Kiev is a city steeped in sad and powerful history, with underground mazes and malls in tunnels made to serve as warm-cuts through the chilling winters and incredible people who persevere. The culture is rich and the food is one of a kind.
Treat yourself to fine dining, Georgian treats like khachapuri bread and traditional borscht
- Under Wonder: This may sound like a weird name at first, until you are ushered downstairs to discover a cave-like dining hall. The décor is excellent and the food scrumptious, and as one of Kiev’s fanciest restaurant establishments, the prices were unbeatable. Main courses ranged from $6-$20, with duck and black ravioli, steak, seafood risotto and foie gras options, classic international cuisine in small but filling portions.
- Musafir: To get a feel for where the locals gather, head to this Middle Eastern gem. Delicious Crimean Tatar food you won’t find elsewhere.
- BAO Modern Chinese: Inventive and tasty authentic Ukrainian food, with the possibility to order a vodka chess and checkers game to play with friends to really liven the atmosphere.
- Spotykach: To get a feel for where the locals gather, head to this Middle Eastern gem. Delicious Crimean Tatar food you won’t find elsewhere.
- Mama Manana, Restaurant Chachapuri, Khinkali: There is no shortage of amazing Georgian restaurants from which to order khinkali and khachapuri (cheesy, yolk topped egg bread) from. Georgians have always had the best reputation among the Soviet states for having the “best kitchen,” and any of these choices will show you why.
- Milk Bar: The most grammable cafe in all of Kiev, serving up some delicious baked goodies. Along with Klyukva & Bryukva the lunches are fun and the food plating on point.
Go out on the town
Affordable bars with hilarious and funky concepts such as Pink Freud, Dogs & Tails, & Paravoz Speak Easy help make for a great going out scene. Develop a hangover? Not to worry, Ukrainians also know how to breakFEAST. A typical complimentary hotel breakfast includes more than just stale bagels and yogurt in cups, but fresh bread, an array of cured meats, all sorts of cheeses, scrambled eggs, fish, beans, chicken, and pastries.
Talk to the locals to learn about the problems they face
Our first interview was at the U.S. embassy, newly constructed in 2012 in a modern building but lacking a modern identification system, our passport and electronic devices screening process took over a half hour. The meeting was extremely informative, both in terms of learning more about what USAID does internally as an organization and how formative the career paths are, as well as in terms of discussing the main issues at the root of our study- how to bridge the center, urban areas with local grassroots civil society organizations, whether or not people feel optimistic about reforms or that the timeline is just too slow and demoralizing and what challenges to sustainability and advocacy civil society organizations are facing.
Visit the wartime monuments to honor Ukraine’s sacrifices
Along the Dnipro River is a must-visit “eternal glory” park with a host of World War II monuments. Dedicated to the fallen and unknown soldiers, the fire at the bottom of the Unknown Soldiers Memorial marks the sacrifice of Ukrainians through years of brutal warfare. People often come here on Victory Day [May 9] with flowers to pay tribute to the bravery of men who fought and crossed the Dnipro River to free Kiev.
Holodomir, the Great Famine imposed on Ukraine by Stalin’s collectivization policies that killed over 4.5 million people in such a targeted manner it can be considered genocide. The eerie ding that range every couple of seconds added to the somber atmosphere. Descend underneath the monument to find a museum [9 hryvnia for students, the equivalent of 40 cents]. The beautiful museum contained geometric shapes that symbolized Ukraine’s unity of North, West, East and South, all different regions but highly affected by the famine. There were seeds of grain everywhere, as Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe but during this time period from 1932-33 people were starving and dying literally on the streets due to Stalin’s oppressive orders to starve the country. Records of the amounts of grain transferred out of the country despite a starving population are highlighted, as are books filled with victims’ identities. The monument of the girl holding grain was perhaps the most jarring of all.
Discover gorgeous Orthodox churches
Venture to the Kiev-Pechersk Larva Monastery complex with its snowy, white walls and golden domes, it’s a truly picturesque Ukrainian landscape. The gilded church interiors were astonishing, while not as large as other European churches; the interior is uniquely ornate and adorned with luxury.
Saint Andrew’s Church cannot be missed, with its blue green facade overlooking the whole city perched on a hill, it is an unmissable photographer’s delight.
The Gulliver mall, is beautiful and contemporary, with brands such as Versace and Maje to adorn the upscale atmosphere.