Tourists looking for things to do in Kiev will find their time amply filled with many fascinating attractions. Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Ukraine, and in Eastern Europe, and many historical Kiev tourist attractions can still be seen. This colorful city is an intriguing blend of old and new as the capital city of an independent country emerging from the former Soviet Union, and also one of the oldest established cities in Europe.
Arguably the most popular of the Kiev tourist attractions is the Pechersk Lavra, which means "cave monastery." The Pechersk Lavra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an intricate complex of underground churches and cave dwellings, as well as spectacular Eastern Orthodox architecture aboveground. The cave complex was founded by the monk Saint Anthony, who settled in the area, and whose disciples built the churches and sanctuaries in the caves. Today, many of the Eastern Orthodox faithful, as well as tourists sightseeing in Kiev, visit the catacombs to bow at the imperishable relics of several mummified saints, as well as to explore the cave complex.
Pechersk Lavra Churches
Above ground, many impressive cathedrals and churches built by the Eastern Orthodox Church, many of which are crowned by the characteristic onion-shaped domes, attract the tourists. The Great Lavra Belltower is one such monument—built in the eighteenth century, this classically styled building was the tallest freestanding bell tower of its time. The Gate Church of the Trinity is another impressive church. Built in the twelfth century, this colorful cathedral stands at the main entrance to the cave monastery. Many other gilded churches are located in the Pechersk Lavra complex, as well as several museums with exhibits about the monastery. If you choose only one of the many things to do in Kiev during your visit, a trip to Pechersk Lavra is it.
Saint Sophia Cathedral
The other must-see attraction you must visit while sightseeing in Kiev is the Saint Sophia Cathedral, regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine. This huge green-and-white structure is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city and one of the key Kiev tourist attractions. Begun in 1037, it was originally built in the Byzantine style, but renovations over the years restyled it in a Baroque style, while preserving the original interior Byzantine style. Saint Sophia's contains some very interesting mosaics and frescoes dating from the Byzantine era, and is well worth a look into the interior. The exterior is equally impressive, with a pristine white bell tower with a gilded dome, and numerous cupolas.
If gazing at churches and roaming the streets of Kiev has you longing for some fresh air, consider a visit to the Ukrainian Museum of Folk Architecture and Peasant Homes, one of the most interesting museums in Ukraine. This outdoor museum is located on the outskirts of the city, and visiting is one of the most intriguing things to do in Kiev. Here, the museum has assembled carefully restored homes and dwellings dating from various periods in Ukraine's past. Browsing the homes with their traditional Ukrainian clothing, pottery, and other historical relics can give tourists sightseeing in Kiev a glimpse into the country's history, and how ordinary Ukrainians lived in the past.
Another glimpse into the past, and one not quite as bucolic, can be had at the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum. The museum details the events and the ramifications that occurred due to the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl power plant, and commemorates victims of the accident. If you’re interested in learning more about the disaster, you can visit the ruins of the plant itself, located in the northern Ukrainian city of Prypiat, near the border with Belarus.