kamila

Can't live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Cool and laid-back Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

(Last Updated On: 31/05/2018)
The whole idea to visit Ivano-Frankivsk came from one picture I’ve found online. A picture showing a grand railway station, a perfect example of architecture from the times of Austria-Hungary.

If a train station, a spectacular building with green domes, looks so impressive then I assumed the rest of the city must be pretty special too. This was already a very good reason to plan a stop in Ivano-Frankivsk during my annual trip to Ukraine.


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Ivano-Frankivsk Ukraine

Short history of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

The only thing I knew about the place was that until recently it was named “Stanisławów” and for years the history of the city was strictly connected to what was happening with Poland.

The city was founded in 1663 and got its name after Stanisław Potocki. It was meant to be a fortress, guarding Poland from the Tartar invasion. The city was budding, sometimes being called “A Small Lviv“.

A prosperity lasted only for a little bit over 100 years when Ivano-Frankivsk as well as big part of Poland was incorporated into the Austrian Empire. The fortifications and many of the grand buildings were demolished or run-down.

At the beginning of 20th century the city was again part of Poland for a short period of time but eventually, after World War 2, it became territory of USSR and finally independent Ukraine. The majority of Polish inhabitants of Stanisławów was uprooted to southern Poland, the remnants of Polish culture were destroyed. On 9th November 1962 the name of the city was changed from Stanisławów to Ivano-Frankivsk.

First impressions of Ivano-Frankivsk

The first impressions of Ivano-Frankivsk weren’t the best, even if at one point the cityscape reminded me a little bit of Yerevan – one of my favorite places (I blame the shape and color of television tower for that).

I arrived late in the evening, the city was badly lit and I felt rather unconfident when walking from the train station to the market square where my hotel was located. I was telling myself that it’s Ukraine, a very safe place and nothing will happen but unknown dark streets really played tricks with my mind.

Of course I was being paranoid, Ivano-Frankivsk was as safe as every other city I’ve visited in the country and there really was nothing to worry about.


If you are wondering if Ukraine is a safe place to visit read my post “Is it safe to travel to Ukraine?” (click to open in the new window!)


Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Things looked much better in the day light. Even if I went to Ivano-Frankivsk totally unprepared and had no idea what to expect from the city deep down I was subconsciously looking forward to yet another amazing Central European city. The location half way between two among my favorite cities, Lviv and Chernivtsi, also put my hopes very high.

But Ivano-Frankivsk was different and pretty amazing in its own way. I didn’t find all that many interesting sights there but I still had a wonderful time in the city.

What to see in Ivano-Frankivsk

The center was rather small, easy to walk around in few hours but so very pleasant and most of all – lively. Even with not the best weather it was full of people, doing their businesses or just enjoying the stroll through the main pedestrian street – Nezalezhnosti Street (known also as “one hundred meters” street).

I walked around a lot too, trying to discover all attractions of Ivano-Frankivsk and see what the city has to offer. The main square – Rynok is different than in other Central European cities. The architecture was rather new, mix of 1950s and 1990s I’d guess but altogether it didn’t look as bad as it might sound.

The biggest attraction, however, was the town hall standing proudly in the middle – the only one in whole Ukraine built in the modernist way.

As a big fan of this architecture style I couldn’t stop raving at the structure, it was just the prettiest! If you visit Ivano-Frankivsk that’ll be your must stop too as you will find a tourist information equipped with the useful maps there!

Not far from the market square a former palace of Potocki family (founders of the city) is located. Its history was troublesome (i.e. the family lost the place because of their debts) and eventually the building hosted a military hospital that was shut down in 2004.

Now the property is simply decaying, losing its former charm. Only the gate with the family’s coat of arms is a reminder of the great past.

From the palace it’s only a short walk to my biggest surprise of Ivano-Frankivsk – a market hall. The building is a perfect example of the Soviet architecture, reminding me a lot of the circus buildings I kept finding in former USSR countries. Visiting a market hall is a real treat for all the senses as you can admire the whole color palette and smell all fresh products!

The monuments of Ivano-Frankivsk aren’t breathtaking or very impressive but they are pleasant enough for you to enjoy the city. There aren’t any “must sees”, all you have to do is walking around in the center and looking everywhere around as you might find some true gems.

The random houses of the city are really beautiful, similar to the whole Central Europe (or the former Austria-Hungary) with amazing art nouveau decor. Numerous parks and green oasis were more than perfect to sit down and relax after all the walking.

Wandering around with no purpose or map, taking random streets right or left was so much fun and the best way to get to know Ivano-Frankivsk. With some money investments the city can really shine!

Ivano-Frankivsk (street) art

Ivano-Frankivsk had a pretty decent amount of art around too! I found so many modern sculptures either in the park or on the main pedestrian street, until now I’m not really sure what they were supposed to show. But still, they looked good and together with more classical sculptures of famous people they definitely lightened up to place.

To my pure pleasure I’ve found a decent amount of the street art around too! Murals, stickers, stencils – it was all there!!

Incredible cafes of Ivano-Frankivsk

But the best thing about Ivano-Frankivsk and the reason why I enjoyed the place so much were cafes. Like in every city with Austria-Hungary past also Ivano-Frankivsk has a solid cafe culture. Here, however, it had more of the modern and hipster twist and well, everyone knows deep inside I’m a hipster.

Since the day wasn’t the best weather wise I set out for a quest to find as many cool Ivano-Frankivsk cafes as possible. The fact that Ukraine is now the cheapest ever definitely helped me.

I’ve visited 7 places on that day, had numerous coffees, teas, lemonades, beers, cakes and lunch. When I counted how much money I’ve spent I couldn’t believe it myself – around 13€, for everything!! That’s how cheap Ukraine is!

Sometimes I think where I would be if I was a digital nomad and Ivano-Frankivsk definitely is high on that list, I haven’t seen so many great cafes in one place for such a long time! As always I found Foursquare app to be the best source of information for Ivano-Frankivsk cafes.


A little practical tip:
During this trip to Ukraine I didn’t have the computer with me so the majority of pictures I took were on my mobile phone. I was slightly afraid what if I lose all my pictures and then I found the MEEM cable which seemed like a perfect solution. And it really was! All you need to do is to connect the cable to any charging device (might be a power adapter or a power bank) and while the phone is being charged all the files are getting backed-up on the cable. Every time I stopped for a coffee I used the break for a backup of my photos and while I was enjoying my drink, making notes of the places to visit or reading a book to relax the cable was doing all the work for me. It was fast, simple to use and I wasn’t worried anymore about all the files! I’m really glad a friend of mine recommended me this device as now I see it as an invaluable part of my travel tech kit – every time I charge my phone I use my MEEM cable for that. I think these days it’s a must for everyone travelling with their phones! You can purchase your MEEM cable at the official website.


Ivano-Frankivsk – a getaway to the Carphatian Mountains

One more good reason to visit Ivano-Frankivsk is a great nature nearby. The city can be your base when exploring Carphatian Mountains!

I went for a day trip to Yaremche (a little bit over one hour away with marshrutka) and it was beautiful! The views around were breathtaking with lush mountains around! The day spent there made me even more curious about the area as it seems to be amazing with lots of hiking trails and nature wonders.

The main reason, however, why I went to Yaremche was the railway line, one of the most impressive in Europe. When it was built at the end of 19th century it was the most modern in Europe and afterwards engineers working on railway lines in the Alps based many of their solutions of Carphatian railway!

These days many of the viaducts and tunnels are gone or redesign but those that are left are still pretty amazing! And since there are only few trains per day going there you can easily walk on the viaduct in Yaremche – such an unforgettable experience! A friend of mine has traveled further south by train and apparently it’s even more amazing there!!


Yaremche was among my favorite places in Ukraine. To find out the rest read my post “Best places to visit in Ukraine” (click to open in the new window!)


Is it worth to visit Ivano-Frankivsk?

Ivano-Frankivsk (or well, better to say Stanislawow) used to be a grand city, at least that’s how it looks on the old photos. But even if it’s not so packed with attractions like Lviv or it’s not as pretty as Chetnivtsi it’s still a wonderful place to visit.

The laid-back atmosphere of the provincial town and the exceptional cafe culture make the city such a great place to visit. After Bardejov, Slovakia it was another place I’ve visited this year that I really felt I’m having a rest there.

If you’re travelling in western Ukraine make sure to visit Ivano-Frankivsk too! You won’t regret it!

Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Have you been to Ukraine? Would you like to visit Ivano-Frankivsk? What was the city that you enjoyed for its atmosphere?


PLAN YOUR TRIP TO UKRAINE

With over 15 years of independent travelling I’ve learnt which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust following websites:

Flights – I search for the best deals on either Momondo or SkyScanner. Both search numerous sites to find the best offers. I also really like the “everywhere” option when searching for the flights as it often gives me the inspiration, if not for this trip then for the next time.

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation thgrough Booking.com. They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if you plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs. I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use few times. Check the best deals on accommodation in Ivano-Frankivsk here.

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road (I’ve learnt my lesson). I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me. Check the insurance options for your trip here!

Guide books – I do like reading a guide book before and during the trip. Depending on the destination I usually buy either Lonely Planet or Bradt. You can get your guidebooks for Ukraine here: Bradt and Lonely Planet. If you are looking for a good guide book about Ukraine that would help you prepare for the trip a fellow blogger and an Ukraine native Lena wrote “Insane Ukraine: Your Guide to Hassle-Free Travel” – click here to get your copy!

Day tours in Ukraine – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that save you time and money. Click here to see and book the best day tours in Ukraine!


If you think of visiting Ukraine or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the “destinations” page.


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Ivano Frankivsk, Ukraine      Ivano Frankivsk, Ukraine


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6 Lis '16

There are 42 Comments.

  1. Isabella Zijp
    19:42 07/11/2016

    Really enjoyed your post and your colourful pictures of Ivano-Frankivsk! Thanks again for the travel inspiration :)

  2. Tatiana
    21:31 07/11/2016

    Really pleasant city to see. If you like such railway station, just go around Russia, Ukraine and some of former republics of ZSRR – you will see hundreds of them :) It’s a pity I didn’t know about the stations – I could send you some inspirations :)

    • kami
      13:01 16/11/2016

      hehe, I know, that’s why no matter where I am in the former USSR I need to go and see the railway station, they are almost always a treat! Which ones would you recommend me :D ?

  3. Pola Henderson
    23:06 07/11/2016

    Curious about those cafes… ;)

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      22:06 09/11/2016

      you’d love them for sure!

  4. Szymon Król
    23:23 07/11/2016

    ja gdzieś przeczytałem, że to jest “bardzo brzydkie miasto”. Wybrałem się, i… zupełnie tego nie rozumiem, bo Iwano-Frankowsk jest piękny :)

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      22:01 09/11/2016

      bardzo brzydkie to na pewno nie jest, ale z tą pięknością też bym nie przesadzała :) chociaż klimat fajny ma!

  5. Łukasz Kocewiak
    07:19 08/11/2016

    Dość eklektyczne klimaty, ale stara część miasta z pewnością może przypaść do gustu.

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      22:06 09/11/2016

      eklektyczny to bardzo trafne określenie!

  6. Evi Mielczarek
    08:04 08/11/2016

    Ty to zawsze wynajdziesz zawsze jakieś miasta, o których świat nie słyszał :)

  7. Amy
    10:53 08/11/2016

    Looks like a great little city to chill for a bit, especially during the summer! I’m hoping to do more nature-y things next summer, so maybe I’ll have a chance to visit!

    • kami
      13:04 16/11/2016

      Ivano-Frankivsk is a great getaway to the mountains so when you’re there be sure to give a city a chance, it’s really cool!

  8. Karolina
    14:15 09/11/2016

    Hello! I am not a big fan of cities at all, much prefer to be in the nature, but I really like the street art part of your post!! Cheers!

  9. Mr_Szpak
    19:23 09/11/2016

    Od dawna czaję się na Stanisławowsk i przy następnej okazji na bank o niego zahacze. Zdjęcia są bardzo zachęcające. :)

    • kami
      13:14 16/11/2016

      Stanisławów ;) i zdecydowanie polecam, fajne miasto!

  10. Magdalena
    19:59 09/11/2016

    My, oh my, beautiful Galicia. I wanted to make a very precise roadtrip, but then I got pregnant, and then we went to Italy, and then to Spain, and then… You know that my grandgrandfather lived in neighborhood and worked on rafinery?

    • kami
      13:15 16/11/2016

      wow, didn’t know part of your family is from that area! So cool! What was the plan of your road trip? I need some Galicia inspiration! ;)

      • Magdalena
        20:30 23/11/2016

        Cały plan tak się układał. Wtedy mieszkaliśmy, więc mieliśmy startować z Wro. Bazowałam na przewodniku Orłowicza.
        Wrocław-Stary Sącz-Żegiestów-Krynica-Libusza-Biecz-Jasło-Dukla-Krosno-Iwonicz-Rymanów-Sanok-Ustrzyki Dolne-Drohobycz-Borysław-Truskawiec-Skole-Jaremcze-Mikuliczyn-Tatarów-Iwano-frankowsk-Kołomyja-Czerniowce-Kamieniec Podolski-Tarnopol-Brzeżany-Podhorce-Olesko-Lwów-Żółkiew-Przemyśl-Jarosław-Rzeszów-Wrocław.

        • kami
          20:54 03/12/2016

          piękne! zapisuję sobie na zaś, kto wie kiedy co się może przydać :) dzięki!

  11. Natalia Malec
    20:56 09/11/2016

    świetne miejsce wypadowe w góry, chyba nas namówiłaś :)

    • Kami and the rest of the world
      22:06 09/11/2016

      a góry wokół całkiem całkiem :) cieszę się :)

  12. Joanna Golińska
    11:23 12/11/2016

    Już raz tam byłam, na dworcu autobusowym i miły pan chwalił się, że ma kartę polaka ;) Twój post trafił się idealnie, pod koniec listopada planuję małą wycieczkę na Ukrainę i zastanawiałam się czy warto będzie się zatrzymać w Ivano-Frakivisku. Już się nie zastanawiam!

    • kami
      13:18 16/11/2016

      Zdecydowanie warto! Listopad może być trochę wyzwaniem pogodowym, ale zawsze pozostają knajpy, a te mają dość rewelacyjne ;)

  13. Kirsty Bennetts
    15:09 13/11/2016

    We had such a short time in I-F but I liked what we did see! Would love to go back though … As you say, it doesn’t have a load of sights to tick off but it had a good vibe! :-)

  14. Shannon Off Duty
    02:24 14/11/2016

    Happy to discover your blog today!

  15. Marta
    19:41 14/11/2016

    We both seem to get inspired for travelling by photos. The ones you have posted made me want to visit that city!

    • kami
      13:19 16/11/2016

      Happy to read that! Hope you will visit Ivano-Frankivsk one day!

  16. Tim Roosen
    13:46 20/11/2016

    The reason for all the art there is that there’s a yearly blacksmithing festival in May where the participants work together on one or more pieces.

  17. Jasilyn
    15:55 20/11/2016

    You and Megan Starr are killing me with your amazing photos of Ukraine!

    • kami
      18:58 20/11/2016

      hehehe ;) you definitely should go there soon then!

  18. Podróże Zwykłych Ludzi
    10:41 23/11/2016

    Fajny opis i dobre zdjęcia! Dzięki za interesującą relację!
    I ta sztuka uliczna… przepiękna!

  19. stacjabalkany
    11:23 06/12/2016

    Od jakiegoś roku czytam Twojego bloga i Twój blog oraz przewodnik Bezdroży był dla mnie natchnieniem aby udać się na Ukrainę, mimo że pierwsze skojarzenia były że jest tam wojna i że jest niebezpiecznie i nie żałuję bo Karpaty Ukraińskie, Kamieniec Podolski i Zakarpacie były fantastyczne ! Natomiast w Iwano-Frankowsku jeszcze nie byłem, ale fantastyczne zdjęcie z pociągiem na stacji przekonuje mnie, że muszę się tam udać:)

  20. stacjabalkany
    11:23 08/12/2016

    Przed wyjazdem na Ukrainę dzięki Twojemu blogowi pojechaliśmy do Czerniowiec, a teraz będę starał się u Ciebie codziennie bywać i komentować, bo jak sam założyłem bloga to widzę ile to ogromnej wręcz pracy kosztuje, a dwa przewodniki przewodnikami ale zawsze warto poczytać kogoś kto tam był, a trzy też jak Ty, uwielbiam pociągi i potrafię jechać 20 godzin pociągami na Bałkany, byle nie lecieć:)

    • kami
      22:59 12/12/2016

      dziękuję!
      ja ostatnio sobie bardzo chwalę połaczenia lotnicze z Berlina na Bałkany – szybko i tanio!

  21. Mohamed Usama Ismail
    21:03 11/03/2018

    Sincere greetings from Egypt!
    well I am going to ivano frankivsk for about 6 week in an internship so is life expenses good there (with comparison with other middle east countries and Europe overall)
    thanks for your amazing extraordinary effort !! :)

    • kami
      21:15 29/03/2018

      Thank you! Ukraine in general is a really cheap country so I think you will find it affordable too!

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