Where to Stay in Kiev, Ukraine | The A-Z Guide
Curious where to stay in Kiev, Ukraine these days? If so, look no further than this article.
P.S: This is a guest post from Ukraine Living.
Written by a guy who has lived in Kiev for nearly 4+ years, this is your ultimate guide on where to stay in Kiev, from the center to the most desirable outer districts. Whether you are here for a long-term job, here permanently because of a Ukrainian girl, or just stopping by for a month or so, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on where to stay in Kiev by the end of this article.
But first, an important piece of information:
The “Left Bank” in Kiev is actually the side on the right of the Dnipro River. The reason why is because the first people who discovered Kiev sailed in from the north, hence the eastern side of the river was on the Left. Years later, this thinking still sticks. It’s silly, and anyone who is not Ukrainian will be bewildered, but that’s just how it is.
Best Neighborhoods in Kiev, Ukraine | In the Center…
Enough of the fluff, let’s dig into some of the best places to stay while visiting the capital of Ukraine. Here are the most desirable neighborhoods to live in Kiev…
As an expat, the absolute best place to stay in Kiev is definitely in the center of the city. But, this area is big and should not be confused. Most tourists, when they arrive, automatically look towards what is considered the absolute center of the city. This means Khreschatyk Street and Maidan (Independence) Square.
But, this area should be avoided. Reason why is simple…
It’s overrun with tourists.
Yes, Khreschatyk Street is cool and impressive, but it’s also got some shady people working there. It is overrun with tourists all the time. There’s lots of weird people who moonlight as sex tourists that are constantly going up and down the street, too. And, to top it off, somebody is always upset about something in Kiev, so there’s always all sorts of protests and political things that go on.
If you want to stay in the center, the areas around Ploshcha Lva Tolstoho Metro, Taras Shevchenko Park, Palats Sportu, Shota Rustavelli Street, and Klovska Metro all have that same energy of being in the central, but are just much nicer, cleaner, and much more local than Kheshatyck and Maidan.
Also, don’t be afraid of going a stop or two out of the center. Kiev’s center is extremely walkable in many cases. Use the following stops to draw yourself a map of a reasonable area.
On the BLUE line, Olimpiiska is still central enough in the majority of cases, whereas Poshtova Ploshcha metro is not.
On the GREEN line, you can stay anywhere between stops Zoloti Vorota and Pecherska and be just fine.
With the RED line, you’ll want to stay with Universytet and maybe Arsenalna (which is pretty far, and also the deepest metro in the world). Arsenalna sits on the edge of the “Lypky” district, which is where a lot of government housing is. It’s quite there, but quite nice. Be warned, the hill to get from the center-center to this area is massive, and extremely not-fun in the winter when it’s icy and cold.
In the center, you will find all sorts of apartments. This is where a lot of Kiev nightlife is too.
Some will be extremely old, some will be extremely ugly (they’re not as old), and there’s plenty of new complexes popping up, too. Generally speaking, if you book an AirBNB in the center of Kiev, and you show up, and see an ugly ‘ol Stalinist building — don’t panic. First, these things are beasts on the outside, but most people have done considerable work to the inside, so the photos are often pretty accurate.
Just outside of the direct city center, up the hill from Khreschatyck and Maidan, it’s worth noting that it does feel very separated. If you go deep enough, it’s extremely quiet.
This is considered one of the most desirable areas to live because it’s central enough but also suburban enough. It also feels very different than the center-center because there’s a distinct lack of the ugly buildings. Most of the buildings are the 4/5 story, truly old buildings.
They look nice, but most of them are 100+ years old.
Podil is the historic district of Kiev, and has seen a resurgence in recent years. It’s become the cool, hipster place to be. They’ve shut down some of the streets, which are now pedestrian only. It has really grown a lot, and as a result, prices have risen, but there’s also a lot more infrastructure in place.
Podil will feel like it’s own separate city if you stay there. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s quieter and off-the-grid feeling compared to the very central area. However, if you have other expat friends that are staying in the center, trekking to the more central area will become tiring, especially since you are dealing with the metro at the most populated stops, meaning they’re almost always full.
Podil and the Center are really it as far as it goes as far as where to stay in the center. You’re either in the center, or you’re not. The rest of this article will discuss the most desirable areas outside of the direct center.
Outside of the Center…
The following places are generally considered to be the most desirable suburbs. It’s good to note, suburbs in Kiev will still have a lot of the same amenities (just not as many exotic restaurants) as the center.
Kiev really is like a place that was copy/pasted over and over across the districts. Same supermarkets, same transit, same restaurants. It’s like a big grid of districts all the same other than names.
Ocean Plaza is considered one of the nicest malls in Kiev, and has for many years now. Previously, the area around it had lots of open land plots, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that there are dozens of development projects going up around it as I write this.
Already a desirable area just outside of the center, I suspect it will continue to grow in both population and price in the coming years.
At the north end of the blue line, Oblon is very nice. They have a nice riverfront promenade, as well as several high-end malls (Dream Town 1 and Dream Town 2). Places here are really not that cheap.
Obolon though, does feel like there are lot of apartments around, and it does feel sort of like a big concrete fortress closed in around you (or at least it will feel that way for foreigners).
The one recommendation in this article on the “Left” Bank, these areas have been shooting up in value and popularity in recent years. With the opening of the new River Mall, it’s likely this will continue.
Places to Avoid in Kiev, Ukraine
Generally speaking, I recommend you avoid the following areas…
- Vokzalna: This is the main train station, off the RED line, and just two stops out of the center. But, one walk through the train station (and the road leading up to it) will show you everything you need to know. It’s just not that nice of an area. There are some nice, new apartment complexes around it that are popping up on AirBNB, but do your homework carefully if you are thinking of staying here.
Where to Stay in Kiev, Ukraine | The A-Z Guide
Finally, just keep in mind, that if you decide to live out of the center, the most important thing is to live close to a metro station. Yes, Uber is cheap and most expats can afford to take it most of the time.
But, there are times of the day where you simply do not want to be in a personal vehicle, unless you’re a rich oligarch and are going by helicopter. The traffic in Kiev is brutal and there are times where your time is more valuable than your money (for example, every Friday during the summer months is a guaranteed disaster as people leave the city for their summer homes — “dachas”).
There’s no denying that.
But, there are things that are tolerable. The metro is not bad if you avoid peak hours. Having to ride in Ukrainian buses (“marshutkas”) is not for most westerners.
Anyways, that wraps up the best places to stay in Kiev…