Here’s our latest interview with a tour guide or certified local as we seek to learn from some of the top experts from the places we love.
If you are a certified tour guide and would like to be considered for an interview, drop me a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat about specifics.
My questions are in bold and the responses follow below. Please excuse us if you see a mistake in grammar, we are travel bloggers not English writers. 😉
What’s your name and how old are you?
My name is Kate Dobromishev, I’m a Kiev tour guide, face of the city and live 28 years in Ukraine, all my life.
How long have you been a tour guide?
I work as a guide for 3 years. Perhaps a little or maybe a lot, but most importantly – I’m not tired yet and I like my job, like meeting new people from around the world and I continue to study my city every day. During these three years I conducted tours for guests from more than 60 countries, for the Eurovision delegation, producer from Hollywood, for the company Toyota Japan and even for the engineer who worked with Elon Musk on launching missiles.
Do you have kids? If so, how old are they?
No, and do not plan yet.
Where are you originally from and what city do you currently live?
I came from a small town in the Donetsk region, which since 2014 is considered as ATO zone. Unfortunately, my house and my relatives, who didn’t want to move, remained there and are occupied by Russia.
7 years ago, I had moved to Kiev, means long before the war started in the East of Ukraine. However, now in my work, my roots and those emotions I have experienced help to express to my guests the situation of the revolution in a better way. And immediately answer the most frequently asked question: Is it safe to go to Ukraine? – Absolutely safe, the conflict zone is 700 km (435 miles) from Kiev. It’s like from Budapest to Berlin. And Kiev is the most beautiful, green, ancient, modern, and full of beautiful architecture and old sights, which everyone should visit.
Are you a licensed tour guide? What cities? If so, from which organization?
It’s probably hard to believe, but in the Ukrainian legislation, there is no such thing as licensing guides, just like there are no licensed taxi drivers. We are moving to the European standards, but still it takes a little time to get the necessary laws and reforms. I have a Master’s Degree in Economics, graduated courses for guides and studied at the Academy of Oratory.
Also, I founded my travel company Guide me UA, we provide private city tours, transfers, gastro tours and pub crawls, organize stag parties and assist large serious delegations.
How many tours have you provided?
Uh, I didn’t count, probably hundreds. Physically, I personally can conduct two excursions a day, it’s 6 hours of walking and talking. Three tours a day I can’t, getting old)))
Lets get to the exciting stuff, why visit the city on the subject? Is the city safe?
And why not visit? If Apple Inc. found our city attractive to film their commercial for Apple Watch in the Kiev metro and at the Railway Station, and Diesel recorded their one at the Podolsko-Voskresensky Bridge, in 2017 several musicians like Calum Scott, OrelSan, Jorja Smith shot their videos here, so apparently Kiev is worth to visit and people started to reopen this side of the world.
Kiev is a mix of ancient architecture, as it is 1535 years old, Soviet monuments, street arts, a huge number of green parks and secret bars. Dynamically developing and reviving after political and economic cataclysms, the city attracts guests with its beautiful history and kind hospitable people.
Moreover, in 2018 the British tour operator Hoppa compiled the list of the most expensive and cheapest destinations and ranked Kiev as the most low-cost city for travelling, all guests are pleasantly shocked by the prices; they are ready to return again and again.
Our agency has guests who come with a tourism purpose 6 and 7 times, because it is affordable, beautiful and fun. And it’s safe, as our guests say, it’s safer than many other cities in Europe and America.
What’s the average temperature in the city?
Winter +3 -5 C, Spring + 5 +13 C, Summer +25 +30 C, Autumn + 15 +8 C
Winter 37.4-23 F, Spring 41- 55.4 F, Summer 77-86 F, Autumn 59- 46.4 F
What languages are spoken? English spoken?
Only 18% of Ukrainians speak upper intermediate English, and out of 26 European countries we are at 24th place. However, the study was conducted all over Ukraine, in Kiev the percentage of people speaking English is much higher, but if you stop a passerby asking how to get to the library, he/she will probably bulge his/her eyes and run away.
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
No, we accept only the Ukrainian currency. Exchange offices are on every corner and you don’t even need a passport to change. But it’s necessary to change.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
Certainly it’s better to stay in the center, within walking distance to attractions, restaurants and bars. Shevchenko and Pechersky districts are the most central. If you are looking for an apartment, then search one at the streets: Khreshchatyk, Baseina, Lesya Ukrainka, Bogdan Khmelnitsky avenue. In general, the closer to the Independence Square, the better, it is the center.
What’re your Top 3 hotels and why?
Rather, I will answer which top 4 hotels for guests with different budgets. For students and people who don’t really care where to sleep, I recommend Dream Hostel, this one is the best. If you are looking for an average level accommodation – Ibis 3-star hotel is a very budget option, but being a well-known network, they have a good level of quality and service. 4-star hotel is Khreschatyk. And for people who are not limited in finances, I would recommend Hyatt.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
Uber works like clockwork. The trip cost is 3 dollars approximately. Here I will give you a little tip. When ordering Uber in Ukraine, choose cash payment method, because if you choose by card, the charging will be several times higher.
If you need to get somewhere far from the center or during peak hours are some traffic jams on the streets, you can try to figure out the metro lines, there are only three of them, the fare is 20 cents (5 UAH), stations are beautiful and deep. But don’t try buses or trolleybuses, you’ll get lost.
Can you highlights the MUST sightseeings?
The central square – Maidan (Independence Square), St. Sophia and St. Michael’s Squares, Andrew’s Descent, where many souvenirs, the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra – the main Mecca for all Orthodox Christians, was founded in the 11th century, it is a real city of churches and caves where the saints’ mummies are. And right next to the Lavra is the statue of the Motherland, which is by the way higher than the statue of Liberty in the US. This is a program for 1-2 days in Kiev.
If you’re here a bit longer, you can stretch the pleasure and go to Mezhyhirya, it’s 25 km from the center, a beautiful park with lakes and the mansion of the former President V. Yanukovych. Now this territory is called a Museum of corruption.
What’s the best place to take a photo?
The most beautiful view of the city opens from the Bell Tower of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, there are golden domes and a river, very beautiful.
What about the Top 3 restaurants?
Those who read this should understand that time is changeable, I write this text in the spring 2018, in six months the restaurant may lose its popularity or close. 3 restaurants are very difficult to choose, because both the interior and service and food in restaurants of Kiev are absolutely not inferior, and even at times superior places in other European countries.
The best summer terrace is restaurant Prague. The best Asian cuisine in Coin restaurant, mixed European cuisine in Alaska restaurant, Italian cuisine – Vino e Cucina, Ukrainian cuisine – SHO, Georgian – Shoti restaurant, Steaks – Beef. Meat and Vine.
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
Of course, enjoy your dinner by contemplating the views of Kiev in the rooftop restaurants: Mur Mur, Avalon, Atmosphere (the roof of the Premier Palace Hotel), B-hush bar (the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel).
Can you recommend best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
The Best shopping mall is Ocean Plaza, bypassing it all, you’ll get tired and will not want to visit other places anymore))
If you want to buy something specifically of Ukrainian production, on the main street Khreshchatyk there is a shop Vsi Svoi (Всі. Свої), there are only Ukrainian designers present their clothes.
And on the same street Khreshchatyk there is a central Shopping Mall – TsUM (ЦУМ), and on the reverse side is the Kiev Passage, all famous brands are concentrated there, like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, etc.
What about food markets?
They are on every corner. It all depends on where you stay. In the center there is a beautiful historical place, the Bessarabsky market. If you are not even going to buy anything, go there to feel the spirit of the Ukrainian market.
Do you recommend any tour outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
Yes, in summer time from the Post (Pochtova) Square go cruise boats, you can see the whole city from the river. And enjoy tanning on Trukhaniv Island.
For those who want to dive deeper into Ukrainian culture, go to Pirogovo open air Museum. It’s an artificial Ukrainian village of the 18-19 centuries, ancient Ukrainian houses, mills, churches, beautiful nature.
Where does one should go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas you recommend?
I’ll tell you the best bars in Kiev, but I’m gonna bet you’ll not find them.
Loggerhead, Barman Diktat, Alchemist, Palata #6, Paravoz, Bezdelniki, It’s not The Louvre – all these bars are speak easy bars, they are located in backyards, and there are no signboards on the front door, nothing.
Tourists can’t find them; even local taxi drivers do not know these places. Perhaps that’s why Bar Crawls are so popular in our agency))
Among the places that you can find without a guide – nightclubs: Hangover, Dfleur, CHI, Arena City Complex with Skybar, The Bar (the name of the bar – “The Bar”), Caribbean club, in the summer – Dali park.
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables?
No, casinos are not permitted by law.
Any last advice for people visiting your city?
In 2017 Kyiv hosted Eurovision, in 2018 in May the UEFA Champions League final will be held here, we are waiting for 50 000 foreign football fans. It is a safe, ancient, affordable, beautiful and diverse city.
And it definitely deserves your attention.
Thanks for your time! How can people learn more about you?
Feel free to share your phone, email and contact info below:
Kate Dobromishev, founder and CEO of Guide me UA – Private Kiev Tours.
+380660679089 (whatsapp, viber)
Thanks again. Your insights will help the next traveler.
Be jetting & buy experiences!