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An Art Lover's Guide to Kiev, Ukraine

Picture of Maria Sibirtseva
Updated: 24 March 2018
Kiev is said to be Berlin’s cooler but cheaper brother for many reasons. There are so many museums, contemporary art hubs, and galleries, that it is impossible to miss out the diversity of new exhibitions. However, you’ll need insider tips to help avoid queues, find artsy venues, and spend quality time.

Must-visit museums

National Art Museum of Ukraine

National Art Museum of Ukraine is an architectural gem of Kiev, created by famous architect Vladislav Gorodetsky in 1899. In the exposition of the museum, there are more than 40,000 masterpieces of Ukrainian painting, sculpture, and graphics from the times of Kievan Rus to today. The crux of the museum is the largest collection of iconography in Ukraine, which opens with the 11th century rare art pieces.

Insider Tip: Except for permanent exhibition, National Art Museum of Ukraine often holds special events, lecture and workshop series, as well as temporary expositions, which can be found in the event program of the museum.

Mykhaila Hrushevskoho St, 6, Kiev, Ukraine, +380 44 278 13 57

National Art Museum of Ukraine
National Art Museum of Ukraine | © Prymasal / WikiCommons

National Museum of the History of Ukraine

One of the best museums to visit in Kiev is the National Museum of the History of Ukraine. It is an incredible treasury of valuable historical and cultural relics of the country’s development. But the peculiar feature of the museum is its outstanding numismatic and holographic collections. The first one collects 120,000 coins of different states and different historical periods, while the latter consists of 30 holographic paintings that describe a period of eight thousand years.

Insider Tip: The last Monday of the month is the free-entrance day to the museum. So if your trip occurs at this time, don’t hesitate to drop in and enjoy the incredible exhibition for free.

Volodymyrska St, 2, Kiev, Ukraine, +380 44 278 48 64

National Museum of the History of Ukraine
National Museum of the History of Ukraine | © Oleg Yunakov / WikiCommons

Mystetskyi Arsenal

Mystetskyi Arsenal is an art complex that has not only exhibitions but also lectures, shows and workshops. The most popular events are the Ukrainian Fashion Week, Kiev Biennale of Contemporary Art and the Literary Festival called Book Arsenal. These are must-visit activities for tourists, which have a long time ago become local favourites.

Insider Tip: There are entrance discounts for school children, students, and retired people.

Lavrska St, 10-12, Kiev, Ukraine, +380 44 288 52 25

Mystetskyi Arsenal
Mystetskyi Arsenal | ©Wadco2/WikiCommons

Cafés

One Love

One Love is an chain of extremely popular coffee shops in Kiev. From 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., it offers a huge variety of coffee drinks as well as breakfast options, appetizers, and fully-fledged lunch or dinner dishes. Being located on the top of the contemporary art hub, PinchukArtCentre, it is a favourite venue for local intellectuals and visitors to the gallery. In addition, One Love is perfect for book lovers because of its exclusive collection of art and culinary books, travel guides, and independent magazines.

Velyka Vasyl’k’ikvs’ka/Basseyna 1/3-2, Kiev, Ukraine, +380 44 585 07 58

Landscape Alley street food

The abundance of street food spots in Kiev surprises tourists. You can find everything from cafés to tiny stalls, offering something to fill yourself up. However, the most popular variety is a coffee car in a shape of a pink snail, which can be found all over the city and in the Landscape Alley (an open-air museum). There you can grab a light snack and get a cup of hot drink for an extremely affordable price of $1.

Landscape Alley
Landscape Alley | © ntanana / WikiCommons

Must-visit galleries

PinchukArtCentre

PinchukArtCentre is the heart of the contemporary art in Kiev. Every year it features a couple of diverse exhibitions of local and foreign artists. There are outrageously unusual installations, modern collages, and intricate drawings that open up a completely new angle of the gallery expositions.

Insider Tip: PinchukArtCentre is such a popular destination in Kiev, that the average time in line is around 30-40 minutes. However, there’s an option to get inside without the queue. Just pass the people and enter the door, claiming that you’re going to the café on the top floor. The security will let you in without any questions, and you will save precious time for a cup of great coffee in One Love.

Velyka Vasyl’k’ikvs’ka/Basseyna 1/3-2, Kiev, Ukraine, +380 44 590 08 58

Walking tour to the murals of Kiev

The era of creating murals on the walls across Kiev began in 2014. Since that time, the scenery of the Ukrainian capital has drastically changed from dull to artsy and bright. On the streets of the city, you can spot more than 150 street art objects, which were collected in one single catalogue of Kiev murals. There are two ways to explore these paintings. You can book a tour at the website of Interesting Kiev or create your own route in accordance with the public map.

Lilly of the Valley mural
Lilly of the Valley mural | © travelmag.com / Pixabay

Artsy Restaurants

Barvy

Having plunged into the creative atmosphere, restaurant, and art space Barvy is an ideal venue to finish your day. Here you can try modern variations of traditional Ukrainian cuisine and taste the signature cocktails, made on the basis of homemade alcohol infusions. The interior is decorated with paintings of up-and-coming local artists. In addition, the uniform of the staff was created by the famous Ukrainian fashion designer Elena Burba.

Mechnikova St, 3, Kiev, Ukraine, +380 98 306 33 33

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Ostannya Barykada

Ostannya Barykada is another artsy locale, serving authentic Ukrainian cuisine. The concept of the space is to establish a meeting place of the new Ukrainian generation, which faced the three revolutions of independent Ukraine (Student Revolution on the Granite, Orange Revolution, and the Revolution of Dignity). Thus, in the restaurant, you can feel the spirit of the nation and become a part of the contemporary Ukrainian society.

Insider Tip: The restaurant offers different events, which can be found on the Facebook page. Also, book a table in advance; it is always crowded in Ostannya Barykada.

Independence Sq, 1, Kiev, Ukraine, +380 68 907 19 91