As Eurovision 2017 gets underway in Kyiv (usually known as Kiev still in the UK) here are some tips from early last year, which may be of use to fans attending. The original post seems to have dropped off my website in conversion to the new WordPress one which I only spotted when looking for these tips. They are originally aimed at UK football fans, as you can see. I’m assuming visitors are heading to the Dynamo Kyiv stadium. I would just add three things. I’ve read the UK FCO travel advice for visitors for Eurovision and think it is good practical advice, I agree with nearly every word. People in Kyiv and in Ukraine in general are usually very friendly and helpful, there are the usual exceptions. So if stuck on something do try and ask. Finally, while I wanted Eurovision to be in the wonderful city of Odessa, there is no doubt that the Ukrainian authorities and people of Kyiv will be passionate to ensure that visitors have a good time and enjoy the culture and hospitality of Ukraine’s capital city. Do enjoy, and good luck to all competitors.
Kyiv tips for football fans
For any friends who can join Wales on the trip to Kyiv next week. Some tips in case you know anyone going or thinking of going. I really recommend it to all your Wales friends. Worth making a mini-break of it.
It’s a lovely stadium.
Accommodation is cheap.
Food and drink is cheap even in the centre.
There is quite a lot of English spoken in Kyiv, usually someone around will speak some English; Quite a lot of signs are in English as well as Cyrillic.
Top tips, get a map in Ukrainian and English;
practice reading the Cyrillic alphabet;
look up a few phrases for food and drink. Pivo is an obvious one and coffee (sounds same) / cava (Russian / Ukrainian) chai.
People are friendly, I find the Metro horrendously confusing – look out for little tiny green M signs to indicate the stations – they are very hard to spot. (If you do take the metro you buy a green plastic token that you put in a slot – they cost next to nothing).
There are regular airport shuttle buses (small mini buses, that you may be crammed in on with luggage), labelled Sky buses, for just a few pounds that run between the airport and the modern side of the main Kyiv Voxhal (railway station): central railway station (центральний вокзал), Southern Station. You pay the driver the fare as he is about to leave. The journey can take about an hour (if very quick only 40 minutes). Traffic in Kyiv is very heavy at peak times so allow plenty of time for bus or taxi.
While the modern both late communist and capitalist parts of Kyiv, and modern capitalist outskirts are pretty ugly, the old historic central areas are very nice. As it happens the British Embassy is in one of the nicest locations.
The Kyiv in your pocket guide is good: http://www.inyourpocket.com/kyiv
You can download a .pdf of it, and will see copies and tourist maps in places around the city.
This site also seems useful: http://www.visitkievukraine.com/
Definitely take a walk to the Maydan Square (about 40 minutes from the stadium) and up the main Khreshchatyk Street (Bul.) [ вул. Хрещатик ] (the nearer end is about 20 minutes from the stadium). There is a giant shopping centre under the Maydan. The domed Bessarabian market at the end of Khreshchatyk nearer the stadium is also worth popping into. And the big gold domed Cathedrals are really quite spectacular. St. Sophia’s. St. Michael’s.
Good tea and coffee and cake everywhere. You can get the currency from cash machines easily.
As it’s currently about 38 Hryvnias (sounds like Grivnia) to the pound, an expensive beer or coffee may cost about £1.50 but it can be a lot less. Maybe 30p for a large bottle of water from a kiosk (expensive in restaurants, cheap elsewhere). A pizza or burger is likely to cost a few pounds in a restaurant. Kiosks / supermarkets are really cheap. Of course there are also very expensive restaurants / bars if you want them. Oh, and they really do eat Chicken Kiev – it’s called cutlet Kyivski style and isn’t at all 1970s 🙂 .
The tourism site the FCO travel advice recommends looks good. On the food section if you scroll down a few lines you actually get to stuff I’d recommend eating!!
http://kyivcity.travel/?locale=en [That site does not seem to have been updated for 2017]
Oddly it doesn’t have a map. Nor does the next guide.
The Eurovision 2017 Kyiv tips by Vladyslav Tieriekhov is good. It includes phrases in Ukrainian: http://pix.eurovisionworld.com/grafik/2017/eurovision-2017-kyiv-guide.pdf
For a guide book the Lonely Planet guide to Ukraine is a good book.
You usually sit at a table, and order food as well as drink, in a bar. Even the few that look like pubs are more like cafe bar / restaurants. Most people will always eat and drink at the same time.
Ukrainian and Russian are used interchangeably. Younger / professional people may speak French / German / Italian as well.
A couple of bars I recommend:
Slavutych Shato Brewery
вул. Хрещатик, 24
Half way along Kreshchatyk on the left as you walk towards Maydan. You can’t miss the giant illuminated pint plass outside.
Porter Pub. Портер паб.
These look quite like Irish bars at home, they look quite like pubs. There are quite a few of them around Kyiv including just off either end of Kreshchatyk.
Milk Bar. This is a very nice Cafe / coffee / cake shop quite near the football stadium. It is expensive (UK type prices) but very good. As trendy as Manchester.
Shota Rustaveli St, 16
There is a food hall several floors up the Gulliver shopping mall – inside the huge Gulliver business centre complex near the stadium, and there is a good supermarket in the basement of the Gulliver complex. Gulliver has a huge illuminated yellow sign on top – it looks like an office block at the front and the entrance to a mall near the Palats Sportu metro at the back.
Other food tips.
I was going to start listing and recommending places but actually they are far too numerous to recommend good, good value (from very cheap to very expensive) coffee, tea and cafés and café bars and restaurants and other eating and drinking places. (I know a few cheap fast food joints as well of varying quality but always friendly). Everything will have a Ukrainian twist. We can certainly recommend cheap Ukrainian, or good pizza (Пицца – пиццерия Pizzeria – Pizza Celentano is a popular chain serving decent quality pizza found in both Poland and Ukraine), or nice restaurants where locals also eat. Passata Kharta (ask your hotel staff for proper Ukrainian and transliteration) is a good inexpensive self-service Ukrainian food chain, that also serves drinks. There is one very near the Bessarabian market. They look like terrible theme restaurants but serve authentic Ukrainian food.
PS The alphabet. Like in English, the upper case and lower case letters can look quite different, and the handwritten characters (including various old fashioned and stylised typed ‘handwritten’ scripts) look completely different to the printed upper case standard letters. They pronounce the name of their alphabet Kirillick (rather than as we say Cyrillic).
British sports teams seem to be regularly making the trip to Kyiv for international football matches. Having visited Kyiv (known in Britain mostly as Kiev) many times here are a few very simple tips for fans travelling to the city. Originally written in case any Man City, and then Wales fan friends were travelling to Ukraine or had friends who were. I’ve made 9 short visits to the city over the last 20 months, and am still very much finding my own way around. I also attach a few pictures of phrases in Ukrainian and Russian in case useful. These are from the Lonely Planet guides and Berlitz phrasebook. [On original website post not yet uploaded here]
2 April 2016.
Original post 19/02/2016 for Dynamo Kyiv v Man City, revised 21/03/2016 for Ukraine v Wales.
8/9 May 2017 Eurovision edit.