8 things to know before visiting Kiev
Kiev is the capital of Ukraine which became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. Kiev is the largest city in the country. The different cultures and rulers make it a very interesting city to visit: both European and Soviet influences typifies the streets; old and modern.
Because of its close proximity to Chernobyl, a lot of tourists stay in Kiev when visiting the exclusion zone. It is perfect to spend a weekend there to explore it.
Here are some things to know before visiting Kiev.
- The official language is Ukrainian which uses the Cyrillic alphabet. This can be challenging when you are used to the Latin alphabet but luckily almost everything is also written in English. In most restaurants, they have English menu’s and also people to their best to talk English.
- People living in the European Union can travel to Ukraine without a visa for 90 days but you still need an International passport.
- The main religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox, the second-largest Christian church. All over Kiev, there are many beautiful churches to visit. Woman need to cover their hair when they want to enter while men have to leave their head uncovered. These typical churches are definitely worth a visit, not only because of their exterior but also their beautifully decorated interior.
- Ukrainian cuisine is very diverse with a lot of meat and bread. In Kiev, you have a mix of restaurants that serve traditional Ukrainian food with a twist and European restaurants. But there is also a great craft beer scene. Especially in the Podil neighboorhood, you will find different craft beer pubs. It is definitely worth to try typical Ukrainian dishes such as borsch, chicken Kiev, both savoury and sweet varenyky (dumplings). If you want to try them, the best place is to go to Puzata Hata, a self-serving restaurant where you can try everything for a very democratic price. Although everything is written in Cyrillic, you can just point to things that look good. You will see that Kiev is pretty cheap to eat out.
- Every menu shows how much of each ingredient you will get in grams or ml for each dish. The same goes for drinks. When you order beer or wine at restaurants or bars, they tend to give the price per 100 ml. But that doesn’t mean that they will actually give you this amount. They sometimes will give you more and charge more. It is not easy to argue with them afterwards, unfortunately.
- The national currency is the hryvnia. You can withdraw money from ATM’s all over the city. But at every restaurant/cafe or supermarket you can pay by debit and/or credit card. Definitely hold on to the coins, you can use them for the metro or for public toilets.
- Although almost all restaurants, hotels and cafés have “normal” toilets, public toilets are very often still squat toilets.
- In Kiev, they use standard European style sockets.