Ukraine

Lviv – one of the most beautiful cities in Europe

(Last Updated On: 26/11/2018)
Yesterday I made plans with a group of friends from my Russian course to go for a small weekend getaway to Lviv, Ukraine. I’m all up for that trip as I fell for this city big time but this idea also made me realize that I haven’t written a single word in here about my first ever visit in Lviv in March this year (except the trick how to get there from Poland in the cheapest possible way). It’s really weird, Ukraine is the closest country from where I live, Lviv is just across the border yet the first time I went there was last year to visit Kiev. So when bohun suggested a trip there to get the first stamp in his brand new passport it didn’t take me long to decide I wanna go! It was supposed to be a lovely spring weekend at the end of March but when we were leaving the weather forecast changed so much and I experienced the most beautiful winter ever with -15C, clear blue sky and the amount of snow I haven’t seen in at least 10 years!


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Lviv has a really twisted history. It was founded around 1250 and since the very beginning it made rounds to being Polish, Hungarian, Polish, Austrian, Polish and eventually Ukrainian. That already explains why it is a very important place for my country, even if it is now abroad (the similar story is with Vilnius). Ukraine claims Lviv was occupied by Poland and never was a Polish city but, like always, everyone has his own opinion and well, the facts are strong. Even now on every step I could see marks of Polish presence there. There are streets named after important Polish people, old Polish advertisments can be found on the walls in the old town, there’s still a really big Polish community living in Lviv. But the city was so much more multi ethinic back in its best times! Besides Poles and Ukrainian there were big communities of Armenians, Jews, Germans, Russians or Czechs and Lviv still feels so multi-cultural!

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We arrived extremely early in the cold morning to the beautiful, busy train station that still remembers the good Habsburg times when Lviv was the capital of the Galicia province. From the very first moment I loved it there – there was a huge chaos around me and the atmosphere so typical for post-Soviet countries that made me feel over excitied, ready to explore more of the city. The old and extremely cold tram slowly took us to the old historical center (that is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998). It was still pretty early and not too many people around, I felt like I have the whole city to myself. There were huge snowdrifts in every corner of the Main Square, Rynok, all the backstreets were full of snow. This and colourful, beautiful houses made Lviv look like in a fairy tale, it was a true winter wonderland! It was love at first sight!

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The next two days were spent walking around the city and discovering its beauty and exploring the hidden corners. The old town isn’t all that big but there are so much to see! Half of the Ukraininan monuments can be found in Lviv! Every single house is so beautiful, they all represent various styles and half of them have an important historic value. All the churches are so impressive and full of details. But my fave thing, as it is in almost every city I visit, was climbing up to the Town Hall tower to enjoy the view of the city. It was breathtaking! I finally could see the real beauty of Lviv – sure, the front houses were beautiful but I could spot so many hidden streets, backyards and smaller, not renovated houses. And all of that covered in snow! Amazing!

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As you probably know Lviv is one of my favorite cities in Ukraine. Click here to find out about other best places to visit in Ukraine!

I love rusty areas, houses that are special when you look closer at them. I love backstreets that aren’t renovated with fancy shops and restaurants. I love backyards where the normal life runs slowly. And Lviv was all of that! No matter how beautiful the old town was and how much I loved every corner of it the backstreets were where I left my heart. Walking around there, discovering the less touristy part of the city, looking at people were pure happiness to me! And these huge amounts of snow made the city so magical! When we climbed the Visokyi Zamok Hill to watch the sunset (the view was not so bad from there!) I ciuple of times droped into the snow that was over my knee! Good times! ;)

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They say there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes and I think so too but 3 pairs of socks or not when it’s over -15C you can’t stay too long outside walking around the city. We spent the big part of our two days in Lviv visiting many cafes to warm up over a cup of tea. Lviv has a really great cafe culture and the city is full of cozy places to visit and spend some quality time in. Each cafe we went to was full of people that just added up to the atmosphere! We were also lucky to visit the famous Lviv Opera and wow, that was a true gem! It was so incredibly beautiful inside, there were so many golden details that I didn’t know where to look at!! That was definitely the most beautiful theatre I’ve ever visited and I know it’s gonna be hard to beat it!

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I’m really hoping this trip to Lviv next month will work out! I regret it took me this long to get there, it’s so nearby after all, and now I can’t wait to see more of the city as there are still so many place I haven’t seen (I especially regret not visiting Lychakiv Cemetery but somehow the trams didn’t run there when we waited for over 30 minutes on the stop). Lviv is not only beautiful but it is also incredibly charming with the wonderful, kind of bohemian atmosphere. It must be one of the most amazing cities in that part of Europe and it quickly became my 3rd favourite country, just after Prague and Tbilisi.


PLAN YOUR TRIP TO LVIV

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. https://www.mywanderlust.pl/booking” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Check the best deals on accommodation in Lviv 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 Lviv – 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!


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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Our Dream Destinations for 2016 - Reflections Enroute
    03/01/2016 at 07:15

    […] in Europe and the majority of it is safe to visit. And there’s plenty to see and do! Lviv is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and I bet you will fall in love with it too! Kiev, […]

  • Reply
    Joshua Cummings
    03/06/2016 at 06:18

    I’m glad i stumbled across your blog! My wife and I are gonna be visiting Krakow, Lviv, Warsaw, and Helsinki in a few weeks and i was looking for info on Ukraine. You have some interesting stuff on here. Last year we visited the former Yugoslavia and absolutely loved it. Im hopeful Poland and Ukraine live up to last years trip. Nice blog!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/06/2016 at 22:17

      Thanks! I’m sure you will enjoy all the places you’re going to visit, they are all really amazing! If you need any tips feel free to email me!

  • Reply
    Jakub
    22/06/2016 at 01:45

    “Ukraine claims Lviv was occupied by Poland and never was a Polish city but, like always, everyone has his own opinion and well, the facts are strong”. Dear autor, Do you know history of Lwów. Do you know which army liberate Lwów in 1944? Ukrainian? No. Polish partisants, mainly who lived in Lwow. Because before 1945 in Lwów never been in Ukrainian state. More in this city never lived any Ukrainians. You can go to Łyczakowski cementery, there you can find graves of young polish boys, from Lwów, who died in 1918-1919 in fight againt Ukrainian agression.

    • Reply
      kami
      22/06/2016 at 06:44

      I suggest you rereading this sentence (and maybe the whole paragraph) and this time to understand it as I NEVER wrote Poland occupied Lviv. Quite the contrary, actually…

  • Reply
    Sylwia
    08/10/2017 at 18:40

    A ja już nie mogę doczekać się mojej pierwszej wizyty we Lwowie już w listopadzie :)) A Twojego bloga uwielbiam i czytam już od dłuższego czasu w poszukiwaniu inspiracji. Pozdrawiam serdecznie!

    • Reply
      kami
      11/10/2017 at 09:19

      Dziękuję za miłe słowa! Na pewno będziesz zachwycona Lwowem, przepiękne miasto! A nawet jakby pogoda nie dopisała to mają tam fantastyczne knajpy! Pozdrawiam!

  • Reply
    Mark
    05/02/2019 at 09:52

    Ukrainians believe that this is a Ukrainian city, and the Poles think that this is their city. But I think, since it is now part of Ukraine, no dispute is needed.
    Thanks for amazing article!:)

    • Reply
      kami
      12/02/2019 at 13:44

      There are numerous cities, towns, and regions that used to belong to someone else and now are part of another country, that’s how to politics works, unfortunately. I’m not popular with my judgment but I also think these days Lviv is a Ukrainian city. Thank you for your kind words, happy travels!

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