City breaks in KievWhat's not to love about Ukraine's charismatic capital?
Perhaps with the exception of Moscow, Eastern Europe is still largely regarded as something of an anomaly. As far as tourism goes, much of the region is relatively uncharted territory, with memories of the Soviet Union still rendering it a no fly zone in the minds of many potential visitors. What some fail to realise is that times have progressed spectacularly - one time volatile places now safe for travellers to enjoy their distinctive charms. Of all the primary strongholds in the area, nowhere fits the bill for such a break quite so well as the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
HomeAway has over 150 properties located throughout this wonderful city, so when you’re booking accommodation for your break you needn’t look any further. If you’re still sceptical, our quick guide to the best that Kiev has to offer should go some way towards whetting your appetite for an Eastern European adventure.
City breaks in Kiev: the highlights
Saint Sophia’s Cathedral
The most instantly recognisable landmark in Kiev also happens to be one of the most breathtaking pieces of ecclesiastical architecture in the world. The distinctive green and gold domes rise above this UNESCO World Heritage site, with the marvellous interior dating back to the 11th century. The building is no longer used for religious purposes, instead operating as a fascinating museum. The guided tour will cost a little extra but is well worth it to hear expert insight and gain access to the bell tower.
Museum of the Great Patriotic War
On the banks of the Dnieper River, you will find this solemn but unerringly compelling memorial to Ukraine’s involvement in World War II. The largely outdoor complex houses exhibits relating to the Soviet military of the era, but the most eye-catching feature is by far the colossal Mother of the Motherland statue that occupies its heart. Since 1981, the 200ft tall monument has towered over the area, sword and shield in hand, as a tribute to the tenacity of the Soviet Union.
Not an attraction for anyone suffering from claustrophobia, but for everyone else, the Pechersk Lavra is one of Kiev’s most awe-inspiring sights. You must be appropriately dressed to enter the compact system, but once inside you can’t help but feel enchanted by the wondrous monuments. The bell tower is the most prominent feature, a sublime architectural achievement that epitomises the spirit of the city over which it looms. The caves themselves are, among other things, the burial site of several historically important Ukrainians.
Among Kiev’s myriad of cathedrals and museums, you'll encounter this luscious green haven at its heart. On a pleasant day you can hire a bike to witness the natural beauty of the place in style, or simply take a pleasant stroll around the area. The park is named for the nearby Mariyinsky Palace, the incredible ceremonial residence of the Ukrainian President. The building is currently under renovation and so cannot be entered - but its grandiosity alone makes it worthy of a visit.
One of the more curious sights in Kiev is this vibrant cobbled street, weaving downhill from St Andrew’s Church towards the commercial district of Podil. This bustling area is in essence the beating heart of the city, alive with bustling market stalls, street performers, artists and all the luxurious bars and restaurants you could hope to find. Think a less touristy, charming version of Las Ramblas in Barcelona and you’re probably somewhere near the mark.
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