Kyiv metro is a safe and efficient way of getting around the city. As a traveler, even with the language barriers I found it very easy to use. Tokens are sold by cashiers at windows or in automatic machines for 2 hryvnia. One token is good for one ride, to anywhere, of any distance- there are no zones to figure out or special tickets which is always a relief. Tokens are used at gates to pass through turnstiles. Most stations have signs in Ukrainian and Russian only; metro and train stations are probably the places we found it most useful to know how to read Cyrillic as very few people are likely to speak English so won’t be able to help. Major stations have English maps and signs, and station names in the Latin alphabet. The metro and the stations always felt clean, maintained and safe even at night. It can get uncomfortably crowded especially during rush hour. Trains run often from 0600h to midnight.
Besides being efficient, many metro stations have fascinating design, architecture or works of art. The Arsenalna station is the deepest station in the world at 105.5 metres, and it takes around 5 minutes to ride the escalator up to street level. Dnipro station is above-ground with two statues towering overhead of a girl releasing pigeons symbolizing peace, and a boy releasing Sputnik symbolizing technological advancement. The Zoloti Vorota station is one of the most famous and features a theme of “the architecture of Kievan Rus”, with vaulted ceilings, chandeliers with candle bulbs, colourful mosaics and marble columns. The Kyiv metro stations are sights to see all on their own and it's cheap to ride, making it a great way to see different parts of the city.
There is now a new terminal at Kiev's Boryspil Airport. Terminal D. This is now the main terminal for international flights to and from Kiev. The terminal is very modern, great facilities but unfortunately the check in and security staff are still as slow as ever so please get to the airport in plenty of time because the Ukrainians do not like to rush! I recently took a flight to Kiev and once I had got through check in and security I only had 30 mins before I had to board my flight.
Unfortunately there are not as many places to get food and drink in the new terminal as there was in the old main terminal but there are places, you may just have to queue a while and they are not very well sign posted.
I would recommend buying cigarettes and alcohol before you get to the airport as they charge European prices for everything at Boryspil. This goes for the rest of duty free and when purchasing food and drinks.
There is still a smoking area.
The easiest way to get to Boryspil might be taking the bus from the main railway station (Vokzalna) instead of from Kharkivska metro station. If you come by metro to the railway station, head into the main building and go upstairs so that you can cross the tracks. On the other side of the building take to the right. There you will have a bus stop where it says number 322. This one is for you. The buses leave every 15-20 min during the day and costs 25 Hryvnia. You pay to the driver.
You will probably be asked from taxi drivers to share a taxi to the airport. I was offered a ride for 50 Hryvnia if there were four of us.
You also have the option to catch a minibus at the front side of the station, going to Boryspil for 30 Hryvnia per person but then you have to wait for the bus to be filled up. And I noticed that can take a very long time since I tried this before I knew where the bus 322 calls. I was still the only person in the bus after more than 20 min! But it's a good price and many of the buses are of very good standard being more or less completely new.
The railway station is on the red metro line, the name of the station is "Vokzalna".
When you exit the arrivals hall at the international terminal you will have shuttle buses just outside that will take you to the domestic terminal for free. It is convenient if you have a bit of luggage to carry, otherwise it's not more than about 250 - 300m to walk. From this latter terminal can you catch bus nr 322 into town. It costs 20 Hryvnia to the Kharkivska metro station, or 25 Hryvnia to the main railway station. You pay to the driver.
There is a funicular running from close to the backside of the St Michailsky complex down to the Poshtova Ploscha. When you come down just cross the street and there you will find the metro station with the same name.
If you are travelling with a trolley bag on the Metro you must keep in mind that when going through the turnstiles you HAVE to either lift the trolley or keep it close to your legs otherwise the censors will take it for two travellers but only paid for one. Then a kind of lock will pop up between you and your luggage. Of course it's the same if you try to pass without inserting the jetong/token in the slot at all.
The metro is excellent in every respect.
1) It is cheap, you buy jetongs/tokens for 2 Hryvnia each and insert in the slot to pass to the escalators.
2) It is rapid.
3) The tour frequency is very high. During the weekends you might have to wait up to 4 or 5 min, but during weekdays there will be a train as often as every minute during peak hours, or every 90 second out of the peak hours.
4) There is no problem if you have to stand during the journey since the drivers brake very smoothly in difference to such unfriendly places as London or Stockholm where you more or less risque your life by standing.
I post a link to the official homepage of the metro. There is a map of the lines.
I also post some other links to maps: http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/ua/kiev/kyiv.htm
I would be careful about relying upon individual cars in and around Kiev. They seem to have one thing in common......they like to break down in bunches, especially when stuck in traffic. It could be that the Ukrainian technique when there is traffic is to take whatever alternative line through the traffic that works....including the opposing traffic, the shoulders.... both shoulders...or if it means heading off into sunflower fields....that is OK also.
There is a LOOK that the driver gives the car when he steps out. The family seems to be prepared with picnik baskets, while male members open the hood and stare at the freakin engine.
My comments will only pertain to the airport. Just know that you'll have to exit the plane on the tarmac. They'll either be a bus waiting or, if you're close, walk to the terminal. Wrap up quite well. It can get very breezy, of course, as the winds sweep across the airfield. Wear a good scarf and coat.
In the summer, it gets pretty warm with a nice breeze. So, it is too be expected to more pretty windy during the winter months.
Otherwise, the airport is very basic which helps. The airport employees and security tend to be very thorough and efficient.
When departing, you'll have to keep your eyes on the electronic board for your gate. When I was there, I was only able to fully check in after the gate number was posted. So, be alert and organized. People can tend to rush to the gate.
On another note, the streets tend to be wide with pretty good sidewalks. I can not vouch for the snow cleaning. But, this is a very clean city.
The citizens have a lot of pride for their young country. And, they should. This has both been a crossroads of painful wars, birth of the Russian Orthodox Church & Romanov Dynasty, breadbasket of the EurAsia, etc. Enjoy.
The local transports consists buses, small marchrutshkas (buses with around 15 seats), trolleys, trams and metro plus the funicular in the Podil area. For all except the metro you can use the same tickets which costs 1,50 Hryvnia for a single ride as of September 2012.
I post a link to a map of the trolley lines.
It might be good to know that there are long, sometimes very long escalators in the metro stations. There are most often two in each direction though only one is supposed to be working no matter the amount of travellers, peak hour or not.
The city of Kyiv is very large and is not known for being very flat. Travelling around Kyiv on foot is a fantastic way to soak up the atmosphere but I would recommend trying to plan some sort of route before you leave. Maps of the city can be found at the Metro stations and in most hotel lobbys.
Kyiv has one of the cheapest Subway/Metro links in the whole of Europe. The metro runs across 50 stations across the city. If you are a regular visitor to Kyiv you can get a Kyiv Metro multi ride card and can top up the card with money and simply swipe the card at the turn styles when you want to board a tram.
New or less frequent visitors of Kyiv can buy tokens known as "Zhetons" from the cashiers in the metro stations and through token machines. The Zhetons are placed in the slot at the turnstyles and you will gain entry to the tram through that.
A single ride costs 2 Hryvnias which works out at about 0.25$ and about £0.10.
In the metro stations you will find the usualy cigarette kiosks, small bakery kiosks, souvineer kiosks etc.
The trams in Kyiv seem very well maintained and in my experience the trams have always come reasonably on time. The metro is a very popular mode of transport in Kyiv so be aware that the trams could become quite full during the morning rush hour.
Taxi's are the more expensive option for travelling around Kyiv and a lot of Taxi drivers can not speak English which can make negotiating a fare quite difficult. I would highly recommend if you can negotiating a fare before you enter the cab. I had an an experience where my large family ordered 3 cabs from the train station to the hotel, all 3 cabs charged different prices (one of which charged a ridiculous price twice as much as the other taxis).
If you don't feel comfortable negotiating a fare in a foreign language and if you are able to your hotel reception staff will be able to do this for you.
Most Taxi drivers are quite pleasant and will try to talk to you, Ukrainians are very friendly and sociable people and most will do their best to help you.
An easy and cheap way to travel to and from L'viv from other major cities is to travel by train. Train tickets can be bought on the day (if available) from the train station or can be booked in advance through websites. (I use http://www.e-kvytok.com.ua/wps/portal - please see other tip for guidance with booking tickets through this way) Ukrainian trains usually offer 3 different types of accommodation.
1st Class - 2 beds with a table, storage facility above.
2nd Class- 4 beds (bunk beds)
3rd Class- Dormitory style beds leading down the wagon.
I travelled from L'viv to Kyiv, We boarded the night train at approx 10:00 in the evening and departed around 45 minutes after that. There will be a steward who shows you to your cabin and roughly half an hour into your travel she will offer you tea, coffee and juice (which you will pay for before you arrive at your destination the following morning). There may also be some biscuits, crisps and other snacks waiting for you in your cabin but these must also be paid for before you arrive at your destination.
During my trip from L'viv to Kyiv I stayed in the 1st class cabin and found it to be very comfortable, of course I was woken a little during the night when we passed other trains or we went over a bumpy track but all in all I really enjoyed the trip and it is a very easy way to travel from one city to the other without cutting into your vacation time.
The steward on our train wagon was very friendly and polite, she could not speak English which didn't really matter because we didn't need her for anything other than ordering tea or coffee. The cabins were well presented, clean and tidy. I would highly recommend this form of travel.
I would highly recommend buying drinks and snacks for your journey before you arrive at the train station as the kiosks on the platforms are quite expensive.