Mezhyhirya, murals & much more stimulate Kyiv tourism
Kyiv has bloomed as a tourist destination in the last couple of years, with the famous Maidan Nezalezhnosti and beautiful St. Sophia’s Cathedral topping the list of must-sees in the Ukrainian capital.
But there’s more than just historic locations to attract visitors to Kyiv: Often described as the new Berlin for its blooming creative community, the capital of Ukraine has lots of entertainment options for both firsttime visitors and frequent guests.
Here’s a roundup of some of the best, less obvious travel ideas for visitors to Kyiv.
Kyiv’s street art is just as worthy of attention as the city’s architecture and classic museums. Over the last couple of years, street art pieces, mainly murals, have been popping up constantly in Kyiv, and today there are over 120 of them. Depicting animals, landscapes, people and abstract drawings, the city’s diverse and colorful murals have become part of its modern face. Many also address important issues, such as the environmental one or Russia’s war on Ukraine in the Donbas.
Visitors to Kyiv can take one of the walking tours around the best murals provided by several tourist agencies, which last around three hours and are offered in English and other languages. Such tours cost around $12 per person or $56–68 for a group of up to 10. Those who prefer discovering the city on their own can use the Kyiv Murals application available for iPhone. The app provides a list of 127 murals, as well as their addresses, information about their creators, and the ideas behind them.
Mezhyhirya, the luxury residence abandoned by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, is located in the village of Novi Petrivtsi, about 10 kilometers north of Kyiv. It is easy to get there by public transportation, and is definitely worth a visit to understand the scale of the corruption of Yanukovych and his cronies, who are estimated to have robbed the county of tens of billions of dollars. For years, Mezhyhirya had been a mystery to the Ukrainian public until Yanukovych fled the country in the wake of massive protests in Kyiv and throughout the country, known as the EuroMaidan Revolution.
Turned into a national park, the 140-hectare estate serves as a monument to modern Ukrainian history — rampant corruption and embezzlement by top officials. Visitors to the residence can spend the whole day there viewing the luxurious houses with fancy furniture, Yanukovych’s collection of cars, and the estate’s parks, lakes, ponds, and even a farm with ostriches. To make it easier to get about the vast estate, tourists can rent bicycles, Segways or Seev minibikes.
The best time to visit is in spring or summer, when the enormous residence is covered in green grass and blooming plants and trees. Local tourist agencies offer plenty of options for trips to Mezhyhirya, including transportation and guide services. Tours are provided in English and other languages for $34–55 per visitor. However, travelers can also get to Mezhyhirya by public transport, pay an entrance fee and discover the estate on their own.
Mezhyhirya. Novi Petrivtsi. 19 Ivana Franka St. Winter — 8 a.m.— 5 p.m. Spring, fall — 8 a.m.— 7 p.m. Summer — 8 a.m.— 10 p.m. Wed-Mon. Children — Hr 50, adults — Hr 100120. Tue. Children — free, retirees — Hr 20, adults — Hr 40. Bicycle — Hr 100–150 per hour, Segway, Seev — Hr 400–500 per hour. www.mnp.org.ua
The various festivals and events held in Kyiv almost every weekend during spring and summer offer more reasons to pay a visit to the city. One of them is Kurazh Bazar, a charity market selling both new and used goods, which usually takes place once a month. Each event has a theme (like spring, hip-hop, 90s flashback) and lots of entertainment.
Another festival, Ulichnaya Eda, which stands for “Street Food” in Russian, brings together local foodies and food producers, like cafes, restaurants or budding food entrepreneurs. The two-day festival is usually held once or twice a month on weekends, with each of them focusing on a certain type of food — BBQ, beer, Spanish or Mexican cuisine, coffee, and more. Apart from food, the organizers provide music, dance floors, and entertaining shows.
Another market, Vsi Svoi, focuses on promoting Ukrainian made goods and their producers. Held two or three times a month on weekends, the two-day market usually has a theme, selling certain types of goods like summer clothes, furniture and décor, or food and drinks. Apart from the shopping side, Vsi Svoi offers food courts, where visitors can treat themselves to street dishes and drinks, and listen to live or recorded music. They also sometimes throw parties on the large balcony right outside the venue where the market is held.
Kurazh Bazar — www.facebook. com/kurazhbazar. Ulichnaya Eda — www.facebook.com/ulichnayaeda. Vsi Svoi — www.facebook.com/vsi.svoi
The “new Berlin” label has stuck to Kyiv partly because of its recently-emerged electronic music scene. The city’s underground clubs such as Closer, River Port, and Otel’ attract some of the best DJs from all over the world every weekend. In addition, there are lots of local electronic artists — both up-and-coming ones and already famous acts such as DJ Nastia. Apart from that, Kyiv holds two annual electronic music festivals: Strichka, and Brave! Factory. This year, Strichka will take place on May 18–19, with over 40 DJs in the lineup. Brave! Factory is expected to be held on Aug. 24–25, as usual in an extraordinary location — an actual factory building.
Art galleries are also developing fast in Kyiv. Apart from the traditional museums, which are still well worth a visit, there are plenty of modern galleries that challenge regular ideas about how art should be exhibited — these are free, relatively small places bringing together the local creative community and serving as a platform for sharing contemporary art and communication. They include The Naked Room, Ya Gallery, Tsekh, Izone, Triptych Global Arts Workshop, and Bursa Gallery, and feature various types of artworks, such as photographs, paintings, graphics, collages, and installations by both Ukrainian and foreign artists. With the number of small galleries in Kyiv constantly increasing, it’s never been easier for visitors to the country to get up to date with contemporary Ukrainian art. ■
People enjoy partying as they attend Kurazh Bazar charity market called "Love Actually" and dedicated to St. Valentine's Day on Feb. 16, 2019, in Kyiv. (Courtesy)