St. Sophia Cathedral
Almost 1,000 years old, from the exterior walls to the bell tower to the sumptuous religious decorative work inside, it is one of the more visually stunning buildings in all of Europe. As a guide will point out, it even has graffiti on the walls that date to the 14th century.
The city has 75 kilometres of sandy beaches along the banks of the Dnieper River. The most sophisticated spot is Hidropark, where you can rent sunloungers and Jet Skis; there are many good restaurants. Other stretches of golden sand, where the locals lounge in the summer, can be found just by taking a walk along the river.
Museum of the Great Patriotic War
This vast memorial honours those who fought and died for the Soviet Union in the Second World War. It was opened in 1981 by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and continues to exist in post-Soviet Ukraine because it is as much about the horror of war as the glory. It features the enormous Motherland statue, which can be seen almost anywhere in the city.
Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Caves and Monastery
The other UNESCO Heritage site in Kiev, this still startling monastery complex, dates from the 11th century and is considered the cradle of Ukraine civilization, with its holdings of libraries and art. There is a vast and complex series of underground tunnels.
A boat trip on the Dnieper
Best arranged through your hotel, a river cruise of a few hours on the Dnieper (the third-longest river in Europe, after the Volga and the Danube) offers a spectacular view of Kiev. A guide can give insights into the city’s complex history, with much of its importance and trading wealth being based on access to the river.