There are over 171,476 words in the English language, yet there is no single word or phrase that can definitively capture the beauty or essence of Lviv.
Since moving to America at the age of three, I’ve returned to Lviv about six different times over the past 22 years. Each time I returned to Lviv, I saw the city from a new perspective and with a greater appreciation, especially as I got older. My most recent trip in August 2018 was my favorite, as I had a chance to independently explore the city and see it in a new light. If you’re thinking about visiting Lviv for the first time, I hope this post inspires you to confirm those travel plans. This post may be a little bit biased since both Bohdana and I were born in Lviv and hold a special place for the city in our hearts, but I can assure you that Lviv lives up to the praise that it’s given.
Where to Stay
Lviv is peppered with beautiful apartments, hotels, and convenient hostels that you can stay at. I’ve stayed at Hotel George, which is conveniently located two blocks from the Statue of Taras Shevchenko, and runs about $25-$70 per night depending on when reserve a room. I’ve also rented a beautiful apartment on Petro Doroshenko St., and many apartments are also available on Booking.com or Airbnb. Apartments can run anywhere from $20 and up, and the price usually depends on the location and luxuriousness of the apartment.
What to Experience
- Rynok Square (aka Market Square). This is a great place to start. Rynok Square is a charming, picturesque hub filled with colorful buildings, restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, street arts, and a meeting point for many walking tours. If you’re interested in a free walking tour (in English), I went on one with Walkative!, which departs from Rynok Square every day at 11am and lasts about two and a half hours.
- Lviv City Hall Tower. City Hall (“Ratusha” in Ukrainian) is located in Rynok Square. If you enter City Hall, you can purchase a ticket for 30 UAH to climb the bell tower. The climb itself is exhausting and a bit terrifying, but the panoramic view on top makes it all worth it.
- Shevchenkivskyi Hai Park Museum. Wander this open air museum and explore three centuries of folk architecture as well as history and culture embodied throughout the museum. This museum is an easy tram ride and short walk (uphill) from the center of Lviv.
- High Castle Hill. It’s a bit of a hike, but the panoramic views at Lviv’s highest point are worth it. The Ruins of the High Castle, dating back to 1259, are also located here.
- Lviv Opera House. Lviv’s famous opera house is not only known for its architectural grandeur and luxurious interior, but it is also unique in that it is built on top of the Poltva River. Take a tour of the opera house during the day, or visit it at night while attending a performance.
- Monument to Taras Shevchenko. An iconic monument that’s hard to miss, and just steps away from the Lviv Opera House. This monument is dedicated to Taras Shevchenko, a famous Ukrainian poet, painter, and public figure who heavily influenced modern Ukrainian literature.
- Lychakiv Cemetery. Lychakiv Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Ukraine, with over 200 ornate memorials and sculptures and 400,000 graves. Many artists, writers, musicians, and politicians are buried here, and I recommend purchasing a guided tour to get the most out of the experience.
- Vernissage Market/ Bazaar. If you’re looking to purchase traditional Ukrainian embroidery, art, souvenirs, or antiques, this is the place.
Where to Eat
- Arsenal Ribs and Spirits. Located in the basement of the City Arsenal and Weaponry Museum, this restaurant is known for its fun, hands-on vibe and for serving full racks of pork ribs cooked on wood fire. They offer several other meats, vegetables, and various appetizers, however their ribs are the best. The queue to enter the restaurant can get pretty long, so I would recommend arriving at least half an hour before you’d like to eat.
- Kryivka. The only thing I’ll say about this place is that it’s an unmarked secret and you need a password to get in. Curious? If you really want to know more, this blog post from One Step 4Ward will fill you in.
- Baczewski Restaurant. This place serves Ukrainian cuisine with a twist. If you consider yourself to be a foodie, you should go here. Not only is the food delectable, but the ambiance of this place is just dreamy. The restaurant is Pinterest heaven; it’s filled with chandeliers, skylights, greenery, and beautiful (real!) birds singing in cages. They offer an all-inclusive breakfast buffet (with champagne) every day from 8am-11am, but be aware that the queue and wait time can get long, so arrive early.
- 36po. Another foodie delight, this place has more of a luxurious, edgy feel. It’s five stories tall, has a huge aquarium with tropical fish, a cinema, and a rooftop with a panoramic view of Lviv’s city center. It’s definitely not your average restaurant, and a visit to experience the unique interior is worth it in itself.
- Pravda Beer Theater. This not your average bar. The space feels quite massive compared to other bars and restaurants in Lviv. It boasts three stories of a theater-like setting where you can enjoy live music, a meal and taste different beers, all while watching how beer is produced from the lower-level brewery.
- Puzata Hata. If you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive meal, go here. This restaurant is cafeteria-style, and they offer various types of Ukrainian food from salads to perogis to cheese crepes for dessert. A full meal here will typically cost around 100 UAH.
- Drunken cherry. If you’re strolling around Rynok Square, stop at this bar and enjoy a taste of cherry liqueur in a fancy crystal glass. This place always looks crowded, but the service is quick and the experience is worth it.
- Coffee. Lviv is known for its coffee and chocolate, and one of my favorite things to do in Lviv is to enjoy a cappuccino at a cafe while people watching. Most of the cafes in the center of Lviv serve delicious coffee, but among them stands out Coffee Manufacture. Stop here to explore the underground “coffee cave,” enjoy unique coffee beverages at the whimsical seating area, and shop the store for coffee, books, and souvenirs.
Lviv is a remarkable city, and now is a great time to visit before tourism really booms. If you’d like to share any tips on things to do, see, taste, or experience in Lviv, we’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.
If you’re interested in traveling to Lviv or other areas of Ukraine, Ukraine Travel Lab offers wonderful tours, recommendations, and travel plans. You can book with them for anything from food tours, to historical excursions, to full on travel itineraries. They also offer great advice on accommodations, transportation, and restaurants. I’d highly recommend.
Born in Ukraine and raised in Chicago, Iryna takes pride in her Ukrainian roots. She loves writing, cooking (and eating) all kinds of food, pursuing new fitness trends, and exploring all things related to personal growth. She hopes this blog brings you value in one way or another and helps you to become a better version of you.