Great Things to See and Do for Free in Kiev

Saint Sophia Square
Saint Sophia Square | © Naumenkophotographer / WikiCommons
Maria Sibirtseva

Being the capital of Ukraine, Kiev is a wellspring of ancient attractions and interesting venues. These are not only the most touristy spots, but also routes for unexpected adventures. Luckily for locals and tourists alike, many of these inspiring and fun adventures are free of charge. Here are our favourite activities.

Get imbued with the contemporary art spirit

Kiev is a modern city with an abundance of museums and galleries. You can start with any art walk or singular location, but take note that Pinchuk Art Centre is the most popular contemporary art hub in Ukraine and it’s free. Here you can immerse yourself in six floors of twenty-first century paintings, installations and performances. Moreover, at Pinchuk Art Centre, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with the exhibition moderators, who will gladly answer your questions.

Velyka Vasyl’k’ikvs’ka/Basseyna 1/3-2, Kiev, Ukraine, +38044590085

Marvel at the city’s panorama

Kiev is known for its amazing symbiosis of past and present, the beauty of which can be seen from numerous viewpoints. The city is also known for its high hills that are perfect places for picnics or spending quality time alone. For a breathtaking afternoon, visit St. Vladimir Hill, Park of Eternal Glory, Mariinsky Park, the Arch of Diversity, or Hryshko National Botanical Garden. All are located in the heart of Kiev and can easily be reached by foot.

View over Kiev

Explore the best murals of Kiev

Kiev’s murals are the hidden gems of the city – there are more than 150 throughout the city. These murals constitute a large part of the local street art scene, and for many locals, it would be impossible to imagine Kiev without them. Each painting has its own history and a special reason for occupying its wall. For example, Revival is a painting with a girl dressed in traditional Ukrainian clothing. She stands above the city holding a small child in one hand, which depicts the city’s new generation and a second phase of the homeland’s development.

Somersaulting Woman mural in central Kiev

Go to Kiev’s open-air museums

The Ukrainian capital is indeed an art lover’s destination. Whether you’re a fan of folk art, handicrafts, landscape design or quirky modern pieces, you’ll find a venue to your taste. To discover Ukrainian traditions and culture, head to the Pirohiv Open-Air Museum of Architecture and the Life of Ukraine exhibit, which features windmills, huts and wheat fields. If you prefer to wander among sculptures, mosaics and other works of art, add Landscape Alley to your list. If you’d like to escape from the ever-bustling city, Feofaniya is an enchanting natural park that was created by professional architects.

Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Ukraine

Enjoy the majesty of the eleventh century monastery complex

Kiev Pechersk Lavra is a must-see. The glimmering monastery was established in the eleventh century and has always played a spiritual, social, cultural and educational role in the city’s development. Therefore, Kiev Pechersk Lavra is a historical and cultural reserve protected by UNESCO. It is also Ukraine’s largest museum, consisting of more than 140 buildings. You’ll find yourself spending hours exploring this site’s ancient history, valuable artifacts, incredible architecture, historic icons and frescoes and unique caves with underground passages.

Lavrska Street, 15, Kiev, Ukraine, +380442551105

The Kiev Pechersk Lavra complex

Ride in the lift for one

If you’re tired of visiting touristy sights, do something different: ride in Kiev’s single-person lift. There’s a story behind the construction of this narrow contraption, which was added to the building where Nikolai Sanov, the head of the Ministry of Food Industry, lived. According to legend, the single-person elevator was ordered by Sanov, who worked for the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It was hard for Sanov to walk up all the stairs that were in the building, so he came up with a good solution. This 0.5 meter (1.6 ft) wide lift perfectly operates nowadays and has become a popular attraction.

Prorizna Steet, 11B, Kiev, Ukraine

Prorizna Street, 11, Kiev

Visit the Main Astronomical Observatory

Surprisingly, the Main Astronomical Observatory is among the free venues to visit in Kiev. Here, you’ll have an opportunity to participate in amateur astronomical observations and attend lectures on popular scientific topics. While you don’t have to pay to get in, you will be required to book a tour beforehand for a group of at least 10 people if you want a full tour. The observatory is located in the centre of the Holosiivskyi National Nature Park.

Akademika Zabolotnoho Street, 27, Kiev, Ukraine, +38097236288

Main Astronomical Observatory

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