TIP 1: Hire a Local Guide
Immerse yourself in the fun, fantastic, magical atmosphere of the city, get acquainted with its historical background, discover nightlife or learn hidden secrets of Kiev by hiring a local tour guide. Tour guides are quite inexpensive in Kiev (a full-day private tour will cost you < $100) and starting your stay in Kiev with a professional tour can be a great way to get acquainted with the city quickly. Need help with arranging a tour? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for recommendations.
TIP 2: Cash & Currency Exchange
At most of Kiev’s retail points, you can use credit cards to pay, but traveler’s checks are generally not accepted. You should always have some cash with you as well. Note that you can use only the local currency, hryvnia (UAH). As of this writing, 1 USD equals to roughly 26 UAH.
You can easily exchange any major foreign currency for hryvnia at the airport, one of the local banks, or endless exchange kiosks located around the city. Because of non-favourable rates at the airport, exchange as little there as you can. Whenever you exchange money, you can ask for a “form 377” in case you plan to exchange leftover hryvnia back to foreign currency when leaving the country.
TIP 3: Local Transportation
The easiest way to navigate the city is to use Uber or Uklon (a local Uber-like service). Traditional taxi companies in Kiev often have poor and unpredictable service, and it’s best to avoid them. Both Uber and Uklon can be booked online, have good service and are very cost-effective.
You can also easily get around the city using the metro, which is cheap and covers all of Kiev’s main destinations. A one-way ticket, regardless of your destination, costs only 4 UAH. Note that during morning and evening rush hours, the metro can be quite crowded. For safety, keep a good eye on your belongings in the metro and any other crowded places.
TIP 4: Local SIM card
If you are going to be in Ukraine for more than a day or two, we highly recommend that you get a local, prepaid SIM card. There are three major mobile operators in Ukraine – Kyivstar, Vodafone, and Lifecell – and you will be fine with any one of them. You can get a monthly tariff plan that offers mobile communication and unlimited 3G Internet at just $4-6 per month.
You can buy the prepaid SIM card at the airport or just about anywhere in the city center, including supermarkets, press kiosks, street stands and stores selling cell phones.
TIP 5: Accommodation
If you are traveling on business, you will feel quite at home staying at one of the many well-established international hotel chains such as Hilton, Radisson, InterContinental, Hyatt or Fairmont Grand in Kiev. However, their prices can be quite steep for a non-business traveler (in the $200-400 range per night).
For individual travelers, staying in a local hotel or one of the serviced apartments can be an attractive option. Local hotels are usually cheaper, but their quality varies greatly. Do your homework before you book a local hotel!
Alternatively, daily rent of a serviced apartment in the city center is very popular among foreign travelers. You can find such accommodations through websites such as Dobovo, Airbnb, Booking and others. The price is generally USD 30-80 per night (depending on location and quality of interior design). Typically you will get a cozy, furnished apartment consisting of bedroom, living room, bathroom and a kitchenette.
TIP 6: Meeting with Locals
Ukraine is one of the most hospitable nations on Earth! People are generally friendly and glad to meet new people. Visiting theater, opera, concerts or other Kiev activities can be a great way to meet locals with common interests. Also, there are many opportunities to make friends with them during various networking events and local meetup groups. Here are some online resources for such events:
If you want to arrange a meetup place in Kiev, the most popular outdoor meeting points are near central metro stations. Some popular meeting points include:
- Stella (independence monument) at Maidan metro station
- In front of the Central Post Office by the Monument with the Globe at Maidan metro station
- McDonald’s on Khreschatyk or Lva Tolstogo metro station
- National Opera House at Teatralna metro station
- The monument of Skovoroda in Kontraktova Ploshcha metro station
During winter months, you may want to pick one of the cafés in city center such as “Coffee House” at Kreschatik 7/11 or “Shokoladnitsa” at Kreschatik 24.
TIP 7: Must Try in Kiev
Ukraine is known for its hospitality and delicious food. When you are in Kiev, don’t miss the opportunity to try:
- Traditional Ukrainian dishes like borsch, varenyky, golubsti and pancakes with various stuffings
- Salo (finely sliced fat) – traditional product, served in Ukrainian restaurants
- Local drinks such as uzvar, cherry nalyvka and mead (medovukha)
- Kiev delectables like Kievskaya kotleta (Kiev cutlet made from chicken), Kievskiy tort (Kiev cake) and “Kyivska Perepichka” (a hot dog store located at the beginning of Khmelnitskogo street)
Here are some good places to try the local food in central Kiev:
- Pervak restaurant (2 Rognedinskaya Street, close to Lva Tolstogo metro station)
- Spotykach restaurant (16 Volodymyrska Street, close to Sophia’s Square)
- Tsarskoye Selo (22 Lavrska Street, close to Kievo-Pecherska Lavra)
TIP 8: If You Fell in Love with Kiev
It’s quite possible that you might fall in love with Kiev once you visit the city! You may even decide to start a business or buy a property here. No worries, help is on hand! Get in touch with ContactUkraine – a professional services firm with English-speaking staff and specializing in legal and business support to foreign investors. You can also visit them online at www.contactukraine.com.
TIP 9: And Don’t Forget…
Here are some suggestions on “dos” and “don’ts” in Kiev
- Tipping is not mandatory, but do tip when you get good service. Ukrainians are suffering from political and financial turmoil and will greatly appreciate your generosity.
- Here are useful numbers in case of emergencies: Kiev Information Bureau for foreigners – 1610; Ambulance – 103; Police – 102; Fire department – 101. You may also want to contact your consulate/embassy in such cases.
- Like other European cities, Kiev is generally a safe place to stay. Nonetheless, keep your valuables well hidden, especially in high-traffic areas; wallet theft is quite common.
- Renting a car in Kiev is generally not recommended. Parking is very limited, and traffic jams are very common.
- Don’t drink water from the tap; use bottled water instead.