One of my best friends from Prague, Kate, is from Kyiv and in the past year, I have been lucky enough to visit her twice.
Kate has told me stories about the 2014 revolution, where, as a teenager, she went to the freezing streets of Kyiv to make sandwiches and tea for the protesters, some of whom were later shot by the riot police.
She has told me stories of what it was like for her parents living in Soviet Ukraine, how there were regular blackouts, and despite her parents both being doctors, most of their money came from bribes.
Her mother vividly remembers the Cherynoble disaster, she was pregnant with Kate at the time and was terrified.
Visiting Kyiv now it really feels like the city is making up for the many years of repression. There is street art on every corner, new, interesting and secret bars popping up on every street and some of the best techno parties in the whole of Europe.
OKHO – This small outdoor bar is great in the summer, it is really relaxed and laidback, you can drink a beer, play ping pong and people watch the stylish Kyiv students come and go.
Squat 17B – The residents of this squat have utilised the space and turned it into a small bar/cafe, people still live here, but they welcome visitors. It’s a really innovative space and it’s pretty cool to visit a Ukrainian squat!
Pijana Wishnia – This small bar in the city centre is a really nice place to try some Cherry Nalivka a traditional Ukrainian cherry wine.
Courtyard with Crows – located on Reitarska Street, this strange courtyard has a small and very cosy cafe/bar and as the name suggests a cage with two huge crows…
Clubbing in Kyiv is a cultural experience in itself.
In response to the 2014 revolution, young people have rebelled against the suffocation of the city creating what is now a huge underground/techno scene.
Partying in Kyiv is what I can only imagine partying in Berlin was like in the 90s.
Cxema – In the past years, a series of parties called Cxema have popped up and have since transformed the party scene in the Kyiv.
The events are held every couple of months in various unknown industrial locations across the city with the focus being on Ukrainian DJ’s.
Strichka Festival – This annual festival is located in an abandoned ribbon factory which is now home to the club Closer.
The festival started in 2014 and has now become renowned in the city. The club is made up of a maze of different rooms, there is music in every room and platforms that make you feel like you are dancing in the trees.
The festival lasts for 36 hours non-stop, hardcore party-goers sleep in the club for a couple of hours, wake up and continue partying.
There is so much to explore, so much music to listen to, it is a maze of freedom.
Mezhyhirya Residence – this huge park is the previous estate of the ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, he lived here from 2002 to 2014 before he fled to Russia during the revolution.
The huge house and surrounding gardens have since been taken over by the public and turned into a park which is open to everyone.
While the rest of Ukraine was suffering, Yanukovych was basking in wealth, living in this mansion, which has been discovered to even have gold toilets.
You can come to this estate on a sunny day, admire its beauty and join in the mockery, buying a magnet with a gold-toilet.
Taras Shevchenko Park – Located in the city centre this is another beautiful park to enjoy on a summers day. There is a whole section of the park with small tables, chairs and chess sets. You can join in for a game or admire all of the old men entranced in chess.
Kyiv Reservoir – On a summers day you can come down to the waterfront, relax in a bar by the water, or grab some street food and stroll down the pier.
Things to see
Climb up the stairs on Anrjivsky descent – This cobbled uphill street is filled with little market stalls selling traditional Ukrainian clothes and other tourist souvenirs.
If you go up the stairs on the left of the street you can climb up to see an amazing view of the vast city.
The People’s Friendship Arch – The arch was built in 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the USSR and the 1500th anniversary of Kyiv.
However, since disputes, the huge sculpture now has a cross through it signaling the end to the friendship.
I cannot recommend enough paying a visit to Kyiv, it is a fascinating city with a tragic history but a future that seems to me to be brimming with excitement and creativity.