Didn’t Want to Leave Lviv

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Featured, Ukraine | 5 comments

The third stop on our Ukrainian adventure took us to Lviv, a city in Western Ukraine that is viewed as one of the country’s cultural centers.  Unlike in Kiev and Odessa where the predominant language is Russian, Lviv natives speak Ukrainian. Due to its Polish and Austro-Hungarian history and western location within the country, Lviv feels more like Western than Eastern Europe and is even nicknamed the “little Paris of Ukraine”.  While I wouldn’t go as far as making Paris comparisons, I did find Lviv to be a beautiful, historic, and enjoyable city.  It is an affordable gem within the oftentimes expensive Europe.

Mike and I arrived to Lviv on another overnight train and made our way on foot to our Airbnb rental apartment. The walk was actually pleasant and I could immediately see the difference in the architecture…cobblestone streets and Renaissance style buildings instead of Russian domes.  I was excited to reach our apartment which was to be located behind a church within walking distance to town.  Unfortunately, when we eventually found our place, it was the one ugly, communist looking building down a sketchy ally and was a 30 minute construction-filled walk outside of the main historical area.  I guess you can’t win them all (and I had taken such pride in finding the perfect accommodation).  

Once we actually made it to the historical center, we were pleasantly surprised.  Rynok Square, the main square, is one of the most impressive city squares that I have ever toured – tons of outdoor cafes, ornate fountains, a central clock tower, and endless history. Pretty much everything of historical significance in Lviv happened in or near Rynok Square. We visited the Tourist Information center and received a map and a few booklets with easy to follow, English, self-guided walking tours.  (This was perfect for us – free tour, good information, and a lot of walking.)  Through these walking tours, we saw all of the important historical sights and churches but there are not any “must hit” sights like in other European cities so their is no pressure to “see it all”. (Sometimes I get a bit stressed when I tour a big city because I feel like I have to see everything and I end up not being able to relax and enjoy.)  In fact, what we both really loved about Lviv was how easy it was to just get lost while exploring the narrow Old Town or spend hours at an outdoor cafe sipping coffee or a beer. There is live music everywhere and one night we ended up listening to a band’s entire two hour set while relaxing at a nearby cafe.

Our favorite thing about Lviv was just experiencing the city by strolling it’s streets.  The bar/restaurant/cafe scene is prevalent and it was a blast popping into various shops along the way.  A few surprises included the Lviv Chocolate Company (several floors of glorious treats that gives Willie Wonka a run for his money), the Lviv Coffee Shop (with dozens of different types of coffee and a perpetual line around the corner for freshly ground beans), and Kryjivka, a unique war-themed bar that actually feels like you are in a bunker and requires you to give a Russian password at the door before you are allowed entry and a complimentary shot.  We also stumbled upon a buffet style quick service restaurant that allowed us to sample a lot of authentic Ukrainian food for cheap.  Granted, I don’t really know what I was eating (nor do I know the name of the restaurant) because I don’t speak the language but I was able to order by pointing and smiling.

Overall, Lviv was a perfect stop on our Ukrainian vacation.  We loved the easy to tour Old Town, cafe culture, and tiny price tag.  In my opinion, it is worth a stop on any Eastern Europe vacation.  (And you should probably hurry up before everyone else figures it out).


  1. Kathryn,

    Some of these pictures (Rynok Square and the Live Music one) looked like Jackson Square in New Orleans. Loved the read today…..

  2. #unfortunateapartment

  3. Sounds like place anyone would like to visit, you both make it so interesting and enticing. Loved the pics! I agree about the “BOOK”. Much Love, Grama Mary

  4. Mike & Kat, I finally found your blog! What an amazing adventure you’re having. You’re doing such great work in researching and understanding the people, culture and history of each place you visit. An experience that will no doubt benefit you always. Safe travels! Leslie MacKinnon

  5. Happy Birthday Mike! Loving the updates from your journey. You have quite the book developing. Na zdorovye! (Cheers!)

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