To date, Ukraine is one of my favorite countries. Kyiv (or Kiev) is the capital city, and it’s a fantastic place to visit for many reasons. Here are some of my top reasons why I loved the city so much.
Kyiv is Really Cheap
Not just Kyiv, but all of Ukraine is perfect for the budget traveler. During my three days in Kyiv, I spent less than $50, and that included eating out for every meal, all transportation (including my bus back to Romania), a night at a hostel (I spent the other two days staying with friends), and different activities around town. Yet, I could have easily spent half that by skipping a couple of the attractions and purchasing cheaper meals.
To give you an idea, a ride on the subway in Kyiv costs 5 Ukrainian hryvnia each, which is less than 20 cents! Most of my meals were under $5, and some were as little as $2. My hostel was $5 for the night. Most of the attractions I went to were only $1-2, and my favorite ones were free.
You Can Find Sushi Everywhere
As you possibly already know, sushi is my favorite food. So you can imagine how excited I was to find sushi available throughout Kyiv, and not just at sushi restaurants. Many other restaurants also had sushi on their menu, as well as some of the cafes. I even found a supermarket selling fresh sushi (prepared on the spot by a Japanese chef). Best of all was the price. One portion at many places was about $3 or less. At the supermarket, I picked up 48 pieces for a meager $10! Other than in Thailand, I’ve yet to find sushi that cheap anywhere else in the world.
The Attractions are Amazing
There are some really awesome attractions in Kyiv. Twice, I walked along Landscape Alley to see all the murals. There are several stunning religious buildings, including Saint Andrews Church, Saint Michael’s Monastery, and Saint Sophia’s Cathedral. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Motherland Monument, rising up 335 feet. Fun fact: the top of the statue’s sword was removed as it surpassed the tallest cross of the nearby Lavra monastery.
Kyiv Has a Fascinating History
I’m always interested in learning the history of cities and countries when I travel, and Kyiv didn’t disappoint. The city’s history goes back to 482 AD, and a lot has happened in the past 15 centuries! Honestly, I’ve yet to see a movie that really depicts Kyiv or Ukraine accurately, either their past or present. In relatively recent history, Ukraine was part of the USSR and well immersed in communist rule until the early 90s. Since 2015, Ukraine has been running a program to remove the last vestiges of the communist regime, removing colors and symbols across the country, and updating sculptures and statues.
There Are Great Cafes for Co-Working
Even though I only spent three days in Kyiv, I still had to get some work done, and I was happy to find many quaint and hipster cafes around town with super-fast WiFi (some of the fastest in the world), delicious and cheap food, and a cozy, distraction-free atmosphere to get my writing done. My favorite cafe was Druzy, a chain with a few different locations around the city center. They had a great menu for meals and snacks, and even board games to play if you’re bored.
One Reason I Didn’t Like Kyiv
The biggest problem I struggled with in Kyiv was the lack of English. Very few things are translated. Even the movies in the cinemas are almost entirely dubbed. On top of that, the locals weren’t as open to talking to strangers as they are in many other countries around the world. Granted, the country only recently came out of a very oppressive situation, and Russia is still at war with them in the east of the country (nowhere near Kyiv), so it’s no Finland (the happiest country in the world).