10 Weird Things To Do In Kiev
Kiev is a city full of surprises. It’s not as flashy as Paris or as romantic as Rome but it is super quirky and packed full of interesting history, art, culture and great food. Plus, compared to Western Europe, the prices are amazing! You wouldn’t expect somewhere that spent so long under Soviet rule to be so unique and free spirited. It’s got the trendy bars and cafes like Berlin, the big open parks like London and the weird things to do like Prague but hardly any of the tourists!
1. Go golden dome spotting
Kiev is jam packed with intensely ornate orthodox churches. From any high point in the city you are sure to spot at least a few of these golden domed roofs shining on the skyline. From the impressive complex of Perchersk Lavra with it’s huge gates and walled gardens to the hidden St. Michael’s Vydubytsky Men’s Monastery that can be glimpsed from the Hryshko Botanical gardens each has it’s own unique intricate designs.
2. Relax on the beach
Although Ukraine has no sea borders you can indeed find swathes of sunbathers on a beach right in the center of Kiev. Visit the Hydropark which lies on a small island in the Dnieper river, easily accessible by metro. It features a large park, outdoor gym and even a miniature Kiev!
3. Find a secret restaurant
Kiev is so trendy it rivals Berlin and Budapest for great spots to eat at. A meal is an ordeal here, in a good way. Better yet are the prices! Some of the best include hidden entrances with secret passwords (The Last Barricade) and even fake fronts like the butcher shop that leads to one of the best Steaks in the city (The Steakhouse).
4. Go mad on caffeine
Most European cities have a great coffee culture nowadays. But Kiev takes this small beverage particularly seriously. Not only are there the usual trendy cafes with more words to describe a coffee than I care to go into, but there are also coffee huts just about everywhere. There are coffee themed converted vans and buses sitting on busy street corners. You can even grab a brew from an old converted tram. And just in case you still need a quick fix there are mobile coffee trailers that caused quite the protest when the government tried to impose permits. In disagreement hundreds of Blue Snail coffee vendors filled the main square and got the law repealed. Like I say, they’re serious about coffee.
5. Find an extremely niche museum
I think niche is the most relevant word I would use to describe Kiev. There is something for everyone. Like the jellyfish museum situated in the main square of the city, a weird location you might think at around 500km from the nearest ocean. There’s a museum of unusual things, a museum of water, a museum of state aviation, really just name a thing and they’ve probably got a museum for it. It’s totally weird and fantastic at the same time.
6. Climb on the shoulders of a huge metal lady
This one is pretty much what it says on the tin. The Soviets built a huge metal monument to the motherland sitting on an imposing hill. It is now surrounded by war museums and monuments to past battles. Climb up to get spectacular views of the city and river nearby.
7. Visit a millionaires suburb occupied by normal people
Vozdvyzhenka Barrio was designed with the purpose of being a safe place for people with a fair bit of dosh to inhabit. Due to several unforeseen factors and shoddy building work it never quite made it to the standards of Beverly hills and the like. Instead prices crashed and now this neighbourhood is a very pretty place to live for everyday people.
8. Get lost in some street art
A good way to find out about the real life and vibe of a place is through the street art. Something Kiev has in the bucket loads. Artists from around the word have started to join in with the locals due to its chequered past and tensions with Russia. Join a street art tour or just wander around and you are bound to find something.
9. See Soviet remnants
Ukraine has been controlled by a foreign power since the 1600’s. It was part of the Soviet Union from 1922-1991. You can still see a lot of the buildings from this time that have since been re-purposed. One example is the once communist building that is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in Mykhailivs’ka Square.
10. Take a day trip to a nuclear exclusion zone
You can’t really mention the Ukraine without talking about Chernobyl. It’s synonymous with the history and people of Kiev and something that has to be seen to be truly understood. Full day tours can be spent exploring neighbouring towns and cities of the nuclear power plant. They are eerily empty since the evacuation following the disaster in 1986 allowing for some truly post apocalyptic scenes.