For those visiting Lviv for the first time, this guide provides advice on the main city attractions, where to eat, what to see, where to go, what to bring back from Lviv, and how much a trip to Lviv costs.
We decided to spend October in Lviv in a slow-travel mode – without hurry and fuss. The city is familiar to us – I have spent a significant part of my life here, and now I come as a guest every year. I have plenty to share with you – about new places, well-forgotten old ones, routes, and the city’s main features, both for beginners and experienced travelers.
I’ve written a lot about Lviv before, but let’s consider this article the first in a series about Lviv in 2020. I’ll also update the information in previous articles about the city. Today, it’s for those who are planning their first trip to Lviv.
The answer to this question is obvious for experienced travelers. For those who are planning their first trip to Lviv, I will name the main reasons to come here for at least a weekend.
Lviv is the most European city in Ukraine in every sense, without exaggeration.
Lviv is a cultural capital with a multitude of events happening year-round, and a gastronomic capital with numerous high-quality dining establishments.
The city brews the best coffee in the country and boasts craft beer. People here love to eat well and spend their time in an entertaining manner.
There is always something happening in Lviv, so you won’t get bored.
The city center features the highest concentration of medieval architecture.
For those who haven’t traveled far from their hometown, Lviv will be a cultural shock, without exaggeration.
How to Get to Lviv
The distance from Kyiv to Lviv is 550 km.
The most popular and convenient way to get there is by train. You can reach Lviv without transfers from most major cities in Ukraine, and tickets cost $15-$20. Kyiv to Lviv on Intercity trains costs 450 UAH ($16). Where can you find a better deal?! You can buy train tickets online on the “Ukrzaliznytsia” website, and it’s better not to delay. There are many trains, and demand is high.
If you prefer driving, it’s a versatile way, especially if you want to explore the surrounding areas. Along the Lviv-Kyiv route and within a 100 km radius of Lviv, you’ll find plenty of old castles, monasteries, and natural attractions. The travel time without rushing and without violating traffic rules is about 6.5 hours from Kyiv. The road is excellent, and your car will almost fly.
When Is the Best Time to Go?
Lviv is a year-round city. We prefer Lviv in the autumn, with occasional rain, which suits the city’s atmosphere. The best month, in my opinion, is October. There are fewer tourists, the temperature is around 20°C, and accommodation prices are moderate.
The peak tourist season is the second half of December to early January and the beginning of autumn.
So, when is the best time to visit Lviv? As soon as you have some free time. A couple of days will be enough for recharging your batteries and gaining experiences.
If You’re Just Passing Through Lviv for a Few Hours
Many people stop in Lviv on their way to the Carpathian Mountains or further into Europe, making a short stop in Lviv. Where should you go in Lviv if you have just one eye and a few hours to spare? You can’t see everything in just a few hours, so start with Armenian Street, also known as “Armenka.” It offers the best coffee, the city’s best restaurants for both tourists and locals, a hipster scene, and a lot of historical heritage.
Afterward, head to the Market Square (Rynok Square) because you can’t miss it.
Now, let’s dive into more about Lviv itself. Seasoned travelers, remember – this post is for beginners, for those who are visiting Lviv for the first time. Although I doubt you’ve been everywhere even after your seventh or eighth visit to Lviv.
Where to Have Breakfast in Lviv
I won’t provide a list of Dozens of restaurants – that’s a topic for another article.
The best place for breakfast is “Bachewski Restaurant”.
The highlight of this place is its unlimited breakfasts with a glass of sparkling wine. The price is 160 UAH (about $5) per person. Considering that ” Bachewski Restaurant ” is one of Lviv’s best establishments, frequented by both locals and seasoned travelers, the price is simply laughable.
Breakfast is available from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM, and on the summer terrace, it’s available until 12:00 PM. I guarantee that it will set the mood for the whole day.
Address: 8 Shevska Street (a side street off the Market Square). It’s right in the city center.
Where to have coffee in Lviv
And again, no long list of restaurants and cafes. I recommend having a cup right after breakfast at “Bachevsky”. In my top three places: “Armenka” – the best coffee in the city in my opinion. They make it in the Eastern tradition. The coffee shop has been around for 41 years; I remember it from my student days. Try their signature liqueur and delicate pastries along with your coffee. Address: Armeniska Street, 19 “Dzyha” – another one of Lviv’s oldest coffee shops. Try their signature “Coffee with a Twist.” Besides coffee, there’s an art exhibition, and there’s no charge to view it. Address: Armeniska Street, 35 “Svit Kavy” – many believe they brew the best coffee here. I won’t argue with that. The coffee is on par with the places mentioned above. Address: Katedralna Street, 6 (next to the Boim Chapel)
Where to eat in Lviv
“Rebernia pid Arsenalom” – practically a cult place among tourists, especially in good weather when you can sit outside.
What to eat? Order pork ribs and “Pravda” beer. In the summer and on weekends, there’s always a line.
Address: Podvalna Street, 5
Restaurant “Kumpel” – a very tasty place among the many cool Lviv establishments.
It can be challenging to get in on weekends and in the evenings. Prices are reasonable.
Address: Mytna Square, 6
“Mons Pius” – very delicious place; if the weather allows, sit in the cozy inner courtyard, a famous place near the Armenian Church. It’s a delight both gastronomically and visually. Prices are slightly higher than at Kumpel, but not by much.
Address: Lesi Ukranki Street, 14 (Armenian courtyard)
Where to have beer in Lviv
Lviv has strong beer traditions; beer is brewed in all the well-known Lviv restaurants and even in Lviv Brewery itself. They serve a full menu with beer to choose from and enjoy.
I recommend: Where to have beer in Lviv – top 10 pubs
Among the beer and gastronomic places, we like the aforementioned “Mons Pius – meat and beer.”
A new place on Lviv’s gastronomic map is the gastro pub Craft & Kumpel on Market Square, 18.
The atmosphere, food, beer selection, and other drinks leave no room for competition.
“Pravda” on Market Square (Rynok Square) is popular among tourists and I can recommend it – you can taste some local dark beer with a view of the Town Hall from the second floor.
Where to stay in Lviv
There are no tricks here. Lviv is primarily known for its old town. Choose accommodation in the city center – you’ll save time and enjoy the interiors and atmosphere. I recommend: Lviv on your own – where to stay for the weekend. Best locations:
Rynok Square, where you’ll find mostly budget accommodations for budget travelers.
Kopernika Street and Doroshenka Street – quieter areas just steps away from the central avenue, with plenty of affordable dining options.
The area near the High Castle (Podzamche), the old part of the city, within a 20-minute walk to Rynok Square, cheaper with more local charm and fewer tourists.
Any street within the old city – choose based on price and quality.
Where to find hotels or apartments in Lviv
Booking.com – Lviv is an excellent choice for any budget.
What to see in Lviv
I’ve selected only the coolest places and attractions that you must visit if you are in Lviv for the first time.
I recommend: What to do in Lviv – top 10.
Rynok Square – the most touristy place, but you can’t skip it. It’s best to see all its beauty early in the morning. By 10 am, the square is swarming with tourists. In the evenings, you’ll need to elbow your way through, even in the fall, like October. In the summer, it’s pure madness.
Italian Courtyard – a real palace with six windows overlooking Rynok Square, located at 6 Rynok Square. The number of windows is an indicator of the grandeur of those times, and you could only get six windows from the state. Inside the palace is a small wonder, a creation of Italian architects.
Lviv City Hall – the architectural landmark of Lviv, located in the center of Rynok Square. It’s more interesting from the outside than from the inside. You can climb to the top of the City Hall and get a view of the city from above. Currently, in October 2020, it is closed to visitors.
Armenian Church – an ancient cathedral with a rich history. The complex includes the Armenian courtyard, where scenes from “The Three Musketeers” were filmed. Now it is one of the most photogenic and atmospheric places in the city.
Address: Virmenska Street, 7/13
Dominican Cathedral – an incredibly cool functioning church in the late Baroque style. In 2020, part of the facade is under restoration, but it hasn’t made the cathedral any less attractive. It’s a must-visit in Lviv, even if you’re only in the city for an hour.
Lviv Opera House – head back to Svoboda Avenue from Rynok Square, turn right, and walk along the pedestrian zone to the opera theater. It’s beautifully illuminated at night, and in front of the theater are fountains with lighting.
St. George’s Cathedral – the main cathedral of the Greek Catholic Church, still active like most historical sites in the city. It’s a bit further from the center. It’s a 15-minute walk from the main building of Lviv University, up to Listopadovoho Chynu Street or you can go through the park.
Address: St. George’s Square, 5
St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral – an old cathedral a bit away from the center, not far from the Main Railway Square. It’s a convenient starting point if you arrive in Lviv by train. By the way, Lviv’s train station has been beautifully renovated. It’s pleasing to the eyes and feet. You can climb to the top of St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral – the bell tower offers the best view of the city. Address: Kropyvnytskyi Square, 1
High Castle – the highest point in the city with a view of Lviv. It’s a 15-minute walk from the city center. Steps and a pedestrian path lead to the top. It’s best to go up before noon when the rising sun gently illuminates the city. However, in Lviv, sunshine is as rare as bad coffee, so the timing of the ascent doesn’t matter much.
What to bring from Lviv
An important aspect of travel is souvenirs. In the case of Lviv, besides positive emotions and pleasant memories, good gifts for yourself and friends include:
Signature Lviv coffee – they not only know how to make it but also roast it properly. It’s sold everywhere, including the coffee shop on Armeniska Street.
Lviv liqueurs – there are plenty of them here, and we love Lviv’s chocolate liqueur.
Sweets – Lviv chocolate can be purchased at the Lviv Chocolate Workshop on Serbska Street (a side street off Rynok Square).
Meat delicacies – you can buy them at Galitsky or Stryisky markets in the city center; Lviv knows how to prepare various meat specialties.
Lviv souvenirs – handmade vases, cups, plates, paintings by Lviv artists. You can buy them in specialized shops in the city center.
Clothing and footwear by Ukrainian designers, for example, Fashionista store on Kopernika Street.