With the current situation in Ukraine, with a heavy heart, I strongly advise not visiting the country. This is the older, pre-war article and you can use it for future inspiration and information to plan a trip when it’s safe to visit Ukraine again.
Lviv, Ukraine is one of the most beautiful yet underrated cities in Europe.
Lviv old town looks like straight from a fairy tale and visiting Lviv is always a pure pleasure. No matter what time of the year the city is never boring, with so many great things to do in Lviv.
I put together a mini Lviv travel guide that would help you plan the trip to this amazing city.
How to get to Lviv, Ukraine
It’s fairly easy to travel to Lviv – one of the biggest cities in Ukraine.
Numerous international and national trains, buses and flights serve the city.
The main train station is located a short tram ride away from Lviv Old Town, you can reach the center by trams no 1 and 9.
The ticket currently costs 5 UAH and can be bought from the driver (and then stamped in the old-fashioned validator).
Some of the international buses stop at the main train station too and I highly recommend you go there if you can as the main bus station is located a bit away.
If you however end up there you can take the bus 3a to the center.
Lviv international airport is well connected with the center by trolleybus no 9 (it arrives at the university, at the edge of Ivan Franko Park. Recently low cost airlines started flying to Lviv so getting there is really affordable and easy.
If you’re coming from Poland I recommend going by train with a change in Przemyśl.
You can easily get there from most of the major Polish cities, then you have two day trains that take only 2 hours to get to Lviv.
This way you avoid long waiting time at the border as the passport control is in the train.
You can get the ticket for Przemysl-Lviv train at the website of Ukrainian Railways.
Many travelers travel from Krakow to Lviv – if you are one of them and are looking for the best options I’ve created a complete guide how to get from Krakow to Lviv.
How to get around
Most places that everyone tends 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 5 UAH ($0,18/0,16€).
You can also use Uber in Lviv and it works very well, with very reasonable prices.
Where to stay in Lviv
Lviv is full of affordable accommodation so no matter if you’re looking for the hostel, hotel or apartment – you will find it all there.
Just browse through all the options at Booking!
My tip is to stay somewhere near the Main Square (Rynok) as you don’t want to be away from all the fun.
Recently my favorite place to stay in Lviv is Hotel George (8.6/10 on Booking) – the oldest hotel in Lviv where some of the most famous people used to stay.
But don’t let this intimidate you, the prices are very affordable. The rooms are simple and the toilet or shower are not in the room but the interior of the hotel, the history and the perfect location make me return there over and over again.
That’s also the only place I’ve ever stayed at where I could listen to live piano music when eating breakfast.
Click here to read the reviews, see pictures and current deals of Hotel George.
Where to eat in Lviv
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. They are focused on tourists but still are worth checking.
The most famous ones are Meat and Justice, At Arsenal or House of Legends.
Whenever I’m in Ukraine (not only in Lviv) I eat in Puzata Khata, 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 €4!
There are two Puzata Khata 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.
Where to drink in Lviv
Lviv is famous for its interesting pubs and cafes. In fact this is the city with the biggest ratio of cafes in the world!
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, cozy 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 in Lviv
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 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 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.
You can visit Lviv with a guide (highly recommended as this city is full of stories and legends), there are also numerous tours with various themes available. Click here to see the best Lviv tours!
Why is it worth to visit Lviv, Ukraine
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.
There might be tension in the east of the country but the rest of Ukraine is safe to travel to.
While the number of tourists visiting Lviv is getting higher each year it is still not as bad as in popular destinations in Western Europe.
The city is 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?
Revolut bank card is the best way to save money when traveling. It’s a pre-paid service that offers very good exchange rates and no fees for ATM’s use. Click here to learn more and order your Revolut card.
You can find the best accommodation options at Booking. They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for the place to stay in Lviv
Never travel without travel insurance, you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can check the insurance policy for Ukraine here.
I recommend joining organized tours to get to know the place better and to visit more places during your trip. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here.
Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.
For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:
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- I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Ukraine too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!
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Joy @MyTravelingJoys16/01/2015 at 12:35
As always Kami, thanks for your lovely tips! I’m catching up on all your old Lviv posts as we have a trip planned there in mid-February. Took advantage of the 300pln flights via LOT recently. Can’t wait to explore this cute city! :-)
kami26/01/2015 at 21:22
you will love it for sure! It’s really one of the most beautiful and underrated cities in Europe and with the current exchange rate it will be crazy cheap! I’m slightly jealous you’re going there, Lviv is in my top3 cities :) And LOT can have such a good prices sometimes!!
Doug Foster11/10/2016 at 22:11
Hello Kami! Thank you for all your efforts explaining these cities. I wonder about the natural Gems in that area and are they for sale on ebay or other places on the internet. I have been to Crimea and other places. It left a giant impression on me. I would enjoy going back to see your cities and inter- mix into the culture. It would be like a dream, but the dream is real. You are a cool lady! Thanks Doug from Tucson Arizona….
kami17/10/2016 at 19:43
Sadly I have no idea about the natural gems. But I really hope you will be able to go to Lviv as it’s such a splendid city! Thanks!
Goklem29/05/2019 at 22:24
Hello Ms. Kami! Thank you for all recommendations.
kami26/06/2019 at 01:52
I’m glad you found them useful!
John12/03/2021 at 10:23
Can you tell me if there are Christmas markets etc in Lviv I have never been and would hope to go in December taking the train from Poland.
kami12/03/2021 at 22:09
Yes, there is a really nice Christmas market in the center :) I think December might be a nice time to visit Lviv, especially when there is snow around! Hopefully traveling will be easier then!
Tony B25/12/2021 at 11:17
A friend of mine from the Lviv area says wait until May when the weather is better and it would be safer as a USA tourist as it would be tourist season etc. I definitely agree the weather would be better. What do you think? New Year’s in Lviv with snow or wait until summer when the weather is perfect and there is more people around?
kami17/01/2022 at 13:13
While Lviv is enjoyable all year long I would definitely wait until the weather gets better, especially for your first visit there. Either way, I’m sure you will enjoy Lviv! :)