Lviv is the most charming city I have visited in Ukraine. It’s not like any other post-Soviet cities you have seen. It’s colorful, lively, and simply gorgeous. With a century-old history, there are many things to do in Lviv, so this travel guide will help you
Lviv is a unique combination of Eastern and Western cultures. Here you can experience Austrian, German, Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, and even Armenian cultures. Lviv is a hidden gem of Europe slowly discovered by the rest of the world.
Named after Leo, the first son of Daniel of Galicia, the ruler of the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia, the city’s historic center with its old buildings and cobblestone streets survived German and Soviet occupations during the WWII.
How to get to Lviv
Lviv city is well connected with the rest of the world, so getting there shouldn’t be a problem. Danylo Halytskyi International Airport Lviv serves both big and budget-friendly airlines like Wizzair, Ryanair, Ernest Airlines, and Pegasus Airlines.
If you are located somewhere in Eastern Europe, you can easily travel to Lviv by bus. We traveled from Kyiv to Lviv by overnight train and bought tickets online prior to our travels to Ukraine. Trains are a bit old but in good condition. From here, we continued our way to Odesa, the pearl of the Black Sea.
Top Things to Do in Lviv
Even though the city is quite big, two days here was enough to see all the important landmarks. The best way to experience Lviv is to wander through its streets. Most of the sights are easily reachable by foot and the only time I used public transport was to see the famous cemetery.
Feel the local vibe at Rynok Square
Rynok or Market Square is the very center of the city. According to the archeologists, it dates back to the second half of the 13th century. It was initially built by Leo I of Galicia, but in later years, the Polish king also took part in its development.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site used to be the place for many cultural, political, and social events for more than 500 years. Lviv Town
There are 44 apartment houses around the square and many of them represent different architectural styles, starting from Renaissance to Modernism. You can also find fountains on its four corners and various sculptures representing four Greek mythological figures – Diana, Neptune, Adonis, and Amphitrite.
See the oldest drugstore
Visiting Pharmacy Museum is one of the unique things to do in Lviv. It opened in 1966 in an old drugstore building at one of the corners of the Market Square. A military pharmacist, Wilhelm Natorp opened the original drugstore in 1735 and called it Under the Black Eagle.
You can visit 16 rooms of the museum displaying antique pharmaceutical devices, medicines, prescriptions, dishes, related books, and an alchemy workshop area.
Admire the beauty of the Opera House
I have heard so many things about Lviv’s opera house from my mom that I had to see it. I don’t like opera, but I’m a huge fan of ballet. Built at the beginning of the 20th century in the neo-Renaissance style, the Opera house is the architectural gem of the city.
The facade is simply mesmerizing. Allegorical sculptures adorn its columns, niches, and balustrades, while statues of muses rise above the main cornice.
The interior is as impressive as the exterior. Here, different-colored marble adorns gilded decorations, sculptures, and decorative paintings. The four-circled hall can accommodate more than a thousand people.
There are tours available in the Opera House for those who just want to see its interior and learn the history of the building.
- Entrance Fee: Adults – 40 UAH
Look at the Chapel of the Boim Family
One of the things to do in Lviv is to visit this charming chapel. A unique Renaissance monument has no analogies in Ukraine or Europe. A Lviv merchant of Hungarian origin, Georgiy Boim, who got rich by trading wine, decided to build a family chapel of unparalleled beauty.
One of its exteriors is covered in stone carvings featuring religious scenes, while another has glassed-in portraits of the merchant and his wife.
Unfortunately, the chapel isn’t open all year round. It opens its door to visitors only in summer.
Look at stunning frescoes at Armenian Cathedral of Lviv
You’ll find this cathedral in the old town, not far from the market square. It’s a bit hard to recognize its beauty from the outside. It looks nothing special, but once you go inside, you’ll be amazed by colorful, gorgeous frescos dominating every inch of its walls.
Visit the Italian Courtyard
Italian Courtyard is a great example of civil Renaissance architecture of the 16th century Ukraine. The name of the place is Korniakt House, but everyone calls it an Italian Courtyard. Constructed by Pietro Barbon, an architect with Italian ethnicity, included the styles of Italian Renaissance and local, old, methods of construction. The complex features a lovely spacious yard with 3-floor opened arches supported by the columns.
There is a coffee shop within the territory, so you can sit down, relax for a while and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.
- Opening Hours: Every day, except Wed. 10 a.m – 5:30 p.m
- Entrance Fee: Adults – 2 UAH; Children & Students – 1 UAH; Guided tour: Adults – 15 UAH; Children & Students – 10 UAH
Pay a visit to the dead at Lychakiv Cemetery
I know you think why would I suggest to visit a cemetery. But listen, this one is unique and has been classified as a cultural and historical museum. It occupies 40 hectares of the land and truly is a beautiful place to explore. Even I don’t believe my ears every time I speak about it.
Beautiful sculptures, shrines, and chapels make this graveyard one of its kind. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one out. Simply put on your list of the things to do in Lviv when you start planning your trip here.
- Opening Hours: Every day 9 a.m – 6 p.m
- Entrance Fee: Adults 30 UAH;
Admire some of the most beautiful churches
Lviv is home to beautiful churches and cathedrals worth checking out. For example, the Dominican Church located in the old town, near Rynok Square. Originally, the church was a Roman Catholic Church, but today it’s Greek Catholic Church. It’s absolutely stunning from the inside.
St. George’s Cathedral is another one worth visiting. This baroque-rococo cathedral built between 1744-60, sits on a hill and overlooks the city. From here, you can enjoy the awesome views of the city.
Have an alternative tour of Lviv
Lviv has a whole underground city underneath its main landmarks. Unfortunately, you need to take a guided tour as you are not allowed to wander there on your own. This walking tour lasts for 2:30h and tells spooky stories of the city’s history.
Play with abandoned toys
One of the cool things to do in Lviv is to visit its typical urban courtyard – home to unusual exhibits – lost or forgotten toys!
It all started when one resident found two toys nearby and decided to place them under a roof in the shared courtyard, in case the owner came back to look for them. The owner never came, and the place turned into a ‘memorial’ of lost toys.
Over the years, the residents of the surrounding buildings have brought hundreds of plush animals to the yard, making it one of the unique places to visit in Lviv. Aside from toys, you’ll find musical instruments, bicycles, dolls and many more.
- Address: 5 Staryi Rynok Square, Lviv, Ukraine
Play a giant crossword
Do you love crossword puzzles? If you do, there’s a giant one located at 82 Stryiska St. And even if you are not, it’s still worth visiting. The crossword has 19 squares across and 35 squares high, standing over 30m in height.
What makes this place even cooler is that about 80 clues are hidden throughout Lviv’s major sights. It’s like a scavenger hunt, where you need to visit various historical monuments, parks, or museums before heading to the crossword puzzle to solve it.
And to tease crossword puzzle lovers, even more, the answers are displayed inside the squares, but are only visible when it’s lit up at night! Happy hunting!
Walk down the Shevchenko Avenue
One of the most beautiful streets of Lviv where you can explore European architectural gems. And when you feel tired from all the walking, sit down at one of the branches and relax.
Ride the tram
I don’t walk everywhere. When necessary I do take public transport; it’s part of the authentic experience. I love observing other areas of the city from the window.
Best Places to Eat in Lviv: Restaurant Kriyvka
This one is my favorite and one of the most memorable experiences through my travels. It turns out Lviv has a unique dining scene. It’s a secret place with no signs directing you to the venue. You need to know the place, or as I did, accidentally stumble upon it without even realizing it. And to top the experience off, you need a password to get in. How cool is that?!
Once knocked on a huge, heavy wooden door, a guy in an army costume cracks the door and shouts: “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine). You have to say “Heroyam Slava” (Glory to Heroes) and drink the shot of mead he offers.
Kriyvka is a themed restaurant designed as an underground bunker, and the food is served in metal army plates.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Ukraine travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
– Book affordable flights on Kiwi.com, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
– Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Ukraine, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
– Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda, or find a cool apartment on Airbnb and get $34 off on your first stay (my invite expires in 30 days after you sign up!
– Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
– Pack your copy of Lonely Planet’s Ukraine travel guide.
– Book in advance some of the best city walks, cultural experiences, and day tours to maximize your stay and experience here