Before moving to Beijing, China I lived in Kyiv for five years. Those years made me love and hate Kyiv about the same amount. And I know it sounds weird, but there some things that I love about this city and some things that I absolutely hate. So, back to the things I love! While I was living and studying in Kyiv many people over the years had come to visit me. Of course, they wanted to explore Kyiv in a short time. For our convenience, and now for you, I created a self guided walking tour that allows you to hit most of the highlights of Kyiv and enjoy a nice stroll through beautiful locations. This walking tour can take half a day or a whole day depending on how fit you are and how long you want to stay in each place (aka how long your breaks are).
St. Sophia’s Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral that was founded in 1037. This is one of the oldest temples and one of the must-visit places in Kyiv. Along with a huge, beautiful cathedral you can see the fantastic bell tower of St. Sophia’s cathedral. The bell tower is done in blue and white colours with a golden roof. You can visit the whole St Sophia’s complex including the bell tower with an amazing view of the cathedral and the Sofiyivska square.
If you are visiting Kyiv in winter then you will find that Sofiyivska square turns into big Christmas village with the main Christmas tree, Christmas market, ice rink, many Christmas decorations, and a concert stage.
To get to St. Sophia’s Cathedral you can by a taxi (Uber costs around $5 or less) or take a green subway line to “Zoloti Vorota” station and walk up to Volodymyrska str.
Price: general ticket for an adult – 180 UAH ($7.2), children – 60 UAH ($2.4); Bell tower ticket: adult – 60 UAH ($2.4), children – 20 UAH ($0.8);
Hours: everyday except Tuesday from 10 AM to 6 PM; Wednesday from 10 AM to 5 PM;
Needed time for a visit: 1 to 2 hours;
Location: Volodymyrska St, 24, Kyiv, 01001;
Golden Gate is one of the oldest historical monuments in Kyiv. It was built during Kievan Rus and considered to be the main entrance to the city. Unfortunately, the Golden Gate was not preserved very well and just two walls survived the times.
In the 19th century it was decided to save the remains of the Golden Gate. To cover the Golden Gate, a replica of the once beautiful entrance with a small gate church was built over the remains of the real Golden Gate.
Nowadays the Golden Gate sight is a museum where you can see a few exhibitions about the history and excavation of the remains of the Golden Gate and the actual walls that were built between 1017 and 1024.
Price: adult – 50 UAH ($2); children – 20 UAH ($0.8);
Hours: Every day from 10 AM to 6 PM (Summer Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 8 PM). Admission stops half an hour before closing time.
Needed time for a visit: 30 minutes;
Location: Volodymyrska St, 40А, Kyiv, 01034
To walk to the Golden Gate from the St. Sophia’s Cathedral you need just 7 minutes.
National Opera of Ukraine is located just 5 minutes from the Golden Gate. National Opera of Ukraine in Kyiv is the third oldest Opera theater in Ukraine after Odessa and Lviv. The building was constructed in the 19th century and it looks stunning.
Of course, it is nice to attend the ballet or opera there (I have experienced my first opera in this theater), but not during your grand walk around Kyiv. Anyways, the building itself worth a few minutes of your time.
Location: Volodymyrska St, 50, Kyiv, 01030;
To walk from the Golden Gate to the National Opera of Ukraine you need 5 minutes.
Next stop is Taras Shevchenko Park & University. This is one of my favorite parks in Kyiv. It is located in the very center of the city across the street from the main red building of Taras Shevchenko University.
The park is just charming. It has two fountains, numerous cute benches, plenty of room for a picnic, and a few vendors where you can get a cup of tasty coffee, ice cream, or other snacks.
The Taras Shevchenko park is a perfect place to relax and recharge yourself before a further long walk.
Location: Tarasa Shevchenko Blvd, Kyiv, 02000;
To walk from the National Opera of Ukraine to the Taras Shevchenko park is 7 minutes.
From the Taras Shevchenko park head towards the main street of Kyiv – Khreshchatyk. The street is 1.2 km and it is home to the main post office, Kyiv city council, state administration and many other important offices. The street goes by the Bessarabsky Market and Bessarabska square all the way to the Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
The Khreshchatyk Street is a very charming place to have a romantic walk. There are lots of good restaurants and cafes along the street. You can get yourself in to an open-air terrace and enjoy a cold drink and people watching.
Location: Khreschatyk St, 52, Kyiv, 01001;
To walk from the Taras Shevchenko Park to the Khreshchatyk street is 8 minutes.
Maidan Nezalezhnosti also known just as Maidan is the center square and one of the most popular places in Kyiv. The square itself is not that large but quite iconic.
Since Ukraine became independent the Maidan Nezalezhnosti was a place of political rallies and many non-political events. Although after the revolution in 2014 when a hundred people were killed on Kreshchatyk street and Maidan Nezalezhnosti, all the events were moved to Sofiyivska square by the St. Sophia Cathedral.
On the main square of Kyiv you can see a beautiful monument dedicated to the founders of Kyiv (three brothers and their sister), Independence monument (a tall white column with a statue on top of it), Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine, and other interesting things.
On the left side of Maidan Nezalezhnosti you will find many benches around the fountains and on the right side will be a stair fountain where kids are running barefoot in nice weather.
Location: Maidan Nezalezhnosti, 1, Kyiv, 02000;
To walk from the Khreshchatyk street to Maidan Nezalezhnosti is 15 minutes.
Passing the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Congress Center “Ukranian House” and National Philharmonic of Ukraine, just up a small hill, will be the Arch of Friendship of Nations.
Friendship of Nations Arch is one of the iconic places in Kyiv. It is a rainbow-shaped arch that was built in 1982 to honour friendship between Ukraine and Russia.
Behind the Arch there is an observational desk with one of the best views of the river Dnipro and the left bank.
Around the Arch there are usually a few vendors offering water and snacks. There is also plenty of seating. Under the Arch of Friendship of Nations there are long stairs where people usually rest and enjoy ice cream.
Location: Parkova Doroha, Kyiv, 02000;
To walk from Maidan Nezalezhnosti to Friendship of Nations Arch is 10 minutes.
From the Arch of Friendship of Nations a long stair case leads up the hill to Tsentralnyi Park Kultury I Vidpochynku. If you will take right, there will be the Kyiv Academic Puppet Theatre. It is a charming building full of picture spots. In the park there is also a museum of Water and a monument to the frog who is considered to be a lucky charm if you rub its tongue.
At the end of the park is a heart-breaking statue called “Love story”. It is dedicated to Luigi and Mokryna and their love story (by the statue, there is a plaque with the full story).
Following further you will get to the Park bridge. The bridge leads across a ravine so be careful because it is a long way down. The bridge leads to the second half of the park that ends at the Mariyinsky Palace.
Location: Kyiv, 02000;
To walk from the Friendship of Nations Arch to the Tsentralnyi Park Kultury I Vidpochynku is 5 minutes.
Mariyinsky Palace is a baroque palace which was built in 1752 and since then has become an official residence of the Ukrainian president. Unfortunately, the palace is closed to visitors but even from the outside it looks stunning and worth a visit.
By Mariyinsky Palace there is Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the main government building in Kyiv. Because of this there are usually lots of police and guards but the whole place is very peaceful and relaxing.
Mariyinsky Park is located behind the palace and it is a charming little park with fountains, walking alleys and benches. Here you can have a small break before heading further.
To walk from the Tsentralnyi Park Kultury I Vidpochynku to Mariyinsky Palace is 13 minutes.
Next stop is the park of Eternal Glory and monument of Holodomor in Ukraine. Passing a subway station “Arsenalna” head straight to the small Park of Eternal Glory. It is a well-maintained park that overlooks Dnipro river.
In the park there are a few monuments dedicated to the unknown soldiers and to Holodomor Genocide in Ukraine in 1932 – 1933.
Location: Lavrska St, 15, Kyiv, Київська обл., 01015;
To walk from the Mariyinsky Palace to the park of Eternal Glory is 17 minutes.
Further away, behind the park of Eternal Glory, there is the most famous and one of the oldest monasteries in Ukraine – Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. This monastery is also on my must-visit places for Kyiv.
The highlight of this monastery complex is a system of narrow underground tunnels also known as peshchery or monastery caves. The monastery was actually started from the caves when one of the monks moved to a cave on the right bank of Dnipro river. Later, the community of monks grew as did the number of connected caves.
Nowadays the whole monastery complex is open to tourists including the caves. The Lavra monastery contains a few churches, an academy, bell tower, and other historical monuments.
Click here to read a full review on how to visit Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.
Price: adults – 50 UAH ($2); children – 25 UAH ($1);
Hours: Summer from 8 AM to 7 PM; Winter form 9 AM to 6 PM;
Needed time for a visit: 2 to 3 hours;
Location: Lavrska St, 15, Kyiv, 01015;
To walk from the park of Eternal Glory to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is 5 minutes.
After the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra I am sure you will be tired so this is the last stop that I offer you on this self guided walking tour of Kyiv, since it is very close to the monastery. This is the War museum and the monument of the Motherland.
The War museum is an open-air museum that is located in a park. There you will see a few great exhibitions dedicated to WWII. But the most important part of this museum is the monument of the Motherland.
The monument of the Motherland is 102 meters tall and it is the tallest statue in Europe. The Motherland holds in one hand a shield and a sword in the other.
Price: The War museum is free; Click here to check the time and the price to visit the Motherland;
Hours: the park is open all the time. The exhibitions are open Tue – Fri from 10 AM to 5 PM; Sat – Sun from 10 AM to 6 PM;
Needed time for a visit: around 30 minutes – 1 hour;
Location: Lavrska St, 24, Kyiv, 01015;
To walk from the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra to the War museum is 19 minutes.
So this is the end of my perfect one day walking route. To get back to your accommodation, or any other place, you can easily go by taxi (around $5) or subway. Go back to the “Arsenalna” subway station (red line) and from there you can get anywhere you need. One trip on the subway costs 8 UAH ($0,30).