A conflict with Russia in the southeast and an already devalued currency have made Ukraine the most affordable place to travel in all of Europe. After countless conversations with other travelers who had visited Kiev and fell in love, I had to see it for myself. I learned that Kiev and the other main cities in Ukraine are far removed from the violence in the south. Not only is Kiev a budget traveller’s best friend, the quality of what you can get for $25 per day is staggering. From $1 entrance fees to major sites and $5 hostels, it’s easy to head here for a few days and stay for a month just like I did. The food prices and quality are easily the best I found during my six months in Europe. After my month of exploring, here are some of my favorites in the Cheap Eats Guide to Kiev.
Bulvarno-Kudriavska St, 32, Kiev, Ukraine. €4-5, Open from 9:00-22:00
Find western world breakfast options with an Eastern Europe twist at Home Café, a 15 minute walk from the bus and train stations in Kiev. Known for their omelets and gourmet coffee, you can enjoy both for less than €5. My favorite was the Village Breakfast made with scrambled eggs, potatoes and green onion. If eggs aren’t your thing they also offer pumpkin or apple fritters, pancakes and porridge. For lunch and dinner they cook up salads, soups and sandwiches. Try the salted salmon sandwich with tomatoes and some authentic borshch, a traditional Ukrainian soup made from beets.
Locations throughout Kiev
€3-5, Open from 8:00-23:00
Cafeteria-style favorite Puzata Hata has a number of locations throughout Kiev that serve fast and delicious local and international culinary options. Ukrainian dishes include borshch and other soups, sweet or savory dumplings, pork chops, sausages, steak, honey ham, mixed vegetables and more. International options include pizza, breakfast options early in the day, burgers and other selections. It’s easy to eat here every day for a week and still not manage to try everything.
Palata No. 6
Bulvarno-Kudriavska St, 31А, Kiev, 01054
€3-5, Open from 11:00-2:00
Located in a dimly lit alley off a side street, you’re guaranteed to feel like you’re in Ukraine as you walk into Palata No. 6. For cheap dinner before heading out for the night or for late night food, the chicken schnitzel is a mere €3. Add a tall local draft beer for just €0.75 more. Their ribeye steak is another a great deal for less than €5. The menu also includes local options. If you’re feeling daring ask about their signature shots. One involves a fire vest and a helmet which they set on fire. Another includes a straight jacket and a syringe of shots. (I’m not kidding.) Locals and travelers alike love this relatively hidden gem.
Tarasa Shevchenko Blvd, 36А, Kiev, Kyivs’ka oblast, 02000
€10-20, Open from 11:00-23:00
For some of the best Georgian cuisine available outside of its homeland, and perhaps the best service staff in Kiev, look no further than Restaurant Chachapuri. To start, you’re greeted by a waiter who brings a small hors d’oeuvre and a complimentary glass of chacha, Georgia’s signature brandy. Feeling quite hungry and excited to be here after I couldn’t get a reservation for the two previous nights, I ordered the khachapuri, a Georgian dish similar to a cheese pizza that looks like it’s been folded over on the edges. Make no mistake, this dish blows away cheese pizza. Whether it’s the sweet and savory cheese, the delicate dough or the over easy egg on top, it’s difficult to describe how absolutely delicious this dish can be.
Feeling gluttonous I also decided to order 200 grams of the rack of lamb, served lightly pickled onions and dill. The lamb was cooked to perfection and paired perfectly with the fresh herbs and acid from the onions. After escaping the cold outside I enjoyed a hot cup of ginger tea but they also offer a robust wine list and signature cocktails. Make sure to call in a reservation a few days ahead of time as this place gets packed early, and for good reason. The food is fantastic and the service is memorable. In a city where ‘splurging’ can be had for under €20, do yourself a favor and come here at least once during your stay.
Fizkultury St., 51, Kiev 01033 €3-5, Open from 11:00-21:00
Check out the small but growing food truck scene in Kiev by heading over to Furgoneta. The guys working here are nice as heck but may not speak a ton of English so make sure to bring your Google Translate app.
Order up your burger with a beef patty, bacon, local cheese that looks similar to Swiss, slaw and their sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. Maybe even ask for a little extra sauce on the side as it was my favorite part. Flavorful and juicy, this is the best burger I found in Kiev. It’s also just €3. Furgoneta also offers chicken burgers and additional topping combinations. They also offer noodle bowls but I just couldn’t pull myself away from their burgers. They even offer delivery!
- Ukraine offers a vast number of churches and cathedrals, most of which are free to enter. The ones that charge are only around $1. Make sure to see as many of these beautiful buildings as you can.
- To fight the cold (of which Ukraine has plenty), coffee vendors are set up just about everywhere along the streets. Some even offer hot mulled wine, though you may have to ask around first. Just about everything is €0.50-2.
- Public transportation is very comprehensive in Kiev and costs just €0.20 from anywhere to any other stop.
- Locals are some of the friendliest you’ll meet in all of Europe. Don’t be surprised if strangers approach you, buy you drinks and display a genuine interest in how you’re doing and why you chose to visit Ukraine.