Welcome to the proud, historic capital, Kyiv, Ukraine. Established on the Dnipro River, Kyiv holds a proud history of establishing Eastern European civilization dating back to the first centuries of modern times. Its status as a country has changed over time, ranging from an Eastern Slavic state to the more well-known Ukranian membership of the Soviet Union. Since the USSR’s collapse in 1991, Kyiv belongs to the independent Ukraine.
On that note, we usually see the city written as “Kiev” outside of Ukraine. Citizens prefer “Kyiv”, which is what we will use for this article. “Kiev” is a Russian spelling related to the age of the Soviet Union. This is a sensitive topic for Ukrainians. Another important thing to consider is to avoid using “The Ukraine”. This is another flashback to the Soviet Union. It is simply “Ukraine”.
When flying into Kyiv, you are most likely to fly into either Boryspil International or Zhulyany Airport. Zhulyany is also known as “Kyiv International Airport”. The only non-stop North American service to Kyiv leaves from JFK in New York City to Boryspil. You may find tickets for $150 by flying in locally from other parts of Ukraine or surrounding countries. Boryspil International is larger and handles most of the international flights. When flying domestic, you are more likely to end up in Zhulyany.
Welcome to Kyiv
There are plenty of buses, taxi services, and railway lines to get you around the city or surrounding areas. Metro stations Vokzalna and Kyiv Pasazhyrs’kyi are some of the main lines. You will notice that all of the signs are in Ukrainian and the Cyrillic alphabet. Picking up a Ukranian pocket guide on getting around or the Cyrillic alphabet would help significantly.
You are also not very likely to find English speakers, let alone fluent English speakers. Most citizens speak Ukranian while many others speak Russian, or both. It is definitely not impossible to find an English speaker, but will likely require you to put some pieces together and talk to multiple people. Kyiv is a welcoming city to visitors, so long as you read up a bit on local customs and social norms. As with any country, the pocket guide for common phrases can help a lot. Working fluency is not important if you are just visiting. However, it is always polite to greet, thank, and say goodbye in the language of the country you’re visiting.
The Chornobyl (Chernobyl) nuclear disaster of 1986 is a significant historical event in Ukraine. After all, Kyiv is not far from the abandoned city of Pripyat and the Chornobyl plant. You can get here by using Metro Station Kontraktova Ploshcha. The museum focuses much on the consequences of the disaster rather than the disaster itself. There is no signage in English and much of the text is likely to be in Ukranian Cyrillic. However, English speakers can definitely find audio guides for a small fee.
This street is filled with performers, entertainment, and a popular place for people to gather. On weekends, it is often closed and reserved as a pedestrian space. During the Second World War, the street was completely destroyed. There are also plenty of markets, restaurants, and cafes on Khreschchatyk.
War Memorials and Museums
Virtually the entire city of Kyiv was destroyed in World War II. The Motherland Monument stands near the banks of the Dnipro River on Lavrska Street. The statue’s base is a museum dedicated to the Eastern Front of WWII. You will find artifacts, memorabilia, and artwork showing the struggle of the Soviet forces in defense against the German invasion of Kyiv. A statue stands in the water depicting the Soviet Army crossing the Dnipro. While the country has banned Soviet symbols, they are preserved in historical contexts. This site does provide tours in English.
Ukraine State Aviation Museum is located next to Zhulyany Airport. Visitors will find displays of military and civilian aircraft in addition to interactive displays. Kyiv metros Vokzalna and Kyiv Pasazhyrs’kyi, will take you to Sevastopolska Square. Take the 220 Minibus, and the museum will be the last stop.
You may take a metro to Hidropark Island on the Dnipro River. Hidropark is one of the many natural beaches along the Dnipro that offer a relaxing summer day experience. The shores are filled with vendors selling Shish kebabs (shashlyk), swimmers in the river and pools, and beach volleyball courts. The Aquapark located in the Dream Town Mall is one of the largest indoor waterparks in Europe. The park is fit for guests of all ages. You will find a variety of slides, wave pools, rivers, and more. In addition to the Aquapark, the complex offers locations for ice skating, bowling, go-karts, and arcade games.
Kyiv is a city filled with historic treasures, beautiful cathedrals, and sights for all to appreciate. As with most other major cities, there are travel, hotel, and restaurant choices available for all budgets. Take a day trip to the Chornobyl Plant and abandoned city of Pripyat. Enjoy a nice day at the beach. Embrace and enjoy the unique people, music, and culture found only in Kyiv.