If you feel that it's time to explore a new European destination, you may want to visit Kiev. The capital of the Ukraine has something to offer for everyone, whether you are a party animal or a culture vulture. Since the Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, this city has also become a bustling and vibrant center in Eastern Europe.
The name Kiev is actually transliterated from Russian. The transliteration from Ukrainian is Kyiv. Even though most of its more than 3 million inhabitants speak Russian, the official language for signage and documentation is Ukrainian.
Kyiv is located on the Dnieper River in the northern part of the Ukraine. Its name means 'city of Kyi'. Kyi was one of four siblings who, according to legend, founded the city in the fifth or sixth century.
Founded so long ago, Kyiv is now one of Eastern Europe's oldest cities. Its rulers through the centuries included Mongols, Lithuanians, Cossacks, Russians and of course the Soviets. The city is now once again regaining its Ukrainian identity.
Coming into Kyiv by plane, you will most likely touch down at Boryspil International Airport. This is to the south-east, outside of the city. Getting to the city center involves taking a taxi or car. Another way is to take the Sky Bus, which will drop you off at the train station. Alternatives to flying in are traveling in by train, car, international bus or even by boat.
Once there, you will find a myriad of things to do and places to see. Old churches and monasteries are treasure troves of religious art and architecture. One of the most famous of these is the St Sophia Cathedral, which dates back to the eleventh century and is a UNESCO world heritage site.
For modern history, you can't go wrong visiting one of the museums and war memorials focusing on the Great Patriotic War. This is what the Second World War is called in the Ukraine. Like in many other European cities, the war had a profound effect on the Ukrainian people. Every year in September Ukrainians still gather at Babyi Jar to commemorate the lives lost there. At this site, in the region of 60 000 people, mainly Jewish and Romany, were killed by the Nazis.
The Chernobyl Museum is dedicated to another tragic event in the Ukraine's recent history, the nuclear disaster from the 1980s. If you're tired of museums and tragedies, though, you can move on to the theaters instead. Kyiv offers opera, classical music, drama, ballet and even a marionette theater. For those on a tight budget there are street entertainers along the famous Kreschatik Street.
Other activities in the city include shopping, a vibrant nightlife, a variety of sports and parks. Of course you cannot visit Kiev or Kyiv and not have real Ukrainian borscht in one of the city's restaurants. To enjoy all these activities and more, you can take an organized tour or simply create your own itinerary.