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 among my very favorite cities. Like very very beloved ones!
Whenever I can I travel to Lviv, over and over again. There are just many things to do in Lviv I enjoy.
Some might think it gets boring but I disagree – the more times I visit Lviv, the more amazing places, beautiful architecture and interiors, charming corners and cozy cafes I keep finding.
Lviv never gets boring!
Quick Lviv cheat sheet
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Where to stay in Lviv:
- GHOSTel – Medieval Hostel (budget)
- George Hotel (mid-range)
- BANKHOTEL (luxury)
Best Lviv tours:
Short history of Lviv, Ukraine
Lviv, now 7th biggest city in Ukraine, was founded around the year 1250 and got its name after the founder’s (Daniel of Galicia – King of Ruthenia) son – Lew.
It literally means “lion” hence you will see the animal everywhere, including the coat of arms.
For centuries it’s been mainly the Polish city, one of the most important cultural, educational and political centers in the region, especially during Austria-Hungary time (then it was the capital of Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria).
After World War 2 Lviv became part of the Soviet Union (and Polish citizens were deported to what is now western Poland, mostly to and around Wrocław) and after USSR collapsed – Ukraine.
While there is a lot of sentiment and nostalgia for Lviv among Polish people I’ve never really felt it too.
I know it used to be “our” city, one we were really proud of, but I also know how crazy geopolitical issues can be and right now Lviv is Ukraine, period.
But when I visit Lviv I do wonder from time to time how would Lviv be if it were still Polish.
Part of its charm is how edgy and crumbling it looks – would it be the same?
Reasons to travel to Lviv
There are so many reasons to travel to Lviv!
The city is insanely beautiful, so much that you need to pinch yourself it’s real!
I always feel like in a fairy tale there, like the time around me has stopped (and old school trams rolling slowly through the narrow streets only consolidate this feeling).
For me, this is the most charming and romantic city in Europe, the one where you can spend days or return on many occasions and never get bored.
The city is like a drug, once you visit Lviv you get addicted (kind of similar story happened to me with another Ukrainian city – Kyiv).
Lviv also has one of the best cafe scenes in the world. And it’s not only my opinion, but it’s also a fact!
There are around 1500 cafes in the city making it the highest amount of cafes per capita in the world!
You can spend a year in Lviv, visiting cafes only and you still wouldn’t go to them all!
Some of them are really old, cozy and charming and with a great interior that you will want to visit them anyway!
What’s more due to the low prices in Ukraine coffee (or just about everything) is very affordable and the travel to Lviv won’t drain your wallet.
The city is also among the most picturesque ones I’ve ever seen!
No matter where you go in Lviv Old Town you will be greeted with picture perfect spots: architecture, streets, city views or interiors.
Be sure to charge the batteries and empty memory cards before you visit Lviv – you will need them all!
Even though at first Lviv seems to be small and possible to cover in one day only the more you start digging, the better it gets.
Right now my list of places to see during my future trips to Lviv is just neverending: all the art nouveau buildings, all the breathtaking interiors, remnants of Polish past and, on top of that, all the amazing cafes and restaurants.
I already know I will travel to Lviv so many times in the future!
Lviv for photography enthusiast
If like me, you’re a huge photography enthusiast I recommend you wake up early and set off with your camera for a walk around when the streets are still fairly empty.
And then return there at the golden hour in the evening – climb the town hall tower (prepare for climbing over 300 steps!) or walk up to the High Castle Hill – the highest point in the city for the best views.
During the day explore some of the most amazing interiors or walk to Lychakiv Cemetery – one of the most beautiful necropoleis you will ever see and a true testimony of the Polish and Ukrainian history.
Here are some of the best photography spots in Lviv (you will find the map with them at the end of the post, I limited it to the Old Town mostly as again, the list would be too long):
- Rynok Square – the main square. Colorful houses around and crumbling trams passing by making a beautiful scene. Climb to the town hall tower and enter the gate at Rynok Square 6 to see the so-called Italian yard.
- streets in the Old Town. My favorites are Virmenska, Lesi Ukrainky, Brativ Rohatyntsiv, and Staroievreiska. But every single street there is worth at least a few pictures so just wander aimlessly around!
- Passages. There used to be many amazing passages in Lviv but only a few remained there. The best ones are Andreolli’s connecting Rynok Square with Teatralna street or former Hausman’s (known also as Kryva Lypa) between Petra Doroshenka and Sichovykh Striltsiv streets.
- Small lane between Virmenska and Lesi Ukrainky street, behind the Armenian church, dedicated to the great Armenian film director – Sergei Parajanov (btw, be sure to go to his museum if you visit Yerevan too, it’s so cool!)
- Potocki Palace – a great mansion in the heart of the city, located at Kopernika street.
- Opera House, Svobody Avenue and Halytska Square
- Lychakiv Cemetery – one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, ornate graves are hidden between trees. It’s the final place of rest for some of the most prominent people of Polish and Ukrainian history.
- High Castle Hill – the walk up is a bit tiring but the views from this highest point in Lviv are really spectacular!
- Yard of Lost Toys – this is one of the quirkiest places you can find in Lviv. On the way to High Castle, you can find kind of a spooky yard full of toys that clearly has been forgotten for years! It’s kind of like Charnobyl creepy dolls but in the brighter scenery!
For the most beautiful interiors you should visit following places:
- Opera – rich in shining ornaments, the interior of Opera will take your breath away.
It’s possible to visit the building during the day, the ticket is 40UAH and you’re free to take the pictures inside. Chances you will be the only person there are very high!
Just use the main entrance to the Opera, the ticket office is already there.
If you fancy seeing the show at the opera you’re in a good place as tickets are very cheap!
- House of Scientists – this is probably the biggest hidden gem in Lviv!
The former noble casino is known especially for its stunning wooden stairs, straight from the fairy tale (it’s not hard to imagine a princess walking down).
The entrance is 30UAH, paid to a man hanging around and taking care of the place.
It’s very possible you will stumble across a newly married couple doing their wedding photo shoot here.
- Museum of Ethnography and Arts and Crafts – even if you’re not interested in the subject this place is a must.
Built at the end of the 19th century it used to be Galician Savings Bank. The building is beautiful from the outside but what you find inside is yet another gem.
The staircase is hands down the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen.
The museum is opened from 11 am to 5 pm, the entry fee is 30UAH and another 10 more UAH for taking pictures inside.
- Armenian Cathedral – it’s easy to miss the entrance at Krakivska street but when you enter the unobtrusive door you will be greeted with a beautiful interior.
Try to be there in the morning, when the light comes in through the window – during one of my visits I was there around 11 am and could witness a beautiful play of light.
- Boim Chapel – again, unobtrusive from the outside, stunning inside.
It dates back from the beginning of the 17th century.
The chapel is located at Katedralna Square but the entrance is from the small square on the back of Halytska street.
- Just about every church in Lviv – the interiors of them all are like a baroque fest, so rich in the ornaments you don’t know what to focus on.
The best ones are Bernadine Church, Dominican Church, Saint George’s Cathedral and Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church.
- Hotel George – the oldest hotel in Lviv, built in 1901.
There are so many amazing stories about the place as back in the time some of the most important people in the world have stayed there. Now it’s a very affordable accommodation in the center of Lviv, the one I most often choose when I visit the city.
The interior remembers grand times and even if you’re not staying there you can pop in to take some pictures of the foyer.
But if you decide to sleep at Hotel George click here for more details and book the room! Your breakfast will be served with live piano music in the background!
- Cafe Atlas, located at Rynok Square 45.
Before World War 2 it used to be the favorite cafe of Polish artists, a couple of years ago it reopened to be one of the favorite cafes/restaurants for tourists.
It’s worth to stop it not only for the food but also for the lovely interior.
- Coffee Mining Manufacture, also located at Rynok Square, on the corner of Ruska street.
It’s popular for the coffee show and shop but hidden in the yard is one of the nicest cafe interiors in Lviv!
- Apteka Mikolascha – around the corner from Hotel George.
A former famous pharmacy from the beginning of 19th century, recently reopened as a cafe with the interior reminding of its original function.
- Fixage Cafe – a place for old photography lovers, with numerous old camera (and paintings of the Emperor Franz Joseph) displayed on the wall/
- Lviv train station – built at the beginning of the 20th century it’s one of the most beautiful train stations in this part of Europe.
The covered platforms area with old food stands looks good on the pictures too. Don’t miss the stunning art nouveau main doors!
Best viewpoints of Lviv:
- Town hall tower
- High Castle hill
- House of Legends – located at Staroievreiska 48, yet another cool restaurant.
But the main reason to visit it is the great terrace on top, with a car standing there and amazing views of the old town around!
- Cafe on the top floor of Hotel Dnister – it’s accessible for everyone, not only hotel guest.
From there you can see Lviv from another perspective, with Ivan Franko Park and University right in front of you.
Pro tip: take the camera with you to the toilet as the best view of UNESCO listed St. George’s Cathedral is from there, and only from there.
- There are few restaurants I haven’t visited yet (as either they were full or closed or I didn’t have enough time) that are supposed to offer great views: Rooftop Restaurant Partyfon, Valentino Restaurant, Terrazza or restaurant at Panorama Lviv Hotel.
- You can join a rooftop tour to access some rooftops for great views. I did it once and I was happy with it. It’s definitely a great way to look at the city from a different perspective! Click here to see the tour’s details and prices!
Pictures to inspire you to travel to Lviv
Now, that I’ve shared with you the reasons to visit Lviv and my favorite photo locations in the city it’s time for the pictures, many of them, in no particular order!
After all these visits I have a huge collection of Lviv pictures and it was so difficult to limit myself to only 50.
But I hope you will enjoy them and that they will inspire you to travel to Lviv soon! The city is amazing and I bet you will fall in love with it too!!
Lesi Ukrainky street
Lviv from the High Castle Hill
Virmenska street in the winter time
snow covered rooftops of Lviv
Brativ Rohatyntsiv street
View from the Town Hall Tower
Beautiful art nouveau architecture in Lviv
View from the Town Hall Tower
Saint George’s Cathedral
View from the roof of House of Legends
Lesi Ukrainky street
Stavropihiiska Street and Dominican Church
Yard of Lost Toys
Yard of Mons Pius restaurant
Cafe just off Virmenska street
Lesi Ukrainky street
Yard behins the Armenian church
Flea Market next to Dominican Church
Inside House of Scientists
View from the roof of House of Legends
Inside the Opera
Inside the Opera
Inside the Armenian Church
Interior of Museum of Ethnography and Arts and Crafts
Coffee Mining Manufacture
Lviv at night
Map with the best Lviv photo locations
And here is the map with all the mentioned photo locations.
You can download it and use it offline during your trip to Lviv! Just get the .kml file, put it on your phone and open using maps.me!
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
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:
- Sign up to my newsletter or follow me on Bloglovin to get updates about the new posts
- Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
- 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. Thank you!
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Flip Filipowski26/08/2018 at 17:55
Love your writup on Lviv. Do you any on Wilno?
kami14/09/2018 at 13:15
Thank you! Yes, I do have some posts on Vilnius as well, albeit the old one. You can find them here: https://www.mywanderlust.pl/category/lithuania/
Veronika Primm27/08/2018 at 11:51
I’ve been wanting to visit Lviv, but wow…! I had no idea it was THIS PRETTY! Omg omg.. when do you plan to go next? Maybe I could join you :)
kami27/08/2018 at 12:37
I don’t know yet but I’m sure soon ;) I will keep you updated, would be so much fun to travel together! I’ve just checked and there are no cheap flights from Prague but there are really cheap (like 20€/return) from Wrocław and Katowice so I guess that would be an option for you as well :)
Louise28/08/2018 at 07:40
A photos worth of thousand words. wow, I was love struck and every places are indeed beautiful.
kami14/09/2018 at 13:34
Victoria@TheBritishBerliner29/08/2018 at 04:45
Funnily enough, I’d think I would actually prefer Lviv in the winter, as I really like places that have “proper” snow!
OMG. Yes please!
kami14/09/2018 at 13:34
Then you should definitely plan a trip there this winter if you have a chance. I think you will love it :)
Olga (Rybak) Pollard12/01/2019 at 15:04
I am planning a trip to visit y cousins. They live in postoomyty rayonand oblast lvov. Never been there,this would be 1st time.
kami27/01/2019 at 15:29
I’m sure you will have a great time! Have a good trip!
Cyd26/04/2019 at 02:53
I went to Lviv for my birthday in December but I only managed a day and a half because I got unexpectedly sick and had to go home. I utterly fell in love with the place though, it’s such a good city to wander around aimlessly in and the cafe culture (and the coffee!) is lovely. I loved Lviv so much that I’m heading back in June to do a Ukrainian language summer school!
kami27/04/2019 at 16:58
Nice! I completely understand why you like Lviv so much, I’m a huge fan too! Have a great time there!
Funmilola25/09/2019 at 14:18
Love your write up on lviv,my daughter is in school there and can’t wait to visit.
kami04/10/2019 at 21:12
Thank you! I hope you will go soon, it’s such a beautiful city! :)
Iván Ventura16/11/2019 at 09:58
Hello Kami, I’m planning to visit the city too but next summer. Your post helped me a lot to make up my mind! It’s very inspiring and good. Could you recommend me other beautiful cities in Ukraine apart from Lviv and Kiev? I would appreciate your advice.
Thanks in advance from Spain.
kami19/11/2019 at 14:31
Hi Ivan, I’m glad to hear that! You will definitely enjoy Ukraine, the country is so beautiful but underrated. I can also recommend Chernivtsi, Kamyanets Podilskyi, Odessa, Kharkiv and Chernihiv. All of them are really pretty and interesting. You can find articles about most of them on my blog too! Happy travels!
Iván Ventura20/11/2019 at 14:08
Hello again Kami!
I take note of the cities, thank you so much for your answer.
I’ve been to Poland 3 times (Gdansk, Warsaw, Torun, Poznan, Krakow, Wroclaw and Poznan) and I fell in love with your amazing country. I hope to have some good feelings about Ukraine as well.
kami20/11/2019 at 15:19
These are some really great cities you visited in Poland! I’m sure you will enjoy Ukraine too, the cities there are so pretty as well :)
John Kucij22/01/2021 at 16:26
At the age of 71 I finally got to Ukraine just prior to the pandemic. So four grandparents were from Galicia, in the area between Lviv and Tarnopil. Enjoyed touching the soil they left ( independently) to settle in lower New York City where they met . Lviv was a joy to experience; walkable, safe, inexpensive, beautiful and very very friendly. Will go again
when COVID passes and will venture to the Carpathians as well. Thanks for the great pix and overview. John& Lyn, Schenectady, New York
kami25/01/2021 at 10:38
Thank you for your comment. I’m really glad you enjoyed Lviv and I truly hope you will return to this part of Europe soon, when it’s safe to travel again! All the best!