Friday, April 8, 2011

Bila Tserkva: a Quick Getaway Trip from Kiev

I don't know about you, but I'm always on the lookout for places to take outings around Kiev to unwind and get work done at the same time. The best destinations can be reached efficiently with a minimum of waiting around or trying to find what you're looking for.

Bila Tserkva definitely falls into that category. Below is my description of how to get there and have an enjoyable and unusually efficient trip. It's not exactly how we did it (with a lot of trial and error), but it's definitely how we'll do it when we go again in 2 or 3 weeks to enjoy the springtime flowers and budding trees.


Sometime in the morning or afternoon (depending on when you can get off work and other obligations) head down to Lybedska metro station and ask around for the minibuses ("marshrutki") to Bila Tserkva ("Belaya Tserkov" in Russian). Buses leave every 30 minutes, and the trip takes 70 to 80 minutes total. Cost: 20 UAH ($2.50 USD).

The end stop in Bila Tserkva is right in front of the hotel where I recommend staying. It's called "Klark" but is commonly known by its former name — "Dom priezzhikh" (Дом приезжих in Russian). If you arrive after 14.00 you can check in immediately, otherwise you'll need to come back later after you've done some sightseeing (another reason to pack as light as possible and wear a comfortable backpack!).

A simple double room at Klark costs 220 UAH ($28 USD) and comes with its own bathroom with hot and cold water, a TV, and — if you're lucky — Wi-Fi. If the wireless signal does not reach your room, it is available in the halls and lounges and the restaurant. There are outlets in the lounges and the network is not password protected. Internet seems to be reliable and fast.

The main attraction in Bila Tserkva is famous Aleksandria Park. If you get tired of large landscape parks, there are more usual sights in the center of town — i.e. churches, shopping centers, a central square with a Lenin statue, and other characteristic Soviet buildings and infrastructure.

It's easy to get to Aleksandria Park. If you're looking out from the entrance of Klark hotel, walk right about 100 yards to the nearest bus stop and take any one of several buses. #22 seems to run the most often. Fare is 1.50 UAH and you'll need to get off in about 4 stops. If you're uncertain, ask for Aleksandria Park. When you get out, look across the street diagonally and you'll see the park entrance with busts of Pushkin and Taras Shevchenko on either side (these famous Russian and Ukrainian poets and writers visited Bila Tserkva).

An entrance ticket costs 8 UAH ($1 USD) unless you're a student or pensioner. The park is really nice — one of my all-time favorites. Up there with Pavlovskiy Park outside of St. Petersburg, and certainly more interesting than Kiev's Pirohovo Museum from a purely landscape design perspective. There are a number of cascading lakes, and the river Ros forms one of the boundaries of the park.

The best time of year to visit the park is probably between April 10th to the end of October. Spring and fall are particularly spectacular.

Personally, I am happy to spend 3-4 hours in a park like this exploring its perimeter. It is a large park — you've been warned. You can walk 12-15 km here without repeating any routes. Note that working hours are 8 am to 4:45 pm, so you'll need to be careful to get out in time.

After visiting the park, you can head back to the hotel and work online (my option), have dinner, etc. Taking your own food from home is a good way to save time and money, but there are also inexpensive dining options right next to the hotel.

The restaurant on the first floor of Klark hotel seems pretty decent, and you get a 10% discount if you tell the hotel administrator you're going to be going to the restaurant. A full dinner for two will probably cost between 120 and 240 UAH ($15-30 USD) depending on your appetite and taste for expensive drinks. The restaurant has a distinctly Soviet interior, as does the hotel — not necessarily a bad thing, but actually strangely nostalgic.

Another option is "Mirage" cafe located about 100 meters further down the street from the above mentioned bus stop. The cafe offers a rather staggering array of meat dishes and is quite busy, which is a good sign. Here two people can have a full meal for about 120 UAH ($15 USD).


Sleep in or work online or whatever till no later than noon, when you'll need to check out of the hotel. Head to Aleksandria Park for round 2 and leave for Kiev in the later afternoon. Minibuses leave from right in front of Klark hotel and take you to Lybedska metro station for 20 UAH.


(shot with a simple iPod camera)

Entrance to the park, with busts of Alexander Pushkin and Taras Shevchenko on either side.

Church in the center of Bila Tserkva.

"Klark" hotel and restaurant.


  1. Park looks realy nice! And it's only early spring time!

  2. Rick,

    Did you come across a cafe called Strumok in Belaya Tserkov? I'm looking for the address and I'm wondering if you could give me tips to find it.


    Rien Doorn

  3. Sorry, don't remember a cafe with that name, but we only visited two or three.

  4. my mother was born here in this Belaya Tserkov in 1911 do you know if Jewish family records can be viewed at the Records office...I live in The Netherlands and would like to make a trip to see where my mother was many people speak english as I dont speak Russia only Dutch and English kind regards George Weiss email