Kiev has one particularly great asset: any tourist, even with the tiniest budget, will feel comfortable, cosy, and always full. You may ask why? Because the city offers a huge variety of things to see and do that are absolutely free or just for a nominal fee, in comparison to leading European capitals.
To start with, Kiev has two airports – Boryspil (Boryspil International Airport) and Zhuliany (Kyiv International Airport). It does not matter at which one you arrive, as the prices for a taxi in Kiev are quite affordable. For example, to get from the Boryspil airport, which is 24 miles (39 km) away from the centre, will cost about US$10. From Zhuliany, it will be way cheaper (US$5), as the airport is not far from the heart of the city. So, if you are not travelling alone, getting a cab is a right solution.
Those who wish to save as much as possible can take a bus. Boryspil offers an airport transfer called SkyBus, which runs around the clock from the airport itself to the Central Railway Station, from where you can change to public transport. This bus costs US$3. To travel from Zhuliany, walk to the bus station, located just 200 meters (650 feet) away from the airport and take buses N169 or N368 to the railway station or trolleybus N9 to Ploshcha Lva Tolstoho (one of the central squares).
Where to stay
Every year Kiev welcomes more and more tourists, therefore, there are a lot of places to stay that won’t break the bank. Some hostels, not far from the historical centre, offer cool accommodations, such as Mini Hostel or Dream House Hostel. Airbnb is also a great opportunity to find something affordable and nice. A small but important warning: never ever rent a room or flat from people offering to do it near the entrance to the Central Railway Station. They always have the highest prices and the worst conditions.
What to do
The best way to discover the Kiev’s attractions is to have a walk around the city centre. The must-do things are: strolling down Khreschatyk Street (the main street of Kiev), going up Mykhailivs’ka Street to St. Michael’s golden-domed monastery and St. Sophia’s Cathedral, St. Andrew’s Church, and buying some memorable souvenirs at the Andriyivskyy Descent. The next destination is the most ancient and interesting district of Kiev – Podol. It fascinates tourists and locals with small courtyards, narrow cobbled streets, and a bohemian ambience. Don’t be afraid to pop into the museum on your way, as the maximum price you will pay for the entrance is US$2-3.
Parks and gardens
Kiev is a very green city, one that is beautiful at any season. To have a picnic on the grass, pause for a break after long hours of walking, or listen to local street musicians, one can go to the Mariinsky Park, Taras Shevchenko Park, Fomin Botanical Garden, or Holosiivskyy Park. Most of them also have some historical monuments and buildings to see.
It is always extremely exciting to climb a tower or to a viewing point and admire the panorama of the city, its roofs and passers-by from above. Besides the fact that such viewing points as St. Sophia’s Cathedral bell tower or St. Andrew’s Church are really cheap (less than US$1), one can also find those that are completely free of charge. The Arch of Diversity, the Park of Eternal Glory, or Kiev Pechersk Lavra offer a breathtaking view over Kiev.
Where to eat
Lots of people call Kiev the new Berlin not only for its crazy nightlife, but also for the gastronomic spots and delicious street food. The best places to have breakfast are Chashka or Boulangerie Artisan, where you will be able to try the lushest syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes) with cherry jam and smetana (sour cream). If you want to try other dishes of traditional Ukrainian cuisine, head to Puzata Hata and be sure to have a set of borscht, salo, and even a shot of vodka for only US$2-3. For a hearty lunch or dinner, order something at Vietnam Hi, Slurp noodle shop, or Vegano Hooligano.