Home Posts Lviv, Ukraine – the place where you should go

Lviv, Ukraine – the place where you should go

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Coffee, chocolate, cathedrals and kerosene lamps are among the best attractions in Lviv

Every year Eastern Europe becomes more and more popular among tourists. Because of this popularity many of the nice places for tourism became crowded and noisy. In 2013 one of my favourite guidebook publishers put Lviv in its top 10 cities to visit. The overflow of tourists is already felt there, especially after the European Football Championship in Ukraine and Poland in 2012. The old town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is worth seeing every street.

Lviv - Rynok square (Market square in Lviv Ukraine) Lviv, Ukraine

Girl from Lviv selling souvenirs to tourists

Girl from Lviv selling souvenirs to tourists

The train and the hostel

They woke us up around 6AM with hot black tea in glass podstakannik. The train was approaching Lviv and the whole sleeping car perked up and started preparing for arrival after the 9-hour trip from Kiev. Our cabin was clean and neat, we travelled with two unknown ladies, who slept on the “second floor”, a total of four people in the cabin. We gathered our bedding and the steward came and took it.

Our sleeping cabin in the train from Kiev to Lviv, Ukraine

Our sleeping cabin in the train from Kiev to Lviv

Podstakannik / Подстаканник - Morning tea in the train

Morning tea in the train

We were drinking our tea and staring in the twilight. Lviv is close. Not long later we arrived. In the morning Lviv, at the train station we were looking for the tram. We knew that we had to go the St Peter Doroshenko Street, but we did not know that there was a reconstruction of the streets in the centre of the city and trams did not go there. When you do not know something, you cannot worry about it.

The tram dropped us somewhere near our place, and we somehow found our hostel. It was more luck than orientation to find it. Now is time to describe what attracts us in staying in hostels: We always choose a place to stay with rooms for two people; In the hostel you could stay in shared rooms before your check-in. This is exactly what happened to us when we arrived at 7 am. You could also stay long after official check-out if your train departs at 23h; coffee and tea often are without extra charge; you can always meet a lot of new and interesting people – this time we met Kate from Scotland and Andrey from Russia, who was visiting Europe for the first time; most important is that most of good hostels are located in the best part of downtown.


The Cathedrals

Our check-in and drinking a second cup of tea did not take long time, and in the early morning we were on our walk around the cold September morning streets. There were no people outside and the weather was really cold. In September is already cold in Ukraine. In mid-September the temperature was about 10 degrees and we were in T-shirts and summer jackets. You must wear warm clothes, even though the Ukrainian people passing around us didn’t seem to feel very cold.

I’m not sure how to explain how beautiful Lviv is. Everything in the city centre is ancient and historical. The women are beautiful, the food is delicious and the coffee is superb, I have no words to describe how good the chocolate there is. The whole old town is in UNESCO World Heritage list, as well as the St. George’s Cathedral and The High Castle Park. Up on the hill, in the old times, there was a real castle but now there you can find only a park and some ruins. The whole UNESCO area in Lviv is around 120 ha in the buffer zone of 2,441 ha. Narrow streets, ancient buildings and many churches and cathedrals. This is a common sight in the old centre. In every second building that is not a church, there is a café, an in most of the others – museums.

Let’s start with some cathedrals and churches:

Jesuit Cathedral “Sts. Peter and Paul”

Architects: the monk Sebastian Lachmius and the Italian architect, Jacopo Briano
Jesuit Cathedral “Sts. Peter and Paul”, Lviv Ukraine

Jesuit Cathedral “Sts. Peter and Paul”

Jesuit Cathedral “Sts. Peter and Paul”

Not far from our hostel we found the first big temple, the Catholic Church dedicated to “St. Peter and Paul”. During the communism and after that this temple was used (1946-2011) for storage of books and archives. Recently, in 2011 the building reopened as a church. I was impressed that people inside lit candles as in the Orthodox churches.

Jesuit Cathedral “Sts. Peter and Paul” Jesuit Cathedral “Sts. Peter and Paul”

The Latin Cathedral – The Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


On the wall of one of older cathedrals in the city is hanged a cannonball dating back to the Ottoman invasion in these lands. This is one of only two churches that were working during the Soviet times in Lviv.  

Cannonball at the The Latin Cathedral - The Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Lviv Ukraine

Dominican cathedral – now the Greek Catholic Church of the Holy Eucharist

We didn’t have enough luck to go inside. We tried a few times but they were shooting a movie there and the area was closed.

Dominican cathedral in Lviv Ukraine

The Bernardine Monastery (now the Greek Catholic Church of St. Andrew)

Architects: Paul of Rome, Swiss Ambrosius Prykhylny, Andrzej Bemer
The Bernardine Monastery in Lviv Ukraine
Catholic Church of St. Andrew in Lviv

Catholic Church of St. Andrew

Catholic Church of St. Andrew

Catholic Church of St. Andrew

Armenian Cathedral

Armenian Cathedral in Lviv

Armenian Cathedral in Lviv

Although there aren’t so many Armenians in Lviv, they have a beautiful Armenian cathedral, hidden between other old buildings around.

Only for people from Eastern Europe J

If you are from Eastern Europe you maybe the musical miniseries produced in Soviet Union “d’Artagnan and Three Musketeers”. So, all the scenes were made in Lviv and the castles around the city. And one of the scenes – the one in the beginning of the story when d’Artagnan had a duel with three others in the monastery yard was taken in the yard of the Armenian cathedral.

Armenian Cathedral

Armenian Cathedral

Armenian Cathedral Armenian Cathedral

Transfiguration church

A very beautiful church

The coffee and the Café

In the downtown of Lviv it is full of coffee houses. In Lviv you can find a lot of souvenirs related to coffee, and there is a whole museum of coffee. Just before we left we had read that in Lviv coffee had a special popularity. At first we thought that they had some ancient tradition until we asked a local girl, our tour guide. She explained that according to a legend the person that brought coffee to Europe was born in Lviv and that was the reason why coffee is so popular. But she said that the coffee museum and the whole coffee-mania are actually two or three years old. So it appears that they created their “history” to attract tourists. It appeared also that a lot of the museums and buildings have been renovated just before the European football championship.

Coffee roasting in Lviv

Coffee roasting

The coffeeThe coffee

The coffee

Тhe girl from Lviv said also that in the city they roast coffee since only two or three years ago so they’re still not very good at this. She recommended us to drink Turkish coffee in an Armenian café.

Armenian cafe and Turkish coffee on sand

Coffee on sand in Armenian cafe in Lviv

Armenian cafe

The Armenian cafe in Lviv

Even if we had a week it wouldn’t be enough to visit all interesting coffee houses. Lviv is something like a capital of cafés. When we say “coffee house” we really mean a house – a whole house turned into a café. So not only the coffee is important here. Each coffee house is unique, with its special atmosphere. Some of them have small terraces with tables and chairs, others have a whole car (Trabant-if you know what brand of cars it is) and a chimney sweep.

chimney sweep in Lviv View from the Trabant in Lviv


This is the thing you could spend all your money for. We entered the “Lviv Handmade Chocolate” and we didn’t want to go out. The narrow staircases every time took us to different floor full of chocolate delights. We drank hot chocolate and ate liquid chocolate, after that chocolate candies… Imagine that it is very cold outside and we are staying indoors and drinking wonderful hot chocolate. Er, we spent a lot of time there.


Chocolate delights in Lviv Ukraine 3

Kerosene Lamp and Polish pharmacists Ignacy Łukasiewicz and Jan Zeh

 I could name this part “What I didn’t know about Lviv”. Apart from a lot of other things, the most important is that in Lviv was invented the first kerosene lamp and the kerosene itself in 1853 by Ignacy Łukasiewicz and Jan Zeh.

More about Lviv – places to see and things to do in Lviv

Lviv from the rooftops

There are plenty of small streets and squares. The Lviv opera, all kinds of museums, the Rynok square, trams. Because of all of these it’s worth walking around this beautiful Ukrainian city. Unfortunately we hadn’t enough time to visit underground part of the city.

Opera in Lviv

Lviv opera house

Central Lviv Ukraine

Central Lviv

Lviv UkraineThe small streets of old LvivLvivRynok

Lviv Opera House

Lviv Opera House

There are wonderful stories about this city. If you walk around Rynok square you may notice that most of the buildings have only 3 windows. This is because in the times these buildings were made there was a rule imposing huge taxes on buildings with more than 3 windows. So only the rich people could afford homes with more windows.

The buildings with 3 windows around Rynok square Lviv Ukraine

The buildings with 3 windows around Rynok square

Statue of liberty in Lviv

Statue of liberty in Lviv

Lviv In Lviv there is also a Statue of Liberty, but it’s quite smaller than the real one. It is located on the top of one building. The street with many names. The street with many names - Lviv, Ukraine

Travel notes

  • The Ukrainian currency is hryvnia
  • In Lviv Ukrainians speak Ukrainian language, not like Kiev where they speak mostly Russian. If you want to speak to them in foreign language you should better speak Polish and not English.
  • You can take the train from Kiev to Lviv or use bus from Warsaw or Krakow.
  • It’s OK to exchange money (we used euro) in the local change bureaus
  • I strongly recommend the hostel we were staying at.

  • The public transport is extremely cheap.
  • There is Free Lviv Tour in English. It will be nice if you give a small tip to the guide, but it’s not obligatory
  • Visit the city during some of many different festivals. Next time I would like to go to «Have a Cup of Coffee in Lviv» festival.

If you need more proof that Lviv is worth visiting, read also the article of my fellow blogger Geri from WhenWomanTravels: The most beautiful city in Ukraine – Lviv. 


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