Nestled deep in the heart of Western Ukraine is the gorgeous city of Lviv.
Ukraine isn’t discussed much or recommended as part of the Eastern European travel circuit.
This is due in part to the conflict in the eastern part of the country combined with a low international tourism budget.
Thankfully, Ukraine is a wonderful country to visit. There are plenty of reasons why you should visit or even consider living in Ukraine, but that’s for another day.
In this post we’ll talk about one of its most beautiful places – Lviv.
It’s a city that you don’t hear much about from other travelers and it’s unlikely you’ll ever find a guidebook telling you to visit but there are so many things to do in Lviv it’s a surprise that the city isn’t more popular.
Lviv is one of the biggest cities in Ukraine and boasts a beautiful and historic city center that has made its way onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. Far from being run down and gloomy like the media represents, Lviv is actually a bustling and lively city full of culture and excitement.
Its tourist potential has yet to be discovered, but that’s probably for good reason.
Unlike other cities like Prague or Paris you won’t find too many English signs in Lviv and typically only young people will be able to understand you.
None of this takes away from how beautiful and raw Lviv really is.
Even with its proximity to Krakow, Lviv is still far off the beaten track and a relatively undiscovered tourist and backpacking destination. The city receives a lot of Russian and Polish tourists but not much else.
The Best Things to Do in Lviv During Your Trip
- 1 The Best Things to Do in Lviv During Your Trip
- 1.1 Walk Through The Old Town
- 1.2 Explore the Old Town Square (Rynok)
- 1.3 Take in the View from the Old Town Hall
- 1.4 Grab A Drink At The Famous Kryivka Pub
- 1.5 Eat At Puzata Hata
- 1.6 Head up to High Castle
- 1.7 Visit Some of the Lovely Parks
- 1.8 Visit the Lychakiv Cemetery
- 1.9 People Watch Along Prospect Svobody
- 1.10 Snack on Some Handmade Chocolate
- 1.11 Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life Open Air Museum
- 2 Where to Eat | Restaurants and Cheap Eats in Lviv
If you get the chance to visit here are some of the best things to do in Lviv during your stay.
Walk Through The Old Town
When you get to Lviv the first thing you’re going to want to do is walk around the many different streets and alleyways that crisscross throughout the historic Old Town.
There are plenty of hidden passageways and out-of-the-way shortcuts that give the Lviv Old Town a mysterious and intriguing feel.
This is the part of Lviv that since 1998 has been on the UNESCO list as being an area of historical and cultural importance to the global community.
It’s easy to see why as there are over 2000 different historic landmarks in the Old Town area and you can’t walk very far without passing by something that is hundreds of years old.
From churches and ancient city walls to castles and world-famous coffee shops there are countless ways to spend your time in the Old Town.
I recommend spending a few hours getting accustomed to the area and exploring every little street and passageway you come across.
You never know what kinds of hidden gems in Lviv you’ll stumble across.
Explore the Old Town Square (Rynok)
At the center of the Old Town is the Market Square, or Rynok.
This square has stood in place for over 500 years as the center of the city and a popular meeting place for locals.
For much of its history there were markets in operation and a row of market houses standing in the very center of the square.
Unfortunately these were destroyed in a fire and today you’ll find the beautiful Lviv Town Hall standing in their place.
Many of the buildings lining the Rynok are historically important to the city and the architecture and style of which they were built is quite impressive.
You can read more here about the history of each of the buildings in the square.
Today the Old Town Square is one of the best places to visit in the Old Town.
It’s nice to find a café or restaurant and sit down for a few hours watching all the locals and tourists walk by.
You’ll even be able to enjoy a hot coffee on the go.
Throughout the year vendors on bicycles tow their little portable coffee makers and will serve you a variety of hot and fresh coffee drinks.
Take in the View from the Old Town Hall
- 400+ steps to the top of the tower
- 360 degree view of the old town and surrounding city
- Entrance fee – 10 UAH
In the center of the Rynok is the Lviv Town Hall.
Since 1835 the Town Hall has stood in place and today is home to the Tourist Office and city council. It’s a very beautiful building and was designed in a classical Viennese style.
It’s possible to climb to the top of the Town Hall tower for an incredible view of the entire city.
The Ratusha tower is open from 9AM until 6PM for most of the year, until 9PM in the summer, and only costs 10UAH to enter.
After climbing an endless set of stairs you’ll come out onto a viewing platform directly above the entire Old Town and Rynok.
This is an amazing place to take photos and gives you one of the best views in all of Lviv.
Grab A Drink At The Famous Kryivka Pub
In the Market Square, if you’re lucky enough to find it, is a legendary local restaurant known as “Kryivka”.
The word kryivka means “underground bunker” in Ukrainian and the entire place is designed to look like it was plucked right out of World War 2 and dropped into the city.
On the walls are photos of famous soldiers, pieces of memorabilia, war history, and a range of other little knick-knacks and decorations that serve as a reminder of how the Ukrainians fought and what they had to endure.
Once you order you’ll get your food served in original army pans and with the weird atmosphere you’re unlikely to forget, even for a moment, that you’re eating in a military bunker.
There is one thing you’ll want to keep in mind before you visit.
There is a solider guarding the entrance to Kryivka and you need to tell him the password before he’ll let you in. Simply say the phrase “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine!) and you’ll be allowed to enter.
Eat At Puzata Hata
A visit to Lviv isn’t complete without a stop at one of the most famous fast food joints in all of Ukraine.
Puzata Hata, or “big belly hut” in Ukrainian, is a popular fast food chain and the best place for cheap eats in Lviv.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside but the interior of each location is designed to look like a typical Ukrainian village.
It’s cafeteria style so you simply grab a tray and walk up to the serving counters. A wide range of food is available from soups and salads to hearty meat dishes and pierogies.
If you don’t speak Ukrainian all you need to do is point to what you want and motion with your hands how much. In most locations they’re used to tourists and they’ll be quickly able to figure out what you want.
The biggest shock you’ll get is when you go to pay for your meal.
A huge portion of food from Puzata Hata will only cost 2 or 3 dollars.
For less than the price of coffee where I’m from you can get a hearty meal that will leave you full of energy for the rest of the day.
Even if you’re not traveling on a budget a visit to Puzata Hata is necessary for the experience on its own.
Head up to High Castle
At the edge of the Old Town is a large hill that dominates the skyline wherever you are in the city.
This is locally known as Castle Hill and at the top once stood a historic castle.
It was given the name “High Castle” and was used to defend the city from attack or invasion.
It is no longer there but a Castle stood until 1869 when it was torn down and replaced with a park.
From the High Castle on its perch above Lviv you can see the entire Old Town and much of the surrounding countryside.
It’s a quick 30-minute hike along a paved road from the bottom of the hill to the High Castle area.
On a clear day you’ll be able to see the Carpathian Mountains off in the distance and the view from the top is simply incredible.
The Old Town is laid out in front of you and the Lviv Town Hall looks even better from up here.
There are parts of an original wall that once defended the High Castle but that and the mound are all that remain from its glorious past.
If you’re hiking up to High Castle remember to bring some water and a snack.
There aren’t many places to get something to eat or drink along the way and the trail at some point can be quite strenuous.
Visit Some of the Lovely Parks
Across Lviv are many different parks that make a great place to visit if you’re looking for some refuge from the crowds of the Old Town.
Parks such as Stryiskyi Park and the Ivan Franko Park are a popular place to relax and hang out on a nice day.
In both parks you’ll be able to stroll along wide paved walkways and relax at one of the countless benches among a mix of both local families and tourists.
Stryiskyi Park is the oldest and most popular in Lviv.
It covers quite a large area of the city just outside of the Old Town area.
It’s about a 20-minute walk from the Market Square but it’s worth the trek.
In Stryiskyi you’ll find a wide variety of plant and wildlife and a few different monuments, exhibitions and some interesting buildings you can check out.
Closer to the city center and just steps away from the Market Square is Ivan Franko Park.
The university is just across the street so this park is usually full of young people studying or hanging out during the day.
There is a nice cafe at one end of the park and it’s a nice place to grab a drink and stroll through the tree-lined paths.
Visit the Lychakiv Cemetery
- Entrance: 10UAH
- Extra fee for cameras
- 15-20 minute walk from city center/5 minute taxi ride
A short 5-minute taxi ride from the city center and you can reach the Lychakiv Cemetery.
It’s one of the most important things to do in Lviv and a great way to honor the many different individuals that gave their lives to form and develop the city you’re visiting.
Since the 1500s people have been buried in the vicinity of where the cemetery stands today and for over 500 years it has acted as a burial ground.
In 1786 the Austro-Hungarians, who had control of the city, opted to make it a cemetery officially.
Since then it has been the burial place of many different famous and culturally important people.
The Lychakiv Cemetery is quite big so be sure to bring something to drink and a few snacks.
It’s easy to spend a few hours walking around and admiring all the gravestones and monuments.
You’ll also want to wear comfortable shoes since there isn’t a dedicated trail that covers the entire cemetery.
People Watch Along Prospect Svobody
Prospect Svobody is the central boulevard in Lviv.
It runs through the center of town near the Market Square and is the most popular place for pedestrians in the city.
The boulevard is lined with lovely buildings and there are plenty of options if you’re looking for something to drink or eat.
Along the center of the boulevard is a pedestrian walking zone.
Throughout the year there are many different markets held here such as the Easter and Christmas Markets and it’s generally a busy place.
If you have the time order a drink at one of the cafes along the sidewalk and spend an hour or so simply watching the crowds move by.
Dominating one end of the Prospect Svobody is the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet.
This is a famous attraction in the city and one of the best things to see in Lviv.
It was built in the early 1900s and is one of the most impressive buildings in the entire city.
There are plenty of benches surrounding the fountain out front so you can take in the beauty of the Theatre without feeling rushed.
Snack on Some Handmade Chocolate
If you’re like me and you love chocolate then you’ll probably want to check out the Lviv Handmade Chocolate store and workshop.
You’ll be able to spot the store location in the Old Town – just keep your eyes up for some weird bathtub-looking thing attached to the wall and you’ll know you’re in the right place.
Once you find the place walk upstairs and prepare to be amazed by the largest selection of chocolate you’ve ever seen.
They have every type of chocolate available in both bar and single size form and whether you like dark chocolate and almonds or white chocolate and marzipan they’re sure to have something for you.
During the colder months you can grab a genuine hot chocolate to warm yourself up.
They melt down some milk chocolate and serve it to you steaming hot in a small mug. It’s an unusual experience drinking the liquid chocolate but it’s something you don’t want to miss when it’s a bit chilly out.
Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life Open Air Museum
- 40 UAH entrance fee
- Guided tours available
- Take Tram #2 from Old Town Square and get off at Mechnikova (follow signs for museum)
- Open from 9AM until 9PM
Just a little bit outside of the city center is the interesting and intriguing Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life.
This museum is dedicated to helping you learn more about the history and culture of the people living in Lviv and much of the rest of Western Ukraine.
You’re able to walk through more than 100 different historic structures like wooden churches, old village houses, and check out a variety of different well-preserved household items used by past generations.
The museum covers a wide area of peaceful and secluded woods so you can explore in peace without the hustle of the nearby city.
After checking out the museum it’s a good idea to spend some time wandering around the surrounding park and stretching your legs before heading back for the day.
Keep in mind that apart from the museum there isn’t too much going on otherwise so be sure to bring some water or snacks for the day.
Where to Eat | Restaurants and Cheap Eats in Lviv
There are countless restaurants, quick eateries, and cafes to choose from in Lviv that it’s probably impossible to ever try them all out.
However, there are some gems among all of the different places that you’ll want to actually check out if you’re visiting the city.
Best Cafes in Lviv
- Aroma Kava (quick, reasonable prices, a few locations in the old town)
- Kredens Cafe (better quality cafe, plenty of drinks to choose from, nice outdoor/indoor seating)
- Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture (right in the town square, an interesting coffee/museum experience with an underground coffee “mining” section and live fire)
Cheap Eats in Lviv
- Lviv Croissants | 25-50 UAH (amazing selection of sandwiches, big portions, desserts, indoor/outdoor seating depending on the location, coffee and other drinks available)
- Puzata Hata | 30-100 UAH (traditional food, lots of indoor seating, locations throughout the old town, quick service)
- Strudel Haus | 40-80 UAH (amazing strudels, great location in the old town square, indoor seating, best place for desserts in the center)