Lviv is a wonderful mix of all the Central European cultures, having influences from the German, the Austrian, the Polish and of course, the Russians. But what comes out of such a history? That’s why you need to visit Lviv, to understand it.
Ever since I visited Ukraine in 2018 for the first time, I fell in love with it and wanted to go back and visit some more. Last year, I crossed the border from Moldova, visited Odesa, took a day train to Kiev (or Kyiv) and I loved every second of it. Took a plane back home. And this year, I made it my goal to see another beautiful city in Ukraine and decided to visit Lviv.
Ukraine is a big country and most people are under the impression that is somehow unsafe. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Ukraine always felt safe, by day and by night, in all of the mentioned cities and I would gladly visit them all once more if I ever get the chance.
What to do and visit in Lviv, Ukraine
Go on a free walking tour
I won’t focus on bars and restaurants in Lviv, because there are so many and they all look good.
I really recommend taking a free walking tour of the centre on your first day there, to get an idea about the place and of what you want to see. I recommend checking out Free Walkative Tour Lviv (the ones with the yellow umbrella).
The guides speak really good English and they are very well informed. And of course, they are opened for questions about their city.
I can’t stress enough on how packed the city is and by going by yourself, you will surely miss some really cool places. We did the old city tour and the WW2 tour and we really enjoyed it.
As it is free, you don’t need to pay anything, but a small donation would be appreciated. Don’t forget to register online, the seats are limited! (I registered 1h before, and it was fine.)
As in any city, the first thing to check out is the centre. But Lviv will match your expectations and then rise about them. The old city centre in Lviv resembles any other Central European city centre and it has so much for you to discover.
Yes, there is a lot going on, and you will not be easily bored. Everything is within walking distance and for sure you will find something of your liking. Statues, towers, churches, museums, pretty buildings, inner courtyards,
There are 4 different areas, or better said, they used to be, and they all have their church. on the sides of the city hall, which is in the middle of the central market, you will find the Armenian quarter, Italian quarter, Jewish and Latin.
The architectural style may seem the same at first sight, but once you really observe them, and explore the tiny streets behind the first raw of buildings, you will see it too. There are also 4 different churches because all these ethnic groups had a different church. Go inside, be humble and admire it. The Armenian church was my favourite.
What to visit in the old centre of Lviv:
- Jesuit Church (Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul)
- Armenian Cathedral of Lviv
- Dominican Cathedral
- Golden Rose Synagogue
- Rynok Square
- Lviv city council
- Italian Courtyard
- Apteka-Muzey (the oldest pharmacy in Lviv)
Visit the catacombs of Lviv, Ukraine
There are other tour operators in the city, not free, which offer other kinds of tours, such as a tour of the catacombs. Like the ones in Paris.
I joined a Polish tour (apparently many people speak Polish and they can understand each other – Polish and Ukrainian). And there was another tour called, rooftop tours. I haven’t got the chance to check that one out, but if it was like the catacombs one, then I am fine.
They seldom offer English tours, and that was not the day. Also, it was kinda rainy that week, and that’s why we decide to go for that, but it wasn’t what we had expected. Not to mention that the guide lost us and we only found the group 1 hour later, when the tour was almost over.
The tour was not worth it since we couldn’t understand anything and we had to pay to enter each catacomb, despite paying the tour, which wasn’t that cheap. I only booked it because I thought you cannot enter them without a guide. But I was wrong!
Basically, the catacombs of Lviv are under its churches, and the entrance to each one is a bit to a side or even at the back of the church. You can see posters at the entrances or just ask around.
Here’s the list of the catacombs to visit:
- Dominican Cathedral ( as you look at the front entrance, the entrance to the catacombs are to your left)
- Jesuit Church (Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul) – The entrance of the catacombs are at the back of the church
- Verklärungskirche Lemberg (the entrance is on the side, from the Lesi Ukrainky St)
Lviv High Castle
The castle hill will give you the best view of the city, on a sunny day. You can walk there, from the centre.
This is the moment you realize Lviv is not such a big city, but it has everything you need and want and more.
Talking about the castle, it’s not a castle there! It used to be a castle, now you can barely see some foundation rocks and that’s it. But the road up the hill is like a short hike, as it goes through the woods a bit. If you go there during summer, you will sweat a bit, but it’s worth it!
I would recommend going there on a sunny day, early morning. Because it is a popular place for locals and tourists, it can get crowded and then you’ll have people all over in your pics and videos. (Like I have.)
Yes, it is a cemetery. Some of you will get creeped out, but I admit I like to visit cemeteries and this is one worth a visit.
This is the burial place created more than 230 years ago for the upper class of the city. Today it is officially called the State History and Culture Museum-Preserve “Lychakiv Cemetery”. As it became the main cemetery of the town, it was used by all Christian sects in the city. In addition to Roman Catholics, it also included Eastern Rite Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox.
As you walk on it’s intertwining alleys, you will discover beautiful gravestones and impressive war memorials.
Of course, important people of the era are buried here, of which many were Polish since Lviv used to be under the Polish influence.
Museum of Folk Architecture
Who doesn’t love open-air museums?
This is a museum of traditional dwellings of the area and Ukraine and inside the houses were local craftsmen teaching visitors about their craft. Making traditional dolls and syrup was what the two houses were about, to mention just a few. Of course, the houses had traditional furniture inside and it looks like going back in time.
This is a lovely museum, and it is huge. Spending half day would be easy. The day I visited, it was partially raining, and it was a big muddy, since only the may alleys are paved. But to get to some houses, you need to take the dirt road, and you can understand how that can be a problem on a rainy day.
All I can say is that it is a lovely place and it shouldn’t be missed. It’s a bit far away from the centre, but you can take an Uber to get there. Yes. Ukraine has Uber and I used it every time.
Lviv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre
The opera is probably the most iconic building in the city. I hear the inside is also beautiful, but I haven’t got the chance to see it.
Perhaps a ticket to the opera should be in my plans for next time. Either way, you will get around it and for sure you will want to get a picture of it.
Pototski Palace is one of the top 5 palaces and castle to visit around Lviv. So if you don’t have enough time to visit those outside the city, then you have to visit this one.
It is at walking distance from the city centre.
The Pototski Palace was built in the 1880s, for an Austrian leader, named Pototski. As you will see, it was made to be imposing and it is said that no cost was spared.
Once the Soviets occupied Lviv, the palace was confiscated. They used it as to host the Institute of Geology and Geochemistry of Combustible Minerals of the Academy of Sciences. After that, it was used for weddings ceremonies. In 2000, the president of Ukraine at that time used this palace as one of his residences.
Beer Cultural Experience Center “Lvivarnya”
Lviv is packed with historical places and statues, and stories. Even if you stay a month, you couldn’t visit them all. And let’s not forget the museums. This used to be a cultural centre of the area and that is still visible to this day.
That’s why I wanted to see something more casual and found this place. This is a beer museum because beer is a big thing in Central Europe. The museum gives a good overview of the history of beer and how it related to Lviv. It is a self-guided tour and you can take pics. Great interactive exhibitions and there are English explanations and you can take pics.
It is called a beer experience because you can buy a ticket with a beer tasting at the end. You get 4 glasses of 200ml with larger, unfiltered, ale, and dark dunkel beer. For me, the lager is all I need. I’m not fancy.
Also, like everything else in Lviv, this is budget-friendly. And budget can ve another reason to visit Lviv, Ukraine, but for sure it isn’t just that.
Where in stay in Lviv, Ukraine
Lviv is a popular destination for Ukrainians, and that’s why you will find a wide range of accommodations in Lviv. It tends to be crowded during school holidays and other events.
I was there for Easter, and it was a bit hard to find nice accommodation for 1 week, and we had to move from a hostel to an apartment. The second location was a bit further away from the centre, in an old building, and it wasn’t cheap either. I wouldn’t recommend that one.
I have to mention I booked those only 2 weeks before the trip and most accommodations were sold out.
We were lucky with the hostel and I truly recommended. We stayed at the Z-one hotel and it was lovely. The location is great, close to the centre, and the staff is friendly.
Lviv is vegan-friendly
Imagine my face when I discovered a bunch of beautifully decorated vegan restaurants in Lviv. With restaurants like that, I know that is my kind of city.
I tried and recommend the following vegan restaurants in Lviv:
- Green Cafe (ate there 3 times)
- OM NOM NOM vegan cafe
- Little Green
Sports Bars in Lviv
I am not a club person, but I occasionally go out for a drink, and I enjoy chill places, where the music is not so loud and I can actually hear what the other person is saying.
When I was there in May 2019, with my boyfriend, we were looking for places to drink a beer and watch some Premier League games. That’s how we discovered these places, which I recommend for watching football and drinking a beer.
Booking is my go-to travel resource to check prices, accommodations’ reviews, map for accommodations.
Airbnb is an alternative, which can be cheaper if you are travelling in a group and/or planning for a longer stay. Use this link to sign up, and you will receive €34 off of your first stay with Airbnb of €65 or more.
Flights and transport
Kiwi.com is one of my favourite flight search engines. I can check all kind of flight connections and prices.
Crystal Travel is one of the most successful online travel agency globally. I recommend Sixt car renting company for renting cars globally.
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