miss as the street leads from the Bessarabsky Market to Kiev’s most famous square: Independence Square.
Maidan Nezalezhnosti – Independence Square
Maidan Nezalezhnosti, which literally translates to Independence Square is Kiev’s Central Square, a square that has had a tense history. Independence Square has been home to many political rallies including the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the most recent Euromaidan, a revolution where over 100 people died during the demonstrations in early 2014. Nowadays, Independence Square seems to have become a place for meeting friends, enjoying the view over the square and the stunning fountains. A visit to Kiev is not complete without a visit to Independence Square.
Day 3 in Kiev
It is time to leave Old Kiev and to learn more about Kiev’s history. In the Southeast of Kiev you will find the Motherland Monument, a monument that towers over the rest of Kiev, and absolute must see. From here make your way back to the direction of Independence square, but stop at some famous sights such as Pechersk Lavra and the world’s deepest metro station along the way. Keep on reading to find out why these sights deserve a spot on your Kiev itinerary.
Rodina Mat – The Motherland Monument
Start your day by making your way to Rodina Mat, the Motherland Monument. To get here you will either need to use the public transport system, which we have more info on below, or by simply taking an Uber as it located a tat bit away from Old Kiev, which we have been exploring for the last two days. The Motherland Monument is part of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, which you can find below the statue. We sadly did not visit the museum as it didn’t open till 10 am (something we should have checked as we were at the statue at 8am), but Rodina Mat itself is worth a visit. An interesting fact, Rodina Mat is actually taller than the New York Statue of Liberty, just to put into perspective how tall this monument actually is! Apparently for a rough 300 UAH (approximately $12) you can also visit the viewing platform which is located in the shield of the monument, something we didn’t do, but perhaps you would like to add to your itinerary.
Visit Pechersk Lavra, or the Monastery of Caves, after you have awed at the beauty of Rodina Mat, a monastery that has been founded in 1051 and is currently still a residence to roughly 100 monks. And while the golden domes of the cathedrals are absolutely stunning, it is what is underneath these hills that makes Pechersk Lavra so interesting. A labyrinth of caves where the monks once worshipped and lived, a place that is now home to over 100 mummified bodies of former Orthodox monks. You can actually take a tour of the caves yourself and see the mummified bodies in the caves, you will find the is the section of the Lower Lavra, while the cathedral as seen below can be found in the Upper Lavra.
Holodomor Victim’s Memorial
Before you make your way to the last stop of the day, be sure to stop by the Holodomor Victim’s Memorial to pay your respects to the victims of Holodomor. Holodomor, also known at the Great Famine was a genocide that was carried out by the Soviet Government in 1932-1933 that resulted in millions of Ukrainians losing their lives as a result of starvation. You can enter a small museum below the memorial as well that commemorates the victims of the famine, a tragic part of Ukraine’s 20th century.
After you have visited the Holodomor’s Victim’s Memorial make your way to the last stop of the day: the metro station of Arsenalna. Now, you might be wondering why a metro station is a must see during your time in Kiev and the answer is quite simple: this is the deepest metro station in the world. Buy a ticket for 8 UAH to ride the metro back to the area of your hotel, or perhaps to a neighbourhood you loved exploring and hop on the incredibly long escalators that will take you 105m deep into the ground. This might be one of the most unusual, but maybe also unique things to do in Kiev, a perfect way to end your 3 days in Kiev. P.s. On the way make sure to pass by the Salyut Hotel, a prime example of Soviet architecture in Kiev.
Make it 4 Days in Kiev
3 Days in Kiev, will allow you to see the major sights of Kiev, but it leaves little room for exploring the rest of the city. We spent 5 night and 4 days in Kiev, but due to some unfortunate weather we didn’t make it to all the sights we had planned to see. But perhaps you have more time (or simply better weather), so even though we might not have seen these sights, maybe you can. We have marked them on the map so you can easily add them to either your previous days, should you be in the area, or pick which ones you want to leave for perhaps a fourth day in Kiev!
Hidropark – Hidropark is a recreational island in the river of the Dnieper where you can find some of Kiev’s beaches, yes, you read that correctly! We were planning on visiting the beach and admiring the view over the city from a different view but sadly due to some unfortunate weather we never made it. But perhaps you are visiting in the summer and would like to check it out yourself.
Kachalka – The Muscle Beach of Kiev. When first looking at photos of Kachalke we new we had to add this to our itinerary. An outdoor gym that seems to have been made of scrapyard materials. Have a look at the Google Images of Kachalka and decide if this is something you would like to add to your own Kiev itinerary!
One Street Museum – Located in the area of Podil you can find the One Street Museum that apparently is home to a large range of exhibitions from antique postcards to manuscripts all about the Andriyivskyi descent itself. Perhaps swing by and have a look if you have the time!
Where to stay in Kiev
We stayed at Lucky Dream Hostel for 3 nights, which had an amazing location, within a couple of minutes we would find ourselves on Independent Square or the St. Sophia Cathedral. The last 2 nights we stayed out of the city in a studio from BeRest Inn as we had some work to do, from here it would have taken us at least 45 min by public transport to get to the city, so if you are short on time you might want to try to stay as central as possible. We would personally recommend the area of Old Kiev or Podil, from here you will find plenty of metro stations to make your way across the city, with some of the most major sights being within walking distance. Not to keen on staying out of the city or in a hostel, check out the map below to find something that suits you!
Transport in Kiev
There are plenty of public transport options in Kiev for those who are traveling Ukraine on a budget. From buses to trams, to perhaps the most efficient option: the metro system. Getting around is extremely affordable, we used the metro to make are way across the city, and the tickets (no matter how many stops) were only 8 UAH. The tickets, which come in the form of coins, can be bought at the metro station itself, or another option is to simply “tap” your Mastercard or Visa card if you have the contactless payment option with your debit/credit card at the turnstile. Several metro stations we visited in the city centre had this option available, you simply tap and go! It can’t get much easier than that right?
If taking public transport is too much of a hassle for you than there is also the option of using Uber. Uber is widely available in the city, and rides across town will cost you around 2 – 5$ depending on your distance and the availability of Ubers of course. We used Uber to get from the train station to our hostel in the centre, which was roughly 60 UAH or $3.15, so this is an affordable and widely available option as well.
Kiev Travel Budget
Kiev is one of the most affordable cities you will find in Eastern Europe, making it a great destination for both budget and non budget travelers. You can find meals for around 3 – 7$ a coffee around 1 – 2$ and entry fees to major sights being around 1 – 2$. Take the metro for 8 UAH to make your way around the city, or eat at Puzata Hata to keep your costs for Kiev down. Below you can see what we spent exactly between 2 people during our 5 nights in Kiev.
|Cost for 5 nights
|Accommodation in Kiev
|Food & Drinks in Kiev
|Transportation in Kiev
|Activities in Kiev
These costs include 5 nights in Kiev, of which 3 in the city and 2 away from the city centre, food we purchased at restaurants, cafes and supermarkets and the transportation costs during our stay in Kiev. We normally have some miscellaneous cost as long term travellers such as doing laundry, or buying soap but luckily we had a washing machine at our second place which saved us a bit of money. As you can see Kiev is quite an affordable city, coming to a total of roughly $25 per person per day, and you can cut your costs even lower by for example drinking less coffee (we just really love our coffee), staying in a dorm room or not taking any Ubers.
An Unforgettable Kiev Itinerary
And there you have it, everything you need to know for an unforgettable 3 days in Kiev. An itinerary filled with beautiful architecture, incredible views and history! Is there anything that we have left of this itinerary that deserves a spot on this list? Be sure to tell us in the comments down below and we’ll be sure to add it to our plans for our next visit. While Kiev might be one of our new favourite cities in Europe, the rest of Ukraine is also definitely worth exploring. So if you are planning on traveling beyond Kiev, perhaps check out one of our other guides:
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