Kyiv, Ukraine

Travellers must always familiarise themselves with the local area, cultures and customs. By reading this guide, you’ll be better prepared and be able to enjoy your trip with less hassle.

It is incredibly important to have your wits about you whenever travelling to a new location.

There are, of course, always levels of risk but we hope that this guide gives you a better understanding of what to look out for and how to minimise it.

Travelling anywhere in the world has its own fair share of risk attached and travelling to Kyiv is no different. Many large cities throughout the world are prone to pickpockets and scams especially concerning tourists.

It is always advisable to get travel insurance to insure your belongings in case of loss or theft. Travel insurance is also advised in the event that you get ill or injured whilst travelling and you need emergency care. Company 1 & Company 2 both offer competitive rates for Travel Insurance.

Emergency Number – 101 (Fire) 102 (Police) 103 (Ambulance)

Time Zone – GMT+3
Currency – Ukrainian hryvnia (₴)
Population – 2.88 million

Size – 839 km²
GDP – $30 billion


Visitors to Ukraine must obtain a visa from one of the Ukrainian diplomatic missions or online unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries.

Current visa exempt countries include countries within the European Union, Russia, United States, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia and most South American countries.

Visa’s are required in advance from all African countries apart from South Africa which requires and e-Visa.

Other countries which require an e-Visa are China, India, Mexico and Indonesia.

Please check your countries visa requirements for Ukraine before travel.


What is the currency?

The currency used in Kyiv is the Ukrainian Hryvnia (₴). Denominations include ₴1,000, ₴500, ₴200, ₴100, ₴50, ₴20 in notes and coins including denominations of ₴1 and 50 Kopiyok, 25 Kopiyok, 10 Kopiyok, 5 Kopiyok & 2 Kopiyok.

Where can I get it?

The easiest way to get money in Kyiv is via the ATM machines located around the city, although you may want to check the exchange rate charged by your bank first.

How do I exchange it?

The easiest way to get money in Kyiv is via the ATM machines located around the city, although you may want to check the exchange rate charged by your bank first.

It is not usually common to exchange money into Ukrainian Hryvnia as almost all shops will take debit/credit cards.

If you prefer to buy your Hryvnia before you travel and need a reliable and trustworthy company then we recommend XXX

You can check exchange rates here

Tips & Gratuities

Tips (or gratuities) are not common by locals in Kyiv.

Although if you would like to tip for good service then 15% in restaurants is acceptable as to is 10% or “rounding up” in a taxi. Uber lets you tip after you have taken your ride.

Average costs

Pint of local Beer (Average Cost) – ₴30.00 ($1.08)
Bottle of water (Average Cost) – ₴11.70 ($0.42)
Coffee – ₴34.78 (Average Cost) – ($1.25)

The Law

Smoking and drinking alcoholic drinks in public places is officially banned. Public places include transport, bus stops, underground crossings, cultural, sports and governmental establishments, playgrounds and parks.

Don’t take photographs near government or military establishments.

Although homosexuality is not prohibited by law, public attitudes are less tolerant than in other parts of the world.

Public displays of affection may attract negative attention. There’s no provision under Ukrainian legislation guaranteeing freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, however The Kyiv Pride parade in June 2018 passed without incident.

Corruption remains a major problem within Ukraine, It is wise to carry your passport at all times.


Reliable Numbers

In an emergency, contact 101 (Fire) 102 (Police) 103 (Ambulance). The numbers are free to call – only use them in a genuine emergency.

  • Only use registered taxis or a reputable company that can track you such as Uber
  • Try to avoid walking alone at night. Keep to well-lit main roads
  • Beware of wearing headphones – they reduce awareness of your surroundings.
  • In Kyiv, cars drive on the right. To ensure you cross roads safely, only use designated crossings, only cross when the green light is showing.

Staying safe in bars and restaurants

It is paramount that travellers who are in unfamiliar cities are extra vigilant when in late night venues.

  • Make sure you keep your property out of sight and safely under the table.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Check up on your friends by phone or text to make sure they got home safely and vice-versa.

Petty Theft

Petty theft can occur in Kyiv as it can anywhere else in the world. The key here is to be prepared before your travel.

  • Don’t leave your bag unattended anywhere in Kyiv – this can lead to a security alert
  • Keep your purse or wallet close to your body and don’t carry too much cash.
  • When using an ATM, check that no one is looking over your shoulder and that the ATM hasn’t been tampered with. Cover the keypad so no one else can see your PIN number.
  • Keep your mobile phone, MP3 player, camera, and other gadgets out of sight in your pocket or handbag when not in use.
  • Record details of your electronic serial numbers (ESNs).
  • Inform your service provider and police if your phone or other valuables are stolen or lost. Dial 112 for the police

Taxi Safety

In general, taxis in Kyiv are safe and there’s nothing to worry about, however, there are some do’s and don’ts to ensure your safety.

  • Don’t let an overly drunk friend travel alone
  • Always use registered taxi firms such as Uber
  • Try not to travel alone if you’re too drunk
  • Ensure your phone is charged before the night out
  • Ensure the vehicle is licensed and has an ID badge
  • Sit in the backseat instead of the passenger seat

Some taxis may not take card so make sure you have enough cash on you to pay for it, this is safer than having to pull over to an ATM to withdraw cash. Alternatively, you can use a pre-booking service or Uber.


Don’t be fooled by scam artists in Kyiv. There are a number of sophisticated scams which have been reported by travellers. Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it usually is.

Below are some of the most popular scams in Kyiv that you should be aware of.

Kyiv and many other cities in Ukraine often fall victim to this popular scam. Dirty, shabbily dressed children, women caring for their babies on the street, or adults with physical handicaps or other problems will often ask for money while telling you their hard-luck stories.

Sometimes, these people can back up their stories with medical “proof” or other records. And you should be aware that desperate beggars can be quite forward, even following you around or, in the case of some children, physically restraining you until you give in and pay them.

Fake Volunteers
Because of the military conflict in the eastern part of the country, you’ll run into many war veterans at the moment. Many veterans of the recent conflict sport artificial limbs and work to collect money for the war effort.

This is a scam that you’re more likely to run into the closer you get to the famous landmarks of Kyiv or other areas rife with tourists. It’s a fairly common one because it’s easy to do and takes advantage of the one thing almost every tourist wants: photo memories of their time in beautiful Kyiv.

While it may seem like a stroke of luck that a friendly native happens to be nearby, ready, and willing to help you out, they’re simply waiting for you to hand over your camera so they can make off with it.

The Honey-Trap
Ukrainian women are some of the most beautiful on earth but it is worth knowing that they come from a culture that expects you to approach them.

Be wary of if women who approach you be cautious as this is one of Kyiv’s popular romance scams. The scam is to drug your drink and then steal all of your belongings.

Areas to Avoid

Although Kyiv is a safe city and the chances of being a victim of crime as a tourist are low, there are some areas where visitors may feel unsafe.

The Troyeshchyna is traditionally considered “dangerous” and “a thugs neighbourhood” but if you are with a local then you shouldn’t have any problems.

The Shulyavka neighbourhood in the city centre is a hot spot for pickpockets.

Terror Alert

The terror alert in the Ukraine is high because of the ongoing war in the Donbas region to the east. It is not advised to travel to this region at the present time.

It is also advised to avoid any political riots and meetings in Kyiv.

The Revolution of Dignity in 2014 lasted for 5 days and brought destruction to the streets of Kyiv with 116 dead.


Popular Phrases

Ukrainian locals will be very happy to help tourists and even more so if they attempt to speak to them in Ukranian.

English is not part of the learning curriculum in schools and therefore not many Ukranians speak English. However in Kyiv, most locals can communicate simply with some English words.

If you would like to prepare yourself and learn Ukranian or brush up on your skills then why not download a language learning app to get to grips with this fascinating language?

Alternatively, this Ukrainian phrasebook will come in handy on your travels.

It is also a good idea to download the Google Translate App as this will help you easily with words that you don’t understand on menus, train stations etc.

Common phrases to use on your visit are:

Dobryj den’ – Hello – (Добрий день)
d’akuju – Thank You – (Дякую)
bud’ laska – You’re welcome or Please – (Будь ласка)
Jak spravy – How are you? – (Як справи?)
vybachte – Excuse me – (Вибачте)
skilky – How much? – (Скільки?)


Of course, much of what we have covered is common sense. But now you should be aware of the risks posed to tourists whilst visiting Kyiv.

As one of the worlds most popular tourist destinations, it is worth remembering that the city relies on tourists and therefore police carry out foot patrols throughout the city to ensure the safety of tourists and the local population.

As we have already highlighted, please ensure that you have valid travel insurance that covers you for loss, theft and medical cover in the event that something happens to you or your family.

So now that you are equipped with this information, please enjoy Kyiv and let us know how you got on by tagging us at #totalguide.


If you believe we have missed some information that may help other travellers, please let us know at