Kyiv or Kiev (Ukrainian: Київ) is the capital and largest city of Ukraine with - officially - approximately 3 million inhabitants (unofficially up to 4 million inhabitants). The city was founded on the banks of Dnipro River. The transliteration of the city's name from Ukrainian is "Kyiv", and this variation is now promoted in English language materials in Ukraine, international organizations and suggested for use in major English-speaking countries. The spelling of the city's name is a linguistic controversy, as it is argued by some that the long-established "Kiev" spelling is based on the Russian transliteration that was prevalent during the Soviet occupation and therefore is a reminder of Russian influence over Ukraine (although the city itself and the name predate the existence of Russia). Others argue that the spelling 'Kiev' is simply the established English-language name and is still used by publications such as the Financial Times and The Economist, and that its use does not imply Russian imperialist connotations.
Ukrainians are very proud of their capital's role in establishing European civilization in Eastern Europe.
Kyiv is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, dating back to the 5th century, although settlements at this location existed much earlier. By the late 9th century, Kyiv had become the de facto capital of an emerging Eastern Slavic state. Between the 10th and early 13th centuries, the city reached its golden age as the capital of the first Ukrainian state known today as Kyivan Rus, (Rus-Ukraine). This state created the religious and cultural foundations for modern Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
In the middle of the 13th century, Kyivan Rus was overrun by the Mongols. Later that century, Kyiv became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1569 the city was absorbed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and in 1654 it was liberated from that Commonwealth by the Cossack, Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, who then promptly signed the city over to Russia. This action continues to be a sore point for Ukrainian nationalists.
In 1775, Kyiv was annexed by the Russian Empire. The city remained under Russian rule, with brief but uncertain periods of independence between 1918 and 1920. Over these two centuries, Kyiv experienced growing Russification and Russian immigration. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it became the capital of independent Ukraine and is now discovering its place as a large European capital.
It is generally acknowledged that the population is over 3,000,000 (2006 estimates). About 85% claim Ukrainian ethnicity and about 12% Russian. However, the census numbers are believed to be unreliable so these percentages must be taken with a pinch of salt. There are many minorities in the city, including Armenians, Azeris, Belarussians, Jewish, Georgians, Polish, Romanians and Tatars. Since 2001, not only has the population of Kyiv increased, but also the percentage of people claiming Ukrainian ethnicity. This is probably a result of the strong nationalist movement centered in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution (October 2004 to January 2005).
Officially, all signs are in Ukrainian only. Since 2011, signs with Latin transliteration have been installed in the city center. Although many people continue to speak Russian, even most of these are ethnically Ukrainian. Hearing Ukrainian on the streets is now increasingly common. Although many Russian language-learning programs offer trips to the city, the usefulness of these trips is decreasing as the Ukrainian language in now in resurgence and the main language of the city again, after having been rarely heard since the beginning of the 20th century when it was discouraged by occupying Russian authorities.
According to the national census taken in 2001, about 93% of the population has a secondary education, and nearly 46% received higher education.
In general the people in Kyiv are hospitable and will be eager to help you. However, if you don't have a knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian you may find service in restaurants and shops difficult, although this will change with time as more people begin to study English.
Kiev has a humid continental climate like the rest of Eastern Europe. Despite being at the same latitude as Prague and Paris, Kiev has much colder winters due to the heavy influence from Siberia. Temperatures usually remain below or around freezing all day and during the night they get below -5°C (23°F). The mercury can occasionally dip to -15°C (5°F) when strong cold waves hit and, in rarer cases, below -20°C (-4°F). The record low is -33°C (-27°F). Keep in mind that it may feel much colder due to the high humidity (83% in January). Snow cover usually lasts from late November to late March but it can start and end earlier or later.
Spring and autumn are very brief and have large variations in temperatures. While the ground isn't usually covered with snow, snowfalls can occur in April and October and very rarely in May.
Summer is pleasantly warm with the average high being 25°C (77°F) and the average low at 16°C (61°F). Heat waves can push temperatures above 30°C (86°F) occasionally and the record high is 39.5°C (103°F). This also the rainiest part of the year.
As of 2018, the most affordable tickets (2-way from €50) are usually to the other cities of Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Turkey. As of July 2018, nonstop services to North America are operated by Ukrainian International Airlines to New York City-JFK and Toronto-Pearson.
Boryspil Airport has 3 terminals in operation: B, D, and F. Most international flights arrive in the terminals D or F, whereas terminal B is used for domestic flights. Terminal B is much older than F and dates back to Soviet times, but in fact they differ in small details only. Both terminal B and F are very cramped and inconvenient, while terminal D is newer and larger. Immigration control in Terminal D is generally pretty efficient, with specific lines for EU and Ukrainian passports. This is not the case in Terminal F, however.
Changing money at terminal D As of 2018 March, Terminal D has good rates for currency exchange (only about 1-2% less than downtown at the best airport rate), however when you exit arrivals at terminal D, the exchange offices you see there all have the same bad rates, if you walk all the way to the left there is another office that offers out 7% better rates than the offices you will see at first.
Several option to get to the city center are:
A bus, known as the Sky Bus or 322, operates 24-hour service between each terminal of the airport and the southern side of the Central Railway station (100 ₴ = $3.50, 60 minutes), with a stop at the Kharkivska Metro Station on the Green Line (60 ₴ = $2.50, 30 minutes) from where you may switch to the Metro and get straight to the city center for 4 ₴ ($0.2) (e.g. to Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Lva Tolstoho stations) to omit the traffic jams in the city center. If you alight at the last stop, to get to the metro (Vokzalna station) from the bus stop, enter the railway terminal, follow the bridge over the railway, leave the building, and turn left. There is no sign at the metro entrance, just a small text near the door including word "metro". The bus driver will only accept hryvnias (Ukrainian currency). You simply take your place on the bus and before departure, the bus driver walks around and sells tickets. Actually Google Maps provides some coverage and estimates for the public transportation in Kyiv, you may specify the time of departure as well. Then you may decide what will be the best fit for you, either bus+metro or taxi. The total time from the KBP to the city center by public transportation may be approximately 1 h 10 minutes. While getting back to the airport from the city, if you are catching the bus on the stop near Kharkivska Metro Station (15 - 20 minutes to Airport), some man may approach you and suggest a ride in the car for the same price as the bus (50 ₴ = $2,00). Such "taxi driver" gets 4 passengers into the car. No problem with such way of transportation as well. Please note that there is no currency exchange outlet in the departure area, so consider getting rid of all of your hryvnias prior to arriving at the airport - as it is very hard to exchange this currency outside of Ukraine.
There are several local taxi companies where all staff and drivers speak fluent English. taxi-borispol.com,LingoTaxi and Your Driver Company drivers typically meet you at the arrival hall with the name sign, though it's better if you book an airport transfer with these companies beforehand. The total time to get to the city center may be appr. 40 minutes but depends on traffic. Read more about getting around by taxi in Kyiv#By_taxi section.
The price to the city center is starting from 520 ₴ ($20). Many locals would get the taxi through the taxi apps. Uber has recently launched its service in Kyiv. There's no need to exchange money or buy a local sim-card right away since you may use the wi-fi in the arrivals of the airport. On the other hand, the official taxi service at the exit of KBP airport would typically charge around 580 ₴ ($23) to get to the city center. Unofficial cabs may demand even higher prices, so always arrange the price before you enter their cab and feel free to bargain. Do NOT go with anyone who approaches you offering a taxi while you are inside the airport building; these are many unlicensed touts, and you'll end up paying more or will be asked to repay him at the end of the trip, so be careful!
A taxi to/from Zhulyany Airport costs 400-450 ₴ ($17) to the city center. Alternatively, regular bus service operates between the airport and the city center (costs less than 5 ₴ ($0.2) - August 2015): exit the airport and walk about 100 meters straight forward. On the bus stop, wait for the bus 368 or 805 and exit at Vokzalna station (the stop is about 200m far from there).
There are two terminals - they are around 1km away of each other. They're connected by trolleybus no. 22 that takes you further to downtown. From old terminal (domestic) you can also walk (c. 500m) to Volynsky trian station and take regional train (elektrychka) to main railway station. Check Google Maps for the schedules.
Kyiv's central railway station Kyiv Passazhyrskyi (Київ-Пасажирський) is close to the city centre. Metro station Vokzalna (метро "Вокзальна") on the M1 line connects to the railway terminal. The terminal building straddles numerous railway tracks, and effectively comprises two separate buildings adjoined by a bridge. The building on the northern side (next to the metro station) is the main station. The building on the southern side is, respectively, the south station with its own ticket office and hotel. Public transport stops on both sides of the railway. Buses and trolleybuses to the city centre depart from the main building, buses to the Boryspil and Zhulyany airports operate from the southern station. Finally, suburban trains may also depart from a small station Pivnichna (Пiвнiчна) located under the square adjoining the main station. This station is separated from the other two buildings and has its own entrance equipped with turnstiles.
To travel from/to Kyiv by train, be sure to buy tickets in advance. All train tickets - inscribed, while boarding the train need to show your ID. The national train company is state-owned Ukrainian Railways "Укрзалізниця/Ukrzaliznytsya". The tickets can be booked online. For more details see Ukraine page
Traveling by train is popular among locals, so it's better to buy tickets in advance, especially in Summer and during holidays.
Direct day and night trains are available from all major cities and towns in Ukraine. There are five daily departures from Dnipropetrovsk (5½-9h) and up to ten from Lviv (9h) with an express Intercity train departing 4 times a day and taking just 5-5½ hours. No more trains to the areas controlled by the Russian troops and their proxies such as Donetsk or Crimea, including Sevastopol. Prices for domestic train ranges between UAH90-120 for seats and from UAH250 for second class sleeper. To Kharkiv 2nd class seat by intercity 4½ h, UAH256 (2013).
There are good international connections with central Europe and Russia. Departures from Przemyśl (two Intercity+ express trains daily, 7-9h), Belgrade (36h), Budapest (24h), Bratislava (29h), Chisinau (15h), Minsk (12h), Prague (35h), Sofia (37h) via Bucharest (26h), Vienna (24h) and Warsaw (16h) are nightly. From Moscow there are a multitude of trains with the fastest one being Metropolitan Express taking just 8½ hours. Saint Petersburg is also well served with an overnight train taking 23 hours. Berlin (22h) have nightly connections during summer while departures from Vienna (34h) are nightly Mon-Thu. There is also a connection from Venice (45h) via Ljubljana (41h) once a week, departing Thursdays.
More exotic cities with infrequent departures include Astana (73h, Thu), Baku (64h, Wed) and Murmansk (61h, seasonal). And if you are looking for a real journey, hop on train 133E linking Kyiv with Vladivostok. It's one of the longest journeys possible by train, taking eight nights!
The main route into Ukraine from the West is via Poland - the only 24-hour customs post is in Lvivska Oblast (Region) at a place called Krakovets. The nearest significant town on the Polish side is Przemyśl, and it's straightforward to find by following route #4 (which passes through Przemyśl). When you arrive at the border, the road is fairly narrow (no motorway/autobahn), and there is always a queue of trucks and vans parked to the right of the road. Don't park behind the goods vehicles, slip up the side of them and then feed into the customs area when the guy flags you forward (for courteous Europeans, you're not jumping the queue as commercial traffic goes through a different process). If you're in an EU-registered car then find the EU-passports section. Then, proceed to Ukrainian passport control and then Ukrainian customs and you're through. It used to be a nightmare, with apocryphal tales of 5-6+ hours at the border, but the Ukrainians have made great advances in efficiency with a 1-2 hour border crossing now possible.
Once through, just follow the main road towards Lviv (Львів) on the E40 - this is the route right across Ukraine to Kyiv (and thence the East). Stick to this - the main towns on the way are Lviv, Rivne (Рівне), Zhytomyr (Житомир). Care is required as the road still remains in a miserable condition, even though it is the main East/West highway and the main road route from and to the EU.
International buses stop at the central station, which is a squalid place that is anything but central (metro station Demyvska, M2 line). There are frequent direct buses of variable quality from Poland, Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Belarus, Greece and Moldova.
The central bus station is located in Kyiv at the Moscow sq, 3 (phone: +38 44 525-5774).
Bus schedule of the central bus station - online, in English: .
From Kyiv, there are regular bus routes to Poland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Spain, Bulgaria, Moldova, France and many other European countries, but with varying regularity.
Also in the city are several bus stations.
Dachna Bus Station, Prosp. Pobedy (Peremohy bvd) 142 (Metro st. Zhytomyrska, 700m.). Western directions, and international routs.
Kyiv (Railway) Bus Station, Vokzalna sq, 1 (At the Central Railway Station).
Yuzhnaia or Pivdennya Station, Prosp. Akademic Glushkov, 3 (Metro Ipodrom.). To/from Vinnytsa and other southbound destinations.
Darnytsia Bus Station, Prosp. Haharina, (пр-т Гагарина,) 1 (Metro Chernihivska).
Podyl Bus Station (Metro Kontraktova) Nizhny Val str., 15-a.
Vydubychi Bus Station, Naberezhno-Pecherskaya Rd, 10 (Metro Vydubychy).
Polissia Bus Station, Shevchenko Tarasa sq., 2 (From Metro Kontraktova, take nortbound tram). For northern directions.
Kyiv can seem quite interesting to the western tourist, as most signposts are in Cyrillic script. It is still largely a city where very few people know English, and the likelihood of encountering an English speaker is low - but not impossible. For the non-Russian or Ukrainian speaker, it's quite possible to get around easily, and it is a very interesting city to explore. It never hurts to speak English. Often, a shop assistant will ask customers who can speak English to act as translators.
It is advisable, however, to pick up a pocket Ukrainian phrasebook, and learn the Cyrillic alphabet, which can be fun and is easy to learn. Spend some time practising key words and phrases (e.g. 'hello', 'thank-you' and 'bill please'). Even what you regard as a feeble attempt at Ukrainian will amuse most people to the point where they become comfortable engaging in pantomime or trying out the little bit of English they know.
It is impolite to chat loudly (e.g., in the Metro), point or wave one's hands. You should also avoid whistling inside or being under-dressed, although in summer very short mini-skirts are widespread. All of these actions will regularly attract the wrong type of attention, including outright hostility.
Google Maps provides pretty good coverage and estimates for the public transportation in Kyiv. Maps.Me (Android IOS) app may be also beneficial with its offline support. If you are rather a more old-fashioned traveler, then pick up a "Kyiv Tour Guide" map book (Geosvit books - around USD3-4), which is available at a number of kiosks or at the central post office. Basic tourist maps are available at the baggage carousel at Boryspil Airport. If you are spending much time in Kyiv, get the matching Ukrainian version of your map, many locals have as much trouble with the version that is transliterated to Latin characters as you will have with Cyrillic. They need the version in Cyrillic. When asking for directions or setting out in a taxi, it helps to locate the place you want on the English map and then point out the same spot on the Ukrainian version.
If you need more detailed tourist info visit Tourist Info Centre on Khreshchatyk 19 (in same building with metro Khreshchatyk). There you can pick up all kinds of city maps and brochures, get a free guide, join free walking tours, use Wi-Fi and get an answer for any question. Open daily 10:00-19:00. Staff speak English, Russian, French, German, Spanish and other languages.
There is a public transport "WayFinder" service that works in many cities in Ukraine, as well as Kyiv.
There are two types of city-run buses available – bus (автобус) and trolleybus (тролейбус) – as well as slow and moribund trams. These can be hailed from assigned stops, which are marked by an inconspicuous sign on a telegraph pole. The buses are often very crowded during peak hours, but the norm is to push your way in. Once on board, you need to get a ticket and validate it by punching a hole with one of the small punchers that are attached to the posts inside the bus. If you can't get near the hole puncher, ask someone to validate your ticket for you. Tickets cost UAH 3 and are normally available from a special lady on board (oddly enough, she first sells you as many tickets as you want, then asks you to validate one). Tickets can be also purchased from drivers or in kiosks throughout the city.
You can also travel, although with less comfort, on route taxis or mini-vans called "Marshrutky" (Маршрутки/shuttles). These are privately run vehicles that travel assigned routes, which are listed on the front of the bus. You can hail a Marshrutka at the assigned bus stops. When you board, you pay the driver directly or, if you're not near the driver, pass the money to the nearest passenger who will pass it to the driver. Your change will be returned in reverse order, but it is unwise to pass big bills. When you are reaching your destination, simply yell out to the driver to stop "Na a-sta-nov-ke" (some 100m in advance to the bus stop you need). If you overshoot you get a nice walk and a driver gets a little extra stress a day. The fare ranges from UAH 4 to UAH 6.00, and is usually stated on the front and sidewalk-side of the vehicle, so you will know how much you pay in advance. It is good to have some change, so you can pay exact amount.
Marshrutka (shuttle) routes can be hard to figure out, but they have a list of stops on the window and a Metro logo for the metro stops. The best way to figure out where these go is to ask some of the locals. City maps usually picture all public transport, both normal buses/trolleybuses/trams and Marshrutky. The one downside to using Marshutkas is that they tend to be a little overpacked (understatement) and very hot or cold, depending on season.
The most popular taxi apps in Kyiv are Uklon, Uber, Hopin, CabLook Taxi and others. It's the easiest, safest and the most popular way of getting a taxi in Kyiv. These are gradually replacing requesting a taxi by phone call which was mainstream in 2000s.
It is also perfectly acceptable for any car to stop and pick you up. Although even locals would rarely go with annoying men suggesting a ride near the airports, train and bus stations, malls in order not to be ripped off. An unmarked vehicle is a 'gypsy' cab. To hail a ride, simply stand with your arm out. When a car pulls over, negotiate a fare. As a rule of thumb, rides within the downtown should not cost more than 50-60 ₴ ($2-3) and moving across the city might be anywhere from 70-100 ₴ ($3-4) (also depends on car model, time of day, weather and traffic conditions, whether both of you need to get to the same part of the city, etc.). Therefore, you should choose a proper street side, and your gender and group size usually matter for the price. Generally, girls would find informal taxis easier and cheaper than men. It is safe enough compared to many cities, but in the middle of the night you may be taking a risk.
Official company taxis can be hailed, or booked over the phone. There is usually someone who speaks English working for the company. Simply ask 'pa angliski pazhalusta' (or "English please"). The operator will give you a quote, which will save you from the sometimes intimidating process of negotiating on the street.
Taxi fares do vary widely. On the same route, a local could pay UAH150 while a foreigner may be quoted UAH600 with the driver being prepared to settle for UAH300. Don't hesitate to bargain!
Some taxi drivers (especially those waiting outside hotels) are professional and experienced conmen. If you try to bargain, they will propose to put the meter on. However, their meter will be a rigged app on their mobile phone charging you double the price of a taxi with a fixed meter. Either bargain or have a fixed meter.
The Metro (Ukrainian: Метро) is one of the pleasures of Kyiv. It is a clean, fast subway system, and it is easy to navigate once you realize that all three metro lines (red, blue and green) go through the city centre. In total there are 52 stations, with ambitious plans for extension.
The Kyiv metro system is not complex. There are only three lines and station signs and metro maps are in Cyrillic and English. A ticket (in actual fact a blue token as of July 2017) costs 8UAH - this gets you one journey, including interchanges. You can also buy a Metro swipe card to top up or a monthly season ticket. The Metro runs from 06:00 to 23:59, The metro is home to the deepest station in Europe, the Arsenalna Metro station. Some stations have outstanding Soviet architecture.
When you enter the Metro, you must purchase an entrance token from the cash desk, Kasa (Ukrainian: каса) or from a special ticket machine. One token is valid for one trip, no matter how far you go. A token is UAH5 and one needs to slip the token into the turnstile to enter. A note of caution: make sure you walk through the correct side of the turnstile, or you will be hit with a metal gate that will slam shut. If you have a MasterCard PayPass card, you may use it directly to get into metro for the same price, but only on the yellow turnstile. You can also obtain an unlimited monthly ticket with a magnetic tape, which is available for sale for UAH95 during the first week of the calendar month or the third week for half the price (but not strictly so).
After 2012 European football championship in Ukraine, the Kyiv metro has undergone a major improvement with respect to the navigation. Most maps and signposts are translated into English. Additionally, every stations has got its unique three-digit number, with the first digit showing the number of line (M1 for red, M2 for blue, and M3 for green). Once on board, every station is announced by loud speakers and TV screens (most of the trains, not all). These screens show a lot of weird ads between the stations, but flag an impending station before arrival. Upon departure, they then show the next station.
Metro stations where you can interchange have two different names - one for each line. If you are changing lines, the other station can be reached by an overpass in the centre or near one of the ends of the platform.
Trains run every 30 to 150 seconds during business hours, every 5 minutes after 20:00, and every 10–15 minutes after 22:30. Last trains depart from the terminal stations around midnight, so your last chance to catch a train in the city centre is between 12.15AM and 12.25AM (check the timetable of late departures, which is signposted on each station). Trains are often very crowded. Be prepared to push, as this may be the only way you get on the train during peak hours.
It's interesting to note that the Kyiv metro has some of the deepest stations in the world. The Arsenalna station (Ukrainian: Арсенальна) station is one of the deepest metro stations in the world, at 107 meters deep, and the Universytet station (Ukrainian: Університет) has one of the longest escalators (87 meters long). Many stations have two long and intimidating escalators in a row. You can imagine how much time it takes to enter and exit a station, as climbing the escalator is no use. So catching the train for one, even 2 stations is somehow comparable with walking on the surface.
A note about "Dnipro" (Ukrainian: Днiпро) station: this is a very interesting station as the train goes out of the hill and continues onto a bridge. The stop is just on the edge of the river high above with some grand statues and a beautiful view. However this station is not much use unless you want to go fishing (as the locals seem to be doing when you consider the huge fishing equipment market close by). The station looks close to the cave monasteries on the map, but actually the complex cannot be reached from this station at all.
If you enable "Cell Info Display" on your GSM phone, it will show you the name of the station (in transliterated Latin characters (for UMC and Kyivstar subscribers) just like your map) when you are underground in the vicinity of a station. Your mobile/cell/handy should work on most of the network, including between stations.
Spend some time looking at the stations. The red line features impressive architecture, similar to that seen in the Moscow and Saint Petersburg metro systems. Elaborate mosaics in the Zolotye Vorota station depict rulers and other historical characters of the medieval Kyivan Rus.
A scenic way to get from the upper city down to Podil (or, naturally, the other way around) is to catch the ancient funicular from Mykhaylivs’ka Ploscha to Poshtova Ploscha in Podil. You can enjoy views of the Dnieper and left bank on the way down. The cost is 3.00 UAH, and the Funicular runs from 06:00 to 23:00 during summer and 07:00 to 22:00 during winter. As with the Metro, you buy a token and insert it into the entrance barrier.
The stop for the boats navigating on Dripro river is located at Poshtova Ploshcha. In the summer it's possible to travel by boat to Mezhyhirya residence or Kaniv town through the Dripro river. Also there are short city tours.
Women are supposed to cover their heads and put on skirts before entering the caves or churches. However, this is not always enforced for tourists. You may be invited to take the church's shawls - one to cover your head and a second to wrap your legs like a skirt. Or you may buy nice shawls at Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.
Also there is a number of free of charge speaking clubs in a few languages which usually meet in eating houses or caffees and where you can socialize with locals and other travelers, so feel free to drop in at one of the meetings. The meetings are organized under the aegis of Language Exchange Club Kyiv
There are a number of private schools where you can learn Ukrainian or Russian, either part-time or full time . There are also experienced teachers in the city - check out resources such as Kyiv In Your Pocket, The Kyiv Post , and What's On Weekly for details of schools and teachers.
Foreigners can sometimes find work teaching their native language. Pay is usually decent enough to live on in Kyiv if you get enough pupils and live by local standards.
As is the nature in a global economy, professionals with skills in demand, e.g. accountants and IT professionals, can be employed with global firms in Kyiv, without knowledge of Russian or Ukrainian languages.
Getting a work permit (visa) is a necessity for foreigners if they are going to be employed by any legal entity (exceptions apply only for international institutions and representative offices of foreign companies). The work permit is more of a hiring permit. The potential employer has to apply with the labour administration for hiring an non-resident employee. With the application a complete cv, as well as documents showing an accredited education, have to be submitted.
Go to the market at Andrew's Descent (Andriyivskyi Uzviz) for a nice collection of traditional things, old communist goods (real goods as well as some that are fake and mass-produced), matrioshka dolls, etc. The best days are Saturdays and, especially, Sundays.
The unit of currency is the Hryvnia (UAH) (гривня) [pronounced: Hryvnia (in Ukrainian), Grivna (in Russian)], which equals about 32 UAH to the Euro and 27 UAH to the US Dollar (November 2017). There are many exchanges booths that will convert Euro, USD or Russian rubles to UAH, just look for signs with exchange rates posted on about every block in the downtown area or any bank outside downtown. Exchange rates vary a lot and deteriorate fast when you get into less competitive places or outside of standard business hours. You should also make sure to get a receipt when buying UAH, as converting UAH to foreign currency is impossible without it when you leave the country. Rates at the airport are not as good as in the city center. However, beware that not all hotels will change money and if you arrive in the evening or Sunday you could find yourself with no money for dinner if you don't change at least some at the airport. Most banks operate on Saturdays as well as Mondays to Fridays.
ATMs are known as 'bankomat' (банкомат), and can be found everywhere. All major credit cards and debit cards can be used at some ATMs throughout Ukraine, but do not work in many. You can withdraw UAH but in some cases also US dollars. Be sure to contact your credit card company prior to your visit or they may freeze your card! As a backup, it is possible to get dollars from most banks using a cash advance from a Visa or Mastercard. There is a small service charge (3%) to do this in addition to whatever your bank charges. Debit cards such as maestro do work in ATMs. Cirrus/Maestro/Plus bank cards could be most effective way to get cash in Ukraine. Many ATMs, such as Aval Bank and Express Bank ATMs do not charge any transaction cost to cash withdrawal transactions from foreign cards (unless you are withdrawing dollars). Not all ATMs indicate that they support the Plus system, but in most cases they do support it if they support Visa. PrivatBank ATMs work with North American cards, and are usually capable of dispensing 8000 UAH at a time.
It is often expected that one carries small change in Kyiv. Most retail establishments will scowl at you if you try to pay for a UAH4 purchase with a UAH20 note. They generally keep very little change on hand and will always ask if you have the right amount. Keep small change to use the toilets.
In general, it is very cheap to dine in Kyiv by European or US standards. So long as you stay away from the places that totally pander to tourists or to the Porsche Cayenne-driving "elite", the food is great and cheap. Try the Borscht, chebureki (чебуреки), chicken Kyiv (Котлета по-київськи) and the Mlyntzi and then try absolutely everything else. Baked goods are cheap and great too. Even the ice-cream on the street is great. Try, for example, the one to the right from Khreshchatyk metro exit - blue kiosk with varying length of queues.
When you see vendors selling some liquid from big yellow/blue tanks on the street, you can be sure that it is "Kvas/Квас," which is a brewed bread drink. Some people like it and others hate it. It tastes a bit like malt, and the alcohol content is so low (0.05-1.44%) that it is considered acceptable for consumption by children. Try "Odyn Malenkyi" (one small) drink.
You should not drink the tap water (for reasons both chemical and microbial). It is advisable to buy bottles in the supermarkets; they usually have English section on the label for "ingredients". You can always order "Bonaqua" (sparkling mineral water), but beer is just about as cheap.
For anyone near Kyiv-Mohyla university, there's a small cafeteria-style place down a few steps on the ground floor of a building on the main square (near Illins'ka st).
It's also worth checking out pubs and restaurants that offer business lunches during weekday lunch. These are set menus that usually cost around 40 UAH, and include soup, salad, meat dish and a drink.
The leading supermarket chains are "MegaMarket" (МегаМаркет), "Furshet" (Фуршет), "Velyka kyshenya" (Велика кишеня), "Silpo" (Сільпо) which are conveniently located to the city centre. The closest MegaMarket to town is on 50 Gorkoho (Горького). This MegaMarket is big but can get busy. Foodstuffs are available on the ground level, and non-food available on the first level. You do not have to go through the cashier on each level (which means two long lineups on busy days) - fill your basket with food on the ground floor and use the 'secret' elevator near fish tanks to get to the upper floor where queues are shorter.
The closest Furshet to the city centre, and most central supermarket, is on the basement level of the Mandarin Plaza, which is at the back of Bessarbabsky Square. This supermarket stocks many imported goods, and also has five restaurants.
"Fora" (фора) is a popular chain of mini-marts that are widely distributed, particularly on the Left Bank side of the city. They are about the size of 7-11 and stock most staple items, including toiletries, bread, dairy, sweets, and of course alcohol. Plastic bags are available but are not free, and some stores do not take credit cards. Bag your own groceries. If you're paying in cash, make sure the cashier gives you correct change back as some are careless or dishonest.
Most bottled waters are sparkling. To purchase regular bottled water, ask for Water Without Gas (VoDA bez gaza). A 500ml bottled water cost UAH 3-UAH 6 in August 2009, occasionally they will inflate the price to UAH 10 if you look like a rich tourist.
Don't forget to buy a few big jugs of bottled water such as Staryi Myrhorod (Старий Миргород) or Truskavetska (Трускавецька). Kyivskij tort (київський торт) is another thing you should eat in Kyiv if you love cakes. Dark rye bread, Ryazhenka (Ряженка, ukrainian style yogurt), and Kvas (Квас, fermented drink made of bread) could be also be interesting things to taste.
Chocolates, cakes, lollies, crisps and biscuits/cookies are widely available at low cost and are very popular with Ukrainians - after years of being deprived western brands, snack foods are becoming big business.
There are several nice places in Kyiv to get a drink. From small cafés that are only frequented by locals (they look dirty at first sight) to expensive places. Locals often buy drinks (beer) at a stall in the street and drink it in a park, leaving their bottles for the homeless to collect and cash in. However, since 2011, drinking beer in the street is prohibited and whilst you will see locals drinking in the street, you will make yourself an easy target for the police to stop and try for a bribe if you do. Locals often buy some chips or other salted things to go with their drinks.
The prices are quite reasonable by European standards. You will easily find decent Ukranian beer for 20–30 UAH and get 5 cl of vodka or similar alcohol for about 20 UAH.
If you are not keen about alcohol, try one of the abundant coffee houses. No matter whether their names are well-known and international (Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Russian-based Coffee House and Shokoladnitsa) or weird and local (Coffee Land, Coffee Life, and other similar variations), they are always neat places with similar menu featuring all imaginable versions of coffee, a good choice of tea, fancy milk shakes and smoothies, and a selection of cakes. Their main advantage is free WiFi, while on the downside are the prices that are rather high on Kyiv standards. Coffee and piece of cake start from 20 UAH each.
When you urgently need a shot of espresso, you can also try coffee sold on the street. Basically, every second kiosk will offer some cava (Ukranian word for coffee), but its quality is at best iffy. A safe choice would be special cars equipped with coffee machines. These cars can be found in most public places and next to entrances to the metro stations. They offer decent take-away coffee for 8-10 UAH.
There are several Irish pubs, none authentic, but OK if you're in need of a Guinness and expat company. One is located near Golden Gate (Zoloti Vorota) on Volodomyrska (called, eponymously, The Golden Gate Pub). Another (and the first in Kyiv) is O'Briens on Mykailivska (one of the streets running west off Maidan sq., the one to the right, with a branch of OTP Bank on the corner). Both are expensive by Kyiv standards. A new one has opened in Podil, on the corner of Gostyny Dvor, near the Dutch embassy (can't miss it as it's close to the bottom of Andryevsky) called the Belfast Pub. Besides these centrally located pubs, others lie elsewhere in Kyiv, but do not cater to ex-pats and have reasonable prices. Keep your eyes open. Also try Dockers Pub.
There are two Belgian beer cafés. One is located across the road from the Golden Gate, close to the South Korean Delegation (Le Cosmopolite, Volodymyrska street). The other is close to the Olympic Stadium (Belle-Vue; ul. Saksahanskoho 7). Prices range between normal western prices (€1.3 for 0.5l of Stella Artois) and splurge western prices (€4.5 for 0.33l of Leffe Blond). Service is in perfect English usually and they do serve Belgian beer and expensive Belgian food.
Kyiv has a nice club scene. Ranging from very cheap to overly-expensive, you can find what you want.
They have a smokers bar, with free pool table. Beers are $8, with free nuts.
Pick-pocketing and scamming is common, particularly in crowded places, in tourist areas, in bars and nightclubs and on public transportation. There has been a slight increase in street crime in Central Kyiv, especially after nightfall. This includes muggings. Pick-pocketing on the Kyiv metro has also increased. Armed robbery can also occur, especially in the larger cities. Racially motivated violence and harassment can occur without corrective action by local authorities.Street crime
The usual "don't be stupid" advice suffices. Avoid drinking tap water; bottled water is cheap and available everywhere (Morshinska/Моршинська, Mirgorodska/Міргородська, Bonaqua are good). Kyiv is generally an open and friendly city and stays lively until at least 11 PM in most districts.
If you are female, and especially if you are traveling alone, try to take a taxi instead of public transit after 9 PM. These are prime drinking hours and the metro and "marshrutky" may be crowded with drunk men. This is particularly true on the weekends. Ask a local English-speaker to call the taxi for you and agree the amount of the fare in advance; drivers may greatly inflate the fare once hearing your accent.
Robberies and scams on tourists are fairly common in Kyiv. The best approach is to be vigilant and wary of anyone who approaches you. Avoid eye contact with suspicious looking people. If you do get caught up in a scam (such as the infamous wallet scam or the "Look, I've just found money" scam or even if you are stopped by someone claiming to be a policeman), simply ignore the person and walk away, indicate that you want to call your embassy or go to the next police station to get the problem sorted. That will usually shake the person off.
If you are leaving your baggage in the station, it is better to leave it with the guys in person rather than use a locker. Stories circulate of people 'assisting' with the locker, observing the code and then walking off with the bag afterwards.
On the metro, always keep your belongings securely zipped as close to your skin as possible. Pickpockets are highly organised and often in gangs that know what they are doing.
There are occasional (rare) reports of visitors being shaken down by corrupt officials, often customs officials. Naturally, the best protection is to make sure that you stay on the correct side of the law and, if there is any question, to keep your cool and not become argumentative. It seems that the cost of an error is surrendering the object in question and paying a "fine." The officials are skilled at ensuring that people who argue miss their flights. Making, or giving the impression of making, a cellphone call to your country's embassy has been known to clear up "problems" quicker than actually paying the "fine" --- or pretend to have a very late flight :-)
Some thieves like to abuse new tourists, for example, by playing plainclothes cop. They are rarely aggressive. They will go to you only if you're walking alone and look unfamiliar with the town. A bit of resisting usually shakes them off (but not too much since you never know).
There is still corruption in Ukraine; some services might openly ask you to bribe them to process your request, and denying it might make them refuse to help you.
The people are very tolerant and it is only reasonable to assume that they expect the same in return.
Muggings have increased in the downtown area; if possible take a taxi at night. Arena bar should be avoided at all costs.
At pedestrian crossings, do not assume that it is safe to cross while the green man light is illuminated, because cars will still cross your path.
If the street performers sense that you are from a wealthy country, They will try to demand an insane amount of money from you and will become aggressive if you refuse to pay what they are asking.
Mobile (cell) phones: GSM (900/1800) and 3G (CDMA, UMTS) is used in Ukraine. This system is compatible with mobile phone networks used in Europe, most of Asia, Australia, New Zealand. If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can get an Kyivstar , Vodafone  or Lifecell SIM card for a ~2 dollars available in official shops, different mobile phone shops or at almost all supermarkets and shops through the city, which will give you a local number and free incoming calls. Note that most of those cards don't have money on their account so you may want to buy a top-up card when you buy a sim card. If you don't have an unlocked phone already, new ones can be had for USD 30-40 and a touch cheaper if you buy a pay-as-you-go sim card at the same time. Incoming calls are free in Ukraine so in extremis you can just SMS/text a request for a return call for a small charge.
Up to 2014 all three providers only offered 2G up to EDGE (236 kbps) speed. Back in 2007 the first 3G/UMTS licence was given to state-owned Ukrtelecom and its subdivision U'tel that has marketed its 3G offer under brand name 3mob in some towns. Things changed in 2015: the president ordered to free frequencies previously blocked by the military to be used for 3G and 4G. The three networks finally received licenses to operate 3G on 2100 MHz and all major providers started their 3G/UMTS networks in addition to 3mob. In 2016 MTS is trying to buy 3mob pending administrative approval. 4G/LTE is in testing stage and announced for 2017, but operators still await licensing.
If you are roaming in Kyiv, SMS messages do work well. They are confirmed to work for most foreign networks. Do note that the size of the country and the relative low population densities of rural areas means that sometimes there might be 'black-spots' where mobiles will not work. But of course these are away from the main cities/urban areas (and most of the main arterial road and rail routes also have reasonably consistent call signals).
If you are trying to call the US from your GSM phone, you may find that the access numbers for your calling card are blocked. Plan ahead and sign up with a callback service (such as UWT  **warning, lead-time required**) before you start your travels and you can provoke them to call you (at much better rates) when you need to make a call.
Free Wi-Fi is available on the few central metro stations (underground) such as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Khreshchatyk, Teatralna, Olimpiiska, Palats Sportu, Lva Tolstoho etc. The network is called "Mosquito".
LifeCell, 3Mob, KyivStar and Vodafone mobile phone providers (last 2 are Russian-owned companies) all provide the 3G internet coverage. No 4G speed, however.
Also cafés (see "Drink" section above) and a lot of fast food restaurants (including McDonald's) offer free Wi-Fi. Some require password to use their access point, ask waiter to get it.
An easy way to maintain internet connectivity using your own laptop is to buy a 7-day unlimited Lucky Internet callback card. They are about UAH36 at street kiosks. When you dial in, you will be initially firewalled off from everything until you activate by visiting their website
You may also buy wireless internet access for your laptop for about UAH10 per day from freshtel.
Internet cafes have a good service. They usually have different types of computers with varying prices.
Near the metro station on ul Khmelnytskoho (on the left side at a corner) there is one that is very good, open 24 hours non stop. The cheapest computers cover your basic needs, the most expensive ones are usually for hardcore gamers.
Kyiv was part of the former USSR. Some things work well and other things may be broken. There is no point in stressing about this. Arrive with that realization and be prepared to roll with a few surprises.