When friends ask me to show them around... I take them on a walk to show off the city’s absolute highlights: the Unesco-protected St Sophia’s Cathedral and Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra are both a must. I especially like the shining of the Lavra’s golden domes on a sunny day. Then I introduce them to a totally different side of the city by checking out some cool street art in the Zoloti Vorota district. I end my mini-tour with awesome views of Andriyivsky Uzviz from the hilly viewpoints.
The nights out in Kyiv... can differ, really. Sometimes I’ll go with my friends to the Alchemist Bar (facebook.com/AlchemistBarKiev), which always plays good live music – the action switches to the dance floor when the DJs take over closer to midnight. Other times we relax sipping fine cocktails at Wood You Like Bar (facebook.com/woodyoulikebar). Or we just hang out at the Taras Shevchenko Park, enjoying the dim lights from one of the benches... On a big night out we like to mix it up.
The weekend plans... are never the same in Kyiv. I’m a big architecture fan, so on some weekends I love to explore the city’s neighbourhoods, for example snapping photos of Art Nouveau architecture in Podil district for my blog. Of course, this month is all about Eurovision which is a big thing for Kyiv, so that’s one weekend plan sorted!
To spend a day outdoors... I love going cycling to Truhaniv Island. It’s also a perfect spot for hiking, with forested paths and beautiful panoramas of Kyiv hills. If you’re not the active type, it’s just as nice to take a boat ride along the Dnipro river – especially if you leave it for sunset. The starting point for the boat cruises is the River Port.
For cheap eats... you should know two places, Kyivska Perepichka and Bulochnaya Yaroslavna. The first one is really a window serving delicious fried buns with a sausage inside. The second one does tasty and ridiculously affordable pies with many variations. My favourites include the cinnamon roll and a poppy-seed pie. At both places you can expect to queue briefly during rush hours. And when there’s a queue for food, you know it's a good spot!
For best buys... a good choice would be the ‘482’ store (facebook.com/store482). It’s a cosy showroom in the city centre with some of the best clothes by Ukrainian designers. For groceries, you must visit the Bessarabsky Rynok. It’s an indoor market, with colourful fruit and veg stands, set inside a century-old Art Nouveau building. Also check out the Kurazh Bazar (kurazhbazar.com.ua), the biggest monthly flea market in the city.
What I like about the people here... is that there’s some kind of society within society. Others are willing to help – you can feel it in the metro when people hold the doors of the train for you to enter, or on the streets when you ask for directions and are given really helpful answers.
One thing I hate about Kyiv... is the rush. Everyone’s in a hurry, always running somewhere. The rhythm of life here is very fast. On the other hand, that’s what has lured me to this city in the first place. Distances are quite large in the Ukrainian capital, so it’s always a good idea to use the metro to navigate around. Of course, the metro is quite an attraction in its own right – for example, the Arsenalna station is one of the deepest in Europe, and Zoloti Vorota is adorned with medieval chandeliers and frescoes.
My favourite place in Kyiv is... the Shota Rustaveli street. For me, it’s the quintessence of Kyiv: the windows of Art Nouveau mansions reflect the skyscrapers neighbouring the neo-Moorish Brodsky Synagogue. I think this street is the real heart of the city, where old and new meet, business and leisure intertwine. Not to mention it’s the city’s bar and concert hotspot!
When I want to get out of the city... I usually go to Lviv, which is just a five-hour train ride away. With a picturesque Old Town, cosy narrow streets and a colourful market square, Lviv has a completely different vibe from Kyiv.
I know I’m Kyivan because... I’m taking things easy whatever the problem is and I believe in better things to come. Recent years were quite hard for Ukraine and its capital. Nevertheless, Kyivans are full of positive vibes and hope for a better future. And they definitely know how to have fun and enjoy life.
Need more city travel inspiration? Check out The Cities Book, a celebration of 200 of the world’s great cities, beautifully photographed and packed with trip advice and recommendations.