Lviv Ukraine: 10 Reasons Why You’ll Love This City

Lviv quickly became one of my favourite cities to visit in Europe.

And not just in Eastern Europe, but all of Europe. If you like Budapest or Prague, you’re virtually guaranteed to love Lviv.

But first:

Is it Safe to Visit Ukraine?

That was the first question I asked Google when I was considering a visit. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), as of Jan 10, 2016, travel is not advised to  Donetsk Oblast, Lugansk Oblast, or Crimea. The rest of Ukraine is considered safe.

I travelled to Lviv as a solo female traveller and felt very safe during my visit. Check the website above for the most up-to-date information.

Is it The Ukraine, or Ukraine?

I had no idea. It’s a good question. Even President Obama messed it up.

According to Time, Ukraine is a country,” says William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. “The Ukraine is the way the Russians referred to that part of the country during Soviet times … Now that it is a country, a nation, and a recognized state, it is just Ukraine. And it is incorrect to refer to the Ukraine, even though a lot of people do it.

I still sometimes catch myself referring to it as The Ukraine, but now that I know the history, I make an effort to say Ukraine.

10 Reasons You Will Fall in Love with Lviv, Ukraine:

Rynok Square, part of Lviv's historic city centre which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rynok Square is part of Lviv’s historic city centre which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. The historic city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

In other words, it’s gorgeous. It reminded me a bit of the Old Market Square in Poznan, Poland, which I also loved.

Lviv is famous for its architecture and is home to 50% of all architectural sites in Ukraine.

2. The architecture. Lviv is home to 50% of all architectural sites in Ukraine!

It was on a major trading route. As a result, it attracted the best architects from all over Europe for over eight centuries! You’ll find gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classicism styles.

Lviv has over 60 festivals each year, including a chocolate and a coffee festival!

3. Lviv is a festival city.

There are 50+ a year! And some sumptuous ones at that – like the Wine and Cheese Festival, or the Have a Cup of Coffee in Lviv Festival. Don’t mind if I do!

Lviv is famous for both its coffee and its chocolate.
Lviv is famous for both its coffee and its chocolate.

4. Lviv is famous for its chocolate and coffee.

It was a rich history with coffee, dating back to 1683. It became a paradise for chocolate lovers in the late 18th century.

As a result, there is a significant cafe culture. One I thoroughly enjoyed exploring.  I especially loved the Zoo Cafe, a cat cafe!

Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet was built in the Viennese neo-Renaissance style.
Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet represent the Viennese neo-Renaissance style.

5. Culture. Lviv is the official cultural capital of Ukraine.

It has 60 museums and ten theatres. The Skarbek Theatre was the third largest theatre when it opened in 1842.

Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life in Lviv, Ukraine. I really enjoyed this open air museum showcasing traditional Ukrainian buildings.
The Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life. I enjoyed this open-air museum showcasing traditional buildings.

6) Churches.

There are 100 operating churches of all different denominations. That includes  Armenian, Orthodox, Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic, reflecting the various people brought together by the trading route.

Although I’m not one to spend a considerable amount of time in churches, I did enjoy popping my head in a few and comparing the different styles.

Lviv has 110 operating churches of numerous denominations. It's worth visiting a few of them to compare the different styles.
One of Lviv’s 110 operating churches of numerous denominations. They’re worth having a peek inside.

7. Lviv’s Cuisine.

Within one block you’ll have a choice of Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Hungarian and Austrian cuisine! My favourite meal in Lviv was at Seven Piggies, a traditional Ukrainian restaurant.

The food was incredible, and the design reflected that of a wealthy Ukrainian family. I’ve never seen anywhere like it. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough for a traditional, authentic Ukrainian experience!

Seven Piggies Restaurant is designed to make you feel like you're in a well-to-do traditional Ukrainian home. This was my favourite restaurant in Lviv.

8) Lviv is a walking city.

My favourite way to experience any city is on foot. That way I can smell the aromas from coffee baristas and check out what people are eating at the city’s many outdoor cafes. I feel that you notice the little things that you would miss if you were driving.

Lviv is a great city for discovering on foot - in fact many of the streets in the Old Town are pedestrian-only streets.

9) Lviv is often called the Paris of Ukraine.

How can you not love a smaller scale of one of Europe’s most iconic cities?

You get a fantastic view over Lviv if your legs can take the steep climb up to the Town Hall Tower.
You get a fantastic view over the city if your legs can take the steep climb up to the Town Hall Tower.

10. Lviv is Close to the Carpathian Mountains.

Although I do enjoy exploring cities, my heart lies in the mountains. I loved exploring the Carpathian Mountains. It’s a 1500 km long mountain range. And the second longest in Europe. It’s even longer than the Alps. And they’re only two to three hours away from Lviv.

Hotels in Lviv

Citadel Inn, a hotel in Lviv Ukraine.
Citadel Inn

I stayed at the Citadel Inn, Lviv’s only five-star boutique hotel. It offers one of the most beautiful views over the city from its panoramic restaurant. The building has a unique history.

It was built as a fort in the 1850s by the Austrian government and retains much of its fortification architecture. I especially love the wide hallways. Fortunately, it also has modern amenities. It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed in, and the service was fantastic!

However, I found out approximately halfway through my stay that it had been a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. It was known as the Tower of Death, where over 100,000 prisoners died.

When investors purchased the property in the early 2000s to convert it into a hotel, there was a lot of controversies. Many people thought it should be a memorial, rather than a 5-star hotel.

Had I known this before my visit, I would have chosen to stay at another hotel. But without this knowledge, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

You can find a list of hotels in Ukraine on Booking.com, my preferred choice when booking accommodation.

Where to Eat in Lviv:

  • Seven Piggies. For traditional Ukrainian cuisine and an interior that’s unlike any, I’ve ever seen. It was both love at first sight, followed by love at first bite for me and Seven Piggies. Address: S. Bandera St., 9.
  • Zoo Cafe. Although there’s a cat cafe in Munich, I will never turn down the chance to cuddle with other kitties. When I’m away from home, it takes a bit of the sting away of how much I miss my own two rescue cats when I travel. Address: Kopernika St., 11.
  • Green. Lviv’s only vegan and vegetarian restaurant. I enjoyed my lunch. The vegetarian meatballs were delicious. Address: Brativ Rohatyntsiv 5 | Behind Mitskevich’s Square.
  • Atlas. You can’t beat the location on Rynok Square. Each section has different decor reflecting Atlas long history. They serve Eastern European cuisine and great coffee! Its an excellent spot for people watching. Address: Rynok Square, 45.

10 reasons why you should travel to Lviv Ukraine
Note: I flew to Lviv with flyUIA, a Ukrainian airline. My trip was made possible by Lviv Tourism. As always, all opinions are my own. 


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About Author

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Laurel
Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their hiking, cycling and wildlife vacations in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her hiking in the mountains on most weekends.

Comments

January 12, 2016
I love Lviv! It's one of my favourite cities and every time when I'm there I'm so surprised that it's not discovered yet! I dare to say it's one of the most beautiful cities in Europe! I'm not surprised you enjoyed Lviv so much :) But there're so many more great and safe places to visit in Ukraine, like Chernivtsi (just today I published a post about it) or Kamyanets-Podilsky. I just wish more people would believe it's not a dangerous place to visit as the country really needs tourism now!
January 13, 2016
@Kami - I can't believe it's not more well known either. I love it too! I've only been to Lviv, but will have to check out the two places you recommended - thanks. Agreed, Ukraine is safe, and it's a great time to go now with the exchange rate.
Mike
August 2, 2016
I am heading to Lviv to meet some friends in a week! I am flying from Vienna to Lviv. Do you know if I can check a bag all the way through into Lviv??? one of my local friends said he thought you could, and that you got one 23 kg checked bag, and one 7 kg carry on?/ just wanting to make sure before I pack and head out!!
August 14, 2016
@Mike - You should be able to, but it really depends on the airline. Enjoy Lviv, it's a great city!
Brian
May 14, 2016
Lviv was built as a Polish City State that's why it resembles other cities in Poland
Maks
July 23, 2016
Lviv is one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine, having escaped both the devastation of WWII and the Soviet influences prevalent in Eastern Europe. The Old Town is well preserved and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The bulk of Lviv's Old Town architecture, built during the 16th and 17th centuries, is heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance. This is the center for people watching, restaurants and shopping. It was my second time in Lviv and the second time I was living in the same apartment and everything was perfect again :) The place was big and super comfortable for single travelers or couples who want to explore Lviv. There was a big supermarket in about 150m away from the place; you can easily make your daily purchases from there. It only takes 10-15 minutes to reach the city center by walking. Never needed to take a taxi or bus. Finally, Oksana & Dmytro (burak.dmytro@mail.ru) are wonderful hosts!
October 2, 2016
@Maks - Glad that you enjoyed Lviv so much and thanks for the recommendation of a place to stay.
Fred
October 11, 2018
Fred ...laurel i want travel to Ukraine because i have girlfriend in Kiev but now is came winter i live in USA in Bend Oregon are small and beautiful city and clean nice people,,,i saw pict, Lviv and i loved i liked so much. i hope some day you came here....see crater lake in oregon i know you liked
Cosmin
August 16, 2016
I was there two weeks ago. I visited both Lviv and Chernivtsi. Ukraine seems to be safer and much more beautiful than I could imagine.
August 18, 2016
@Cosmin - Agreed! I didn't know what to expect from Ukraine, but I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to go back!
Elizabeth Tejeda
February 16, 2017
Hi Laurel. Your blog is absolutely fantastic. I love it. I am a teacher in Mexico and my 7th grade students and me are doing an investigation about specific local communication techniques of Ukranians. Could you help us, please? We need to know more about Ukrainians personality traits or specific body language communication signals... you know very particular local ways of communicating. Help!! Please!!
February 16, 2017
@Elizabeth - Thank you for your kind words. While I'm not an expert on Ukrainian communication, I found this article which may be helpful: http://see-you.in.ua/en/page/ukrainian-communication-style. It sounds like a fun investigation. Enjoy!

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