Lviv is one of the most fascinating cities in Ukraine, alongside with Kyiv and Odessa, all of which have their authentic style of architecture, awesome things travelers can see and do there, unusual restaurants, museums with rich collection of history and artworks and much more. Today we are bringing to you our guide on top 10 things to do and places to visit in Lviv. Based on travelers’ reviews and locals’ recommendations.
Lviv is thought to be one of the most European cities in Ukraine with its quirky restaurants and spectacular architecture, housing 2500 historical and architectural monuments. In fact, Lviv was included in UNESCO Heritage List in 1998 for its outstanding fusion of European artistic traditions. The first park in the country, university, post office, Ukrainian brewery, public theatre and railway were all founded in Lviv.
Another great thing for travelers about Lviv is that the city manages to be extremely tourist friendly and keep prices considerably lower than in Kyiv. This is particularly fantastic as there is a large number of interesting cafes and restaurants, museums, churches and galleries to explore.
Here we are bringing to you our top 10 things to do and places to visit in Lviv. All tested and enjoyed!
1. See a performance at Lviv Opera House
Lviv Opera House is indisputably an architectural gem of the city. It was constructed in 1901 by Z. Gorgolevsky, a famous Vienna architect, in Neo-Renaissance style. The interior design is no less impressive. The stage of Lviv Opera House is decorated with an original theatrical curtain called the Parnassus which was designed by G. Semygradsky, a famous Polish artist.
Now there are 25 operas, 15 ballet performances and 2 operettas staged here. The performances are in Ukrainian, Russian, Italian and Polish languages. If you don’t want to miss a chance to see an original performance here, you can hire a local in Lviv to buy tickets for you in advance.
When you are around, play chess with elderly people who normally gather in front of the Opera House. They tend to come here on Sundays, so make sure you engage in a fierce chess game to prove you’ve got something. ;)
Address: 28 Svobody Square, Lviv
2. Climb Lviv Town Hall and enjoy the panorama
One of the main tourist attractions in Lviv is its Town Hall and its tower, in particular. The current building dates back to the 19th century and offer an awe-inspiring panoramic view over Lviv. Back in the days locals didn’t favour this building and even called it an ‘ugly chimney’, however, today it has become one of the most important landmarks in the city.
There are over 400 steps to the roof of the Town Hall, 65 meters (213 feet) above the ground. The tower clock was installed here in 1851 by an Austrian company Wilhelm Stiehl. The legend has it that the monk responsible for ringing the clock was made redundant because of that and had a heart attack. Since then his ghost is believed to appear at the night. If you want to climb up the staircase you will be charged 5UAH (around 0.50 EUR).
Address: Rynok pl. 1, Lviv
3. Walk around the UNESCO-listed Rynok Square
Rynok Square is the heart of Lviv. It has been the vibrant centre of city life for the past five centuries drawing tourists from all around the world. The ensemble of Lviv Market Square comprises the Town Hall and 44 buildings representing different architecture and art periods, ranging from the 16th to 20th centuries.
There are also four fountains at each side of the Market Suare – Diana, Neptune, Adonise and Amphitrite. But the one which is most popular among locals is Neptune. Why? Who knows :) But the interesting thing is that they usually dress him up during the summer and major celebrations, so make sure that if you go to Lviv in the summer, you take a photo with the stylish Neptune statue.
Address: Rynok Square, Lviv
4. Get to the top of High Castle Hill
Enjoy a mesmerizing view over Lviv from High Castle Hill. There is a big question why it was called this way, though. Why? Well, first of all, there is no castle there. Another reason is that it is not that big of a hill actually – 413 meters high. Vysokyi Zamok (another name of the hill) was erected here in the 13th century by King Lev. There used to be a fortress there which used to be a residence and a prison. Now there are only a few remnants of old walls still standing on High Castle Hill.
Address: Vysokyi Zamok is located just outside Lviv city center in Vysokyi Zamok Park. There is no way to get there but on foot. However, we are sure you will enjoy the walk.
5. Visit Armenian Cathedral, the oldest church in Lviv
There are a lot of spectacular churches and cathedrals in Lviv, so make sure you visit as many as possible. The most popular ones are the Dominican Cathedral dating back to the 13th century, the Chapel of the Boim Family constructed in the 17th century, and the Latin Cathedral seen from the Town Hall Tower.
An absolute must-see place, though, is the Armenian Cathedral built in the 14th century by an Armenian merchant. It is one of the oldest and most fascinating buildings in Lviv. One of the extraordinary facets of the Armenian cathedral is the 18th century chapel carved of wood. It stands outside in the churchyard and houses an altar featuring the Passion of Christ on Calvary.
Address: 7 Virmenska street, Lviv
6. Savour the famous Lviv handmade chocolate
It quite surprising but Lviv started producing chocolate in the Medieval Times and since then managed to gain wide recognition among sweet teeth. Today Lviv Handmade Chocolate company boasts of a large variety of more than 60 types of marzipan, nut, truffle, praline, chocolate caramel and chocolate cream sweets. They also create chocolates of different shapes in unusual packages and with intriguing surprises inside.
Lviv Handmade Chocolate offices are scattered around the city, so get to the one closest to you and indulge into this chocolate heaven.
Address: 226A Kulparkivska Str., “Viktoria Gardens” mall and more places in Lviv and other Ukranian cities.
7. Drink a cup of soldered coffee in Lviv coffee mining manufacture
Lviv coffee mining manufacture belongs to !FEST chain of creative restaurants and projects with unique conceptions in the city. It’s a definite must-visit, especially, for those who fancy unusual places and authentic experiences.
Why? Well, in the basement you will find a whole coffee mine with brutal miners, special coffee elevators, railroad tracks and special trucks used to transport coffee from one part of the coffee house to the other. All visitors are given special mine helmets with lamps to be able to see in the dark. Make sure you take a sit during your exploration of the basement and order a soldered coffee. Then a brutal miner will bring it to you cooked according to a secret recipe and burn it right in front of your eyes.
Address: Lviv, 10 Rynok Square (open Mon – Thu 08:00 – 00:00 and Fri – Sun 08:00 – 02:00).
8. Slava Ukraini – Heroyam slava
The city of Lviv is sometimes claimed to have the most cafes in the world per capita. So another great authentic place to visit would be Kryjivka. Kryjivka also belong to !FEST chain of restaurants and is nowadays one of the most popular places to visit in Lviv. It was recreated in the best traditions of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army engaged in guerrilla war against the Nazis, Poles and Soviet Union.
As you try to enter the restaurant, a uniformed guard will open the door for you and say “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine). The right answer to this would be “Heroyam slava” (Glory to its heroes). As you pass this unusual face control, you will be greeted inside. The interior is very nice with all sorts of military antiques and, frankly speaking, the food is very tasty too.
Address: 14 Rynok Square, Lviv
9. Get some old books and vinyl at flea market
Right at the heart of Old Town, around the monument to Ivan Fedorov, there is a book flea market. Here you can find all sorts of unusual and antique things not only from all over the Ukraine, but the USSR too. You will be able to see such kind of gems as old books and newspapers, beautiful retro postcards, vinyl records, handmade jewellery, coins, medals and much more than that.
The atmosphere here is nice. People are chatting freely, smile to tourists and are open to bargaining ;)
Address: Pidvalna Street, Lviv
10. Listen to street artists perform
Another amazing thing about Lviv is that there are so many fantastic street performers around the city. There are a lot of different locations where you can enjoy live music, however, the most popular spots are Halytska street and Serbska street. Don’t get surprised if people join the performers and start dancing. Just join in and jam ;)
We hope that this guide will help you feel the real Lviv and make the most of your trip to this great Ukranian city. In any case, there are some fantastic local MeetnGreeters in Lviv you can always turn to to receive help with planning your trip, booking the best hotels and restaurants and much more. Wonderful travel experience to you!
Need help with choosing one? Ask our locals in Lviv