Kiev, Ukraine Kiev, Ukraine

Essential Ukraine

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.

Download PDF Itinerary here.



Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability. 

Day 1
Arrival | Kiev

Today arrive in Kiev. Please note this flight is not included in program cost. On arrival in Kiev you will be met by your private driver for the transfer to your hotel located in the center of the city.

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.

After time to relax, your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby at 5:30 PM for an overview walk of the area around your hotel. No far from your hotel, are the St. Sophia Cathedral, St. Michael’s Golden-domed Cathedral, Khreschatyk Street (main street in Kiev) and Independence Square.

Your next stop will be the Golden Gate – one of the few remaining parts of Kiev’s original fortifications from the rule of Yaroslav I 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.

Day 2
Kiev | Kiev

This morning your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby. Today will be a day of exploring a city rich in culture and history. Your first stop will be to the famous Kiev-Pecherskaya Lavra Monastery with its underground catacombs. 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 Rus 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 Lavra grounds feature several monuments and museums. Today you will explore one of our favorites - the Museum of Historical Valuables. It’s collection of Scythian gold is unrivalled in the world. This museum features a stunning collection of jewels and other precious treasures and is well worth the time to visit.

Next, 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 the military successes of Yaroslav I the Wise 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.

Afterwards join your guide on a short drive to 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 would 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 that are well worth browsing. The church was turned into a museum to avoid demolition during Stalin’s rule 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. Note: Touring in the Lavra is on foot. Please wear appropriate footwear.

Day 3
Kiev | Kiev

This morning, after meeting your guide and driver, you will 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 1990’s, 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.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Today a private meeting with some of the local Jewish citizens in Kiev has been arranged for you. Through your guide, who will act as a translator if necessary, you will be free to share stories about the local heritage of their community and synagogue.

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.

Day 4
Kiev to Odessa | Kiev to Odessa

Today you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight to Odessa. Please note this flight is not included in program cost.

On arrival in Odessa, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day 5
Odessa | Odessa

This morning, your driver and guide will meet you to start your exploration of the city with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in a beautiful 19th century building, once the palace of a princess of the noble Potocki family. At one point, this family's influence extended beyond this region and they have a palace in Lviv and a gorgeous castle in Łancut, Poland.

This small museum features works by Russian and Ukrainian artists. Of particular note is the work of the outstanding seascape painter I. Aivazovskiy and others who followed in his footsteps. You also may enjoy the recently reopened collection of icons dating back to the 16th century. If interested, you may also enjoy a small exhibit of Soviet modern art on the second floor.

The Museum’s main building is actually one of the most notable Classicism works in Odessa. The museum itself features twenty-six halls in historical and chronological succession, displaying one of the mostastoundingcollectionsofRussianandUkrainianartintheworld. Thefirstrowsofhalls showcase the ancient form of icon painting, while later halls contain 18th and 19th century works by masters such as D.Levitskiy, V.Borovikovskiy, O.Kiprenskiy, and V.Tropinin. Finally, the museum also houses a collection of Soviet propaganda art that is worth a look.

From here, if you are up to it, it is the perfect starting point for a stroll down the picturesque harbor front of Odessa. Your guide will point out some of the city's most notable architectural monuments, including Vorontsov Palace. Of course you will also see the famous Potemkin Steps, which descend grandiosely 455 feet down to the sea front. Odessa’s own unique architectural landmark and a symbol of the city ever since they were featured prominently in Eisenstein's famous film, Battleship Potemkin.

Day 6
Odessa | Odessa

This morning, your driver and guide will take you approximately 12 miles outside the city to see one of Odessa'smostfamoussites–thecatacombs. Thisundergroundnetworkoftunnelscarvedintothe limestone served as a base for partisans during WWII and was actually their home for over two years. People of many nationalities and faiths worked together to defend the city from the Nazi army and this gives one a glimpse into their struggle and sacrifice. Please note, entry and exit of this site requires a flight of stairs. You will walk underground for approximately 1⁄2 mile. Please wear appropriate footwear. This excursion is not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia.

The rest of the day is at leisure to explore Odessa on your own.

Day 7
Departure | Odessa

Transfer to the airport to meet your onward flight. Please note that this flight is not included in cost.

Meet a ballerina in St Petersburg
Extraordinary Experiences

Extraordinary Experiences

Discover our insider access Extraordinary Experiences.

Exeter Team
The Experts

The Experts

Meet the Experts that will make your trip extraordinary.

Rovinj, Istria
View Our Destinations

View Our Destinations

Our specialty is in the countries that link East & West, both in Europe, and between Europe & Asia.

Family travel
View Our Trip Types

View Our Trip Types

How do you like to travel? View your choices here.