Ukraine

Kiev Olympic Stadium

Name Kiev Olympic Stadium
Capacity 70500
Year Completed 1923

 

The gloriously reconstructed Olympic Stadium is a stunning work of art situated a little to the south of town on vul Chervonoarmiyska.
 
While the old Kiev stadium was well past its sell-by date, this new state-of-the-art arena is up there with the very best in world football. Spectacular on the eye and oozing with modern facilities, the new-look arena was given its grand unveiling as Ukraine and Germany played out a thrilling 3-3 draw on the new turn last November.
 
The stadium has long been one of the hot-spots for the world's top musicians to perform at and after George Michael and Shakira appeared there in recent years, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Madonna are on the guest list this year and it's a fitting venue for the biggest names in music and sport.
 
Getting to the Kiev's Olympic Stadium could not be easier. Simply take the blue line metro from the heart of the city Khreshchatyk station to Respublikansky Stadion. The Palat Sportu metro stop on the blue and black lines is also within a short walk.
 
Where to go, what to see
 
Not for nothing was Kiev given the honour of hosting the Euro 2012 Final, as the Ukrainian capital is one of Europe's most fervent football hotbeds, with the passion for the game here just as hot as you will find in Manchester, Milan, Madrid or Dortmund.
 
Indeed as a soccer fiefdom, Kiev has much in common with Barcelona. Just as Barca stands for Catalan identity, Kiev's flagship club Dynamo has long been a rallying point for Ukrainian nationalism whether they are winning on the continental front - notably the European Cup-Winners' Cup in 1975 and 1986 – or picking up domestic titles.
 
Triumphs for Dynamo lead to familiar scenes in the streets of Kiev, with the locals joyously invading the streets to produce a colourful and noisy reception designed to create wall-to-wall mayhem.
 
If you are not fortunate enough to get a ticket to watch a Euro 2012 game at the Olympic Stadium, head for Kiev's Fan Zone is the National Circus of Ukraine. For all your big-screen championship action and related fun of the fair head to this domed building on Prospekt Peremohy 2.
 
So what can you expect when you arrive in Kiev? Well, stand by for beautiful, eclectic city of chestnut tree-lined streets, towering monuments, heavy stone buildings, colourful cathedrals with golden domes and legacies of a Stalinist yesterday.
 
Juxtaposed with 21st century material world, Kiev is not a difficult place to navigate, but take on board these two tips for getting your bearings; firstly, find the fountain-filled Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the most popular meeting place in the city and secondly, remember the name of vul Khreschatyk, the street the square lies on. At 1.5km long, this broad avenue is the city's main shopping thoroughfare and is the spot locals love to stroll along.
 
The quickest way to get around Kiev is by their clean, efficient and reliable metro system, though it can take anything up to six or seven minutes time to actually to go from street-level to the underground stations. Plastic tokens coasting 2 hryvnia are good for one journey and are sold by cashiers and token dispensers at metro station entrances.
 
Kiev's Boryspil airport is some 40km to the east of the city centre and taxi drivers have a tendency to charge extortionate fees if you hire their services after hopping off a plane, so the best bet is to use the Polit airport bus which runs from the main railway station to the Boryspil via the Kharkivska metro stop (green line). The service runs every 15 to 20 minutes, takes about an hour and costs 25 hryvnia. The principal train station, Kiev-Passazhirsky is centrally-located and served by the Vokzalna metro. It is, in fact, two stations linked by a causeway: the Central and the South.
 
Not surprising for the capital, Kiev offers an astounding choice of restaurants, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to the cordon bleu; from tasty local dishes to every ethnic cuisine imaginable. Vul Khreshchatyak is a good spot to start and you can move on to try the French 'flammekueche' (tartes flambes) at Muka.
 
If you are looking for something more exotic, seek out a hot and spicy curry at Himalaya or the great pizza joint Celentano. Kozachok on Kyrovogradska 118 is a terrific Ukrainian eatery cum pub, specialising in pancakes and kebabs.
 
Two bars stand out above the rest. The German-like beer hall Bierstube on Chervonoarmiskya 20 is eye-catching and offers a good range of drinks, while Beer Sommelier on vul Saksahanskoho 36 is a great spot to pass a few hours between the Euro 2012 action.
 
Khreschatyk is retail central here, with gigantic malls, Metrograd and Globus accounting for much of the considerable trade and you may even be treated to a display/protest from the outspoken local group FEMEN, who indulge in some high profile stunts in their bid to protest against the thriving sex trade in Kiev. They staged one of their scantily clothed protests on the day of the Euro 2012 group stage draw last December and are bound to target the finals as well this summer.
 
The Olympics may be coming to London this summer, but a ticket for the Euro 2012 final in Kiev on July 1st is still one of the hottest up for grabs on the continent this summer. Ukraine's capital is more than up to the task of doing the occasion justice.