Back in 2012 the European Championships were held in Poland and Ukraine, and the city of Kiev hosted 5 games, including England's group game against Sweden and the rather one-sided final on 1st July between Spain and Italy.
While we won't have a fans' embassy team operating in Kiev for the Champions League final, we can reproduce a lot of the information we gleaned back at the tournament for those making their trips east for Saturday's game against Real Madrid, some of which may come in useful.
About the city
Situated on the Dnipro River, Kyiv is the capital city of Ukraine. After a rough and tumultuous history, the city has become an attractive array of old and new buildings. More and more of the culture is being infl uenced by both Western and European customs, yet the Ukrainians who live here still cling proudly to tradition.
Catapulted onto the world scene by the nuclear reactor blast at nearby Chernobyl in 1986, the beautiful city of Kyiv is now a world away from the tragedies of the past. For a while there were reasonable concerns about the safety of living in such close proximity to the destroyed nuclear reactor plant, but most scientists agree that the city is free from the eff ects of radiation.
Today, Kyiv is home to roughly three million people; some of them diplomats whilst others are students from around the world. Consequently, the city has a rather cosmopolitan feel about it. Whilst many of its greater architectural and art treasures were destroyed in the Second World War, that which was left has been restored and now proudly adorns the face of this striking city.
There is plenty to see and do in Kyiv and you should find enough to keep you occupied for several days. Known as the ‘Green City’ for its many botanical gardens, trees and parks, the city is beautiful in the spring and summer months. The river provides hours of leisure activity in the form of swimming and boat rides, whilst many enjoy relaxed strolls and cycling trails along its banks. In the winter the lake freezes over to make way for ice fishermen and ice-skaters. The numerous theatres and opera houses provide indoor entertainment, and craft markets selling traditional Ukrainian goods are found in most major cities. There are also plenty of art galleries, beautiful old buildings and even catacombs to see.
Reconstruction of the original 88 year old stadium began in August 2008 and was completed in October 2011. After renovation it is now the largest in Ukraine. Buses, trolleybuses and the metro run to the stadium, but we advise that you check arrangements for matchdays as timetables/routes could change as part of match day arrangements.
The nearest metro station is Olimpiys’ka Station and Sport Palats (Palace of Sport). Bus #69, trolleybus #3 and marshruktas #171, #411 & #427 also go to the stadium. If you are travelling by car to the stadium on match day it’s worth bearing in mind that there is no public parking available within miles of the stadium, and the traffic is a nightmare in Kyiv at the best of times.
The stadium uses the non-cash payment method which means you have to purchase a pre-loaded cash card to purchase goods such as food and souvenirs. Cards are available in the stadium for 20 Hr and you can top the card up with 10Hr units; you can also get refunds on any cash not spent on the card so long as you keep receipts of purchase.
Stadium tours are available on nonmatch days and last approximately 40 minutes. Tours are usually in Ukrainian but if there is demand, arrangements can be made for other languages. Price is 50 UAH for adults and 25 UAH for children under 16. Entrance to the tour is by the north entrance to the stadium.
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (+380) 44 590 6696 Address: Bolshaya Vasilkovskaya Str., 55 (Pecherskiy district).
The Kyiv metro was constructed in 1949 just after World War II and some of the older stations (mainly on the red line) are remarkable examples of Socialist Realist architecture. There are three separate lines - blue (Kurenivs’ko - Chervonoarmiys’ka), green (Syrets’ko - Pechers’ka) and red (Sviatoshyns’ko - Brovars’ka). The metro is the quickest and cheapest way to get around the city but not very comfortable, it can get extremely overcrowded during rush hour and at night when fewer services are running.
Tokens are purchased for each journey from automatic dispensers at stations or from booth attendants. Once you have your token proceed to the metro gates, insert your token in the machine and wait for the red light on the gate to turn green. The gate will then open and you can enter the platform. The metro is open daily from 6am till midnight.
Trolleybuses, trams and buses
Single tickets can be purchased for around 2 UAH from conductors on the vehicles or from street kiosks close to stops. Once you get on the vehicle you’ll have to validate your ticket by punching it in a machine (usually near to the driver). If you don’t validate your ticket you can be liable to pay a fi ne. All tickets are only valid for one journey.
Known as marshrutkas and usually yellow in colour, these run the same routes as trolleys and buses and have the same numbers usually displayed in the front windscreen. Flag it down as you would a taxi; fares are 2 UAH or 3 UAH but these are likely to increase for the tournament.
So that you don’t get ripped off ensure you use a registered company and agree a price before your journey as cabs don’t have meters. Some useful numbers are listed below:
Alfa Taxi - (+380) 44 535 7154
Delta Taxi - (+380) (+380) 44 495 1919
Express Taxi – (+380) 44 239 1515
Euro Taxi – (+380) 44 249 4040
Etalon Taxi – (+380) 44 501 5501 / (+380) 44 502 5454
Grand Taxi - (+380) 44 222 3222
Kyiv Taxi - (+380) 44 459 0101
It’s always worth asking your hotel to phone for a taxi, as most (if not all) will not have an English speaking operator.
Out and About
Eating out in Kyiv is relatively cheap - if you can avoid the major tourist traps. While Eastern Europe used to have a reputation for being very cheap when it came to food and drink, prices have escalated as more and more tourists have found their way to the edge of the continent. The bars and restaurants around Independence Square and the main street Kreshatyk will have vastly inflated prices compared with a lot of the rest of the city.
As a main tourist destination, Kyiv isn’t short of cafes, bars and restaurants to suit all budgets and palettes, however. Many of the shopping malls have fast food outlets and those who can’t do without their rations of burger and coke will be pleased to learn there are over 15 McDonald’s outlets, one of the main ones being at the top of Independence Square.
Rosie O’Grady’s, Velyka Zhytomyrska 8/14. Nearest metro is Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Open from 08:00 until 03:00. They have a good selection of beers and reasonably priced food. Large screens are dotted around the bar.
O’Brien’s, Mykhailivska 17A. The nearest metro station is Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Open 08:00 - 02:00. The main bar is upstairs where there are also darts, pool tables and 5 big screens. Food served daily from 08:00-19:00. Wi-Fi available.
Lucky Pub, Chervonoarmiyska 13. Nearest metro station is L’va Tolstoho. More of a sports bar than a pub with 11 screens available and reasonably priced food is available daily. Open 11:00-01:00
You’re advised not to drink the tap water, but bottled water is easily and cheaply available. Beer in bars is expensive for locals. So they tend to buy beer from street-vendors (of which there are many) and these are much more reasonably priced.
In the centre of Kyiv there are restaurants on every main street; you are virtually spoilt for choice with such a wide range on off er - everything from traditional Ukrainian cuisine to Uzbekistan restaurants and everything in between.
If it’s something quick, cheap and tasty you’re after then you won’t be disappointed if you head to Puzata Khata where there are a number of outlets around the city centre. There’s a wide variety of food including traditional Ukrainian dishes and familiar western dishes.
Kyiv Tourist Information, Khreshchatyk St 19A. Ground floor of the Khreschatyk Plaza. Tel: (+380) 66 851 8558 or (+380) 44 278 8004
With thanks to Flickr user Brittany for the image used in this blog, reproduced under Creative Commons licence.