Traveler's Guide to Top Ukrainian Gifts from Kiev

Traveler's Guide to Top Ukrainian Gifts from Kiev

In recent years, Ukraine has made the news rather distant from welcoming tourism. Still, despite some controversial publicity, the country - for the most part - continues normal life and retains its traditional hospitality. There are quite a few things in Kiev, distinctively Ukrainian, that a traveler would be happy to discover and bring home as a gift to remember... just like the ones listed in this article!

1. Pysanky (Painted Wooden Eggs)

Pysanky (Painted Wooden Eggs)
Image Courtesy of: Praktyczny Przewodnik
In Ukraine, intricately ornamented pysanky have been a traditional gift for centuries. Most often, these hand-carved or hand-painted Easter eggs are made of wood. The most beautiful of them are said to be produced in the Carpathian region (West Ukraine), as well as in the village of Petrykivka, renowned artistic community in Eastern Ukraine.
Today, pysanky are still very much appreciated in Ukraine as talismans stemming from ancient culture, but also as cute decorative pieces produced by talented artists and sought after by collectors for their vibrant colors and intricate designs.
Pysanky feature a wide range of colors and ornamental patterns, each bringing out different interpretations of certain symbols. The most popular designs include geometric patterns, Christian symbols and Phytomorphic (plant) motifs. Prices vary, depending on size and design, from $3 to $50 and more.
Where to find it:
a) Souvenir bazaar
Andreevsky Spusk Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

b) Original Ukrainian Souvenirs
Pushkinska 31a Street, Kyiv, Ukraine
tel: + 380 44 234 2277
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 – 19:00

Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00

c) Svitlytsya Handicraft Gallery

31 Mazepy Street, Kiev, Ukraine

Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 - 19:00, Saturday – Sunday: 12:00 - 18:30; closed on Mon.

2. Ukrainian Matryoshka/Babushka

Ukrainian Matryoshka/Babushka
Image Courtesy of: Ginny
Ukrainian matryoshka is a souvenir rather than a toy for kids. These handcrafted nesting dolls, sporting Ukrainian folk dress, are serious collectibles, designed purely for decoration, not for playing with.
Matryoshka dolls, also known as babushka (granny) dolls, represent a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size, each placed inside the other. The number of figurines is usually five or more. The shape is almost cylindrical, rounded at the top (head) and tapered towards the bottom. The dolls have no hands, except for those painted.
Much of the artistry is in the painting of each doll, which can be very elaborate. The dolls often follow a certain theme. Aside from the common peasant girl theme, they could depict from fairy tale characters to the former Soviet leaders. Prices usually depend on the number of dolls included a set and the complexity of the design. The average price of one set is $5.
Where to find it:
a) Souvenir bazaar
Andreevsky Spusk Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

b) Souvenir shop
Khreshatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

c) Tsum Department Store

2 Bohdana Khmelnytskoho Street, Kyiv, 01601, Ukraine
tel: +380 44 234 9505
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 – 20:00; Saturday: 11:00 - 20:00; Sunday: 11:00 – 19:00

3. Motanky (Rag Dolls)

Motanky (Rag Dolls)
Image Courtesy of: Candrichuk
Originally playthings for kids and talismans against illness or evil eye, today the motanky rag dolls are seen largely as tourist souvenirs and one of the national symbols of Ukraine. Made from scraps of cloth, wound up together in a human-like shape, these dolls represent the embodiment of fertility of soil and cattle, and continuation of a family. Motanky are believed to be filled with positive energy and hence often appear as decoration on Christmas trees.
The dolls have no faces, their bodies are often made of birch bark or rolled paper. The head is filled with wool and covered with an ochipok (the cap historically worn by married women) or a shawl.
These traditional dolls make a great present for both, children and adults. Prices vary, depending on size and complexity, between $25 and $100.
Where to find it:
a) Svitlytsya Handicraft Gallery

31 Mazepy Street, Kiev, Ukraine

Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 - 19:00, Saturday – Sunday: 12:00 - 18:30; closed on Mon.

4. Ceramics

Image Courtesy of: Pavlo Boyko
Earthenware and ceramics have been known to the people resident on the Ukrainian territory since as early as the fourth to fifth millennia BC. The discovered ancient pieces are attributed to the so-called Trypillya culture, highly-evolved for that period. Some of their ornaments, designs and patterns still live on and are present in today's Ukrainian decorative arts. Genuine Trypillya artifacts are kept in museums and not available for sale, but their skillfully made replicas are.
Local souvenir markets offer a wide choice of ceramics and earthenware coming from various regions of Ukraine, each distinct for their style and colors. For example, ceramics from the Kosiv district in Western Ukraine are known for their greenish and reddish-brown colors on white background, adorned with the images of birds, animals and people. Ceramics from the village of Opishne are renowned for their natural colors and intricately decorated vases and plates, traditionally featuring images of sheep, bears, goats and horses.
Where to find it:
The most famous place where you can see and buy pottery in Kyiv is Andriyivsky Uzviz
Kyiv , Ukraine
Metro: Kontraktova Pl

5. Handmade Lacquered Wood Boxes

Handmade Lacquered Wood Boxes
Ukrainian lacquered wood boxes are made of birch, native to Western Ukraine. The production starts with pieces of birch cut roughly into blocks and then lathed into smooth cylinders. After that, each cylinder is hand-carved manually into a box; no high-tech milling equipment is involved. Pure old-school craftsmanship! The final stage is painting - this is done also by hand by professional artists, using oil colors. The painted scenes usually depict some life situations, e.g. dancing couples or Christmas celebrations. In the end, each box is signed by the author. These finely painted lacquered wooden boxes are a great gift for family and friends. Prices vary between $6 and $8, depending on the size and complexity.
Where to find it:
Andreevsky Spusk Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

6. Ukrainian Folk Blouse (Chemise)

Ukrainian Folk Blouse (Chemise)
Image Courtesy of: Jerick Parrone
Ukrainians have always been famous for their embroideries. And the most famous of Ukrainian embroidered items are shirts and blouses, bearing both artistic and historic significance. Each region of the country has its own distinctive design i.e. geometric patterns, floral motifs, stylized images of people, birds or animals. The most often color combinations are black and red, orange and brown, yellow and green, blue and white.
You can never go wrong with the Ukrainian-made ethnic blouse as a gift, sensation guaranteed. Prices vary from $50 to $600 (for exclusive models).
Where to find it:
a) Svitlytsya Handicraft Gallery

31 Mazepy Street, Kiev, Ukraine
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 - 19:00, Saturday – Sunday: 12:00 - 18:30; closed on Mon.

b) Tsum Department Store

2 Bohdana Khmelnytskoho Street, Kyiv, 01601, Ukraine
tel: +380 44 234 9505
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 – 20:00; Saturday: 11:00 - 20:00; Sunday: 11:00 – 19:00

7. Lviv Chocolate

Lviv Chocolate
Image Courtesy of: Ben Adlard
The city of Lviv in Western Ukraine never fails to amaze. Since the Middle Ages, it has been renowned for its superb confectionery. Today Lviv's "sweet" reputation is upheld by the Lviv Chocolate Factory, a one of a kind enterprise in the country. All its products are made by hand and in a strict accordance with the centuries-old tradition, allowing bringing back to life some truly unique old-time chocolate recipes that give the city its well-deserved reputation. Lviv chocolate will melt in your mouth to reveal the unmatched feeling of satisfaction. Anyone privileged to receive Lviv chocolate as a gift will be undoubtedly happy.
Where to find it:
Where to buy? In Kiev on Khreshchatyk 21 or Andrijivskyy Descent 2B.
How much? 8 UAH per candy

8. Ukrainian Folk Music CD

Ukrainian Folk Music CD
Image Courtesy of: MariyaZ
Ukrainian customs and traditions are among the richest in the world, reflecting more than five thousand years of cultural evolution, manifested in musical and contextual multiplicity of Ukrainian songs and carols, the number of which are almost impossible to count.
Ukrainian folk music is very expressive, reproduced in different harmonies and techniques. A good example is the “Forgotten Songs of Ukrainians” CD, featuring unique authentic music recordings made at the end of the past century. The CD comprises a large spectrum of music, including original Ukrainian weddings songs, lyrical songs, Christmas carols, instrumental music, and traditional songs. There are only 1000 copies of this compilation CD available, so you may be one of the lucky ones to have this golden collection of Ukrainian musical heritage.
Other musical pieces worth checking out include the albums by "Drevo", the Kyiv Chamber Choir, and those by Tanya Lubimenko and Miroslav Grishenko, to mention but a few. Such a gift would definitely be appreciated by those fond of folk music. Prices vary between $10 and $19.
Where to find it:
a) Khreshchatyk shopping stall

Khreshchatyk Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

b) Arka CD store

6 Prorizna Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

tel: +380 44 228 7400
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 09:00 – 22:00

c) Euro Star store

Metrograd, 1/2 Baseyna

1/2A Baseyna St, Kyiv, Ukraine

tel: +380 44 451 4503, +380 63 324 2830‎

9. Ukrainian Jewelry (Carpathian Wooden Bracelets & Beaded Necklace)

Ukrainian Jewelry (Carpathian Wooden Bracelets & Beaded Necklace)
Image Courtesy of: Lisa Paul
Ukrainian jewelry can be a treat for the ladies who know a good thing when they see one (or two for that matter).
The two most famous traditional Ukrainian pieces of jewelry are Carpathian beaded necklaces and wooden bracelets. These handmade items are created by artisans in the Carpathian Mountains region. The bracelets are made from native Ukrainian woods, each piece is a unique and original work of art. Some bracelets may have a stretch cord adjustable to the wrist size.
In Ukraine, beads were popular since the Kievan Rus period (a thousand years ago) and were used to decorate religious items, hats, clothes and earrings. Nowadays, traditional necklaces are divided into three main categories: garden, srilanka and kryza. Various ornaments, combination of colors and shapes have emerged throughout centuries, reflecting certain national traits and art traditions. Prices vary from $5 to $40 and more.
Where to find it:
a) Souvenir bazaar
Andreevsky Spusk Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

b) Svitlytsya Handicraft Gallery

31 Mazepy Street, Kiev, Ukraine

Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 - 19:00, Saturday – Sunday: 12:00 - 18:30; closed on Mon.

10. Wood Inlay

Wood Inlay
Image Courtesy of: Radioaktive
This old traditional form of art, created by carving small lines and holes into a wooden item, and then stuffing them with beads, copper or brass wire, mother of pearl and dyed wood, constitutes an important and highly developed branch of the Ukrainian folk art. The technique can be applied to just about any wooden surface, but is most frequently used to adorn household items and decorative wooden pieces for churches, such as crosses and icons.
Some of the greatest masters of this art are said to be the Hutsul craftsmen from the Carpathian mountains, whose skills are handed down through generations. Souvenirs featuring this technique may include various plates and boxes. Prices vary between $10 and $35.
Where to find it:
Andreevsky Spusk Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

11. Matiola Textiles

Matiola Textiles
Image Courtesy of: Mary-Frances Main
Since 1993, Matiola label has been producing and selling exclusive textiles decorated with hand-made embroidery, hem-stitching, knitting and cut-work. Handmade articles are always in demand for their exceptional beauty and, as many believe, unique energy.
Matiola offers an assortment of select handmade items created by Ukrainian artisans. The standard collection includes tablecloths of different sizes, rushniki (towels), tracks, chemises, blouses, shawls and scarves, postcards with embroidery, embroidered pictures, knitted tablecloths, napkins and collars. Each embroidery piece is unique and demonstrates Ukrainian style, colorful and charming.
All the items are of the highest quality, made of 100% natural components (flax or cotton) and stitched with moulinet. Prices range between $2.3 (for postcards with embroideries) and $478 (for a set of tablecloths) or more.
Where to find it:
a) Rus Hotel
4 Hospitalna, Kyiv 01601 , Ukraine
tel: +380 455 94 85
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 – 21:00

b) “Matiola” embroidery store
6 Zoolohichna, Kyiv 04119, Ukraine
tel: +380 44 451 7901
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 – 21:00

12. Ukrainian Kylym (Rug)

Ukrainian Kylym (Rug)
Image Courtesy of: one2c900d
Floors and even walls of many homes in Kiev are adorned with yet another distinctive element of Ukrainian craftsmanship, hand-woven rugs. Known as kylym, these rugs are extremely popular with the locals, not only for their beauty, but also for their practicality. Made of strong fabric, they provide additional insulation, thus "warming up" Ukrainian homes during long, cold winters.
A small-size kylym with Ukrainian patterns would make for a great present from this Eastern European country, deservedly proud of its traditions and customs. Prices vary significantly, depending on the size and complexity of the item, from at least $6-10 apiece upwards.

13. Horilka

Image Courtesy of: Hoodrat
Horilka is a traditional Ukrainian alcoholic beverage, largely enjoyed at home and abroad, particularly in the neighboring countries. The drink is usually distilled from grain, potatoes, honey or sugar beet, which are often accompanied with other ingredients as well, such as wheat, honey, mint, birch buds or even milk. Today, nearly all the industrially produced horilka in Ukraine is 40% alcohol.
One of the most popular types of horilka is pepper horilka. You will easily recognize it by the yellowish color and a small red pepper inside the bottle. The top horilka labels are Nemiroff and Hetman. The latter has the images of Ukrainian military commanders of the past depicted on their packaging.
Those with the taste for a strong drink would definitely enjoy a gift such as this. Price: $3-10.
Where to find it:
a) Velyka Kyshenya Supermarket

1 Kudryashova St, Kyiv 03035, Ukraine

tel: +380 44 244 0185

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 24/24.

b) Furshet supermarket

57 Yaroslavska Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 24/24
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