Kids & family activities

Kiev offers the widest range of activities for kids and family leisure. The only obstacle for any foreigner here remains the language barrier but it is often easy to get by - especially if you have some children in tow.

Sightseeing, museums

Where to spend family weekend is the question that any family comes across regularly - and Kyiv is best-placed to provide family entertainment of all sorts.

If you are in favour to turn leisure into an educational choice, you will appreciate one of the following museums:

National Museum of National History, based on classical approach to museum study, comprises 5 museums: the Geological, Paleontological, Zoological and Botanical. It is interesting for kids with its enormous collection of more than 30 thousand specimens of plant and life forms, artefacts of the tribes and peoples of modern Ukraine territory. 30 landscape expositions and biogroups are contained within impressive dioramas. The foreign-language guide may also be ordered. (http://www.museumkiev.org/indexeng.html)

The State Aviation Museum (close to Zhulyany airport) is the open-air exposition of nearly 70 aircrafts and helicopters. You can get inside most of them. (http://aviamuseum.com.ua/en/)

The Historical Locomotives and Carriages exposition is concentrated on rather small open-air ground, but is valuable by its entirely origin exhibits. You may dream of being the Russian prince or the military overlord while sitting in the carriage private apartments of the 19th century, restored properly. Or to feel like a driver having got into the locomotive cabin of Stalin’s epoch. (Work hours: 8.00-20.00 (though till the end of day light in cold seasons; launch break: 12.00-13.00. Entrance from the 14th way of the Central Railway Station).

Kiev Water museum, based in the ancient city water tower, attracts visitors with very special, witty, entirely interactive and entertaining approach to water issues: from water circulation in nature to history of municipal sewer system. (http://www.aqua-kiev.info/)

Experimentanium – the lately set contemporary museum, aimed to educate natural sciences in entertainment interactive way. (http://www.experimentanium.com.ua – just in Ukr) Well worth a visit if you have active kids with enquiring minds!!

Kiev Planetarium has spherical cinema facilities for entire comprehension of astronomy and some other natural sciences issues. Lectures in English or French languages may be ordered. (http://www.kievplanet.org.ua/en/)

Pirogovo open-air folk museum (in Holosievo fringe) and ‘Mamaieva Sloboda’ (not far from the city centre) are the excellent places not just to watch the authentic architecture and way of life, ride a horse, but a nice opportunity to try your hand at national crafts. Despite route minibuses from the centre are available, it’s better to get to Pirogovo by car. In snow winters the expats like to go there with kids for sledging. (http://pirogovo.org.ua/ - no Eng version).

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Zoos and domestic animals pens

Kiev Zoo is a bit dull. It’s rather small, old-styled and has a poor animal collection. In winter you can watch just very few of its inhabitants. Nevertheless, your kids will definitely appreciate feeding small pretty domestic animals, which live in the special pen. A similar indoor mini-zoo may be found at DreamTown shopping centre. There are also a few mini-zoos not far from Kyiv: e.g. the ostrich farm in Yasnogorodka or domestic animals pens at some restaurant complexes.

‘Kiev City Dom Pryrody’ (Kyiv City House of Nature) presents the regular exposition of Aquarian fish and plants. Theme exhibitions on particular plants collections and live animals are set there periodically (http://www.dom-prirody.com.ua/ - just in Ukr).

If you are located in Crimea region, we recommend you to visit lions’ safari park 'Taigan' nearby Bilogorsk and 'Skazka' zoo in Yalta. That said please do not expect Western style zoo-keeping. I recall seeing an otter in Yalta zoo living in a small fenced area containing a bath tub. Disgraceful really. “Askania Nova” national park with zoo is a bit better and is situated not far from Crimea peninsula – In Khersonskaya region.

Kiev Circus welcomes guests from autumn till spring. It is classical circus, which programs comprise both shows with animals and air gymnastics, tightrope walking, clownery. Again there are live animals - but all look well fed, loved and if you are going to go to such events - this is one of the best locations. We don't condone circuses with live animals - but we also realise they continue to be part of the culture here.

Dolphinariums: ‘Nemo’ in Kiev (Fantastic show!) and Donetsk, as well in Odessa, Sevastopol, Simferopol, Kharkov, Yalta (Yalta Intourist hotel), Kirillovka (on the Azov Sea).

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City round trips and one-day out city trips

You may arrange such trips either by yourself or to hire a professional English-speaking guide (with a car if needed). Some tourist offices offer excursions around the city, targeted at families.

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Sport activities for kids & family

Bowling, electronic game machines, kids entertainment grounds can be easily found at majority of the shopping malls and entertainment centres around the country.

Karting rings are mostly open-air and rather primitive, though you can reallyenjoy a racing club atmosphere at the indoor ‘Terminal’ karting centre in Brovary (Kyiv eastern satellite) or ‘Forza’ carting on Podil (Kyiv).

Skating rings are situated at large shopping centres or in the special ice palaces. Commonly they have an-hour sessions schedule and provide with skating equipment and coach service as well. Some of the ice palaces are aimed professional sport mostly and you’d better get aware about their free time ‘gaps’ beforehand. 

Outdoor skating rings are usually established in winter, around Christmas and New Year, on major squares like Sofiivska square, Kontraktova square and such.

Indoor Aqua-parks in Ukraine are of rather modest range and number. They may be found in some large shopping centres or at premium recreational complexes (e.g. just two in Kiev: in “Dream Town” shopping mall in Kiev or in “Terminal” shopping mall in Brovary in Kiev suburb).

Horse riding for kids is one the most popular open-air activities elsewhere here. You may come across the pony riding point almost in any city park during the warm period. Professional horse riding is within reach of a very limited number of families in Ukraine - look for this service at special elite clubs around big cities.

Extreme sports services usually have special facilities for children and some kids parties are often set in summer there. The biggest one in Kyiv is situated in ‘Druzhby narodiv’ recreational zone on Troukhaniv island, the others - in ‘Partizanskoi slavy’ park (Kharhivskiy residential), in Holosievo park etc.

Kids sport groups (e.g. lawn tennis, swimming, sport aerobics, ping-pong etc.) may be found at any large fitness centre or at the universities sport schools, inherited from the Soviet times. Frankly, their facilities and equipment may vary considerably, so it’s worth to get aware about conditions your kid to get into beforehand.

Many expats support Junior Rugby (by John Marsh Rugby) and for the past seven years The Ukraine Rugby Federation in cooperation with the foreign community have organized an annual international Rugby Union tournament for boys aged 12-17 years. Visit their Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/events/502168706462861/

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Arts and off-school educational classes

Music and fine arts. Commonly Ukrainian kids study music at special music schools. The certificate on entry music education completion facilitates pursuing professional career.  If you are going to submit to music college or conservatoire in Ukraine - it is compulsory. Music schools traditionally have high reputation and official state status of educational institution.

Some music disciplines, e.g. choral singing, may be comprehended at special kids vocal ensembles, which perform professionally and play on tours not just in Ukraine. Though such education is not recognized as relevant to enter classic higher music institutions.

There are plenty options to study fine arts here: from the above mentioned state music and fine arts schools to private kids development centres. 

Dance. The Ukrainians (female mostly) are dance addicts. You can find plenty of dance studios – from classic ballet to hip-hop – elsewhere here. Some fitness-centres offer dance classes as particular fitness programs as well. If you are going to make classic ballet your kid’s future job, it is better to address the reputable ballet schools: e.g. to ‘Kyianochka’ kindergarten and school, to ballet school by V.Pisarev in Donetsk. It is also possible to find a private teacher with professional ballet expertise. As usually, the foreign language teachers are of question.

Natural science and craft classes. Kyiv City Palace for Youth (the similar establishments in other cities – as well) is the most reputable establishment, which offers kids off-school classes of all kinds: art, natural sciences, young discoveries groups, journalists’ club etc. Some of their programs on natural classes and biology are English-speaking – contact the Palace for details directly (http://palace.kiev.ua)

It would be useful to get aware about possible English-language off-school classes at reputable international schools and kindergartens. They often run extra activities at their basis.

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