Visit 1 euro dining spots
Luckily, one of the inexpensive things to do in Kyiv is exploring the local dining scene. The latest trend of 1-euro bistros was successfully launched by the famous Ukrainian restaurateur Dima Borisov. The fast-service spot Bilyi Nalyv opened in spring 2018 caused an uproar among the dwellers. Bilyi Nalyv is located on Khreshchatyk Street right in front of TSUM department store. The spot has a single price for all dishes, The menu is quite simple: food is represented by hot dogs, oysters, apple pie and among drinks you will find cider, punch, and traditional Ukrainian homemade liquor nastoynkas. Everything here costs UAH 39 or 1 euro.
Another cheap and chic location is Flower Mafia Bar located on Volodymyrska Street. Here the menu includes hot dogs, various types of coffee, three types of cider (apple, grapefruit and cider of the day that is daily featured on the bar’s Facebook page), wines from the Carpathians and hot picks of 2018, Aperol and Prosecco. The summer terrace offers beach chairs to chill in outside with the drink of choice. All items on the menu cost UAH 28 or 1 euro.
Seafood fans might be interested in the Naprosecco bar that opened on Podil right near Kyiv Mohyla Academy. The spot also has a quite short menu with only 12 positions, which include oysters, shrimps, mussels, as well as classic and shrimp burgers. The drinks, as the name suggests, are represented by Prosecco, as well as water, Coca-Cola or wine. Both food and drinks vary in price: it starts at UAH 33 (1 euro).
Find all the city's hidden monuments
At the beginning of 2018, Kyiv tourist agency founder Yulia Bevzenko launched 'Shukai!' ("Seek!") project. This collaboration with local artists resulted in a series of small monuments that reflect symbolic moments in the history of Kyiv. The statues are scattered around Kyiv and can be found by those with keen eyes.
We've made a guide about 10 of existing miniature monuments. By the end of 2018, two more will join the rest to illustrate more aspects of the city's life. While some of them might be well-known like Chicken Kyiv, others like the statue of the Elephant, Tram and Gramophone tell stories that were dug up from the city archives and historical books.
Visit Pinchuk Art Centre
Going to Khreshchtyk is one of the not so obvious answers to the often-asked question: What to do in Kyiv for free? Located in the heart of Kyiv, Pinchuk Art Centre gathers millions of visitors each year. The reason behind the popularity is not only a convenient location and intriguing exhibitions but also a free entrance. The art center occupies 6 floors and 4 of them belong exclusively to exhibition halls and a video-lounge room.
SkyArtCafe on the upper floor with the view on Khreshchatyk is another reason to visit the place. Pinchuk Art Centre hosts regular exhibitions of renowned international artists like Damien Hirst and contemporary Ukrainian artists-nominees of international awards. Some of them cause a lot of fuss as they touch taboo themes or present works made with unique materials unseen by the public before. The admission is free for any exhibition.
Ride the Kyiv funicular
Kyiv funicular, also called Kyiv cableway, was opened in 1905. It is one of the first funiculars in the former Russian Empire and Europe. The cableway survived two world wars; but it still functions nowadays with renovated cars. This intricate transport connects the so-called Upper and Lower Cities: the historical Old Kyiv and Podil district.
Its main stations are located on Volodymyr's hill on Poshtova square respectively. The ride is quite short yet provides a nice view of Dnipro and the neighboring park. Besides, it's quite convenient if you need to get to Podil or back to Sofiivska Square in a matter of minutes. The ticket costs UAH 8 (around 25 euro cents).
Get on top of the Motherland Monument
The highest monument in Ukraine, the Motherland Monument, dutifully greets tourists and is often mentioned in tourist guides as one of the top 10 things to do in Kyiv. It is a part of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the World War II, located on the hills of Pechersk. The statue soars 102 meters high and is one of the highest constructions in the world. To give an idea, it is higher than the Statue of Liberty (93 meters) and Christ the Redeemer in Rio (38 meters).
The brave souls who get onto its observation decks are rewarded with a magnificent view of the city. The decks are located at the bottom level of the statue, equipped with binoculars, and inside the statue's shield. Moreover, there’s an opportunity to reach the top of the 102-meter monument on the special elevators. The ticket costs UAH 300 (approximately 10 euros).
Ride the tram to Pushcha-Vodytsia
Pushcha-Vodytsia is a historic and natural neighborhood in Kyiv known mostly to locals. This green area is the perfect place to get away from the urban noise and pollution without really leaving Kyiv. The most popular and even iconic way to get to the neighborhood is taking the tram #12, which goes through the forest and provides astonishing views. The tramline was founded in 1900 and ever since provides a getaway for Kyiv dwellers.
Tram #12 starts its way on Kontraktova Ploschcha and goes through several historical neighborhoods of Kyiv like Podil and Kurenivka. The ride takes about an hour. Many locals advice to get off at the “Park Pushcha-Vodytsia” stop and grab some nuts for numerous squirrels that live here and are very enthusiastic to meet the humans. The tram ticket costs UAH 8 (around 25 euro cents).
Attend famous festivals
In recent years, Kyiv became home for a series of festivals that soon became iconic and named one of the best things to do in the capital. While most of them take place in the warm seasons, some still organize year-round events indoors.
Kurazh Bazar, for example, is the biggest and the most popular flea market and thrift fair in Kyiv. Apart from being an iconic event to shop for vintage clothes, accessories and decor, it helps in raising money for various Kyiv charities. Kurazh Bazar used to be hosted by Art. Zavod Platforma but nowadays the fair takes place in the Expocenter of Ukraine.
To talk about Art. Zavod Platforma, Ulichnaya Eda ("Street Food") is definitely one of its most iconic events. The festival gathers more than a hundred vendors carefully selected by the organizers. It is often dedicated to various national cuisines, holidays or seasonal products. Apart from the food, visitors are entertained by live music and beauty zones.
Made in Ukraine festival might be interesting for those who enjoy shopping trips. The festival was initially an online project established by Yulia Savostina, a journalist and a blogger, as a personal experiment. Made in Ukraine helps Ukrainians and Europeans to discover more about Ukrainian products and services. The festival represents more than 300 manufacturers of clothes, hand-made and craft production, souvenirs, food and many other things.
Atlas Weekend is one of the largest and most popular music festivals in Ukraine, which is annually held in Kyiv from 2015. In 2018 it was noted by international media as one of the best and promising festivals in Europe. The line-up at Atlas Weekend includes the best Ukrainian artists like ONUKA, Jamala, The Hardkiss, Boombox as well as international stars like John Newman, Three Days Grace, Nothing But Thieves, Alex Clare and others.
Explore Kyiv nightlife
Kyiv nightlife with its numerous parties and famous raves like Skhema attracts not only locals but also tourists from all over Europe. That's why partying in the local clubs or going to raves is one of the best things to do in Kyiv at night. We have previously written about the most stylish parties and best underground clubs in Kyiv.
To talk about the most iconic, Skhema parties are definitely at the top of the brightest rave happenings in Kyiv. Skhema was founded in 2014 by DJ Slava Lepsheyev and soon was mentioned in foreign mass media as “the new spirit of Ukrainian music scene”. The first Scheme parties took place in the skate park below Moscovsky bridge and at different abandoned industrial locations. Nowadays, the party is based at Dovzhenko film studio. The ticket usually costs around UAH 300 (approximately 10 euros).
Closer is one of the most well-known underground nightclubs of Kyiv that works 24/7. In the daytime, Closer functions as a co-working space and an antique furniture store, but in the evening it turns into a noisy party area where country's best DJs light up the night. The ticket price usually starts at UAH 250 (approximately 7 euros).
Green Theatre is another rising rave spot located in one of the most mysterious areas of Kyiv. The theatre it is named after was constructed in 1949 on the place of an old fortress of the XIX century. Nowadays, one of the fortress walls is an element of the club building. The ticket prices are about the same as in Closer, starting at UAH 250 or 7 euros.
Visit the planetarium
Kyiv Planetarium was renovated in 2018 and has become an often host for concerts. The newly equipped halls welcome those who enjoy the simple things: good music and starry sky. The planetarium consistently hosts violin, cello, alto and double bass solo concerts as well as symphonic orchestra events, where you can listen to Bach or Vivaldi and watch the star night projections on the huge dome of the Planetarium. The ticket price depends on the concert type and usually starts at UAH 250 or 7 euros.
Zone out in local parks
Regardless of the urbanization, the capital is luckily still full of green bushy areas to reconnect with nature. There’s hardly a better place to roam or have a picnic in a warm time of the year than a spacious Hryshko Botanical Garden. Despite the popular misconception, the garden lures in hundreds of visitors not only during the magnolia bloom, which usually happens in early May but at any time throughout the year. The entrance ticket costs UAH 50 or 1,5 euros.
You can kill two birds with one stone by going to the most visited alley in the city center, Park Landscape Alley or «Peyzazhka». The alley is full of the famous sculptures and monuments and has quiet spots away from the general hubbub. Take the long steps leading to the meadow with the large metal silhouettes to start a journey like of Alice in Wonderland.
Kyiv Polytechnic Institute Park usually bustles with life in autumn. The park is filled with numerous bushy trees that create beautiful autumn foliage of different colors, attracting locals for photo shoots. The grand stairs in the middle of the park lead to the main campus of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, built in 1898. The building is often called a ‘Kyiv Hogwarts’ for the same magical vibes. Of course, there are more free and inexpensive things to do in Kyiv and we hope more will be added in the nearest future.
The following list is the editor’s choice.
Photo sources: Facebook pages of businesses mentioned above, managerofkyiv.com, depositphotos.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.