Upon exiting the airport, travelers will find taxis waiting in a queue in front of the doors. These are licensed drivers who will charge about 220-250 UAH to go to the city center. It is recommended not to accept the offer of unlicensed chauffeurs who sometimes approach travelers in the arrivals area. Other options to travel to downtown Kiev from the airport include a bus service called “Sky Bus” which will take travelers from the airport to the main railway station in Kiev for a oneway fare of 50 UAH. Not calculating heavy traffic, the bus takes slightly more than one hour for the route. Further, some major car rental companies maintain presences at Boryspil airport.
Kiev has a second airport, Zhuliany, which used to be the primary air traffic hub before Boryspil was opened. Zhuliany is located closer to the city center and still handles a number of daily international flights as well as a large amount of private aviation. There are several bus routes serving the airport as well as public transport connections to nearby Metro stops (lines 2 and 3). There are also two car rental companies present in the terminal building.
Within Ukraine, trains often are the common means to travel between cities, although their slow pace may test the patience of foreign visitors at times. There is also a limited number of train connections to other countries, mostly to Poland and Russia. Kiev’s main railway station is located right in the heart of the city. It is referred to as either the central station, as “Pasazhyrskyi” or, somewhat confusingly as “Southern station”. It is actually a large complex where not only railway traffic is handled but where there is also immediate access to the Metro (station Vokzalna, line 1) as well as to the Kiev tram (station Starovokzal’na). Additionally, buses and mini buses make stops in front of the building. All this together often leads to the area of the station being somewhat crowded, especially in the morning and afternoon busy hours. To lift some of the traffic off the central station and to facilitate access to the neighborhoods on the left side of the Dnieper, the train station Darnytsia has been expanded to handle more traffic. It is also connected to several innercity traffic options, including the tram, buses and marshrutkas. The Metro station with the same name (line 1) is actually not directly connected to the railway station.
Historically one of the first if its kind in the world, the Kiev tram system has been declining for years and nowadays is an increasingly rare sight in the city center. In the downtown area, the tram has gradually been replaced by buses and trolley buses. Regardless, the operating company Kyivpastrans still maintains two different networks, one on each side of the river, which are not interconnected. Currently, a total of 21 tram lines are active, providing good service for those who want to go outside of the central area and into the suburbs. Kyivpastrans also offers the services of two light rail lines and an electric train in the city, commonly referred to as “electrychka”. Opened in 2010, the system was set up to provide easy access to tram and metro stations at most of its stops. It operates on a circle line starting and ending at Darnytsia station on the left bank.
Although the Kiev metro system is small and consists of only three lines, it is the recommended means of transportation for the central city area, preferred by most residents. The system, launched in 1960, currently serves more than 50 stations with 150 trains and there are several plans to expand the network. Contrary to what one might expect from a subway system, the Kiev metro impresses with punctual, reliable and frequent service and very clean, safe stations. As each station has a different design, some of the metro stations are reminiscent of a work of art, as for example seen in the mosaics and chandeliers that adorn the Zoloti Vorota station on line 3 or in the busts of famous academics that can be found in the Universytet station on line 1.
Apart from a handful of stations located above ground, passengers are usually transported to the tracks level by long, steep escalators after passing through the turnstiles. These will open either by inserting a token good for one ride (currently priced at 4 UAH) or by a magnetic card. These can either be loaded with an amount at the buyer’s discretion to allow for the corresponding numer of rides or come as unlimited rides-cards. There are cashiers in all stations and often also machines that can be used to purchase ticket cards or tokens. During main traffic times, trains operate in very short intervals and even after hours, from 8 pm, the frequency is still kept at five minutes. Depending on the station of embarkment, the last daily train departs shortly after midnight. For foreign visitors, all stations have signposts in English and also the announcements of the next stop - both via the speaker and the screens positioned in all cars - will give the English name of the upcoming station. Trains can be very crowded in peak times; try to avoid these if possible. Currently, many stations are not wheelchair-accessible.
Train lines are differentiated either by their number, by the color designation on the map or by their name, derived from the respective terminal points:
Line 1 (red, Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska) crosses the city in an east-west direction and connects both river banks by passing under the Dnieper. It connects to line 2 at Khreshchatyk and to line 3 at Teatralna station.
Line 2 (blue, Kurenivsko-Chervonoarmiyska) travels along the right river bank and crosses the central downtown part over almost 21 kilometers, leading to many of Kiev’s main attractions. It connects to line 1 at Maidan Nezalezhnosti and to line 3 at Ploshcha Lva Tolstoho station.
Line 3 (green, Syretsko-Pecherska) is the newest line in the system, connecting both river banks via a bridge. It is planned to extend the line for another six stations to reach the new railway station at Darnytsia. Connects to line 1 at Zoloti Vorota and to line 2 at Palats Sportu.
There is a wide variety of buses on the road in Kiev at any given time. They are a cheap and reliable means of transport, albeit not always the most comfortable as they often get crowded in peak times. It can be tricky to find a designated stop sometimes as the respective signs are in some places placed high up on a pole. Tickets can often be bought at kiosks, otherwise the driver will sell one, costing as little as 2 UAH for a ride. Once you are on board, make sure to validate your ticket with one of the punchers that can be found in every bus. If you can’t get to the puncher, just pass your ticket through the lines of passengers, it will come back to you punched. There are a few busports in Kiev, the most important of which is the Central Bus Station on Moskovska Square (accessible via metro station Demiivska, line 2). From there, many trans-country or even international bus routes start. As staff in the booths there sometimes cannot help you in English, advance online booking is a good alternative.
This form of public transportation is characteristic for many post-Soviet Union countries and they are a favorite among locals in Kiev, as they are often the best method to reach residential areas. Tourists should be prepared to see them as an authentic way to experience the city. Marshrutkas are usually private-operated mini buses, mostly yellow ones, although there are some regular-size buses operating as marshrutkas too. They can be seen everywhere in the city and tourists will sometimes marvel at how crowded they can get in peak times. They can hardly be described as comfortable and AC climate control doesn’t always fulfill the passengers’ hopes on cold winter or hot summer days. In most cases, they are not wheelchair-accessible. Marshrutkas are usually used to travel shorter distances and they are a good choice if you don’t want to walk to the next metro station. The route it travels is occassionally not easy to figure out, but they will usually display their route on a side window with metro stops they serve marked as such. Officially, it is no longer possible to flag them down from the side of the street, but there are numerous stops everywhere. Once inside, you pay the driver for your ticket (currently 3 UAH per ride) or pass your money up front with the help of other passengers - change money comes back the same way, if any. In larger buses operating as marshrutkas, there might be a conductor on board who is in charge of selling tickets.
The taxi market in Kiev is only thinly regulated. Taxis come in all sizes, models and colors and there are quite a number of private cars on the road that offer taxi services as well. These unmarked cars are not licensed and should be approached with caution. It is always recommended to ask the driver for the rate to your desired destination before you get in to avoid surprises. Most drivers will understand enough English to understand where you want to go and to give you a rate quote. Drivers tend to add a small premium when they discover you are a foreigner. Official taxis can also be booked over the phone, but as long as you are in the central parts of town, you will easily find one in the street. It is also common to flag them down from the curb.
If you intend to spend all or most of your time within the extended Kiev city area, a rental car is rarely the recommended option for transportation. This is the result of an abundance of public transport options available at low prices and the fact that driving in Kiev can be a challenge. The main roads are always reliably jammed in peak times. However, driving in the city is not more dangerous or daring as in other major European cities and Ukrainian drivers usually obey traffic rules. Parking usually calls for creative solutions - as long as you don’t block exits or driveways, it is acceptable to park your car on the - usually very wide - sidewalks, too.