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- 20 Jan 2021, 3 nights
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As one of the oldest cities in Europe, Kiev has become a top destination for culture and party-seekers alike. The Ukrainian capital is dotted with the golden domes of Orthodox churches, towering Soviet statues and huge street art murals decorating the sides of buildings. And with its booming café scene and over 100 public parks, it's a great place for eating, drinking and taking some time out.
Most Kiev hostels are found in and around Old Kiev – the historical heart of the city. Set up base only a two-minute walk from St Sophia's Cathedral in a clean and modern hostel with air con, or go retro in a 1970s high-rise with an on-site bar, billiards room and terrace. Hostels in Kiev range from small and arty to large and sociable, with extras like bike rentals and tours (including organised trips to Chernobyl) that are easy to arrange at the front desk.
Many of Kiev's colourful landmarks are in the historic neighbourhoods on the Right Bank. Here you'll find the popular Shevchenkivskyi District, which is packed with monuments such as the 11th-century Golden Gate and the gold-domed St Michael's Monastery. Then there's Podil – a creative district filled with winding cobbled streets as well as popular cafés and bars. Both Lypky and Khreshchatyk are busy central areas with classic Soviet-style buildings, while foodies are drawn to Bessarabka by the busy Bessarabsky Rynok market.
Kiev has a wide range of things to see and do. There's contemporary art at the Mystetskyi Arsenal: an ex-Soviet top-secret building which was converted into a vast exhibition space. You can take a stroll down Striletska Street to discover huge murals around every corner. There are impressive pieces on Velyka Zhytomyrska Street too. The Hryshko National Botanical Garden is famous for its lilacs, roses and lilies, and makes a good spot for a picnic with views across the hills and steeples of the city.
Boryspil is Kiev's main international airport, although there's also a smaller one called Kyiv Zhuliany. If you're arriving in Boryspil, the express train takes 20 minutes to reach Darnytsia train station, and 45 minutes to Pasazhyrskyi train station. When you're ready to explore, jump on the metro: it's known for being clean and reliable, and is also the world's deepest underground service. If you're heading to Podil, take a ride on Kiev's historic funicular.