You are currently viewing Memories from my most recent trip to Kyiv in November 2021

A few months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in November 2021, I was slowly making my way back from Central Asia. I booked the cheapest westbound flight I could find, which brought me to Kyiv, in Ukraine. It was my second time there, and I enjoyed it so much that it had validated my desire to go back for a third time in the spring. 

Now, on the second anniversary of the invasion, I thought I’d share my impressions of this beautiful city that’s currently still being destroyed.


My first short trip to Kyiv in 2017

I had already visited Kyiv for a full day with Flytrippers’ other co-founder Andrew in 2017, on a long layover.

Long layovers If you’ve been following us for a while, you know how much we love long layovers. They're amazing for travelers!

Flytrippers strongly recommends long layovers, for 2 main reasons:

  • They help you save a lot of money
    • Flights with layovers are usually much, much cheaper than direct flights (think half the regular price)!
    • Saving money = the easy way to travel more
  • They help you visit more places in one trip
    • I think we can all agree that it’s better to see a city for a few hours than to not see it at all, right?
    • Visiting places = the definition of travel

You can take advantage of long layovers whether you pay for your plane ticket with cash or with travel rewards, as I’ve done in the past with my Aeroplan points. It’s one of the good benefits of the best airline rewards program for Canadians. 

You can read Andrew’s post about that visit to Kyiv for more details and 12 photos (and his teaser of 2 pro tips to travel for less).


As a summary, even though we didn’t stay in Ukraine for long in 2017, we had a full day to visit major attractions like the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, considered one of Ukraine’s 7 wonders. This monastery is the holiest site in the country, with a series of underlying caves where mummified monks are still preserved (by cold air only) to this day. 

Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


We also visited the Ukrainian Motherland Monument, a symbol of the people’s heroic accomplishments during World War II. 

It’s very impressive.

Ukrainian Motherland Monument
Ukrainian Motherland Monument (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


Both monuments are located within walking distance of each other, so it’s really convenient even if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.

Importance of planning When you only have one day to visit a city, you need to plan strategically and prepare well before so you can maximize your time!


My trip to Kyiv in November 2021

In November 2021, though, I was able to experience the beautiful city of Kyiv for a little longer.

I actually spent almost half of 2021 in former Soviet republics with this short trip to Ukraine, a few months in Georgia, and a month in Central Asia, in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (those 2 posts are from Andrew, who went there separately in 2021 too).

I don’t write as much as he does, but I did write an introduction on how to become a digital nomad, because I’ve been living abroad for the better part of the last 3 years. We’ll have more content on this soon with our newly doubled Flytrippers team.

I stayed in Kyiv for a full week before continuing on to Poland on a separate ticket —I used Kyiv for the self-transfer tip — to eventually make it back to Canada in time for the holidays.

(I had given myself a 10-day buffer before Christmas just in case I was selected for the arrival test and tested positive, but I was not selected — oh the great memories of the government’s extremist and anti-science reaction!)

One of the best flight tips Just like long layovers are great to save money, doing a self-transfer for long or expensive journeys can also save you half the price!


Living in Kyiv

I loved staying in Kyiv!

While in Tbilisi, Georgia, I had met a friend who was from Ukraine, and we decided to meet up again with other locals while I was in Kyiv. They gave me a private tour of their city and took me to a few of their favorite spots, which was great. 

We went out to a couple of different bars, like to the Drunken Cherry for some traditional Ukrainian warm cherry wine, to a Mexican place to have margaritas, and even to an underground bar for some Latin dancing. It really was a nice “normal” city. 

Just before I got there, I had booked a relatively cheap Airbnb where I stayed for the week to experience life as a local.

My Airbnb for the week
My Airbnb‘s kitchen for the week (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


I usually prefer those to hotels for longer stays — unlike Andrew who never uses Airbnb/Vrbo and prefers hostels and hotels. Both of us travel differently enough that we can help out all types of travelers with our experience. 

But by staying at Airbnbs, I like that I don’t have to always go out and buy food 3 times a day: I can cook something at home too. My Airbnb was C$35 per night, which is not among the cheapest at all. That’s because I booked the day I arrived, since I didn’t really plan ahead for this stop in Ukraine.

Last minute Booking last-minute, for almost all destinations, is almost always more expensive — contrary to the common myth!

I wasn’t able to visit as much as I would have liked because I was working most of the time (that’s also what being a digital nomad is all about), and because I honestly was very serious about returning for a longer stay in the spring (for better weather than in November).

But I walked around the city a lot. I’m not sure what my expectations of the city were before getting there, but I found Kyiv to be a really modern city. And the cost of living there is also obviously a lot cheaper than what you get in western European countries.


My highlights in Kyiv

I think what struck me the most about Kyiv was the mix of old and new. After spending 3 months in Georgia and one in Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan, I was surprised to find so many cool cafes, hip restaurants, and modern buildings in a city that’s also filled with old Ukrainian and Soviet architecture. 

There are many places worth seeing in the city, of course, but here are a few highlights of my most recent trip.


St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery

Originally built in the 12th century, the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery was torn down by the Soviets in the 1930s and then restored and reopened after Ukraine gained independence from the USSR. 

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


St. Sophia’s Cathedral

The city’s oldest church, the St. Sophia’s Cathedral is known for its preserved frescoes and mosaics. It’s a perfect example of typical Ukrainian architecture.

St. Sophia's Cathedral
St. Sophia’s Cathedral (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


St. Andrew’s Church

St. Andrew’s Church is a colorful Orthodox church was designed by the same Italian architect as the famous Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, and it offers a great view of Podil, Kyiv’s historic neighborhood.

St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew’s Church (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


Golden Gate

The Golden Gate was once the main entrance to the city and part of its defensive wall complex. The gate was restored in 1982 to celebrate the city’s 1,500th anniversary. 

Golden Gate
Golden Gate (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


Obelisk of the hero city of Kyiv

The Obelisk of the hero city of Kyiv monument, which celebrates the defense of the city during World War II, is located in Victory Square, at the crossing of many historic streets.

Obelisk of the hero city of Kyiv
Obelisk of the hero city of Kyiv (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)


As I said, I was so confident that I would be back in 2022 that I didn’t see as much of the city as I would have liked. But what I saw was more than enough to make me want to go back for a third time. 

Let’s hope that despite the current events, Kyiv will remain a beautiful city that blends elements of modernity with a rich heritage and unique architecture.

Kyiv will come back stronger. Hopefully, this senseless war will end soon…


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Featured image: St. Sophia’s Cathedral (photo credit: Kevin Gagnon/Flytrippers)

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Kevin Gagnon

Kevin is the co-founder of Flytrippers. A former structural engineer, he is now following his true passion, traveling! With the website, he also wants to share this passion with you and allow you to travel more than you would have thought possible. His goal is to visit all the countries in the world. Current count: 90/193!

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