Lviv? I confess that I knew absolutely nothing about this city in the Ukraine. That’s despite the fact that it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful and oldest in all of Eastern Europe. Not to mention that it was situated on a major trading route!
After my four day visit, I can’t believe how little I knew about what has quickly become one of my favourite cities in Europe. If Budapest or Prague, are your kind of places, you’re virtually guaranteed to love Lviv. But first:
That was the first question I asked Google when I was considering a visit. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), as of Jan 10, 2016, travel is not advised to: Donetsk oblast, Lugansk oblast, or Crimea. The rest of Ukraine is considered safe. I traveled to Lviv as a solo female traveller and felt very safe during my visit. Check the website above for the most up-to-date information.
Is it The Ukraine, or Ukraine?
I had no idea. It’s a good question. Even President Obama messed it up. According to Time, Ukraine is a country,” says William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. “The Ukraine is the way the Russians referred to that part of the country during Soviet times … Now that it is a country, a nation, and a recognized state, it is just Ukraine. And it is incorrect to refer to the Ukraine, even though a lot of people do it.
10 Reasons You Will Fall in Love with Lviv, Ukraine:
The historic city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In other words, it’s gorgeous! It reminded me a bit of the Old Market Square in Poznan, Poland, which I also loved!
The architecture. Lviv is home to 50% of all architectural sites in Ukraine! It was situated on a major trading route. As a result, it attracted the best architects from all over Europe for over eight centuries! You’ll find gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classicism styles.
Lviv is a festival city. There are 50+ a year! And some sumptuous ones at that – like the Wine and Cheese Festival, or the Have a Cup of Coffee in Lviv Festival. Don’t mind if I do!
Lviv is famous for its chocolate and coffee. It was a rich history with coffee, dating back to 1683. It become a paradise for chocolate lovers in the late 18th century. As a result, there is a large cafe culture, one I thoroughly enjoyed exploring. One that really captured my heart was the Zoo Cafe, a cat cafe!
Culture. Lviv is the official cultural capital of Ukraine. It has 60 museums, and 10 theatres. The Skarbek Theatre was the third largest theatre when it opened in 1842.
Churches. There are 100 operating churches of all different denominations. That includes: including: Armenian, Orthodox, Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic, reflecting the various people brought together by the trading route. Although I’m not one to spend a huge amount of time in churches, I did enjoy popping my head in a few and comparing the different styles.
Cuisine. Within one block you’ll have a choice of Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish, Hungarian and Austrian cuisine! My favourite meal in Lviv was at Seven Piggies, a traditional Ukrainian restaurant. The food was incredible and the design reflected that of a wealthy Ukrainian family. I’ve never seen anywhere like it. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough for a traditional, authentic Ukrainian experience!
Off-the-Beaten-Path. Lviv is not a household name like Budapest or Prague, although with a few more visitors spreading the word, it could easily achieve cult status. Go now, before it becomes discovered.
Lviv is a walking city. My favourite way to experience any city is on foot. That way I can smell the aromas from coffee baristas and check out what people are eating at the city’s many outdoor cafes. I feel that you notice the little things that you would miss if you were driving.
Lviv is often referred to as the Paris of Ukraine. How can you not love a smaller scale of one of Europe’s most iconic cities?
Hotels in Lviv
I stayed at the Citadel Inn, Lviv’s only five star boutique hotel that offers one of the nicest views over the city from its panoramic restaurant. The building has a unique history. It was built as a fort in the 1850s by the Austrian government and retains much of its fortification architecture (I especially love the wide hallways), but has been upgraded with modern amenities. It was one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed in and the service was fantastic!
However, I found out approximately halfway through my stay that it had been a Nazi concentration camp during World War II and was known as the Tower of Death, where over 100,000 prisoners died.
When investors purchased the property in early 2000s to convert it into a hotel there was a lot of controversy as many people thought it should be a memorial, rather than a 5 star hotel. Had I known this prior to my visit, I personally would have chosen to stay in another hotel, but without this knowledge, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.
You can find a list of hotels in Ukraine on Booking.com, my preferred choice when booking accommodation.
Where to Eat in Lviv:
Seven Piggies. For traditional Ukrainian cuisine and an interior that’s unlike any I’ve ever seen. It was both love at first sight, followed by love at first bite for me and Seven Piggies. Address: S. Bandera St., 9
Zoo Cafe. Although there’s a cat cafe in Munich, I will never turn down the chance to cuddle with other kitties. When I’m away from home, it takes a bit of the sting away of how much I miss my own two rescue cats when I travel. Address: Kopernika St., 11
Green. Lviv’s only vegan and vegetarian restaurant. I enjoyed my lunch and even the vegetarian meatballs I had were very tasty. Address: Brativ Rohatyntsiv 5 | Behind Mitskevich’s Square.
Atlas. You can’t beat the location on Rynok Square. Each section has different decor reflecting Atlas long history. They serve Eastern European cuisine and really great coffee! Its a great spot for people watching. Address: Rynok Square, 45
Note: I flew to Lviv with flyUIA, a Ukrainian airline. My trip was made possible by Lviv Tourism, however all opinions are my own.
Source Laurel Robbins