I visited Kyiv and tried Kiev Private Tours in January 2017
I had not chosen the best time to come to Kyiv. It was the first weekend in January, it was cold, the temperature was creeping down to -20 degrees Celsius. Even with a thick jacket, a beanie, scarf and gloves I always felt cold. My phone and GoPro would stop working at times, they simply got too cold, I needed to keep both close to my body to warm them up. Made it hard to take pictures. It was also Orthodox Christmas and many museums and bars were closed. Still I had a great time in this wonderful city and would love to return in the spring or summer.
For my last full day in Kyiv, it was Orthodox Christmas Day, I had booked a walking tour through the city. A very nice girl would show me around, give me some insight into the city I would not be able to gain on my own. Tell me some of the city’s history. I usually don’t go on tours when travelling, prefer to wander around on my own, don’t want to be part of a big group of tourists. But this tour was only for me, no other tourists. And a great way to see more of Kyiv.
We met outside McDonald’s at Maidan at noon. From there we set out into the city. Marina is from Kyiv and runs her own private tour company, Kiev Private Tours. Born and raised in the city, she has excellent knowledge of the city’s history, its hidden places, back streets and little-known but excellent bars and restaurants. When booking a tour with her she will create a walking tour for you, based on your preferences and interests. I chose to learn more about the city’s history, and after the tour I was not disappointed. Even in the freezing weather.
We set out from Maidan, passed the Golden Gate, St. Sophia’ Cathedral and St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery, Marina was all the time talking about the sites we passed, telling interesting anecdotes about them, or relating them to her experience from living in Kyiv. We then took the Funicular down to the Podil District. At this point, about halfway into the tour, we were both cold and needed to warm ourselves up some, so we headed into a McCafe for a coffee and hot chocolate. Even here Marina kept talking, I was getting a very good introduction and education about the city.
I was then guided through the Podil District before we took the funicular back up the hill for a last walk through the christmas market before the tour was over. On the way up she told me of her experiences during the EuroMaidan uprising, a very interesting and personal story. After two hours we said out goodbyes at the Christmas Market and both headed home. I was so cold at this time, a hot shower and some time in my apartment was all I wanted and it felt so good.
Even with the cold weather, the Walking Tour was great. For €50 I got a personalised two-hour tour of Kyiv, packed with historical information, just as I wanted. Marina has excellent knowledge of the city, both historical and recent, and also shares some of her personal experiences From living in Kyiv. Kiev Private Tours is an excellent way of getting to know the city a bit more intimate, all catered to your wishes and interests. For visitors to Kyiv I greatly recommend taking one of her Walking Tours, the next time I visit I want her to show me the Mezhyhiria Private Residence, former home of ex-president Yanukovich who was ousted during the EuroMaidan riots. It is said to be a stunning example of the corruption that took place in Ukraine and ultimately lead to the EuroMaidan protests.
Check out Kiev Private Tour’s website for more information about what tours are provided, their costs and what other services she can provide for visitors to Kyiv.