Kiev is a very green city, with parks, squares and gardens in every district. However, locals’ favourites are the Hryshko National Botanical Garden and Taras Shevchenko Park. The former is known for its breathtaking panoramic views over Kiev and amazing locations for picnics. Meanwhile, the latter is the central attraction that conveys the city’s lifestyle in the best way. There are mobile coffee shops, comfortable benches, street food stalls and students having a snack during their break. These places will make you feel like a local yourself.
Surprisingly, a lot of mass-market shops in Kiev are much cheaper than in any other country even though the collections are very similar. Thus, if you plan a trip to Kiev, make a note that you can buy everything here you may need. At various shopping malls and thrift shops, you’ll find clothing and footwear from both local and internationally famous brands, as well as cosmetics and even gadgets.
Those who have visited Kiev at least once call it Berlin‘s cheaper but cooler cousin. It is not only a city of youth, but also a lively destination for non-stop parties. Closed in winter due to the severe weather conditions, Kiev’s open-air nightclubs are mostly visited in the summer and at the beginning of autumn. Venues such as Hangover, Dali Park, UBK Beach or Green Theatre play popular music, invite famous DJs, serve delicious cocktails and hookah and encourage you to dance the night away.
Perhaps, you’ve noticed that Ukrainians are very welcoming and friendly. They love making new friends and showing the beauty of their country to visitors. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Locals will suggest places to go, show you the way, explain the history, and incessantly joke around.
Despite the fact that there are only three underground lines in Kiev (green, red and blue), it boasts a unique feature. The Arsenalna metro station is the deepest station in the world, descending 105.5 meters (346 ft) underground. The escalator for Arsenalna is also the longest one. Thus, don’t be surprised if your ears block while going down.
Another speciality of the city is Kiev Cake. A favourite sweet treat of locals, it can be found in almost every supermarket. Its creamy taste is extremely delicious, and it’s hard to believe that it was created as the result of a mistake, when confectioners forgot to put an egg white in the refrigerator. Thus, the hazelnut meringue cake that we know today, with many layers of buttercream decorated with various creams and sprinkled with hazelnut, was born. It is often brought back as a souvenir from Ukraine.
Khreshchatyk Street is the main street in Kiev, and it is quite wide but extremely short. Its length is just 1.3 km (0.8 mi). The locals’ favourite time is when traffic is suspended for holidays and weekends, so that pedestrians get an opportunity to stroll the central street of the city, pop into the numerous cafés and restaurants or do some shopping, all gloriously traffic-free.
The one and only must-try delicacy in Kiev is perepichka. The sausage in fried dough, which costs less than US$0.50, is a popular street food among locals. The main reason is that it will fill you up in a couple of minutes. How do you find the right spot? The answer is: by the queue. The line here is endless from 9am to 9pm, but it is definitely worth it.
The most popular Ukrainian dish is salo (pork fat). It is bought as a souvenir, served in every restaurant and often cooked at home, whether fried or baked or eaten raw. But remember that supermarkets are not the best place to buy it. For proper salo, you should go to a street market or indoor market like Besarabsky, where you can see and try it before purchasing.
Taras Shevchenko Park is a crowded place in the heart of Kiev. It is always green and cool here – you can find somewhere to snack or ‘refuel’ with coffee, you can have a picnic or participate in free dance classes. However, the most popular pastime is playing chess. Those who love it and have free time can always ask for a game with the grandmasters, who gather in the park on weekends.
A mysterious and thrilling destination in the city is the caves of Kiev, located under the 11th-century Kiev Pechersk Lavra (monastery). These passages are known as the burial place of many holy ascetics. They are divided into the Near Caves (Caves of Saint Anthony) and the Far Caves (Caves of Saint Theodosius), which are as old as the monastery itself. Have enough courage and curiosity? Then put the visit on your sightseeing list.