• Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, is hosting the 26 May final
  • Kyiv is the birthplace of Blokhin and Lobanovskiy
  • 'NSC' Olympiyskiy stands for 'National Sports Complex'
  • Dynamo Kyiv are the most successful Ukrainian club
  • Ukrainian must-trys include borshch (beetroot-based soup)

2018 UEFA Champions League final: Guide to Kyiv

Kyiv is ...
• The capital of Ukraine.
• Famous for its tree-lined streets, green space and churches.
• The birthplace of greats Oleh Blokhin and Valeriy Lobanovskiy.
• Twinned with Baku, Chicago, Edinburgh, Kyoto and Munich, among others.
• Safe, cheap and nearly as populous as Madrid: population c.2,800,000.

Where it is
Originally a trading post, Kyiv stands on both banks of the river Dnipro. Located in the centre of Ukraine, it is warm in the spring and summer, has plenty of beaches and is a little over 2,000km from London and Paris, and roughly equidistant from New York and Shanghai.

The NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium from the inside
The NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium from the inside©Getty Images

NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium
• Originally built to host the Second All-Ukrainian Spartakiad (or Games), the ground was opened on 12 August 1923.
• Rebuilt several times since, notably to stage the 1980 Olympics; the present stadium was reconstructed in time for UEFA EURO 2012, where it held five fixtures including the final.
• Home to Ukraine's national team, it also hosts Dynamo's UEFA home matches, and big domestic games, including the Ukrainian Cup final.
• NSC stands for National Sports Complex (Національний спортивний комплекс in Ukrainian).
• Situated in central Kyiv – on the right bank of the Dnipro – it has a capacity of just over 70,000.

Getting to and around Kyiv
Kyiv has two airports, Zhulyany (8km south-west of the city centre) and Boryspil International (35km east). Public transport includes buses, trolleybuses, trams and an ever-expanding metro system, which is clean and elaborately decorated – a contrast with the somewhat less reliable bus service that must contend with the Kyiv traffic.

Where to stay
Kyiv is a major business hub as well as a tourist destination, ensuring there will be a wide range of overnight options for fans at the UEFA Champions League final.

Champions Festival
The annual UEFA Champions Festival will run from Thursday 24 until Sunday 27 May in Kyiv city centre. The festival is free to attend and will be THE place for entertainment in the days around the final – including the UEFA Ultimate Champions Tournament featuring a host of UEFA Champions League greats; plus freestylers, autograph signing sessions, bands, DJs, the UEFA Champions Gallery and the chance to have your photo taken with the trophy.

A walk along the banks of the River Dnepr
A walk along the banks of the River Dnepr©UEFA via Getty Images

What to see
For culture: Walk along Andriyivski uzviz (Andrew's descent) – the 'Montmartre of Kyiv' – or climb the bell tower at St Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv's most-visited landmark.
For atmosphere: Khreshchatyk Street runs through the heart of the city and getting dressed up and strolling down it is a Kyivan pastime, especially at weekends when it is closed to traffic.
For fresh air: Mariinskyi Park is a nexus for skateboarders and roller-skaters, besides being a great place for a walk, while the colourful Landscape Alley is a child-friendly sculpture park.

Eating and drinking
A major capital, Kyiv will have options for even the least adventurous eaters, but if you want to eat like a Ukrainian, then must-trys include borshch (beetroot-based soup), often combined with pampushky z chasnykom (garlic doughnuts) instead of bread, and varenyky or halushky (different types of dumplings) for a main course. Ukraine is famous for pyrizhky (filled pasties), with kyivska perepichka (Kyiv pig in blanket) a local speciality, sold in just one place at the corner of Khreshchatyk and Khmelnytskyi Streets – the huge queue should show you exactly where. Also recommended are holubtsi (cooked cabbage leaves with a variety of fillings), deruny (potato pancakes), pechenya (roast potatoes and meat) and salo (cured and salted pork fat) served with black bread and garlic. Beer and horilka (the local word for vodka) are plentiful, with uzvar (a dried fruit drink) the preferred alcohol-free tipple.

Valeriy Lobanovskiy with the 1987 USSR Cup
Valeriy Lobanovskiy with the 1987 USSR Cup©Getty Images

Football in the city
Founded in 1927, Dynamo Kyiv are the city's leading light, with Arsenal Kyiv and Obolon Kyiv in the shadow of the Bilo-Syni (White-Blues). The most successful side in the USSR (with 13 Soviet Top League titles) and Ukraine (15 titles), Dynamo notably won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1975 and 1986, plus the 1975 UEFA Super Cup.

Football was introduced to Kyiv in 1900 by foreign – mainly Czech – factory workers, but really took off in 1954 as Dynamo won their first Soviet Cup, heralding an era when they were their nation's dominant footballing force. Kyivans are also proud that local boys Oleh Blokhin (1975), Ihor Belanov (1986) and Andriy Shevchenko (2004) won the Ballon d'Or.

Get out of the city
The open-air Pyrohiv Museum of Folk Architecture and Life in Ukraine on the south side of the city juxtaposes buildings from all over the country to present a panorama of Ukrainian life. Occasional theatre, music and craft displays make it a must-visit for people wishing to understand Ukraine.

The Uspensky Monastery
The Uspensky Monastery©UEFA via Getty Images

Do it in 24 hours
Breakfast: Breakfast options are plentiful. City centre cafes are scattered around the underground shopping and entertainment centres of Khreshchatyk Street and the central Maidan Square, as well as the historic Podil district.
Up to lunch: The beaches and attractions of the Hydropark are an up-and-about option, as are Kyiv's museums – with the Mysteskyi Arsenal (Arsenal of Arts), the Chornobyl Museum, the open-air Aviation Museum and the Museum of the History of Ukraine in World War II (including a 102m-long Motherland Monument) among the best.
Afternoon: Khreshchatyk Street and Lva Tolstogo Square are key shopping desitnations, but those preferring something a bit more active can try Kyiv Fortress or the high-rope adventure parks in Partyzanskoyi Slavy (Partisan Glory) and Druzhby Narodiv (Peoples' Friendship) parks.
Evening and night: There are various places for late-night entertainment across the city, though Khreshchatyk Street is perhaps the liveliest area. Pubs and clubs are generally open 24 hours a day, with food options – on-street and off – available into the early hours.

Your Ukrainian phrasebook
Hello: Привіт – pree-vee'-t
How are you?: Як справи? – yak spra'-vee
Please: Будь ласка – bood la'-skah
Thank you: Дякую – dja-ku'-yu
Goodbye: До побачення – doh po-bah'-chen-ya
Where is the stadium?: Де знаходиться стадіон? – de zna-kho'-dee-tsja sta-dee-on'
Who do you think is going to win?: Як гадаєш, хто виграє? – yak ga-dah'-jesh khto vy'-ghra-ye
Goal!: Гол! – Ghol

Useful links
Visit Kyiv:
Lonely Planet: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/ukraine/kyiv
Boryspil Airport: http://kbp.aero/en/
Zhylyany Airport:
Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU): http://ffu.ua

Champions League final tickets: Kyiv 2018

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