Kyiv is unique in its location: the city is divided in two by one of the longest rivers in Europe - Dnipro. There are huge green islands in the middle of the river. For example, the area of the Trukhaniv island is 4.5 square kilometers, which exceeds the area of the Central Park in New York.
The right bank of the Dnipro is located on the hills that offer a lot of great views of the left bank as well as the Podil and Obolon districts. All major landmarks are located in the central part of the city, and you can explore all of them on foot.
Sunrises in Kyiv are very beautiful, but it's almost impossible to see the sunset. The best option is the roof of the high-rise building on the left bank. We have already rented various roofs several times, there are lots of offers on the Internet. Although if you are not speaking russian / ukrainian better ask your local friends to make a booking for you.
It is also possible that in recent years some panoramic restaurants have opened and we have no info.
Don't miss a chance to go down into the Kyiv subway (metro): it's extremely deep. Be sure to visit the Arsenalna metro station. This is not the most attractive station, but the deepest in the world. Another interesting form of transport is the cable railway (funicular), the lower station of which is on the Poshtova Square.
A lot of promo videos about Kyiv were filmed before the Euro 2012 (link 1, link 2 (3D)). In 2014, we also shot our video about Kiev in timelapse format.
Our map of Kyiv attractions is here. Must-see places are marked with red. Places marked with green are worth visiting if you have time, and those marked with yellow are for real travelers that enjoy not only the popular attractions.
All routes are planned to minimize the climbs uphill. Brief description:
Routes ##1 and 2 are required when visiting Kyiv. The second route applies to many places that tourists don't usually visit with a group due to lack of time. Route #3 runs around the center and is suitable for most tourists. Route #4 is more for the fans of interesting and non-touristic streets. Route #5 passes the Obolon Waterfront. There's no old architecture there, but the place is beautiful, and the same refers to the route #7. Route #6 is for those who want to walk in the forest right in the heart of megapolis. Routes ##8 and 9 are not for a wide range of tourists and are more suitable for "urban explorers".
You will come to the Kontraktova Square. Find the "Samson" fountain, arcade, monuments to Skovoroda and Sahaidachny. In the house #24 on the Sahaidachnoho Street there's a self-service restaurant "Puzata Hata" with national cuisine and interior. Here you can relax and have a good dinner.
The Sahaidachnoho Street leads to the Poshtova Square. Here you can approach the waterfront (at the moment (2013) the waterfront is under reconstruction) and then use the funicular to reach the hill. Walk through the Volodymyrska Gorka (Vladimir's Hill) Park. Don't miss the monument to Vladimir the Great.
Walk up the stairway to the Kreschatyi Park. Turn left and go to the children's puppet theater and light and music fountain. Return here in the evening. Behind the theater is the Water Information Center that will be interesting for both kids and adults.
Then cross the Bridge of Lovers and go around the Dynamo Stadium to the Mariyinsky Palace. During the last 5 years the palace was under reconstruction, so I cannot say for sure if you can visit it. On the left side of the palace is Verkhovna Rada, a workplace of 450 deputies of Ukraine. Right in front of the palace is the Mariyinsky Park.
Go through it, then go to the Hrushevskoho Street, pass the Arsenalna metro station and walk to the Park of Glory. There you will find the Eternal Flame, a monument to Leonid Bykov and a spinning metal ball with Kyiv churches. There are also stunning views of the Dnipro left bank.
Continue straight forward until you see a huge Motherland statue. This is the final destination. The statue is located in the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. There's a beautiful view from the observation deck nearby.
Return to the bus stop and take the bus #24 to the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) or the trolleybus #38 to the Arsenalna metro station. Although the first route is long, you've seen not all interesting places of Kyiv, so you should follow the route #2.
2. Downtown 2 (10 km)
The route starts from the deepest underground station in the world, Arsenalna. Go through the Mariyinsky Park, and near Verkhovna Rada cross the road and walk down the Shovkovychna Street to the Chocolate House (#17). It's an interesting building that resembles a chocolate bar.
Turn left to the Bankova Street. Near the Administration of the President is one of the most interesting buildings in Kyiv: the House with Chimeras. Search the facade for numerous figures of animals. The house is open to the tourists, but only by appointment. To the left of the house there's a small staircase, which you can use to walk down to the Ivan Franko theater.
Go down the Gorodetskoho Street, walk one block, turn left to the Zankovetskoyi Street and then enter the Kyiv Passage where you will find several sculptures.
Go forward and turn left to the Khreschatyk Street. Continue to the Bessarabska Square and then to the Lva Tolstoho Square. Cross the street through an underpass and go about 200 meters along the Lva Tolstoho Street. Turn right into the Shevchenko Park with a monument to the greatest writer and poet Taras Shevchenko, after whom the Ukrainian National University was named. In this park you will also find a small fountain in the form of the Black Sea and the "Classic Babooshka" sculpture.
On the other side of the park cross the road and walk one block down the Shevchenko Boulevard. Again, cross the road and walk to the Volodymyrskyi (St. Vladimir's) Cathedral and the Leontovycha Street. Get to the Bogdana Khmelnytskoho Street, then turn right, walk two blocks and turn left near the National Opera. In several minutes you will reach the Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate). Near the Golden Gate try to find three cats - a monument, a wooden one sitting on a tree, and a cat made of forks, also on a tree.
Then walk down the Yaroslaviv Val Street to the Honchara Street and turn right. Note the house #1 on the Yaroslaviv Val Street. People call it "The House of Baron Shteingel" although this Baron never lived there. If you're lucky, then you can talk to the guard and he'll let you inside the house.
Walk one block to the Honchara Street and turn right again to the Reitarska street. In the courtyard of the house on 9 Reitarska Street there's a cage with three huge tame ravens. However, the door to the courtyard is sometimes locked.
Walk one block to the wooden sculpture of a ballet dancer and a house with a mosaic of huge children's faces. In general, Kiev has recently turned into a global capital of "murals", we visited hundreds of cities in different countries and seen anywhere so many great pictures on the walls. Find here map of all the pictures.
Move on to the Velyka Zhytomyrska Street, turn right and go almost to the Lvivska Square. Before the square turn right to the Peizazhna (Landscape) Alley. It's a beautiful place with lots of modern sculptures loved by Kyiv citizens.
Walk along the alley to the Historical Museum. Not far from the museum grows the oldest tree in Kyiv, a century-old lime-tree. Go past the tree to the Volodymyrska Street and then to the Mykhailivska Square and the Tryohsvyatytelska Street. Turn to the Kostyolna Street and in 2 minutes you will reach the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square).
3. Around the Downtown (10 km)
The route starts from the Pecherska metro station. Walk down the Lesya Ukrainka Boulevard and turn left between the houses ##12 and 14 to the Kyiv Fortress. Go through the gate and climb the hills. From the top there are great views of Kyiv and the Olympiyskyi National Sports Complex.
Then walk down the quiet Hospitalna Street, past the President Hotel. Use the the stairway to go down to the Palats Sportu (Sports Palace). Pass it and go down to the Esplanadna Street. Cross the road and go around the Olympiyskyi along the fence. Here the finale of the Euro 2012 was held.
On the Velyka Vasylkivska (Chervonoarmiyska) Street turn left. Go straight to the huge Mykolayivskyi (St. Nicholas) Church: the only church in Kyiv built in European style. On the other side of the road there's a small park with "Euro benches."
Return to the Velyka Vasylkivska (Chervonoarmiyska) Street and turn left to the Saksahanskoho Street. Pass several blocks and turn right to the Tarasivska Street. Then cross the road and walk in the Fomin Botanical Garden. Go through the garden and then to the Shevchenko Boulevard near the Universytet metro station.
Walk down the Shevchenko Boulevard to the Pobedy Square with the circus building. Cross the road and go along the Honchara Street to the intersection with the Mykhaila Kotsyubynskoho Street (don't confuse with the Yuriya Kotsyubynskoho Street). Shortly before the turn you will find a large wooden sculpture of Pinocchio.
Along the Bogdana Khmelnytskoho Street go to the Teatralna metro station. Near the house #37/2 right down the street you will see the sculpture "Grand Piano in the Bushes" that was set for Frederic Chopin anniversary.
4. Along the Artema and Velyka Zhytomyrska Streets (4 km)
The route starts from the Lukyanivska metro station. Walk along the Artema Street to the Bekhterevsky Lane, then turn left. In the yard of the house #8 stand the ruins of the house where the Ukrainian writer Ivan Nechui-Levytsky used to live.
Use the stairway near the house to walk down and then go through the arch to the Kudryavsky Descent. Go up to the Artema Street and continue moving toward the downtown.
After the Lvivska Square walk to the Velyka Zhytomyrska Street. The street is beautiful, with many interesting old buildings and free from tourists. Then pass the Mykhailivska Square and go to the Maidan Nezalezhnosti along the Mykhailivska Street.
5. Obolon and Obolon Waterfront (5.5 km)
Obolon district is known for the brewery located in its territory. If the wind blows in the direction of the Dnipro when you exit the metro, you will feel the smell of malt lingering throughout the area.
The route starts from the Minska metro station. If you want to visit Dreamtown, one of the largest shopping mall of Kyiv, you can go to the Obolon metro station and walk inside the mall to the Minska metro station. The interior is very interesting: the mall is divided into zones and each zone has its own unique design. The most interesting area for me is the movie zone. In the second part of the mall between the Minska and Heroiv Dnipra metro stations is Ukraine's largest indoor water park.
From the Minska metro station walk along the Marshala Tymoshenka Street and move toward the Dnipro, a large church and houses with red roofs. The Obolon Waterfront is right behind the church to the right.
Go to the Heroiv Stalingradu Avenue and then to the Stepana Banderi Avenue. From the bus stop take any transport to the Petrivka or Obolon metro stations. If you're not tired yet, you can walk over the North (Moscow) Bridge and explore the route #6.
For those who like to walk, you can go further along the unequipped embankment along Naberezhno-Rybalska street to the metro station Poshtova Square, start is here N 50 29.171 E 30 32.030.
This route is quite unusual for a big city. You will walk five kilometers through the forest park in the Kyiv downtown. So far I have seen such a place only in one European city - the English Garden in Munich.
The route begins in the middle of the North (Moscow) Bridge, N 50 29.446 E 30 32.500. You can go under the bridge to see how big it is. Then just walk along the island, there's a lot of paths there. You will pass two bridges, lakes, and will end up on the pedestrian bridge over the Dnipro. You can approach the parachute tower, it works now. If you walk in summer, keep in mind that there's a lot of beaches everywhere around the island.
Cross the pedestrian bridge and turn right - in 600 meters you will reach the Poshtova Ploscha (Post Square) metro station.
7. Rusanivska Waterfront (4.5 km)
There are not many interesting places On the left bank of the Dnipro in Kyiv. One of them is the Rusanivska Waterfront. This is one of the first projects in the world where the entire city district was built on alluvial soils. Now everyone knows about artificial islands in Dubai, but the first project was done in Ukraine in 1961.
The route starts from the Livoberezhna metro station. Exit the metro to the right in the traffic direction and go along the Rayisy Okipnoyi Street to the first bridge over the canal. Then go down the waterfront (inside the channnel) and start walking.
When you reach the last bridge, turn left to the Rusanivska Naberezhna Street. The design of this area is quite new and beautiful. Around the middle of the street there are public transport stations on both sides of the road from where you can drive to the Livoberezhna or Osokorky/Pozniaky metro stations.
This route is also quite unusual and not for a wide range of tourists. Tatarka is the historical district of Kyiv built in the second half of the 19th century. In the 20th century almost all original buildings were demolished.
The route starts from the Lukyanivska metro station. Turn left and walk along the Melnykova Street. Before turning to the Hertsena Street visit a small park with a fountain. Continue along the Hertsena and Ovruchska streets to the Podilsky Descent. Turn left and walk 300 meters. Turn to the path along the stone wall. Look to the right and you will see panoramic view of Podil and Obolon, which isn't widely known even among the Kyiv citizens.
You will end up on the Nagirna Street. This is one of the places in Kyiv where time stopped long ago. On the left goes down the Smorodynskyi Descent. This is a secret street loved by taxi drivers. Most people who drive along the Podilsky Descent are not even aware of another old cobbled road nearby.
Continue along the Nagirna Street to the Otto Schmidta Street. Right behind a minimarket on the left a small road runs between the detached houses. This road will lead you to another unknown viewpoint with Podil panorama.
Return to the Otto Schmidta Street and continue along the Nyzhneiurkivska Street. After about 500 meters there will be a stairway on the right. Go upstairs and then turn left along the Lukyanivska Street. To the left you'll see a mosque that is also unknown to many Kyiv citizens.
Walk down the Olegivska Street. You will come to Podil and the Verkhniy Val Street. Turn right, approach the intersection and cross the road on the left. You are near the entrance to Vozdvyzhenka, a luxury residential complex built in European style.
The Vozdvyzhenska Street is small. In the middle is Ploscha Mystetstv (the Square of Arts). Walk to the end of the street, turn left and go around the "Vozdvyzhensky" hotel to reach the Andriyivskyi (Andrew's) Descent. Turn left and go straight to the Kontraktova Ploscha metro station.
9. Along the Frunze Street + Priorka (10 km)
This route, as well as the 8th, isn't designed for a wide range of travelers and is suitable for those who just like to explore the city. The route starts near the Kontraktova Ploscha metro station. Walk along the Kostyantynivska Street to the Zhovten (October) cinema and then turn left to the Schekavytska Street. Walk one block and turn right to the Frunze Street. Then everything is simple: just go straight along the tram line.
There's a monument near the house #109. A boy stands and reads a posting on the wall. In this area announcements calling all the Jews to gather near Babyn Yar were posted. More than 100 thousand of Jews were killed by the Nazis in 1941-1943.
Exit the park on the other side down the Krasytskoho Street. Go straight along the lake to the Kobzarska Street and then turn left. Near the next lake to the right there's a park with a very unusual name "Kin Groost" (Throw Away Your Sadness). The title attributed to the events of 1787, when on the way to the Crimea the Russian Empress Catherine II and her favorite, the famous statesman and military leader Grigory Potyomkin, stopped in Kyiv.
One day, according to legend, the Empress decided to walk along the ponds and took Potyomkin with her. He was in bad mood and suffered from headache. But Catherine felt happy and enjoyed the beauty of this place. Trying to cheer up the gloomy companion, she said something that was recorded by her courtiers and included in the history of Kyiv: "Grigory! Throw away your sadness. Look at this beauty!"
On the other side of the park go to the Soshenko Street and the Tarasa Shevchenka Square. From this point you can get to the metro by public transport.
Other Places not Included in our Routes:
Puscha-Vodytsia. Forest resort that can be reached by trams ##7 or 12 from the Tarasa Shevchenka Square or by tram #12 from the Kontraktova Square. The most part of the tram route runs right through the forest! There are many lakes in this place; we often come here for a picnic.
Syrets Arboretum. 43 Tyraspolska Street. Unknown park near the Syretska metro station.
Babyn Yar. In 1941-1943 more than 100 thousand of Jews were killed there by the Nazis. There's a huge monument in the park.
"Mamaieva Sloboda" Skansen. New and rather unknown outdoor museum dedicated to the Cossacks. Located in the Otradnyi Park.
National Aviation Museum. Located near the Zhulyany airport.
Golosiyivskyi Park. Large park in the Golosiyivskyi district of Kyiv that is perfect for skiing and cycling. There is a large lake where you can go boating.
Golosiyivskyi Forest. Forest park with lakes in the Golosiyivskyi district of Kyiv where the Golosiyivska Pustyn Monastery and a baptistry with healthy water are located. Borders on the Golosiyivskyi Park and National Exhibition Center (ex-Exhibition of Economic Achievements). It's easier to go to the forest through the exhibition center (Vystavkovyi Tsentr metro station).
Bicycles can be rented directly at the entrance to the Exhibition Center (N 50 22.828 E 30 28.663). In the high-rise building on the other side of the road is the restaurant Mr. Cat which offers views of the surroundings from its balcony.
Gryshko Botanical Garden. Large botanical garden of Kyiv. You can get there on foot from the Druzhby Narodiv metro station along the Bastionna Street. Or from the Pecherska metro station by the bus #62 or trolleybus #14. Or from the Palats Sportu metro station by the trolleybus #14.