Kiev, Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine

Ultimate Kiev

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

The Ukraine has had a turbulent political modern history since the Orange Revolution in 2004, and a complex relationship with Russia. The Ukraine is the birthplace of Kievan Rus, founded in Kiev in the eighth and ninth centuries, and the city from which the orthodox faith spread throughout eastern Europe.

Today Kiev is a beautiful city, with rich and varied architecture and museums. You will be assured of a warm and hospitable welcome.

The itinerary below is a suggestion so we always recommend that you contact us to discuss your specific needs.

For custom luxury travel and tours to Kiev and Ukraine, please contact one of our travel experts.

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Midday arrival into Kiev where you will be met by your private driver and guide, who will be waiting for you just outside of baggage claim.

Transfer to your deluxe hotel located in the center of the city. During your 30-45 minute transfer towards Kiev’s city center, you will pass through Kharkivskiy, one of the city’s youngest districts, full of modern shopping plazas and lately constructed apartment buildings. You will also cross the Southern bridge, one of six bridges in Kiev, where you will enjoy views of Kiev’s Iron Lady Monument, and the historic Lavra Monastery complex. 

Legend says the picturesque town of Kiev was established in the late 5th century, but the exact facts are obscure even to the modern historians. The oldest city in Eastern Europe and one of the most fundamental in the development of Slavic civilization, Kiev did not reach prominence until around the 11th century with the reign of Prince Vladimir and the subsequent rule of his son, Yaroslav the Wise.  

You will transfer to your hotel in the center of the city. Check in at your hotel and have the evening at your leisure. 

Exeter Services:
 Transfer with Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 2
Kiev | Kiev

This morning you will meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel for an overview walking tour. Just a short stroll from your hotel, you will visit the 11th century St. Sophia’s Cathedral, which is Kiev’s oldest standing church and one of its most popular landmarks and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The church was built to celebrate one of Yaroslav I the Wise’s military successes and took almost two decades to complete. The architecture is in the typical Byzantine traditions, and the interiors are covered with mosaics and frescoes from the 11th century. The cathedral’s name comes from the Haggia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople. It was a centre of learning and culture, where the first school and library of the Kievan Rus were located. This was also the place for coronations and other royal ceremonies and receptions. Prince Yaroslav himself was buried on the ground floor of the church.

Your next stop will be the Golden Gate – one of the few remaining parts of Kiev’s original fortifications from the rule of Yaroslav the Wise. Completely restored in 2006, the Golden Gate was originally built in the 11th century to resemble the Golden Gate of Constantinople and was the main entrance into the ancient city.

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Later today, your guide will take you to the famous Kiev-Pecherska Lavra with its underground catacombs. You will enjoy a private tour of the catacombs led by one of the monastery’s monks or nuns. Considered the holiest place in the country, the Lavra, meaning higher-ranking monastery, was founded by the Greek missionary St. Anthony in the mid-11th century, after the Kievan Russ adopted Orthodox Christianity as its official religion from the Byzantine Empire. St. Anthony and his followers gradually dug out a series of caves and narrow corridors where they lived and prayed. The monastery became popular and grew above ground as well to become an intellectual and religious center. 

The territory of the Lavra has several different museums. We recommend a stop at the Museum of Historical Valuables, for a glimpse at a truly extraordinary collection of Scythian gold. You will also find the works of the best Ukrainian jewelers of past and present.

While in this area, you may wish to make a brief stop at the top of Old Kiev Hill where you will visit the monumental statue of the motherland before entering the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. This museum, which tells the story of Kiev’s occupation by the Nazis, also showcases many sculptures of Ukraine’s war heroes, and boasts a collection of other wartime artifacts.

Special Note: Some of the touring today is on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear. If you are tired at any time, your guide can arrange for a taxi service on the spot and you can pay locally.

Exeter Services:
Half-Day Car & Driver, Full-Day Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 3
Kiev | Kiev

This morning, after meeting your guide and driver, you may decide to explore some of Kiev’s Jewish heritage sites. Prior to the Second World War, there were some 150,000 Jews, who made up 20% of Kiev’s population.

The city’s Central Synagogue was built in the late 19th century in the very heart of Kiev near the popular Bessarabian market. The two-storey brick building features a tall arched façade and deep portico. It was closed by the Soviet regime and was later used as a puppet theater. Returned to Jewish ownership in the 1990s, it was fully renovated and now features crystal chandeliers hanging from vaulted ceilings.

The older Podil Synagogue is located in the older part of the city along the Dnieper River. This redbrick building was Kiev’s first permanent Jewish house of worship and has survived more than a century of war and persecution. Its interiors include a gilded wooden Ark with fine carvings and new stained-glass windows. You may want to spend some time walking around the historic Podol (Podil) district – certainly one of the most popular in Kiev. Traditionally the home to local craftsmen, businesses, churches and synagogues, Podol is one of the must-see areas in Kiev. Your guide will be happy to explain some of the history of the area and point out memorials and buildings of note.

Today, you may also wish to meet with the Rabbi of the Jewish community in Kiev.

Next, you may wish to see the monument to Shalom Aleichem – the renowned Yiddish writer and author of the novel, which later became the famous movie ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’. Your guide will also point out the House of Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, and commonly known as ‘the Iron Lady’ of Israeli politics.

Just outside of the city limits, a grassy ravine called Babi Yar is the site where, in the course of only two days, September 29-30, 1941, German Nazis and their local supporters gathered and murdered 33,771 Jewish civilians. Throughout the Nazi occupation, Babi Yar was used as the execution site for gypsies, Jews, and Soviet prisoners of war and the Nazi’s meticulous records show that as many as 100,000 were killed here. Erected in 1991, a Jewish memorial was built to commemorate the more than 80,000 Jewish victims during the Holocaust. Another monument was built in 2001, which is dedicated to the memory of all the children who had died here.

Exeter Services:
Car, Driver & Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 4
Kiev | Kiev

This morning you may wish to visit two of Kiev’s most spectacular galleries – the Museum of Western and Oriental Art and the Museum of Russian Art, which are neighbors on the same street.  

The Museum of Western and Oriental Art was founded by Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko in 1919 as a private museum. Two thousand works are displayed, from Ancient Greek works, to Chinese art. Perhaps the most famous artist displayed is Diego Velasquezs’ Portrait of Infanta Margaret, located in the Spanish hall of the museum.

Just a few doors away is a two-storey palazzo, built in 1884 housing the incredible collection of Russian art originally collected by Sugar magnate Fedor Tereschenko, one of Kiev’s most outstanding philanthropists. Although your guide will accompany you through this museum, the museum requires the use of a museum guide during the tour. This guide is included in the cost of your tour.

You will later continue to the cobble stoned Andreyevsky Spusk (Andrew’s Descent), which is one of Kiev’s most charming and famous streets. Historically, this winding lane linked the Upper Town to the riverside districts. According to the legend, a Christian preacher called Andrew sailed up the banks of the Dnieper River and landed in this particular spot. He climbed the hill and stuck a cross on its top prophesying that a great city will be built here. The narrow and twisting lane supposedly follows Andrew’s path up the hill.

Rastrelli’s final masterpiece, the St. Andrew Church crowns the top of this famous street, which offers authentic local charm and is lined with galleries and cafes which are well worth browsing. The church was turned into a museum to avoid demolition during Stalin’s reign and remains a museum today. In the 19th century, Andreyevsky Spusk was the domain of Bohemian artists and writers, and still harbours numerous souvenir stalls, local craftsmen, musicians and street actors.

Exeter Services: Car, Driver & Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 5
Kiev | Kiev

After meeting your guide this morning, your first stop will be the National Art Museum. As Ukraine is famous for its national ethnographic applied arts, the founders of the Museum of Art decided to open this center so that they could showcase the various schools of the Ukrainian fine arts. The museum now houses works from artists such as Repin, Schevchenko and Tropinin. Though many works were lost or hidden during Stalin’s time, many new pieces are beginning to arrive at the museum, such as a unique icon relief ‘St. George in His Lifetime’, which dates back to the 12th century.

Later today take a 40-minute trip into the immediate outskirts of the city where you will visit the fascinating Pirogovo Open-Air Folk Architecture Museum, or what Ukrainians often refer to as National Museum of Architecture and Folk habitat. A beautiful outdoor museum and park, the Pirogovo Open-Air Folk Architecture Museum’s 370 acres showcases 150 authentic traditional dwellings and communal buildings from all across Ukraine. Stroll with your guide through the natural settings where you will gain an appreciation for how most of this region’s ancestors made their homes.

Today you might wish to enjoy lunch on the grounds of the museum in one of the two folk restaurants. After you order, your food will be prepared from scratch in the kitchen and cooked over a stove that still derives its heat from a wood-burning source.

Afterwards, return to the city where your driver and guide will take you to the top of Old Kiev Hill where you will visit the monumental statue of the motherland before entering the National World War II museum. This museum, which tells the story of Kiev’s occupation by the Nazis, also showcases many sculptures of Ukraine’s war heroes, and boasts a collection of other wartime artifacts.

Exeter Services:
 Car, Driver & Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 6
Kiev - Chernobyl | Kiev - Chernobyl

This morning a special Ukrainian guide and driver will meet you in the hotel lobby, along with your Exeter guide, before beginning a tour that will take you closer to an issue that continues to be very sensitive for most Ukrainians: The Chernobyl Disaster.

At 1:23AM in the early morning hours of April 26, 1986, reactor number four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded and sequentially melted down due to inoperative cooling pumps. The initial blast sent over 200 times more radiation into the surrounding area than the American bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

After an hour and a half drive to the North of the city, you will arrive at the checkpoint for entry into the closed region surrounding Chernobyl. This area has been commonly referred to as the Dead Zone, or the Land of Wolves.

Your first stop will be a briefing conducted by a specialist who will answer all your questions and help you better understand the area and the various future ramifications of the disaster.

Your second stop will be an in-van visit to ground zero: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. From a distance of 200-300 hundred yards, you will glimpse the Chernobyl power plant where you will see the large concrete sarcophagus that encases the radioactive remains of reactor four and the wreckage of its power station.

Afterwards, you will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the power of nature in the haunting town of Prypyat. As you walk through the streets of this abandoned ghost town, you will notice that the streets and constructions are being slowly reclaimed by the landscape, a chilling reminder that no human will be able to inhabit the area for at least the next 600 years.

Once you have finished your visit, you will return to Kiev where you may enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Car, Driver & Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 7
Kiev - Chernihiv Oblast | Kiev - Chernihiv Oblast

This morning you will depart from the hotel with your driver and guide for a trip into the Ukrainian countryside. Your destination today is Chernihiv, one of Europe’s oldest cities. This city was first mentioned in 907 as the second biggest city of Kyivan Russ after Kiev itself. Ninety minutes outside of Kiev, Chernihiv is a provincial city steeped in both the history of Ukraine and Russia.

Your touring today will focus of the long history of the city as well as its mixed, and ever evolving architecture. Chernihiv is well known for its pure examples of both Kievan Rus from the 11th and 12th centuries, as well as Cossack Hetmanate from the 17th and 18th centuries.

You will visit the oldest cathedral in the city, the picturesque five-domed Savior Cathedral. You will also have an opportunity to visit the city’s famed Eletsky cave monastery, supposed to predate the well-known Lavra Monastery in Kiev.

Exeter Services: Car, Driver & Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 8
Kiev | Kiev

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Today, after meeting with your guide and driver in the lobby, you will head out towards the countryside for a visit to the home of a local Ukrainian family.

Next, put away your tour books and take your shoes off as the family invites you and your guide to enjoy a day of cooking, feasting, sharing traditions and possibly a bit of song and dance.

After saying goodbye to your hosts, time permitting, your guide and driver will be at your disposal this afternoon while you finish any last minute shopping you may have in mind.

Exeter Services: Car, Driver & Guide
Hotel: Fairmont Kiev

Day 9
Kiev - Onward | Kiev - Onward
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
 
 Exeter Services: Transfer Only
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