With its old buildings and cobblestone streets, delicious chocolates and pastries, thematic bars and restaurants, and several festivals year-round; Lviv is one of the most trending destinations in Eastern Europe and in Ukraine.
Where is Lviv?
Home to 720,000 people, Lviv is a compact and walkable city located in western Ukraine, around 70 kilometers from the border with Poland.
Different from rest of Ukraine, in Lviv, you will immediately notice a difference in its architecture, which blends Central and Eastern European styles with those of Italy and Germany rather than a Soviet architecture that you will see rest of the country.
Today, Lviv is more than 760 years old and it has lots of stories to tell you! The city was situated on the crossing of two profitable trade routes developed and flourished rapidly and became one of the main trade centers of medieval Europe. Afterward, while being a part of different countries; Lviv borrowed some parts of culture and knowledge from invaders. Later on, it transformed not only to an architectural gem but also to the modern capital of scientific, spiritual and artistic life.
What to see?
Cobbled Rynok Square that can be translated as Market Square is the center, surrounded by pastel-colored buildings dating from the 16th century. For the past 500 years it has been the bustling center of city life and till now retains all the charm of the old European city. The tourist information center sits in the middle. The Square has the traditional City Town Hall where has a beautiful viewing point at its top.
If you like the view, you should also climb the High Castle. Although it is called a castle, you will not see a castle since it was destroyed by Swedish troops. The 360 degrees of Lviv view on the top of the 413-meter-high (1354 ft.) mountain is well worth the efforts.
Don’t forget to take a selfie in front of the iconic building of the Lviv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater! Built in the style of the Viennese Renaissance, the famous European architect Zygmunt Gorgolevsky built the theater in the 19th century.
There more than 100 churches of the different denomination with majestic interiors. Some of the churches are architectural monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bernardine church and monastery located in the city’s Old Town, south of the market square, the Arch-cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, usually called simply the Latin Cathedral, located in the southwestern corner of market square, Jesuit Church, Armenian Cathedral, Preobrazhenskaya Сhurch, Dominican church and monastery, Carmelite Church are some of the churches you must see/visit.
You should also see the Lychakiv Cemetery. The cemetery, which is Lonely Planet’s No 1 place to visit in Lviv, is like an open-air fine art museum. There are more than 300,000 graves with over 500 graceful handcrafted sculptures that date back to the end of the 18th century. The cemetery also houses graveyards for soldiers from Red Army, Ukrainian Liberation Army and Polish military troupes from 1918-1920.
Lviv streets start bustling with musicians, live bands and performers. They give special energy and joy. Enjoy live music while sitting on the benches of City Rynok Square or just get up and start dancing.
For more attractions in the city, visit this page.
What to eat and drink?
Lviv is a foodie’s delight. The uniquely themed restaurants, bars, cafes offer unique chocolates, coffees, and drinks. Drunken Cherry Bar is a red cherry liquor shop at Rynok square that will surely grab your attention with the crowd in front of the shop standing and tasting cherry wine. Pravda Beer Theater is a local brewery that offers craft beers at a 3-floor building. The brewery has live music performances throughout the week. The beer here is also unique because they are named and themed after famous politicians of the world. You can taste an Obama beer, Merkel Beer, and Putin Beer.
Chocoholics should try Lviv Handmade Chocolate on 3 Serbska Street. You can buy your favorite chocolate delights per piece, bars, per kg and per box. If you like coffee, you should definitely visit Lviv Coffee Mine restaurant. It has a unique coffee extraction in the basement. If you like champagne, you should try Ukrainian and international champagnes at Champagneria. Lvivski Plyatski translated as “strudels from Lviv” is the right address for strudels and a variety of cakes and doughs.
There are so many different themed restaurants and bars in Lviv. You should decide before which ones you would like to visit; your time won’t be enough to see all.
Where to stay?
Lviv has a variety of hotels, hostels, and apartments to suit all budgets and needs. I stayed at the ibis Styles Lviv Center, which is the city’s only international hotel brand. ibis Styles Lviv Center is located in the historic part of the city, a 5-minute walk from Rynok Square. The hotel has all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast and unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi connection. During my stay, I see several tourists visiting the hotel for breakfast. Moreover, you can enjoy complimentary tea, coffee, bottled mineral and sparkling water in the lobby whenever you want. You can book your room at the hotel’s website or on booking.com and enjoy free cancellation and pay later features. Read our hotel review, here
How to go?
If you travel to Lviv by rail from Western and Central Europe, the most convenient route will be to get to Polish cities of Warsaw or Krakow and then take a direct train to Lviv. You can also board a train that runs to Lviv several times a day in the Polish border city of Przemysl. There are daily trains from Kyiv as well.
International Airport Lviv is situated on Lyubinska Street, just 7 km (4 miles) from the city center. There are several direct international flight routes to Lviv (for instance, from Napoli, Munich, Dortmund, Vienna, Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Venice, Istanbul, and Athens) as well as a few domestic ones.
Many regular bus routes in Western Ukraine (direct or transit) run to Lviv from virtually every city, town or village. A number of regular bus routes run from the largest cities of the European Union to Lviv. It is easier to get to Lviv from Ukraine’s neighboring countries. For instance, you can take a bus to Lviv from such Polish cities of as Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Katowice, Rzeszow, Lublin, Tomaszow Lubelski, and Przemysl.
Is it Safe to Visit Lviv, Ukraine?
Ukrainian cities are not dangerous and Lviv is one of the safest cities in the country. However, true for many cities in the world; travelers should beware of petty crime, especially in crowded areas and tourist spots or when using public transport.
How is Weather?, When to go?
The best times to visit Lviv for ideal weather are from mid of May to mid of September. Locals jokingly call Lviv as the city where has been raining since 1256, and it is true for me as well. During my 4 days of stay in Lviv, it almost rained every day. If you stay at ibis Styles Lviv Center, the hotel offers free umbrella service.