Kiev—A City Both New and Old

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Photo credit: Mystetskyi Arsenal

Kiev—the capital of Ukraine—may not be at the top of your list for 2012 destinations to book, but dig a little and you’ll see this city is the perfect place for travelers who have been there, done that, and like taking detours off the beaten path. From the dramatic history of destruction during the Mongolian Invasion and again in World War I, and restoration—both times—to the beautiful city it is now; to the modern art, shopping and nightlife scenes within the city and a few big events thrown in, travelers will have a host of options to keep them busy during their stay.

Daily Excursions
There are plenty of tourism opportunities to take advantage of while visiting the city of Kiev. Culture abounds in “the mother of all Slavic cities,” with churches, museums, streets and markets to explore. Any traveler new to Kiev should visit Khreschatik Street, an 8-lane thoroughfare during the week and a pedestrian free-for-all on the weekends, lined with boutiques, cafes, and the occasional street performer here and there, too.

One of the most common images of Kiev is the green- and gold-domed cupolas of St. Sophia Cathedral, a World Heritage site worth setting time aside for. The cathedral was built in the first half of the 11th century and is famous for its mosaics and frescos. From there, a stop by the House with Chimeras is sure to provide amazing photos, where all up and down the outside facade are sculptures of exotic animals, including elephants, rhinoceroses, frogs and lizards.

Some notable art museums your clients might be interested in include the National Folk Decorative Art Museum and the Kiev Museum of Western and Oriental Art, while a historical background can be found at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. And a trip to Kiev shouldn’t end before stopping to see the four founding siblings of the city at the Foundation of Kiev Monument along the banks of the Dnipro River.

Thrill-seekers could find a new kind of excitement with a guided tour of Chernobyl, home of the infamous nuclear disaster of 1986.

With a radiation level now low enough to allow restricted entry to the area, SoloEast Travel is providing private and scheduled tours through the area of Chernobyl. Guests will pass through Dytyatky, a border town along the “zone of estrangement”; view reactor #4, where the nuclear explosion occurred; and explore the evacuated ghost town of Pripyat. Upon leaving, guests will stop once more in Dytyatky to measure radiation levels. Rates start at $170 pp, with geiger counters available for rent or purchase. For more information, visit tourkiev.com/chernobyltour.

Upcoming Events
Set to be the Ukraine’s biggest and newest museum, the Mystetskyi Arsenal National Art Museum Complex in Kiev will host the Kiev Inaugural International Biennale of Contemporary Art ‘ARSENALE’ from May 17-Aug. 1. Focusing around four hub ideas, including The Restless Spirit, In the Name of Order, Flesh, and The Unquiet Dream, ‘ARSENALE’ will also be presented through a parallel program in a variety of other institutions, including state and private museums, art galleries, and public spaces around the city. For more information, visit artarsenal.in.ua.

Another big event coming to Kiev from June 8-July 1 is the UEFA European Football Championship 2012, during which the city will host important matches leading up to the championship game on July 1. Expecting a pop in sports tourism for the event, the city of Kiev is already strengthening its infrastructure and facilities. Both German and English matches will be held often in the city, with other teams to be determined based on their performance. For more information, visit uefa.com.

A Night Downtown
There is no short supply of hotels in downtown Kiev, but for a luxurious stay, the InterContinental Kiev is guaranteed to deliver. Equipped with 272 guestrooms and eight suites, as well as a fitness center, I-SPA, beauty salon, Olivera restaurant and three bars, guests will have a wealth of options for entertainment or relaxation indoors as well as out. Rates start at $335 per night. For more information, visit ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental.