Since Lviv is one of the biggest cities in Ukraine it’s fairly easy to get there. Numerous international and national trains, buses and flights serve the city. However the cheapest way to get to Lviv from Poland is to go via Przemyśl. I’ve already written about it in that post but here’s the trick again: From the bus station in Przemyśl (that is located next to the train station, on the opposite site than the station building and the road to the old town) take the minibus to Medyka. The buses run frequently, it takes around 15 minutes and costs 2PLN (~0,50€). The bus takes you right to the border crossing, just follow the people and you’ll find the way to the pedestrian border. First you need to go through customs on the Polish site, then you have to walk for few minutes on the long one-way path (with high fence) to eventually reach the Ukrainan border. After passing customs you have to walk a little bit more to reach the main street. You’ll be already in the Ukrainian village of Shahyni (Шегині). Just walk along the road until you reach the first street left – around the corner of that street there’s a small bus station with minibuses departing to Lviv (Львів). The journey takes around 1,5 hour, costs 23hrywnas (~2,30€) and takes you to the Lviv train station from where you can reach the old town with the tram number 1, 6 or 9. It’s safe to say the journey from Przemyśl to Lviv takes around 3 hours. Both on Polish and Ukrainian minibus you buy the ticket from the driver.
Most places that everyone tend to visit are within a walking distance from each other in the city center. If you need to travel any further (to Lychakiv Cemetery for example) there’s a really good and cheap trams network. One way ticket, both bought from the driver or from the newsstand, costs 1,50 UAH (~0,15€). There are also mini buses (marshrutkas) that serve the whole city, the ticket is 2 UAH (~0,20€)
Lviv was one of the host cities for 2012 European Football Championships hence there’s a lot of accomodation options of various standards available, from private rooms and good hostels to fancy hotels. During each of my visits in Lviv I stayed in different hostels but all were in the very center and had a really great value for the price. They all were modern, clean and safe and the bed in the dorm room could be booked for less than 10€ (a private room for ~15€/person). Just go to any booking website and you’ll find plenty of options to choose from!
Ukrainian cuisine is rather heavy yet really delicious. I guess everyone has heard of borshch, a red beets soup with other vegetables and some meat, it must be the most popular and famous Ukrainian dish. But there’re so many options worth trying, also for vegetarians. My favourite is varenyky, dumplings similar to Polish pierogi, stuffed with meat, potatoes, cabbage or cherries.
There’re many restaurants spread around the old town, serving traditional Ukrainian food. However they might be overpriced, focused on tourists. Whenever I’m in Ukraine (not only in Lviv) I eat in Puzata Hata, a chain buffet eatery serving only national food. It’s always full of people, mostly locals and for me that’s already a good sign for the restaurant. The food is really good and cheap there, the most I paid for the two course lunch and half a liter of local beer (a really good one!) was less than 40 UAH (4€)! There are two Puzata Hata restaurants close to the old town (but not exactly in the old town), maybe 5 minutes walking from the Rynok Square. One is at Shevchenko Prospekt, the other at Tadeusha Kostyushko street.
Lviv is famous for its interesting pubs. In one of the backstreets of Rynok Square, Serbska street, the Masoch Cafe can be found – the name of the place comes from Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch who was born in Lviv almost 200 years ago. He enjoyed the unusual sexual behaviour and the word “masochism” actually comes from his name. The cafe is decorated in that theme, all the drinks have sex-related names, if you wish so the waitress can hancuff and whip you. It was definitely one of the weirdest and coolest pubs I’ve ever been to!
Other famous pubs include a place where you need to know the secret password to get in, the place where midgets serve or the one full of legends of Lviv.
The city is also known for its cafe culture, cosy places for a sip or two of delicious coffee can be found on every step. On the Rynok Square, at the corner next to the Ruska Street, the manufacture of coffee is located – the smell is so amazing and coffee so delicious!
If you want to try the Ukrainian beer then Obolon (especially Bile) or Lvivske are really good!
What to see:
As the city that is on UNESCO World’s Heritage List Lviv is full of amazing and interesting places to visit. However the best thing to do there is just walking around the narrow streets and breathing in the wonderful bohemian feel of the city. Here are some of the places I think you shouldn’t miss:
* Rynok Square – the heart of the city with an amazing architecture and a great street life to observe. It’s not mostly for tourists (as it often is in many cities, Warsaw for example) but more for local people to hang out. When in Rynok be sure to climb the tower of the Town Hall as the view across the city from there is simply stunning (the entrance is 10 UAH)
*The Opera House – located at the end of Svobody avenue, not far from the old town. It’s amazing from the outside but breathtaking inside! It’s possible to visit it (the entrance is 10 UAH) and immediately be transformed to the fancy world with golden rooms, overblown statues and fancy atmosphere.
*High Castle – a hill overlooking the city. It’s quite a hike up there but so worth the view. Literally the whole city is in front of you, as well as surrounding hills and mountains.
*Lychakivsky Cemetery – located not that far from the center (and the walk there is really pleasant), reachable also by tram. This huge cemetery (over 400.000 people are burried there) is full of beautiful graves of famous Polish and Ukrainian citizens, all in the neat, hilly park.
*churches of Lviv – there are a lot of them in the old town, each one being more beautiful than the previous. i especially liked wonderfull baroque Dominican Church or old Armenian Church.
Reasons to go:
For whatever reason a lot of people still consider Ukraine unsafe and are afraid to go there. Big mistake. It’s just your regular European country in the safety standards so there’s not much to worry about, just use your common sense like everywhere else. That’s probably one of the reasons why there’re not that many tourists visiting Lviv yet – it’s your chance to explore this amazing city with not too many tourists around. It’s still unspoiled by the commercial and it’s so easy to feel the bohemian, artsy, multicultural atmosphere of the old times. And did I mention it’s just stunning?
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