Category Archives: Ukraine

What To Do In Kiev/Kyiv: 40 Fun Activities 

Things to do in Kiev

Kiev/Kyiv is the colourful capital city of Ukraine in Eastern Europe. Expect beautiful pastel buildings in Podil, dancing neon water fountains at night and couples holding bright flowers from the market. Kiev is a young city. Independence was only gained in 1991 and the people you see on the streets, shopping and performing live music, are young too. My (Gemma) what to do in Kiev guide includes the old city, what/where to eat and how to plan a day trip to Chernobyl.

Best Things to do in Kiev/Kyiv

Khreschatyk Street

Khreschatyk Street is a long street lined with shops, cafes and a handful of bars. 

The wide streets have ‘over the road’ crossings controlled by traffic lights and underpasses which are small shopping malls in themselves!

Grab a coffee at one of the many boxes or enjoy a slowly stewed cup of tea at The Journalist.

Khreschatyk Street Kiev

Independence Square in Kiev

At the top of Khreschatyk, you will find Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Independence Square. This is where many of the city’s protests have taken place.

Independence Monument stands in the square, celebrating the country’s independence in 1991. 

Independence Monument Statues Kiev

Kiev’s Dancing Fountains 

It is worth visiting Independence Square area at night because the water fountains light up and dance to Queen. 

It’s not uncommon to see young people dance to the music and couples smooch in the shadows. 

Maidan Nezalezhnosti Independence Square Fountains

People’s Friendship Arch, Mariinsky Park

Druzhby Narodiv Arch, People’s Friendship Arch, can be reached by walking through Khreshchatyk Park.

The arch was erected to celebrate the unification of Russia and Ukraine. Underneath you will see monuments, one representing Ukrainian and Russian workers.

The Arch changes. During Eurovision it dawned the colours of the rainbow and more recently a crack appears at the top to represent the tension between the two countries, our walking guide surmises.

Mariinsky Park Observatory Deck 

By the Arch, there is a massive lookout and bridge where locals go to watch the sunset over the Left Bank.

As you can tell, we experienced one drizzly afternoon when I was out taking shots. The next day was brighter. 

View from Friendship Arch KIev

Mariyinsky Palace 

You need to enjoy this Baroque palace from behind the gates as it is the official ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine. 

Magic Snail Cafe Coffee 

Yup, you read that correctly.

Kiev’s coffee culture is pretty big, so much so, you will find vendors all over the city.

At Mariinsky Park, you might even meet a barista cranking out coffee from his snail-shaped mobile cafe. 

The snail cafes have been controversial. It all came to a head when lines of mostly pink snails parked outside of City Hall in protest. 

Snail Coffee Shop KIev

Bridge of Love

Are you really a city if you don’t have somewhere for lovers to chain padlocks to a bridge?

Lovers Bridge, with its Sherlock Holmes-style street lights and engravings on the ground, connects Khreshchatyk Park to City Park.

Lovers Bridge KIev

House With Chimeras

House With Chimeras (Horodecki House) is an intriguing building across from the Presidential Administration of Ukraine. 

The house was first lived in by the Polish architect, Wladyslaw Horodecki. He eventually ran out of money and it changed hands many times before becoming an official presidential building.

Look up at the animal figures all around the building.

  • Address: Bankova St

House with Chimaeras Kiev

Wladyslaw Horodecki Sculpture 

Have a cup of tea with the influential architect. 

Wladysław Horodecki Statue Kiev


Pristine pastel-coloured buildings tower over hip coffee shops in Podil. 

Expect to see couples posing for Instagram with fresh market flowers in hand.

You may also like | The most romantic places to visit in Europe

Podil Kiev Houses_

Andriyivskyy Descent

Is a striking part of Podil, pimped as  “Montmartre of Kiev”. Clean streets, sweet-smelling flowers and cobblestones which connect Old Kiev and Podil. 

St Andrews Church sits at the top the steep hill. 

St Andrews Chruch Kiev

Park Landscape Alley

Go see a dubious Alice in Wonderland surrounded by whacky animals at Park Landscape Alley.

  • Address: Peizazhna Alley

Park Landscape Alley Alice in Wonderland_

Golden Gate

Take a flyby view of The Golden Gate at Volodymyrska St, 40А. 

Golden Gate Kiev

Kontraktova Square (Ploshcha)

Busy square with a Ferris wheel and Instagram posers.

  • Address: Kontraktova Square

Kontraktova Square

Coffee Angel Wings

Touristy photo opp with the hashtags #coffee_angel

  • Address: Kontraktova Square

Coffee Angel Kiev

Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum

Chernobyl Museum is a small museum with a packed audio guide.

Set aside an hour or so and rent one of the guides to get the most out of the four-room museum. 

As you go up the stairs you will see signs of the villages, towns and cities who were forced to evacuate during the power plant explosion in 1986.

If you do a day tour to Chernobyl you’ll see these signs at a memorial in Chernobyl. See below for more details.

  • Address: Provulok Khoryva, 1

Chernobyl Museum Kiev Ukraine

World’s Deepest Metro

Get down, deep down, at Arsenalna Metro coined the world’s deepest station.

It’s actually a tad disappointing because the route is divided between two escalators.

Note: It’s quite hard to find the entrance to metro stations in Kiev. You have to squint for the M sign. 

Metro Kiev

Metro Station Hopping

Not something you’d do in every city but checking out the metro stations in Kiev is recommended because some of the decor is superb. 

Notable stations include Zoloti Vorota (grand), Kreschatyk (red) and Olimpiiska (cool motif). 

Olimpiiska Metro Kiev

Olimpiiska Kiev Metro

Churches in Kiev 

St Andrews Church 

Wow. St Andrews Church towers over Andriivs’kyi Descent. The deep green top of this Baroque building differs to other churches in the city’s gold tops.

It is worth paying the entry fee for the views from the lookout.

  • Address: Andriivs’kyi descent, 23

St Andrews Church Kiev

Art Walk, Kiev

Underneath St Andrews is you will find a series of stalls selling art and crafts. 

After Two Hares Characters Monument

Monument Pronya Prokopivna and Golokhvastov is a statue celebrating a Soviet comedy film. You can find it across from St Andrews Church.

  • Address: Desyatinnaya St., 14

St Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery

Not a church, but well worth a visit. Named after the patron saint of Kiev, St Michael’s is just as decorative on the inside as out. 

  • Address: Triokhsviatytelska St, 8

St Michaels Gold Domed Monastery_

St Michaels Monastery Gold Domed

St Michaels Monastery Inside

Kiev Funicular

Turn left from the main entrance of St Michael’s to enter the funicular.

The vintage train goes downhill to the riverfront. 

Funicular in Kiev

St Nicholas Wondermaker on The Water Church

This is my favourite church in Kiev. St Nicholas stands proud in the Dnieper River. 

To access you have to walk across a bridge. Inside is compact but beautiful.

  • Address: Naberezhno-Khreschatytska vul. 8A

St. Nicolas Wondermaker on Water

St Sophia Cathedral

Ukraine’s first heritage site, St Sophia Cathedral has the main building, a bell tower which visitors can climb and House of Metropolitan.

  • Address: Volodymyrska St, 24

St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev_

Street Art in Kiev

Since 2014, Kiev has been collecting an array of street art murals on its end gables.

If you are taking an Uber from the airport to the city, keep your eyes peeled as you’ll see really large and impressive work on housing at the side of the road.

In the city, there is a collection of murals close to each other near St Sophia Cathedral.

The Dreamer by Fintan Magee 

  • Address: Strilets’ka St, 12

Fintan Magee Anna Rizatdinovа Strilets’ka St 12 Kiev, Ukraine--

Lesya Ukrainka by Guido Van Helten

  • Address: Strilets’ka St, 28

Traditional Girl Lilly of the Valley by Guido van Helten 28 Striletska Street

Blue Birds, Shadoofs by Taras Arm

  • Address: Heorhiivskyi Lane. 9

Car Carousel by M-City

  • Address: Striletska Street, 20B

Car Carousel by M-City Kiev Kyiv

» See more of M-City and Fintan Magee’s work in this Aberdeen street art mural guide

Graffiti Tunnel

Graffiti work, not murals, can be found at the underpass on the way to St Nicholas Wondermaker on The Water Church.

Street Art Near St. Nicolas Wondermaker

Day Trips from Kiev

Chernobyl Tours From Kiev

One of the main reasons for visiting Kiev is to take a day tour of Chernobyl.

Tours typically leave from around 07:30 and return 10-12 hours later.

It is a long day with four hours of it spent travelling to and from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone but it really is worth the wait for those interested in soviet history, culture, abandoned places, architecture, nuclear activity or dark tourism. 

We did this one-day tour with lunch. We dined at the Chernobyl Power Plant. You can read my honest review here.

There are also two-day tours which allow you to stay in Chernobyl.

Alternatively, you can hire a personalised private tour for Kiev where you build the itinerary.

Chernobyl is not the only ghost town you spend time in during your tour, in fact, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was closer to the city of Pripyat and that is where you will see most of the abandoned places like the Ferris wheel.

» You may also like: 40 haunting images of Chernobyl

Chernobyl Ferris Wheel Pripyat_

Kiev Tours

Free Walking Tour Kiev

There are a variety of free walking tours. We joined the evening ‘Modern Kiev’ tour with a very enthusiastic Ukranian called Alex.

The tour lasts 2.5 hours and takes you around the ‘newer’ side of the city, through Khreshchatyy Park to Friendship Arch. 

Best Places to Eat in Kiev 

The Last Barricade

Tucked away underneath the shopping mall by the dancing fountains is the popular restaurant, The Last Barricade. 

You can actually see it from above, trying to get there is a little trickier! 

Head to the elevator and choose OB level. The doors open to a swanky looking bar and this is where you quote the password Boritesya Poberte. 

We stole a 30-minute slot at a table and dined on sweet dumplings and borscht. You may want to book ahead, especially at the weekends. 

The Last Barricade Kiev

Chicken Kyiv 

I honestly thought that chicken Kiev in Kiev was a joke because in the UK, chicken Kiev is a TV dinner. 

Forget your preconceived ideas about the meal, in Kiev it is the main show!

Succulent chicken wrapped in a crust and served with mash and veg.

Note: Dill is everywhere in Kiev. If you don’t like it, tell your server. 

Don’t skip dessert. Kyiv Cake is a masterpiece. Break into the outer chocolate to reveal meringue goodness.

  • Address: Khreschatyk St, 15/4

Chicken Kiev

Ukrainian Coloured Dumplings at Spotykach


Spotykach is a super popular restaurant with tourists but don’t be put off by that label because they do awesome cocktails and blue and yellow Ukrainian flag dumplings. 

I also enjoyed the Ukraine potato pancakes. 

  • Address: Volodymyrska St

Varenyky Ukraine Dumplings_


Kanapa is a nice restaurant serving quality food in the shadow of St Andrews Church.

We tried the fish and a glass of Ukranian wine.

  • Address: Andriivs’kyi descent, 19

Lviv Croissants

Fresh, warm croissants with a variety of fillings. 

  • Address: L’vivs’ka Square, 14

Food on the Go 

Baked Piroshki is available in small shops dotted around the city. The bread snack is filled with a sweet or savoury filling. 

Baked Piroshki Kiev

Kyiv Food Market

Ridiculously stylish and full of the local cool kids, Kiev Food Market is worth an evening meal. 

Especially if you and your travel partners can’t decide what to dine on because the market plays host to a number of restaurants selling everything from pizza to puddings. 

I recommend the pad Thai.

Menus aren’t in English but you’ll find an English-speaking staff member behind each booth.

  • Address: Moskovska St

Madame Josy

Looking for something photogenic and sweet? Madame Josy small cakes are served in a very cool cafe.

Check out the pink bathrooms.

  • Address: Borysa Hrinchenka St, 4а

Madame Josy Kiev

Breakfast in Kiev 

Liberty Diner, Kiev

We stumbled across this diner accidentally looking for HUM HUM, which we never found in the end.

A happy coincidence though because the Liberty portions are big and the staff are super friendly.

I had the oats which came with ice cream. My friend had a cooked breakfast.  

  • Address: Verkhnii Val St, 28

Liberty Diner Kiev

Blue Cup Cafe

Very chic and modern cafe serving sweet and savoury pancakes among other things.

Think white tiles and XX-style music and you are there.

I had the sweet pancake stack with a bitter jam, nice contrast. 

  • Address: Pushkinska St, 5

Sweet Pancakes Blue Cup Cafe Kiev_

Kiev Bars 

PALATA №6/Палата №6

Don’t mind the tourists in the straight jackets drinking shots while their head is one fire…

Cocktails come in test tubes at PALATA.

Kiev is renowned for its nightlife. We stumbled onto the next after PALTA and ended up in a shell of building with banging tunes. 

Location unknown, like every good night out should be! 

  • Address: Bulvarno-Kudriavska St, 31А

Palata No 6 Kiev

Drunk Cherry

One street behind Khreschatyk, just under the arch, you’ll find Drunk Cherry which does what it says on the tin!

Cherry liqueur is brewed on the premises. Maybe stay away from the Hard Cherry during your first visit. 

The bar may seem really busy at first but there’s a small room at the back which has tables and chairs.

Drunk Cherry Bar Kiev

Best Places to Stay in Kiev 


Self-contained apartments in Kyiv are affordable. You can rent a private room for an average price of £75 but there are rooms for as low as £25. Entire apartments average at £120 but go as low as £20.


  • Premier Hotel Rus: Great location, clean and modern rooms, airport shuttle available.
  • Bontiak Hotel: Free breakfast, spacious rooms, quiet location.

Kiev Hostels

Hostels are great for those on a budget or looking to meet fellow visitors. 

Practical Information 

Is Kiev safe?

Yes, Kiev is safe. We walked around at night with no qualms. Uber taxi is super cheap if you prefer not to walk in the cities at night.

At no point did I feel protective of my belongings in relation to pickpockets in crowds. 

Currency in Kiev

Kiev uses the Ukrainian Hryvni (UAH) currency which comes in notes and coins. You can find today’s rates here

It is not easy to buy UAH outsides of Ukraine. We just used the ATM at the airport when we touched down. A first for me! 

WiFi and 4G in Kiev

The roam everywhere tariffs don’t cover Ukraine annoyingly.

You can pick up a very cheap SIM card when you arrive or hook on to free WiFi where you can. 

We went with the latter and managed to navigate for three days. Finding our Airbnb apartment was a bit of task initially.  

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Final Words

There are so many things to see in Kiev on the street, underground and up above. From cathedrals that pierce the skyline to buried restaurants that hold secrets, it is easy to spend three days in Ukraine’s capital with a day trip to Chernobyl to remember and learn about the world’s worst nuclear disaster. 

Chernobyl Tour Reviews: How to Visit Safely 

Chernobyl Tour Reviews

Pripyat was once a young, thriving city in the north of Ukraine, but on April 26th 1986, its potential was cut short when reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded causing the world’s worst ecological disaster.

Now, the Soviet showcase city located two hours from the Ukranian capital city, Kiev (Kyiv), is a ghost town open to visitors interested in history, culture, communism, architecture, photography and dark tourism, like me (Gemma). Here’s my Chernobyl tour review. 

» Visiting to Kiev? Don’t miss our guide on things to do there

Can You Go to Chernobyl? 

Yes, you can go to the cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat. 

Pripyat is the closest city to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which many people are not aware of as the whole area is often simply named Chernobyl.

However, you can’t visit independently.

You have to pay an organised and regulated Chernobyl tour.

Full-day tours leave from Kiev and last 10-12 hours. There is also the option of a 2-day tour where you stay in Chernobyl.

Chernobyl Memorial Statue_

Chernobyl Tour Reviews 

Is Chernobyl safe to visit now? I asked my friend Laura who works as a full-time radiographer.

Yes, she replies. Do you want to go?

Interest in visiting Chernobyl has increased since the airing of the HBO hit show but this isn’t the only reason that fellow visitors book tours from Kiev.

We met a couple who work in the nuclear industry, an Irish guy whose grandad temporarily looked after child evacuees from Chernobyl in the 80s and a photographer who is a fan of abandoned locations.

Whatever your reasons for visiting Chernobyl, you can be assured that if you choose the right tour operator your trip will be safe, regulated and insightful. You have to be over 18-year-old to visit by the way.

Note: Chernobyl was just one city affected by the explosion and fallout in the Polesia region. The new city of Pripyat and other smaller towns and villages also suffered.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was near Pripyat.

 » » You may also like: 40 haunting Chernobyl pictures taken today « « 

Chernobyl Power Plant Geiger Counter

1- Day Tour of Chernobyl

We opted for this one day Chernobyl tour from Kiev for three reasons:

  1. Reviews state it is safe
  2. It comes with insurance
  3. Lunch is provided, at the Chernobyl Power Plant nonetheless 

The tour exceeded my expectations in some way but fell short in others.

Zalissya Village Table Chernobyl



We left the meeting point, which is a hotel five minutes walk from Independent Square, in Kiev at 08:30. This was one hour after the stated meeting time. 

During the hour, our guide collected passport information which is essential for gaining access to Chernobyl.

Two members of the group forgot their passports.

One left and the other collected their passport at their hotel and took a taxi to meet us at the first stop at a petrol/gas station. 

The journey is comfortable. The bus seats are large, there is a pull-down TV which shows a documentary about the Chernobyl disaster and the free WiFi functions well.

Remember to wear a long-sleeved shirt, trousers/pants and closed shoes or you won’t be allowed to enter Chernobyl.

Chernobyl Cooling Pond

Well Organised

As soon as the booking goes through communication kicks off for this Chernobyl tour.

An email asks for your full name, date of birth, citizenship and passport details. Without these details, you can’t visit Chernobyl. The tour company uses them to apply for your permit which you receive on the morning of the tour.

A reminder that your tour is coming up is sent by GetYourGuide before the day of your trip.

The only advice missing is to pack some snacks which you can eat on the bus, not at Chernobyl.

As you arrive at the Chernobyl Dytiatky checkpoint, your guide collects your permission slips and asks you to keep them with your passport.

When it is your group’s turn, you show them to the police.

Once you are through the checkpoint you line up again to collect your radiation dosage reader then the tour can begin.

Throughout the day, our guide tells us exactly what is coming up next.

They are also great at stating how long you have at each stop and keeping everyone together.

We rarely ran into other tour groups even though there were around eight other buses visiting at the same time. 

Lunch is served at the Chernobyl Power Plant alongside today’s workers.

I was surprised to hear that people live and work in Chernobyl, but the full cleanup is set to take anywhere from 20 to 100s of years. 

Why the varying number of years?

Different areas of the Exclusion Zone return higher numbers of roentgen per second. If you rent a Geiger counter you will see this. 

You’ll also see lots of dogs in Chernobyl. They are healthy looking as the workers feed them. Avoid patting them as they accompany you on your tour.

Chernobyl Plant Lunch

Chernobyl Safety

After the explosion, the 30,000km radius from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was called the Exclusion Zone. A further 10,000km zone was created around the plant itself.

On the 28th April 1986, the military forced locals to leave, giving them only a few hours to collect their belongings. They were told they could return soon. 

Anything left was then ditched by officials, so view abandoned teddy bears as photography props.

Chernobyl Liquidators was the official term given to the civil and military heroes who cleaned up the consequences of this tragic event.

According to our guide, the current safe radiation level for living in Ukraine is 0.03 microsievert per hour. 

If you rent a Geiger counter during your tour you will be able to record the current radiation levels of Chernobyl by reviewing the ionizing radiation levels at different locations.

The machine beeps when you are above Ukranian safety levels.

Our guide says it doesn’t mean you are infected as the length of time spent in radiation zones has a big impact on the likeliness of receiving radiation poisoning. 

At the end of the tour, the reading stated that I received one microsievert of ionizing radiation. This is no more than normal background radiation levels, I’m advised. 

Laura tells me that’s around 1/10 of a chest x-ray, size of a person depending. 

Three times throughout the day we enter radiation level checks to ensure we are safe to dine at the Power Plant canteen and safe to leave Chernobyl altogether. 

Don’t touch anything or put anything down on the ground. This includes camera tripods.

The standout reason for booking this tour is that the level of safety precautions is higher than other tours.

At the Red Forest, where fallout caused all the trees to turn orange and die, there are radiation signs. 

Our tour guide told us not to cross the road to photograph them as the levels of radiation are higher there.

We saw another group stand in that very spot. 

I heard their tour guide telling them not to go further than the radiation signs yet our cut off point was the road before them. 

This is one of the most radioactive areas in the world according to the BBC.

Red Forest Chernobyl

Radiation Checks Chernobyl Plant

Chernobyl Tour Locations 

Throughout this tour, we visited some of the most photographed areas affected by Chernobyl such as: 

  • Amusement Park Chernobyl, actually Pripyat
  • Pripyat’s Ferris Wheel
  • Chernobyl Monument 
  • Monument To Those Who Saved the World
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
  • DUGA radar system 

Ferris Wheel in Chernobyl

As well as some lesser-known locations:

  • Azure Swimming Pool
  • Pripyat Kindergarten
  • Avanhard Stadium
  • Pripyat apartment block
  • Pripyat supermarket on the main square

Azure Swimming Pool Chernobyl

There’s quite a lot of street art around Pripyat and Chernobyl too.

Pripyat Street Art Mural Supermarket_


A Bit Too Efficient?

While the description of the tour says 12 hours, we arrived back in Kiev an hour early.

There was no explanation for this premature return but there were a few things that we didn’t get to see, such as the only standing Lenin statue in Ukraine and the port with sunken boats.

We did, however, experience a few things off the record which was made out to be slightly out of bounds. 

I’m sure it’s just a gimmick but an appreciated one as it means you get to visit Pripyat Azure swimming pool featured in Call of Duty 4 and the views of Chernobyl from an abandoned high rise flat roof. 

You really can’t grasp the magnitude of the disaster until you see the rows of apartment block roofs poking out from among the trees. These trees have taken over the region, against the predictions of scientists. 

My friend Laura says that if she was to do it again she would book a two-day Chernobyl Tour to ensure that she doesn’t miss anything out. 

Personally, I feel the one-day tour is enough but if I was to go again with Craig, and our travel business in mind, I would book a private tour. This would allow me to ask all the questions I want as I am that annoying person. A personal tour also lets you create a bespoke route.

Pripyat Kindergarten Classroom

Chernobyl Is More Touristy Than You Think

As you first pull up to the Dytiatky checkpoint where you show you permission slip and passport to the police you will see a surprising selection of souvenirs.

Chernobyl condoms, gas masks and t-shirts with the Coco-Cola logo on it saying ‘Enjoy Chernobyl, Die Later’ hang in the windows of the shop cabins. The ice cream drawer says ‘Life is too short, eat ice cream, Chernobyl’.

I get the feeling there is a misunderstanding of who Chernobyl is being marketed to. We’re not all laaaaaads on tour. No one we met on our tour bus would fall into that category. 

This is in no way a fault of the tour company as every tour group stops at these shops.

At times you have to remind yourself that around 4,000 people died because of the consequences of reactor four’s fate, 50,000 people were evacuated from Pripyat alone and innocent men went down for the crime too. 

Pripyat 1970 Sign Chernobyl

2- Day Chernobyl Tour

Thanks to our reader, Suz, for sharing her experience of the two-day Chernobyl trip.

Suz says:

It was interesting!

I think if you go expecting basic you will be pleasantly surprised. The beds were big and comfortable and the showers were good despite being shared.

The food was very Ukrainian but filling and we really liked it although some in our group weren’t so keen.

I preferred it to the power plant canteen lunch.

The other benefit was that we could stay out later and be out early.

The checkpoint is closed from 6pm until 10am (plus the hour drive from the checkpoint in) so we had from 8am until 11am on our own which was great.

It also meant we weren’t racing back for the checkpoint on the first day.

The only problem with when we went was it was cold, very cold!!!!!

Chernobyl Packing List

The biggest mistake people make when packing for their day trip is forgetting:

  • Passport
  • Snacks

Also, pack:

  • Layers
  • Waterproofs
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Shades
  • Camera
  • E-ticket on phone
  • Paper for toilets
  • Water bottle
  • Empathy

Leave at home:

  • Selfie stick
  • Instagram dresses
  • Props

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Final Worlds 

Chernobyl is a safe, historically significant and architecturally interesting day trip from Kiev.

I highly recommend going to see the cities that went against the post-nuclear explosion scientific predictions, where trees grow among buildings frozen in time.

Pack your camera and remember your empathy as you walk through the region that the world’s invisible enemy consumed for years.

40 Chilling Chernobyl Photos Taken Today

Chernobyl Photos

Forest consumes the abandoned buildings in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Exclusion Zone. As scary as it sounds, every day tour buses arrive with groups of visitors keen to see in the flesh what the HBO TV show, Chernobyl, has portrayed on their screens. This guide to Chernobyl photos displays the aftermath of the explosion of Chernobyl’s reactor number four. On April 26th 1986, the world witnessed the worst nuclear disaster, resulting in an estimated 4000 related deaths. 

Going to Kiev? Don’t miss our guide on things to do there

Chernobyl Sign

Chernobyl Photos

Chernobyl was a city located within the 300 km Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. It wasn’t actually the closest city to the nuclear power plant, Pripyat was. 

However, its residents were still affected by the fallout. They were evacuated on the 28th of April, two days after the explosion, along with the other villages and towns.

The image below at Chernobyl’s main square shows all of the areas where people were forced to leave their homes. 

Chernobyl Signs

To enter the Exclusion Zone you must visit with a tour leaving from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital. 

This is the tour that I (Gemma) took with my friend Laura, who is a radiographer. You can read the full review here

Tour groups go through a police check, with passports and permission forms, and also a checkpoint called Dytiatky. 

Soldiers man the checkpoints so photographs are forbidden. Guests are given a dosage counter which is returned at the end of the tour. Bizarrely, there are some bad taste souvenirs on sale at the checkpoint. 

Chernobyl Main Square


It is difficult to find a reliable source online regarding the name of the monument that sits at Chernobyl Square next to the signs of all the areas evacuated. 

Monument of the Third Angel Chernobyl_

The Monument to Those Who Saved the World

A tribute to the firefighters who died and the Liquidators. These were the thousands of people who helped clean up the accident, risking their lives for others. 

Fire Fighters Memorial Chernobyl_

Abandoned Village 

During the tour, we’re told that all personal items were either collected by residents two years after the explosion or removed by authorities. Any items you see are most likely photo props. 

Zalissya Village House

Zalissya Village Table Chernobyl

Zalissya Chernobyl Village

Chernobyl Power Plant 

Chernobyl Power Plant Complex is located approximately 130 km from Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, and around 20 km south of the Belarus border. 

It is at this location that the faulty reactor number four exploded during a test.

Today, there is a monument.

Chernobyl Memorial Statue_
Please don’t take selfies. Remember 30 men died after the initial blast and it is estimated that 4000 people will die because of the consequences. 

In this area, you can find the Chernobyl Cooling Pond. If you hire a Geiger counter you will see at this location the radiation levels soar. 

Chernobyl Cooling Pond

With this one-day tour from Kiev, you dine alongside the power plant workers. To enter the plant you must go through a radiation check.

Chernobyl Plant Lunch

Radiation Checks Chernobyl Plant

Pripyat City 

Pripyat was the closest city to the power plant. It is where many of its workers lived. Below is its famous sign. 

Pripyat was a new city. The average age was 26 and many young families lived here. They enjoyed the best housing, parks and amenities. It was used as a Soviet showcase city. 

On May 1st 1986, a massive Soviet celebration, the city planned to open a new fairground which people refer to as the Chernobyl amusement park, even though it is was not technically in Chernobyl. 

Pripyat 1970 Sign Chernobyl

Pripyat Ferris Wheel

This Ferris wheel is an iconic image of Chernobyl.

Our guide says it is used because it represents the failed dreams of the kids in Chernobyl.

Just over 450, 000 children are registered with the Ukrainian health ministry. None of them born during the disaster but suffer the long-term effects of the nuclear fallout. 

Ferris Wheel Chernobyl

Ferris Wheel in Chernobyl Geiger Counter_

Amusement Park

The bumper cars at the amusement park, never used. 

Chernobyl Bumper Cars

Pripyat Square 

Derelict buildings surround the city’s main square. Trees take over. A Soviet sign buried, another rusts away. 

Pripyat Ukraine Square

Pripyat Square

Pripyat Soviet Sign

Star Sign Chernobyl

Radiation Sign

This is the only original radiation sign in Chernobyl, our guide tells us. The likes of the sign at DUGA Radar System are just set up for photographs. 

Pripyat Radiation Sign

Pripyat Square Street Art 

Street artists have moved into the Exclusion Zone. A handful of murals can be seen at the city’s main square. 

Pripyat Street Art Mural Table

Pripyat Supermarket

Our guide shows us what the supermarket used to look like. 

Pripyat Supermarket

Pripyat Street Art Mural Supermarket_

Pripyat Swimming Pool 

Azure Swimming Pool (Sportyvna Street) was used in the computer game Call of Duty 4. Today the bottom floor is trashed, office desks lie scattered.

On the first floor, select tours visit the swimming pool and basketball court, discreetly. 

Azure Swimming Pool Chernobyl Kiev

Basketball Court Azure Swimming Pool Chernobyl Image_

Azure Pool Chernobyl Kiev

Pripyat Kindergarten

Pripyat Kindergarten

Pripyat Kindergarten Toy

Pripyat Kindergarten Rooms

Pripyat Apartments 

At our own risk, we were allowed to enter an apartment block and climb the roof to see the true size of the city. 

Pripyat Apartments

Pripyat Apartments Graffiti

Pripyat Apartments Rooftop

Red Forest 

Due to the direction of the wind, the trees at the Red Forest turned orange. Liquidators cut them down and buried them. 

This is said to be one of the most radioactive areas in the world. We were advised not to cross the road to take photos. 

Other tour groups were allowed to walk up to the signs. 

This image was taken using zoom. 

Red Forest Chernobyl

Animals of Chernobyl 

You’ll meet lots of dogs at Chernobyl. They are healthy looking as the staff feed them. It is advised not to pat them. 

Dogs in the area were killed at Chernobyl after the disaster, just like in the HBO show. 

Now there are charities set up to help find the Chernobyl puppies new homes, after radiation checks of course. 

There are now over 200 species living here, going against the grain of what was forecasted in the 1980s. 

I never saw any of the big animals such as brown bears or bison but I did see a fox. 

Bizarrely, we never noticed any birds. 

Dogs Chernobyl Ukraine

Pripyat Bear Murals Bears

DUGA Radar

DUGA Radar aka Russian Woodpecker, a throwback from the Cold War. Below, a street artist mocks tourists playing Pokemon at Chernobyl. Pokemon appears again at the famous Ferris wheel.

Duga Radar Chernobyl

Duga Radar Chernobyl Street Art Mural

Practical Information

Chernobyl tours leave daily from Kiev. They start early at around 07:30 and return 10-12 hours later. 

If you’d prefer to stay in Chernobyl, there is a two-day tour which allows this.

Personalised tours can also be organised, at a premium rate.

You must take your passport with you to Chernobyl. Only visitors wearing long-sleeved tops, pants/trousers and closed-toe shoes will be permitted. 

Do not touch anything in the Exclusion Zone, this includes putting tripods down on the ground. 

It is advised to bring snacks as it is a long day. You cannot eat out in the open, only on the tour bus. 

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