5 essential sights for and incredible 48 hours in Kiev, Ukraine

Ukranian Car

Car parked outside St. Sophia Cathedral in central Kiev, Ukraine

You won’t stay parked for long when visiting Kiev as I found on my recent visit to the city.  48 hours is more than enough time to get a feel for this great city and check out some of its most spectacular sites. For tourists, Kiev is easy to navigate with English signs in the subway and streets pointing to all of the cities central tourists destinations.

With 48 hours in the city I toured around at a slow meandering pace that let me relax and enjoy all that Kiev had to offer. From bars to famous historical sights and sacred churches here are a few of the Kiev highlights I enjoyed.

Pechersk Lavra Cave Monastery

On of the several beautiful places of worship at the Pechersk Lavra Cave Monastery in Kiev, Ukraine

1. Kiev Pechersk Lavra (The Cave Monastery) – Known as a senior monastery and broken into two, the upper and lower Lavra, this religious complex houses several impressive churches with gold spires reaching toward the heavens. For pilgrims the Lavra is the most most sacred ground in the country dating back to 1051. It is also the home of an underground cave system used by worshiping monks who lived and studied there.

Now, the more than 900 year old caves hold the remains of the mummified monks including their founder. For pilgrims visiting the caves is an extremely important spiritual experience and while I was down in the depth of the labyrinth, holding my candle for light as I looked over the mummified remains of ancient spiritual leaders, I noticed pilgrims devotedly kissing the sarcophagi showing the spiritual importance of this place; go there!

Ukrainian Pilgrims

Pilgrims exiting the Pechersk Lavra Cave Monastery in Kiev, Ukraine. No pictures are allowed inside the caves.

2. St. Sophia’s Cathedral – For me the highlight of St. Sophia’s was climbing the bell tower to take pictures of the city, and of course watch my buddy Johnny accidentally drop a water bottle 150 ft off the top. St. Stophia itself it a UNESCO World Heritage site with 11th century mosaics and frescoes covering the insides, a pretty impressive site, although you cannot take pictures.

View of Kiev

View of Kiev from the top of St. Sophia’s Cathedral bell tower in Kiev, Ukraine

3. St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery – Is something worth checking out. It’s located right across from St. Sophia, and if the sky is blue you’ll be able to get a great picture of the gold crested spires and saintly façade on the outside of the building. I thought it was pretty cool but at the time I was a little churched out.

St. Michael's Kiev

St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery Kiev,Ukraine

4. Rodina Mat (the Motherland Statue)- Awesome! Reminiscent of the Soviet era this epic statue commemorating the Soviet Union’s defeat of the Nazis is remarkable. Reaching 62 meters into the sky, the giant sword-wielding female is surrounded by classic Soviet era statues symbolizing the Soviet ideals of valor and perseverance. If you’re into museums you might also want to check out The Museum of the Great Patriotic War just down the way.

Motherland Statue Kiev

Rodina Mat also known as the Motherland Statue in Kiev, Ukraine

5. Maydan Nezalezhonsti (Independence Square) – Kiev’s central square is a great place for people watching and snapping a few pics. Just down the road from Dynamo stadium you could walk down and catch a game or head to one of the many restaurants surrounding the square. On a nice summer day, grab and ice cream and head down Khrshchatyk street, which is closed for pedestrians on weekends.

Independence Square Kiev

Maydan Nezaleshonsti Independence Square central Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev offers so much more than these five sights although if you’re pressed for time these few spots are definitely a priority. While you’re there take some extra time to check out the nightlife and relax along the beaches that line the Dnieper River. You can also grab some wine, bread, and cheese then head to one of the cities many parks for a pick-nick.

Dnieper River Kiev

Picture of fellow travel blogger Johnny Ward with the Dnieper River in the background – Kiev-Ukraine

Tips :

1. Visiting the churches in Ukraine one has to be prepared. If you’re a woman you need to wear a veil over your head and men need to wear pants.
2. In the caves, the temperatures are cool and it’s dark so you’ll need to buy a candle to see where you’re going.
3. Walking is a great way to get around and visit the cities many sites. If you’re pressed for time the metro is great and easily accessible.


1. St. Sophias student price 26 UAH – $3 USD (includes the bell tower)
2. Upper Lavra – 25 UAH- $3USD
3. Lower Lavra and caves – free


Ian Yacobucci

Traveling the Trans-Siberian, mountaineering the Himalayas, or teaching in Tokyo, I'm always trying something new. As a someone who's worked, studied, and traveled to 40+ countries around the world, I'm here to share my experiences so you can do the same.

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