Step aside Berlin. There is another capital vying to steal your crown of cool. With Ukraine being one step closer to becoming part of the EU, now has never been a better time to explore Kiev’s architectural splendour and bohemian scene on a vodka shot budget.
There is a new kind of revolution taking to the streets of Kiev. Street art is winning locals over with its splashes of colour among its diverse traditional architectural styles. Many homegrown and internationally acclaimed street artists are transforming the city’s blank canvases with vibrant large murals from the centre to far-reaching suburbia. Helping to guide the city’s lively renewal from a history filled with constant invasions and rich Orthodox traditions is the art initiative ‘ArtUnitedUs’. The initiative is the biggest urban street art project in the world with over 200 walls across Kiev to be given a brightly hued makeover with the theme of world peace.
Forget crowded spaces, follow the rabbit hole down to this hidden park located in the city centre on Old Kiev Hill and you will find yourself in an urban wonderland. Landscape Alley is a playful utopia for the young at heart with its eye-grabbing colourful mosaics, artful park benches and offbeat statues taking on worldly attractions (think ‘Manneken Pis’ of Brussels).
Not just for the adults, it appeals to the kiddies too with its famous playground an ode to the outlandish characters of Alice in Wonderland. The park is popular with residents for its relaxed atmosphere, musically talented street buskers but most of all, its perfect picture book views of historic Kiev and the Dnieper River.
CHIC (AND CHEAP) NIGHTS OUT
The cool and the hip late night hang outs did not just descend on Berlin. Kiev is home to many hidden treasures including Spotykach, a Retro-Soviet cellar themed bar dishing up traditional recipes with a modern twist (coloured dumplings anyone?) coupled with a long Christmas-que list of vodka-based liqueurs and cocktails.
The sky is also the limit for a top night out with the rooftop Barbara Bar wanting to make any hipster drool with its kitsch decor and beverage concoctions to cater for those who like to think (and drink) outside the box.
EATS AT STREET EATS PRICES
Save on the hryvnias by having an authentic local experience by visiting Puzata Hata, a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants. Don’t let the nature of the restaurant fool you as each outlet has a unique countryside-inspired interior that really makes you feel like you are in a traditional Ukrainian home setting. Fill up your tray (and your stomach) from entree to desserts with much loved classic Ukrainian and Russian dishes. For loose change, you will most likely be tempted for seconds.
The architecture may be one for the ages but its culture is forward thinking. Located in the ever-so popular Podil district, Closer Club is more than just one of Europe’s best spots for house and techno. Feel a part of the underground in this old factory-cum contemporary mixed space venue that hosts live gigs, art exhibitions, lectures as well as festivals and parties.
Kiev proves you do not need to be a city located along the coast with Trukhaniv Island acting as a cool escape. Take a Sunday stroll over Parkovy Bridge (aka Pedestrian Bridge) to have an urban dip, relaxed sip or get active by going around the island by bike or with water-based sports.