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Kyiv (Kiev): My Best Budget Destination in Eastern Europe – Ultimate Guide

St. Sophia's Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine

According to a legend, Kyiv (or Kiev) was founded by a Slavic family during the 5th century. Specifically, the name of Kyiv (Kiev) came from the eldest family’s member name that was called Kyi. Built close to the Dnieper river, Kyiv was founded during the Bronze Age and it was an important trade center during the Iron Age. Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine as well as it is one of the most historical European cities.

I had the opportunity to visit this wonderful destination in the last year. Walking in the streets of Kyiv, I realized that this historical city has plenty of Soviet ruins as well as many interesting monuments that are dated back to the old ages. Exploring the city you can see huge buildings with impressive architectural designs that were built during the Soviet Union’s period.

Also, Kyiv has some of the most popular metro stations in the world, because they have the world’s deepest escalator. The underground of Kyiv has been constructed during the Soviet Union’s period. Some of the underground stations attract many tourists because of their impressive baroque architectural design.

Kyiv is a very interesting destination that is located in Eastern Europe and it has a low cost of living. So, it is the perfect choice for budget travelers, who can enjoy excellent accommodation and good quality of food without spending a lot of money.

Below, I write how I spent my travel days in Kyiv (Kiev). Specifically, you will find a list of my favorite things to see and do in Kyiv, which will help you organize better your trip in Kyiv.

How I spent my travel days in Kyiv (or Kiev) | Best Things to See and Do in Kyiv

1. Golden Gate

When I arrived at the Boryspil airport in Kyiv, I had to take the airport train. After thirty-five minutes, I arrived at the central railway station of Kyiv, where I took the subway. Coming out of the subway station, I saw the 11th-centrury Golden Gate that protected the old town of Kyiv. Constructed by Yaroslav the Wise in 1017 - 1024, the Golden Gate is the only preserved gate nowadays, because the other two gates, Ladski and Zhydivski Gates, have been destroyed. The original name of the Golden Gate is Southern Gate.

2. Pechersk Lavra Monastery (Monastery of the Caves)

Pechersk Lavra Monastery (Monastery of the Caves) in Kyiv

Also, another characteristic of the Kyiv city is the large number of orthodox churches and monasteries. My first day in Kyiv (or Kiev) I decided to visit the popular Pechersk Lavra Monastery that is well-known as the Monastery of the Caves and was founded by St. Antony in 1051. The history of this Monastery is associated with establishment of Orthodoxy during the period of Kievan Rus as well as the Byzantine period (1073 - 1089). Inside Monastery I found many monks as well as religious people. Following the crowd I found the entry that leads to the catacombs. After a few minutes I was underground. There was only the light of candles. The atmosphere was dry and cool. Walking into the dark, I saw a lot of coffins of holy men into the walls. When I finished my tour in the catacombs, I continued exploring the surrounding places of Monastery. Except for the ancient catacombs, this Monastery is also worth a visit, because it has a spectacular view of the Dnieper river. From the other side of river you can see the modern part of city.

3. National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War

National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War in Kyiv

After Pechersk Lavra Monastery, next stop was the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War. Here, there are a lot of war vehicles that are dated back to the period of the Soviet Union. This museum has been built in the memory of the Ukrainian soldiers who lost their lives against the Nazis. For the first time in my life, I understood the huge military force of Ukraine during the Soviet Union’s period. Over the hill, the Motherland statue has been constructed in the memory of the victims of the Second World War. If you want to visit the Hall of Glory and the Hall of Remembrance and Sorrow as well as enjoy the view of the Dnieper river from the platform on the top of the Motherland Monument, you need a guide.

4. Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti)

Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kyiv

After spending a few hours in the National Museum of the History of the Second World War, I decided to explore the city’s center. Taking the metro I arrived at the Independence Square that is also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti and it was constructed in 2004. The square is surrounded by buildings from the Soviet Union’s period. Important events took place in this place during 2013 - 2014. Specifically, the Ukrainian revolution of 2013 - 2014 began in this place, because of the political decisions of Viktor Yanukovych, who was president of Ukraine and he suspended the process of Ukraine’s integration in the European Union. There were many conflicts during the revolution of 2013 - 2014 and a lot of Ukrainian people lost their lives. So, you will see the photos of the victims in many places around Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) and the streets of the city’s center.

After a long walk into the city’s center, I started starving. So, I visited the famous Porter pub. It is one of the most popular pubs in Kyiv (Kiev) with delicious meat dishes and tasty beers. Here, you can enjoy a cold Ukrainian beer and eat meat dishes without spending a lot of money.

5. St. Andrews Church

St. Andrews Church in Kyiv

After this stop, I decided to continue my exploration by visiting St. Andrews Church that is located in the main street of the old city’s center. It stands on the top of the old city’s hill. From this magnificent church with its impressive architecture and beautiful green-white color you can see the whole city from above. Built by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, during the reign of the Great Catherine, St. Andrews Church attracts many travelers because of its impressive baroque architecture and its interesting collection of paintings, sculptures and other masterpieces of art.

After a long day wandering in the lovely city of Kiev, I returned to my hotel room and I rested.

6. St. Sophia’s Cathedral

St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv

The next morning, I started my day drinking a coffee and eating a delicious handmade piroshki. After my breakfast, I decided to visit St. Sophia’s Cathedral, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Arriving in front of this majestic church, which is dated back to 1037 during the Kyivan Rus period, you have a lot of strong feelings. The name of St. Sophia’s Cathedral comes from the Byzantine Church of Hagia Sofia in Constantinople.

7. Mariyinsky Palace

Mariyinsky Palace in Kyiv

Another must-see sight is Mariyinsky Palace, which is the ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine. Arriving at this great sight, my strong desire to visit this place was justified, because this impressive baroque building is a masterpiece of art. A large part of the building was destroyed because of fire. However, in 1870 Mariyinsky Palace was reconstructed by Alexander II. Because of its spectacular architectural design and pale blue color, Mariyinsky Palace attracts many visitors from around the world every year.

8. National Opera of Ukraine

Leaving the Mariyinsky Palace, I decided to get lost in the picturesque streets of the old town. Passing through the old city’s shops, I took a look at some interesting historic antiques, old clothes, and hats that were dated back to the period of the Soviet Union. Wandering in the city of Kyiv, I saw the National Opera of Ukraine that was built in 1867. A large part of the Opera was reconstructed after a disastrous fire in the 1980s.

9. National Art Museum of Ukraine

After the Opera of Ukraine, I visited the National Art Museum of Ukraine. Established by Bohdan Khanenko in 1897, this museum houses impressive collections of artworks and sculptures. Recognized as the most important museum in Eastern Europe, a lot of artists present their work in this place. I was very impressed with everything I saw in the museum. I learned so much about Ukrainian artists and the history of local art.

10. Feofaniya Park

The rest days of my trip, I spent some time exploring the beautiful parks of Kyiv (Kiev). One of the most popular parks in Kyiv is Feofaniya Park, where residents of Kyiv walk and relax during the weekend. Located in a magical place where there are plenty of colorful trees and plants, Feofaniya Park is a perfect choice to escape from the crowded city’s center. Regarding the history of this park, it was the home to the Observatory of the Institute of Botany of the Ukrainian Academy of Science during the Soviet Union’s period and the main subject of studies was biodiversity.

11. National Botanical Garden

Another must-visit peaceful and beautiful place is the National Botanical Garden, which is also known as Mykola Gryshko from the popular Soviet botanist. In this protected natural place, which can be considered an earthly paradise, there are plenty of wonderful plants. I enjoyed my walk here. It was one of my favorite places in Kyiv.

12. Mezhyhirya

Outside of Kyiv, you can visit Mezhyhirya, the residence of the ex-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. Located on the banks of the Dnieper river, it is one of the most popular places in Ukraine. Nowadays, Mezhyhirya residence reminds Ukrainian people of the period of the presidency of Yanukovych, which was a period of greed and corruption. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this place is a perfect choice for a picnic.

13. State Aviation Museum

Opened in 2003, the State Aviation Museum is the second largest museum of Soviet aircraft and it has a growing fleet of aircraft. It is located inside the old terminal of Zhulyany Airport, outside of Kyiv city. Here, you can see aircraft that were produced by Ilyushins, Antonovs, Sukhois, Tupolevs, Yakovlevs, and the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (MiGs). It is worth to be mentioned that the size of some of the helicopters is so impressive that will surprise you.

14. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Chernobyl in Ukraine

On my last day, I visited the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant where the nuclear accident happened at the reactor on Saturday 26 April 1986. Because of this huge nuclear explosion, the small town of Pripyat, which was close to the Chernobyl plant, was destroyed and the majority of people of this town lost their life. It is one of the largest nuclear accidents in the world that occurred in the Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Ukraine).

I gained so many beautiful experiences from my travel to Kyiv. I loved the history and culture of this great destination in Eastern Europe. Kyiv is a special city with strong religious faith and it reminds you the greatness of the Soviet Union.

Where to Stay in Kyiv (Kiev) | Best Budget Accommodation in Kyiv

1. Ukraina Hotel

Ukraina Hotel is a budget hotel that has been built in Independence Square, which is the heart of Kyiv. Because of its great location, guests can easily move to all the sides of the city without any problem. There is also a metro station in Independence Square. The architecture and the interior design remind the guests of the old period of the Soviet Union. There is great communication with the hotel staff, which responds very effectively to all the needs of the hotel guests.

2. KievInn

Stay in a beautiful and convenient apartment in the center of Kyiv city. In the KievInn, you will find comfortable apartments that include all the amenities, so the guests have a convenient and pleasant stay. It is located just a few minutes away from Independence Square and the two major churches as well as the fantastic Podil area. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. The access to the different sides of Kyiv city is very easy, because there is a metro station close to Independence Square. There is Wi-fi in all the apartments.

3. Arena Summit Apart Hotel

The Arena Summit Apart Hotel has an excellent location as it is a few-minute walk from the city’s center and the Gullivers shopping center. The hotel provides all comforts to the guests, so they have a pleasant stay. All hotel rooms have a satellite TV, a private bathroom, and free Wi-fi. There is a 24-hour reception.

4. Greguar Hotel

A perfect choice for accommodation in Kyiv is Greguar Hotel. Built in the center of Kyiv, it is a new and clean hotel with comfortable rooms and free Wi-fi, which is close to the metro station “Olympijskaja”. The hotel facilities are excellent and the hotel staff is very friendly and helpful as it responds effectively to all the needs of the guests. About five minutes away from Greguar Hotel, you will find the Olimpiysky Stadium and the Operetta Theater.

5. Park Inn by Radisson Kyiv Troyitska

The four-star Hotel Park Inn by Radisson Kyiv Troyitska is close to the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv. All the amenities are provided to the guests during their stay here and the staff is very helpful and kind. There are great facilities in this accommodation place. Specifically, there are large clean rooms with air-condition system and private bathrooms, an excellent restaurant with very tasty food, and a fitness center. In addition, there is free and fast Wi-fi. T