Journey to Kiev and see a city where the past is always present in its churches, monasteries, monuments and museums.

Kiev, is a city of nearly 3 million people. Founded around the 5th century AD, Kiev has had a turbulent past. Since 1991, it has been the capital of the newly-independent Ukraine.

Flights to Kiev from Johannesburg via Amsterdam or Paris involve a journey time of as little as 15 hours 30 minutes and arrive at Boryspil International Airport, which is 30 km east of the city.

The local currency is the Ukrainian Hryvnia. For advice on customs
and travel documents, the Air France website is a useful resource. The website also has a section on vaccinations .

The best time to buy airplane tickets for a holiday to Kiev is May through to September - the city's continental climate means it can be very cold in Winter.

Some of Kiev's most distinctive sights are the Orthodox churches, cathedrals and monasteries that are scattered across the city. The 1,000 year old St. Sophia Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an iconic city landmark. Other much-visited religious sites include St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery (demolished by the Soviet authorities and only rebuilt in the 1990s), St. Andrew's church and the neo-Byzantine St. Volodymyr's Cathedral.

The heart of Kiev is centred upon Independence Square and Khreshchatyk Street, which combines exclusive shops with Neo-Stalinist architecture. The city council building and the central post office are both located on this street. Andriyivskyy Descent is a very different kind of thoroughfare, but one that is extremely popular with sightseers. This steep cobbled street links Kiev's Upper Town and the historic neighbourhood of Podil. The key sights along the half mile-long street include the baroque St. Andrew's Church and writer Mikhail Bulgakov's house.

Kiev's parks, palace grounds and botanical gardens are ideal to escape the hustle and bustle of the city

Travel to Kiev and you'll discover that it's a relatively green city, with a plethora of parks and green spaces. Even better, it's possible to combine both greenery and history in the one location if you visit the imposing Motherland Monument, overlooking the banks of the River Dnieper. This enormous steel figure stands atop the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, Kiev, one of the largest museums in the Ukraine, which offers a comprehensive account of the colossal struggle between the Soviet Union and Germany in the last World War. Just a stone's throw away is the Gryshko national botanical gardens, a beautiful 120 hectare site especially renowned for its collection of lilacs. For a different style of park, you can head north, to the park surrounding the Mariinsky Palace (currently being restored). Beautiful views of the river are to be had here as well.

If your stay is a longer one, why not take a trip to the open-air museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine at Pyrohiv, just outside Kiev? This will give you a great idea of what life in rural Ukraine used to be like. The site contains around 300 buildings, including churches, windmills and dwelling houses representing different styles of vernacular architecture from all over the country. Although the museum can be reached using public transport, having the use of a hire car would definitely be a plus here.

Other popular tourist attractions in Kiev include:
  • Landscape Alley (park with ceramic sculptures)
  • The House with Chimaeras
  • The State Aviation Museum
  • Feofania Park

Kiev can be your oyster with these helpful travel and tourism websites!