As tempting as it is to totally immerse yourself in the Eurovision bubble, Kyiv is a city which is well-worth getting out and exploring. With three million inhabitants this large city has a wealth of interesting architecture, tourist attractions and tasty food options.
Public Transport In Kyiv
The city is quite large, and although it is possible to walk to most places, I would recommend saving your energy and taking public transport.
The fast, cheap and convenient metro is probably your first choice to get around, just look for the large green M signs. There’s even free wifi in some stations, which is fast enough to stream video. For a minuscule 4 UAH (0.15 EUR) you can travel anywhere on the Metro network, including changing trains if required.
You can use the English-language public transport tool Easyway to plan your routes. It’s also available as an Android app.
If you have ever travelled on a Soviet-built Metro system this will feel familiar to you. The stations are all very deep with long, fast escalators. At 105m deep Arsenalna is the deepest Metro station in the world, and the impressive ride down takes around five minutes. The trains are usually busy, and it’s likely you will have to stand.
The entrance doors are marked вхід, but watch-out as both entrance and exit doors are heavy and swing both ways, meaning you are likely to get whacked in the face if not concentrating.
You need to purchase a plastic token to ride. These can be bought from the cashier booth (marked каса), or from the yellow machines in some stations (these take a 20 UAH note and dispense 5 tokens). Pop your token in the slot on the barriers, wait until the green arrow shows and walk through. Don’t be tempted to skip through any open barriers, as we have been well informed that there are hidden gates which will slap shut and attempt to bisect you.
Alternatively, you can buy a transport card which is topped up with credit. You can buy these from the other ticket machines. They cost 7 UAH for the card, and you hold them against the reader on the barriers. There’s no need to beep out, as the escalators deposit you at the exit doors.
The signs for stations are in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. A timer above the tunnel entrance at platform level shows the time elapsed since the last train departed. Typically the trains leave every 2-10 minutes depending on the time of day, and run until just after midnight.
If you don’t deal well with crowds, standing or escalators, the Metro might not be your idea of fun. The good news is that like most things in Kyiv, the taxis are also cheap. You are best ordering a taxi to avoid getting ripped off, either through an app or via your hotel/restaurant. It’s best to agree a price when ordering the taxi, rather than using a meter. A city centre ride shouldn’t be more than around 60 UAH (2 EUR). There’s a minimum charge of 35 UAH for any taxi ride. Taxi apps such as Uklon, Taxify or Uber are also a good way of calling a ride.
Where Will I Find The Eurovision Song Contest?
The arena is on the red metro line, take the train heading East over the river (destination Lisova Лiсова). It’s only five minutes walk from the metro stop Livoberezhna Лівобережна and you can even see the arena from the metro station platform! To get there just head out of the main exit, turn left through a small shopping centre, take the left under the main road, and one final left to head back towards the river. The arena area is not only well-connected, but also has a number of restaurants (including a 24 hour McDonalds), and a large supermarket. We will explore food options in next week’s instalment.
Euroclub is located at Parkovy ПАРКОВИЙ. The nearest Metro stop is Arsenalna Арсенальна (also on the red line). You can take a right out of the Metro down Mykhaila Hrushevskoho St вулиця Михайла Грушевського and walk around 200m until you get to the park and then take a right. This road will take you down the hill directly to Parkovy through the park – around a 500m walk. I can’t vouch for how well-lit this route will be at night.
Eurovision Village is planned to be located in the city centre, along Khreschatyk street Хрещатик. To get there continue on the red line to Maidan Nezalezhnosti, which is the central square and you will see the main street as soon as you emerge from the Metro station. This is Kyiv’s main shopping street, with a wide range of shops and buildings in grand Soviet style. If you are looking for a late-night dinner, there are several 24 hour restaurants situated along the 1.3m strip.
Independence Square Майдан Незалежності, site of the 2014 revolution is at the West end of Khreschatyk, with moving tributes to the people who lost their lives placed along the hill to the side of the square. There’s a large shopping centre underground, with a wide range of souvenir shops. If you are looking for some national dress, fridge magnets or even a vinok flower crown, this is probably the place to find it.
The other good source of souvenirs can be found at the top of Andriyivsky Uzviz Андріївський узвіз (Andrew’s Decent), an attractive cobbled winding hill leading from the upper town to the riverside district of Podil.
In the centre of the city you will find two grand cathedrals. Saint Sophia Eastern Orthodox Cathedral is nearly 1,000 years old and forms part of the UNESCO world heritage site along with the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery and caves. Visit for outstanding ancient mosaics and a trip up the bell tower. Facing off across the square is the beautiful blue Ukrainian Orthodox St Michael’s Cathedral, which was destroyed by the Soviets then rebuilt in 1999. Women should cover their heads and legs before entering the churches, so maybe take a shawl with you.
The Mother Motherland Monument looms above Kyiv’s East bank. At over 60m tall, plus a 30m plinth it’s more than double the size of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer. There are two observation decks one in the pedestal reaching 36m (50 UAH) and a second up in the shield at 91m which requires pre-booking and includes some serious ladder climbing (200 UAH). The statue stands above the Museum of the Second World War in Ukraine. Approaching the museum via brooding concrete sculptures in the Socialist Realism style, you can really get a feel for Soviet times. An array of tanks stand guard over the museum, which features a new exhibition looking at the current conflict in the East of the country. The whole museum complex is closed for entry on Mondays.
In the middle of the Dniper river, on the way to the arena is Kyiv’s pleasure island. Hidropark metro station will deposit you among sandy beaches, outdoor restaurants and sports facilities. Turn right out of the station, and follow the path through the restaurants and over a small bridge. You will come to a giant outdoor gym which has been fashioned by its users from scrap metal and wood, with hundreds of machines to test every part of your body. Head down there for a work-out, or just to check out the athletic talent. You can also find a beach complete with volleyball nets and view of the Eurovision arena, which is bound to get packed on sunny days. If you turn left out of the metro station there is a quieter wooded area with plenty of beaches.
The Chernobyl reactor accident is probably one of the most infamous events in modern European history. If you can’t manage a full day out to visit the site, then spend a couple of hours in the Chernobyl museum. Although much of the information is in Ukrainian, it is a poignant tribute to the people who lost their lives in the disaster, and those who were affected without knowing the true danger of the situation.
If you are planning a trip to Chernobyl, make sure you book at least 14 days in advance and use a reputable tour agency. The level of radiation you will be exposed to as part of the tour is low, but you still need to follow strict safety rules such as wearing long sleeves and not touching any of the vegetation/buildings.
I hope that you find time to explore Kyiv beyond the Eurovision venues, and enjoy the combination of interesting sights and low cost of living.
In next week’s Travel Guide we are giving you the top tips on food, drink and going out, from the fanciest restaurants to the best casual eats in the city and around the arena.