Quickly becoming Europe’s latest alternative hotspot, the capital of Ukraine has way more to offer than the drab and dull stereotypes attached to it. There are dozens of reasons to make Kiev your next trip, not least its vibrant nightlife. From craft beer to sophisticated cocktails, boozy boat cruises to underground raves, every weekend has plenty to keep you busy. Here’s a quick look at what nightlife in Kiev has to offer!
Kiev beer bars
The Ukrainian beer scene is experiencing a craft revolution, boosted by the inventive flavors of brewers like Varvar and the tongue-in-cheek political fun of Pravda. However, you don’t have to go to one of the hip craft pubs to get a good brew. Places like Syndicate Beer & Grill have more of a sports bar vibe, and the local chain of Porter Pubs puts on no airs but serves up affordable cold beer.
- Varvar: (Sunday 2pm-11:45pm; Monday-Thursday 1pm-11:45pm; Friday 1pm-12:45am; Saturday 2pm-12:45am)
- Pravda Beer Theatre: (Sunday 11am-12am; Monday-Thursday 2pm-12am; Saturday 11am-2am)
- Syndicate Beer & Grill: (Sunday-Thursday 10am-12am; Friday-Saturday 12pm-2am)
- Porter Pub: (most locations open every day from 10am-2am)
Kiev cocktail bars
If you’re big on cocktails, Kiev is one of the best places in Eastern Europe to sample creative concoctions. In fact, every year the city hosts Barometer, one of the most fascinating cocktail shows in all of Europe, drawing visiting bartenders from around the country and the world.
Many of the cocktail bars in Kiev have a unique slant or a tongue-in-cheek theme. You can get flavors of far-flung countries at Podil East India Company, or try psychoanalysing your drink preferences at Pink Freud.
The city is full of speakeasies as well. From Paravoz, hidden inside a closed movie theatre, to Loggerhead, an upscale bar behind an unmarked door, the city is basically a scavenger hunt for fantastic drinks. Two of the best are Barman Dictat, which has a massive wall-length display of alcohol and features live music and DJs on different days of the week, and Hendrick’s, a classy joint located in the basement of a burger restaurant.
- Podil East India Company: (every day 12pm-2am)
- Pink Freud: (Sunday 6pm-12am; Monday-Thursday 6pm-1am; Friday-Saturday 6pm-2am)
- Paravoz: (Sunday-Monday 4pm-1am; Tuesday-Thursday 4pm-2am; Friday-Saturday 4pm-3am)
- Loggerhead (Sunday-Thursday 7pm-1am; Friday-Saturday 7pm-2am)
- Barman Dictat: (Sunday 6pm-2am; Monday-Saturday 6pm-6am)
- Hendrick’s: (Sunday-Tuesday closed; Wednesday-Thursday 6pm-1am; Friday-Saturday 6pm-2:45am)
Kiev rooftop bars
Kiev is famous for its cold winters, but that only means that locals enjoy their summers to the fullest. Kiev’s rooftop bars are often discretely marked, but it’s worth searching them out. At the top of Bursa Hotel there’s a small terrace called 1818, which offers excellent sunset views over the neighborhood of Podil. The rooftop restaurant and bar Mur-Mur lets you peep over the side down to the busy street of Pushkinska. The most spectacular views might be at Bar on 8 at the top of the Hyatt Regency, where you can enjoy a drink across the street from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saint Sophia’s Cathedral.
- 1818: (Sunday-Thursday 4pm-1am; Friday-Saturday 4pm-3am)
- Mur-Mur: (every day 12pm-2am)
- Bar on 8: (every day 11am-2am)
When it comes to dancing, there are options for every kind of groove. Places like The Alchemist pull in cocktail and hip hop loving crowds, while Closer, a popular club hidden inside a derelict commercial complex, is more low-key with a focus on techno and house. For a beach party, walk across the pedestrian bridge to UBK Beach on Trukhaniv Island. To feel like an oligarch, the place to go is Hangover, which is frequently crowded on weekends with glitzy young Ukrainians.
During the summer, Kiev hosts numerous concerts and festivals. One that is quickly rising in popularity is the Brave! Factory festival, which in 2019 had six stages and lasted two days, hosted in the unique venue of a train depot.
- UBK: (Sunday 11am-2am, Monday-Thursday 11am-1am; Friday-Saturday 11am-6am)
- Alchemist: (Sunday-Thursday 6pm-3am; Friday-Saturday 6pm-5am)
- Closer: (Friday 11:59-11am; Saturday 11:59pm-12am; Sunday 12am-3pm)
- Hangover: (Sunday-Thursday 12pm-1am; Friday-Saturday 12pm-4am)
Kiev nightlife musts
There are a few quintessential Kiev nightlife experiences that everyone should have at least once! One of the most radical drinks you can get is the ‘helmet’ drink at Palata No. 6, a bar with a macabre hospital theme. Participants have to wear hard hats and you can’t be afraid of fire – but that’s all I’m saying, as you should experience it for yourself!
The newly opened RiverPort is already a favourite destination for locals. With outdoor food and drink vendors, as well as regular events, this place is always buzzing. For a totally unique experience, jump on board one of the Dnieper river cruises. You have a chance to see the diverse skyline of Kiev while partying with enthusiastic locals.
To try one of Ukraine’s most popular exports, head to Drunk Cherry to get a glass of cherry liquor. Maybe pick up a bottle to enjoy at home!
- Palata No. 6: (every day 11am-2am)
- River Port: (every day 9am-11pm)
- Drunk Cherry: (Sunday-Thursday 12pm-12am; Friday-Saturday 12pm-1am)
Kiev nightlife prices
Prices in Kiev are generally very affordable compared to other European capitals. You can get a .3L craft beer for less than 2 Euro. Cocktails tend to be slightly more expensive, ranging from 5 to 10 Euro — which is still a great deal compared to what you would pay for the same high quality drink in New York or London. Club covers can go from 15 to 20 Euro, depending on what time you go and who is DJing the event. Of course, if you go to the most popular venues in the centre, these prices could be even higher.
Dos and don’ts of nightlife in Kiev
- Do keep an eye on your belongings. While inflated bills and club scams are largely just urban legends now, if you are inattentive to your bag don’t be shocked if it disappears.
- Don’t do drugs. Ukraine’s legislation on drugs is currently very strict. Not only would you be breaking the law, but you would also be taking on all the risks associated with an unregulated drug market.
- Do think about your appearance. The days of extreme ‘face control’ are over, but certain expectations about appearances still hang around some venues. This is especially true if you plan on visiting some of the trendier hotspots in the centre of the city.
- Do make a reservation. The Kiev nightlife scene is dominated by the reservation system, which can be very frustrating if you like to keep things spontaneous. This applies mostly to cocktail bars and rooftop venues. If you like to live dangerously without a reservation, make sure you have a back up plan.
- Don’t give up. If a bouncer initially denies you entrance due to not having a reservation, you still might be able to talk your way in if you want to just stand at the bar, or you can promise to be out in a certain amount of time.
- Don’t worry if you can’t speak Ukrainian. In general, the Ukrainian staff who are at the vanguard of Kiev’s nightlife revolution have excellent English skills.
- Do double check the hours. In a dynamic city like Kiev, venues are constantly opening and closing – or undergoing renovations. Google may not be up to date with all the businesses, so to double check if a place is open look for them on social media.
- Do check for special events. There is something unique to do almost every weekend, whether it’s a craft beer festival or a factory rave. The best place to find information on upcoming events is social media – nearly everything is publicised online. While much of it is in Ukrainian, if you’re armed with Google Translate you should be able to decipher what’s happening.
- Do your own research! This is just a basic primer on all the options nightlife in Kiev can offer you! Even after living here for almost two years, I’m constantly finding new places, and my list of favourites just keeps getting longer. The best way to do this is when you’re on the ground – talk to locals to see where they hang out. I’ve gotten the best recommendations from bartenders themselves (they’re too busy out having fun to leave Google reviews).
Now you’ve read a local’s guide to nightlife in Kiev, are you ready to party the nights away Ukrainian style? Or have you already been there, done that, and have your own recommendations to share? Either way, let us know in the comments. Cheers!
Check out our hostels in Kiev for somewhere to stay after a night of partying.
About the author:
Amy Butler is a writer from New York City, currently bopping around without a fixed address. Her main activities include befriending bartenders and experiencing different cultures through bread. Read her blog The Wayfarer’s Book or follow her Instagram.