We laced up our boots, backed our bags and took to the sky’s, our first Spot Kiev, Ukraine. Ukraine is a complicated country, still struggling in the tug a war between Russia and the European Union, and recovering from the Chernobyl Nuclear power plant disaster of 1986. None the less the City of Kiev is thriving and shows little evidence of the struggles the north of the country is experiencing due to the ongoing war.
Kiev is bustling with unique culture and history and has an abundance of attractions, sure to keep any tourist happy and busy.
If you’re an Aussie like me, you’ll need a visa, luckily enough you can get one on arrival, unfortunately, this is not quite as simple as it seems. After a delayed flight, I did not arrive in Kiev until 10.30pm. I then lined up at the customs desk where I was asked to present my visa; I explained I had intended on getting one on arrival. I was then told to wait at the back of the room with a few others in my same situation. After 30 minutes when the other passengers from my flight, the ones with Ukrainian or EU passports had all gone through another customs officer again asked for my visa and told him the same thing, he was not happy about this but return after another 30 minutes with another customs officer which then proceeded to process each person and provide them with the visa.
I was required to show proof of my accommodation, fill in a form with various details such as my address, occupation and phone number, have a photo taken and then pay the equivalent of €80, the whole ordeal took around 3 hours.
The visa processing office closes at 7pm, and then opens up again at 9am the next morning, and it is not uncommon to be told you must wait until morning and sleep on the floor or seats while you wait, I can only recommend you get a flight that lands in-between their opening hour and save your self the possibility of spending an uncomfortable night in the airport.
Although Ukraine’s economy took a rather significant dive due to the ongoing war it is recovering and the market is growing little by little every day. And Kiev being the capital is at the forefront. Yes, it is cheaper many of its neighbours such as Poland and Lithuania and certainty cheaper than Western Europe, but it is slowly catching up.
- Accommodation, depending on your standard can vary from a dorm in a hostel from €4 -€12, to private rooms in hostels at €10-€20, to 5-star Hotel suits at €300 per night. I found a private room in a hostel for around €15 a night, was perfect for me.
- A cup of coffee sat at around €2-€3.
- Meals ranged from€3 pizzas to €6 Chicken Kiev (a must try!)
- Attraction entry rarely climbed above 50 Ukraine Hryvnia (€1.60).
All in all Kiev is a great destination for budget travellers
Yes, Ukraine is at war, but away from the boarded, and in the capital Kiev, it is in my option was very safe. Nights like in most cities became seedy, and thieves and petty crime was evident, however during the day and in the city centre, I felt relativity safe the entire time. The key is to be aware and smart.
Keep in mind English is not Ukraine’s mother-tongue, nor is it commonly spoken, so there’s is going to be a language barrier stronger than most in capital cities as tourism has been slow due to the recent conflicts with the north. But don’t let this deter you, it is surprising how much can be communicated through hand signals. And to make things even easier the 21st century has provided us with a number of incredible apps, that I have now couldn’t travel without including Triposo and Google translate. Check out my Must have Travel Apps post for more apps and details.
By foot. Depending on your accommodation and where you wish to visit, walking from one attraction to the next is relatively easy. Walking provides an arrange of benefits as you are able to see more of the city, save money and find lots of secret gems hidden in back streets and down wrong turns. Although though if you stuck for time, am visiting sites further out or just a lazy person, the metro if just what you need.
The Metro. For a mere 5 Ukraine Hryvnia (€0.16), you can catch the metro across the city with ease. The ticket operator will be unwilling to attempt communication, and seems so respond for nothing other than money and will only then replying by flicking a blue token at you. Then slip the token into the ticket gate and follow the signs to your platform. There are Metro maps at every station and on the metro, however, it is best to count your stops, as the audio, although in English and Ukrainian is difficult to understand, and the names of each station is not written on the platform, making it difficult to know whether or not you have arrived at your stop.
Option number 3 UBER. Ordering an Uber in Kiev proved to be very quick and easy, with most cars arriving within minutes. Uber provides the safety of knowing exactly who is driving you, where you are, and how much it should cost. There is no need to argue, over price, or worry you are being taken around in circles or worse, kidnapped to be later murdered and left in a ditch. You can also share your trip details with a friend for extra security. Language shouldn’t be too much of an issue as they can see clearly where you wish to be taken. And if you’re needing to transport heavy luggage, this is the easiest option, however, keep in mind Kiev traffic can become an issue around peak hours so give your self-plenty of time, especially when travelling to the airport, again Uber should provide you with an estimation on how long your trip should take. From the city centre to the airport should cost no more than €13.
Now it’s time to
Explore the amazing sights Kiev has to offer!
Be a tourist and make sure you get a cheesy photo with the “I love Kiev” at the square of independence.
Because after all what’s the point of going to such an odd destination if you can’t brag about it on social media? However keep in mind if you want a picture which out a dozen other tourist posing with selfie-sticks around you, get in early!
Pechersk Lavra . Caves Monastery. This amazing UNESCO world heritage site cannot be missed. First Founded in 1051 by the monks, and said to be the holiest in Ukraine, you’ll surely to want to spend a few hours exploring this amazing place. 50 Ukraine Hryvnia will by you entirety, from there you can pick and chose further Monastrys and museums to by entrance too.
Make sure to climb The Great Lavra Bell Tower, to view the city and Monasteries in all their glory.