Sunday, December 27, 2009;
Kiev is best enjoyed once the weather starts turning milder in the spring. KLM and Lufthansa offer one-stop flights out of Washington Dulles starting at about $800 round-trip in March. U.S. citizens do not need a visa. Getting from the airport to the city is a hefty taxi ride. Hawkers will ask outlandish amounts, but if you negotiate you should be able to get a ride for $20-$25 (160-200 hryvnia).
Central Kiev is walkable. Most things are no more than 20 minutes from the main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square. There's a good Metro system (20 cents a ride). You should be able to get a taxi to any place in the center of the city for about $5 (40 hryvnia), but if you flag down a cab on the street, negotiate the fare before you get in.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Lybid, Peremohy 1, 011-380-44-236-0063, http://hotellybid.com.ua. A five-minute cab ride from the heart of the city. Doubles from $115.
Khreschatyk Hotel, Khreschatyk Street 14, 011-380-44-596-8000, http://www.khreschatik.kiev.ua. Slightly down at the heels, but a great location on the main drag. Doubles from $108.
Sunflower B&B Hotel, Kostelnaya 9-41, 011-380-44-279-3846, http://www.sunflowerhotel.kiev.ua. A few steps from the central square. Rooms from $135.
WHERE TO EAT
Volkonsky Cafe and Bakery, 5 Khreschatyk Passage, 011-380-44-270-5996. Perfect for a light lunch or coffee and a pastry. Entrees $10-$16.
Tike, Sagaydachnogo 31A, 011-380-44-417-4062. This Turkish restaurant near the river is not cheap, but the food is great. Main dishes, $10-$15.
Varenichnaya, 28 Esplanadnaya St., 011-380-44-287-1539. This is the place to get varenyky-- dumplings stuffed with meat, mushroom, vegetables or cheese -- perhaps the signature Ukrainian dish. Save room for the sour cherry ("vishna") varenyky for dessert. Entrees $5-$11.
Bar on 8, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 5 A. Tarasova St., 011-380-44-581-1234, http://www.hyatt.com. This eighth-floor lounge is a great place for a drink at the end of the day. Fabulous views of St. Sophia's Cathedral and St. Michael's Monastery of the Golden Domes. In nice weather, you can sit on the terrace and watch the sun set over the city.
WHAT TO DO
Kiev-Pechersk monastic complex, 21 Sichnevogo Povstannya. Also called the Lavra. Part of the complex, including the very interesting underground caves and chapels, is free. There is a small admission fee of about $2 for the rest. The many museums in the complex house exhibits that range from Scythian gold jewelry to the tiny wonders of the Museum of Micro-Miniatures.
Great Patriotic War Museum, 44 Ivana Mazepy St., 011-380-44-285-9452. The most interesting museum in the city; a cab ride from the center or a short walk from the Kiev-Pechersk complex. Tells the story of the titanic struggle between the Russian and German armies with thousands of artifacts. Includes the massive Rodina Mat statue. Admission less than $2.
St. Sophia's Cathedral, 24 Vladimirskaya St. Entrance to the grounds is less than $1. Tickets to the various museums inside are sold separately for a few dollars at a booth on the left just past the gate.
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