You’ll have lots of options for shopping in Kyiv. Below are some locations and some advice former SRAS students who have studied abroad in Kyiv have to share with you!
Introduction to Shopping in Kyiv
I have two words to describe shopping in Kyiv: abundant and affordable. The city is overflowing with malls and name-brand carriers, underground metro shops, and rynki, or what I like to call “shopping villages.”
First, several large shopping malls can be found throughout Kyiv: Ocean Plaza, Lavina Mall, Gulliver Mall, SkyMall, Globus Mall, Tsum Mall, and Metrograd Mall. These are all similar to ordinary American malls, with name-brand stores and a large selection of products. There are two malls along Khreschatyk Street, which is a ten-minute walk away from the NovaMova Language School. There you can find popular name-brand stores, the Tsum Mall and Metrograd Mall, and a lot of different clothing and sport stores. If you’re looking for excellent fashion and a lot of variety, these are great places to start!
One of my favorite parts of Kyiv is the underground shops. At many metro stations, there are clusters of shops/booths set up with various products. Here you can find just about anything: clothing, footwear, toiletries, hardware, soap, food, etc. Many locals depend on these booths for basic household products, such as batteries, hangers, and slippers. There are also many stores and small shopping malls that are established underground, as well.
The rynki, or shopping villages are my personal favorite. As you get further from the city center and more to the outskirts of Kyiv, little clusters of shops and kiosks start popping up. This is what is called a “rynok” in Russian and “rinok” in Ukrainian. English usually renders these as “marketplace.” After the fall of communism, these became extremely popular not only as fairly reliable sources of goods, but also as places to open one’s first small business. Like the underground shops in the metro stations, these “villages” have just about everything you can imagine. Many of the booths are set up by local, private merchants, and prices are regularly negotiated (I found this to be great language practice, too!). From a cultural standpoint, these shopping villages provide a true glimpse into how the local society functions. Many people set up booths and sell homemade crafts or random goods, and trading is very common in these areas. Bartering truly is an art among the locals; if you don’t debate the price, it’s almost a dead giveaway that you’re a foreigner. For me, strolling through these villages is always a great way to observe the culture around me and interact with different people.
Having grown up in Texas, my wardrobe prior to this semester abroad was not exactly tailored for cold weather, so several key purchases had to be made when I arrived in Ukraine (eg: winter coat, warm socks, hat). Many of my friends recommended that I bring warm clothing with me, but, in hindsight, I’m glad I chose to purchase everything in Kyiv. Firstly, prices are much cheaper, and the locals know how to dress for the cold climate. Secondly, it’s much easier to follow local fashion and dress accordingly. Thirdly, shopping really did give me excellent language practice and I fluently learned the art of bartering.
If you’ll be arriving in the dead of winter and will need something immediately, then it will probably be best to bring clothes from home. However, I’m glad that I used the warmer weather at the beginning of the semester to explore and shop on my own.
My recommendation for those traveling to Kyiv is to take advantage of all of the small booths and shops, and stick to just one suitcase! There’s plenty of shopping opportunities waiting for you in Ukraine!
– Charlie Bacsik
Groceries: Silpo is a large supermarket with a good assortment. There is one in the Pyramid Mall in Pozniaky. ATB has the essentials and stocks some harder-to-find brands familiar to Americans. For cosmetics and personal hygiene supplies one can usually go to ProStore. There is one located between NovaMova and Zoloti Vorota. Notebooks and stationary can be found either at supermarkets or, for a premium, at more specialty stores.
Gluten Free Groceries: If you are looking for gluten free flour, pasta, and other products I recommend checking out Ashan. It is a big grocery store almost like a Costco. They have more grocery options than the smaller Silpo.
Water/Water filters: The water in Kyiv is safe for showers, bathing, and brushing your teeth. For drinking, either filter and boil the water first or, as most locals do, stick to bottled water. Bottled water can be purchased for 30-60 UAH ($1-3) for 1.5 liters.
Rynok: Coming soon
Shopping Malls: Shopping malls are very popular in Ukraine. Globus in the center of the city has many clothing stores, a food court, and electronics stores. Across the river is brand new mall called River Mall. It has a lot of American stores such as H&M and GAP. Malls are plentiful in Kyiv, and essentially any mall will contain a grocery store and cosmetics store. Other recs include Ocean Plaza, Lavina Mall, Gulliver Mall, SkyMall, Tsum Mall, and Metrograd Mall.
Souvenirs, Antiques, and Local Crafts: Near St. Andrew’s Church, at the top of Andriivs’kyi Descent, the long, steep road is usually lined with vendors selling all the souvenirs you could ever want. Just remember to never take the first price. Always haggle with them, they are usually flexible.
Phones and Electronics: Mobile phones, headphones, power adapters, and the like can be found at ALLO, in most major malls.
Eyeglasses and Contacts: Coming soon.
Books: Knigarnya has books in Ukrainian, Russian, and English as well as a good selection of bilingual books and books for language learners.
Sports: Coming soon.
Arts and Crafts: Coming soon.
– Various SRAS Students and Staff
Dreamtown Shopping and Entertainment
Obolonskii prosol, 1A
Located between Minska and Obolon metro stations
Dreamtown is where American mall meets Disney world – in Kyiv, Ukraine. From shopping to delicious food to exciting activities, this is much more than any shopping center. While visiting Dreamtown won’t deepen your understanding of Ukrainian history or culture, it is certainly able to provide a day of pure bliss.
In terms of layout, the mall is three stories, with the first two holding most of the stores. Dreamtown boasts an impressive offering of stores, which sell everything from clothing to sports gear to books to art supplies and more.
While I’m not typically a fan of shopping malls, the décor inside Dreamtown was what won me over. As you walk through the mall, it’s broken into different sections, each with its own themed two-storey café. Dreamtown is the only place in Kyiv can you experience Holllywood, Paris, ancient Greece, Chinatown, and a jungle—all within walking distance!
Once you are ready for some action, venture up to the third floor, dedicated to entertainment, dining and recreation. There, you can choose between playing mini-golf, bowling, playing billiards, ice skating, rollerblading, practicing curling, and jumping on trampolines.
In terms of dining, again, there is no shortage of options. On the third floor, there is a food court, and the ice and roller rink each have their own café and sitting area. Or, for the health-conscious, check out the mini-bar selling fresh juices!
– Caroline Barrow