Kiev in Ukraine has totally taken me by surprise! I had initially decided to come here last minute from Amsterdam for just a few days, as I was not sure where to travel next. I found a cheap flight and figured it would be interesting to pay a visit to the nuclear disaster area of Chernobyl and Pripyat nearby Kiev, to see the ghost city and then leave after a night or 2.
I’m now on my 5th night with no plans to leave anytime soon.
I hadn’t heard much about Kiev before coming except for what I had seen on the news about the revolution, and no-one had recommended the place. It turns out it’s a really chilled out city packed with cool people, loads of history, and a vibrant bar and nightlife scene.
Naturally what really makes anywhere great is the people. After just a few days I have made friends with a bunch of locals and have barely been at the hostel, having crashed in their apartment and going out all the time, and being taken to parts of the city I would probably never have seen.
Kiev is also off the beaten path as far as cities in Europe go. Most of the other travellers in the hostels are Ukrainians seeing their own country. So if you want to escape the crowds of the popular cities in Europe like Amsterdam, Prague etc then this is the place to come.
Kiev is a really old city and the centre is perfect for getting lost in, with some of the best church architecture I have seen anywhere.
The other great thing for the visitor at the minute is the cost. It’s obviously bad for the locals but as a foreigner it is dirt cheap to travel around. Last year it used to be around $1 to 8 local currency. Now it’s $1 to 22!
Yes I’m spending hardly anything here and having a great time. For $15 a day I have somewhere to sleep, eating out, having drinks, and transport around. I could easily spend even less. If I had a lazy day then $10 no problem, which is on par with cheap destinations in Asia etc.
I love wandering through the great parks where people grab a few beers from the supermarket and sit around playing guitar and having a laugh. You can see the locals dancing away to some swing music in the park. There’s a good youthful vibe going on.
Speaking of having a good time there is a hell of a lot of different local beers to try. Happy days.
One of the things I enjoy in life is a good cup of coffee and Kiev has you covered on that front. There are loads of portable vans serving up delicious coffee everywhere you go. Heaven.
There’s also amazing street art spread around between the old historic streets.
I’m going to be writing more in depth articles on all these things separately in the future, to give you a real taste for this cool city.
Despite the conflict in the east of the country there is optimism in Kiev that things will get better. I hope so, as the Ukrainian people deserve it.
For now I’m extremely happy that I accidentally stumbled upon this city last minute, but then most of my favourite adventures have been like that, accidental discoveries. In fact I am going to write about that as well soon on how not planning to much will lead to some of your best travel experiences.
I shall be in Kiev for at least a few more days to come!