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LVIV TRAVEL ADVICE Watch Our Videos of Lviv

Lviv (Lvov) is the largest city in Western Ukraine. With a population of 725,000 people, many claim it as the prettiest city in Ukraine.

In fact, Lviv was recently voted unanimously as the number 1 destination in the Top 10 European Cities to See Now list by the members of the VirtualTourist travel website.

Tourism continues to flourish due to Lviv's proximity to Western Europe and the positive exposure that Lviv received during the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. The city is just 70 km from the Polish border and 160 km from the Carpathian mountains.

Scroll down for more on Lviv

Rynok (Market) Square in Old Town

Rynok (Market) Square in Old Town

The Lviv Museum of Folk Architecture is a popular attraction regardless of weather

The Lviv outdoor Museum of Folk Architecture & Culture is a popular tour attraction regardless of weather

Lviv (Lvov) Tourist Information

"Things to Do"/Sightseeing Attractions in Lviv

Lviv is considered the most majestic of the Ukrainian cities.

Our videos will highlight Lviv in colorful fashion -- it's known for its Rynok Square (market square), its pretty hills including High Castle Hill ("Vysokyi zamok"), and the famous Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre.

However, for those visiting for more than a day or two, numerous museums aare worthy of your time and attention, including the Arsenal Museum, the Lviv History Museum, Andrei Sheptytsky National Museum of Lviv, and the Lviv Art Gallery.

Lviv Nightlife & Entertainment

We found Lviv nightlife to be one of the best in Ukraine, in many ways better than Kiev and with more variety than Odessa.

The diversity of the nightclubs in Lviv really help visitors find something to their liking – some clubs cater specially to those under the age of 23 and others are much more mainstreamed.

Lviv is the beer capital of Ukraine with several breweries and numerous outdoor beer gardens in the city. We even dedicated a video just to the brew-houses and beer gardens of Lviv.

Admittedly, we found fewer karaoke clubs in Lviv than most other Ukrainian cities but we do highlights some in our live music video.

Partiers will enjoy our nightlife videos highlighting everyplace from hangouts like Kumpel and Diana to full-fledged nightclubs such as Fashion Club and Metro Club.

Dining In Lviv

Trying to finalize dining ideas in Lviv? Lviv offers cheap eats for backpackers and students, as well as fantastic 5 star restaurants for those looking for romantic dining options.

Being a tourist city, many of Lviv's restaurants have outdoor terraces, especially in the old town. A helpful tip: in summer, some of the touristy restaurants can fill up quickly so we suggest making reservations or eating a bit early to beat the crowds.

Check out our videos featuring popular restaurants such as Amadeus, Panorama, Kryjivka as well as more casual places like Tex-Mex BBQ, Salo and Puzata Hata,

Cafes in Lviv

Lviv has more cafes in the city center than any other Ukrainian city. Many of the cafes in the old town have quaint outdoor seating, perfect for people watching and taking in a nice summer day.

Our VIP-Cafes video will highlight popular places like Vienna Coffee House, Strudelhaus, and Italian Yard.

Lviv also has many unusual theme places like Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture and Lviv Chocolate Manufacture. Watch it here!

Rynok (Market) Square in Old Town

Rynok (Market) Square in Old Town

The Lviv Museum of Folk Architecture is a popular attraction regardless of weather

The Lviv outdoor Museum of Folk Architecture & Culture is a popular tour attraction regardless of weather

6 Tips for a fun & worthwhile visit to Lviv

Lviv is a wonderful city, so much so, that we continue to plan our Ukraine trips around when we want to visit Lviv.

However, Lviv is quite different than most of the other large cities in Ukraine and thus we offer these five tips to assure yourself of maximizing your visit here:

  1. Plan at least 2 FULL days in Lviv, and ideally 4 or more. Many people, especially those in Poland and Germany, consider Lviv a good option for a weekend visit. However, due to travel times to get to Lviv, including very procedural processing times at the border/customs, much of your "travel days" will not be available for any actual sightseeing.

    The variety and uniqueness of the city really justifies two full days to see the city. Even a visit to just 1 museum, 1 park, 1 cultural event, 1 café and 1 time through Rynok Square will eat more a full day. Use our videos to help organize and prioritize your visit. We found ourselves scrambling to squeeze in everything on our first visit and that was 4 days in duration.

  2. Try to learn about Lviv's unique place in history. Did you know that over the years that Lviv has been ruled by Ukrainians, Russians, Soviets, Germans, Poles, and Austrians-Hungarians?

    This history explains Lviv's unique architectural and cultural zest.

    For those wanting to learn more, the Lviv Historical Museum (located in Rynok Square), and the Arsenal Museum are great places to visit, and based on our own experience, we believe each can be done under 45 minutes each.

  3. Sip a coffee at one of Lviv's cafes.

    Lviv is the coffee and beer capital of Ukraine. And thus you can find numerous places to taste your favorite caffeinated or alcoholic drink in the city center.

    Lviv's old town area offers quaint places each with its own character. Locals and tourists alike find time in their busy schedules to gossip, flirt, educate, or debate over a cup of coffee. You should to!

    Check out our VIP-Cafes video for visuals on some of the best places in Lviv.

  4. Take in a performance at the Lviv Opera & Ballet Theatre.

    When it opened in 1900 the Lviv Opera & Ballet Theatre was considered a majestic masterpiece in all of Europe. At a minimum, stop by for some photos from the outside, and while there take a look at what performances are taking place that week. We encourage you to buy some tickets right through the front doors. See our video on our Opera House visit. We feel in love with this cultural gem!

    The Opera House website shows upcoming events here.

  5. Visit a "theme" restaurant or café. Thanks in part to the Fest! Group, Lviv offers an unbelievable collection of unique and eclectic tourist traps. (and we say that in a good way!). Where else can you visit a "coffee-mine", a "chocolate factory" and "the most expensive Galician restaurant"?

    Each of these places are brilliantly run and staffed with good service. Many such places can be found in our video on fun & casual places in Lviv.

  6. Visit Lviv's outdoor Museum of Folk Architecture & Culture

    Located just 10 minutes from the city center, you will feel like you are transported back to the late 1800s with a collection of over 100 buildings representing the old rural times of Western Ukraine. Most of the churches, schools and other buildings have been transported to this museum and reconstructed. Please note the buildings are often closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, even if the grounds themselves may be open.

Lviv (Lvov) Opera & Ballet Theatre

Lviv's famous Opera & Ballet Theatre

Lviv's  Vienna_(Wien)_Coffee_House Hotel

A popular tourist activity is to relax at a café like the Vienna Coffee House ("Wien Haus")

Lviv's Grand Hotel is a centrally located accommodation option

The Grand Hotel is one of the top hotel options in the city center

Ukraine Video Guide's General Advice for Visiting Lviv

As a reminder, utilize our custom locator maps of Lviv to see where the top restaurants, nightclubs, attractions, and hotels are located in proximity to your lodging. Zoom in, zoom out and organize your trip before arriving.

For first-timers, don't forget to view our travel tip videos to aid your with ways to save money and using phones when in Lviv.

The Lviv Railway (Train) Station

The Lviv Railway (Train) Station handles most domestic travel

Common FAQs for Lviv

Below are some of the more common Question & Answers for Lviv. Customized questions can also be directed to Ukraine Video Guide through our email and Skype Q&A services offered in our travel planning section of our website.

Q: Why do some people refer to the city as Lvov, some Lwow and others Lviv?..and others might use Lemberg or Leopolis!

A: With Lviv's ever-changing history the city is intertwined with Polish, Russian, German and Ukrainian influences, including their languages.

So a cheat-sheet summary:

  • Lviv - (Львів L'viv) – is the Ukrainian name.
  • Lwów – Is its Polish spelling.
  • Lvov - (L'vov, Львов)– is its Russian-name.
  • Lemberg – Is its German-based name. (Its name during Austro-Hungarian rule)
  • Leopolis – Is its Latin name.

Today nearly 80% of the local population speak Ukrainian, and 20% speak Russian. This is quite in contrast to 1900 where nearly 50% of the population spoke Polish, 25% spoke Yiddish and the Ukrainian language made up less than 20%.

A good commentary on Lviv versus Lvov can be found at Fodor's travel from a Lviv-born writer.

For Ukraine Video Guide, we note that most local tourist resources refer to their city at Lviv, defaulting to the Ukrainian spelling. With its deep nationalist tradition and majority of the population speaking Ukrainian, we also adopt Lviv as the spelling and pronunciation for our site.

Q: What are the best ways to arrive to the city?

A: With its proximity to the Polish border, many central and western Europeans drive to Lviv. Border crossing can be slow and with recent events in 2014, do not expect a quick crossing.

Trains from Poland had a bad reputation of delayed crossings as well.

For those trying to go from Odessa to Lviv, good luck...Just kidding – both the flights and busses typically require going through Kiev. On bus, this can be a 20 hour journey. A couple trains run each day between Odessa and Lviv. We took the overnight train once, leaving Lviv at 8 pm and arriving in Odessa around 6 am. Make sure to insist on first class cabin if you take the train.

Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport was remodeled for the 2012 Euro tournament. Unfortunately, only a few cities make daily flights to Lviv – those typically are from Kiev, Warsaw, Moscow, Istanbul, Venice and Vienna.

Although Lviv is a bit more challenging to get to than some cities in Ukraine, our advice is to definitely find a way to get to Lviv – the city is well worth the extra effort to get here!

Some tourists will include Lviv in a trip with Kiev. From Kiev there are two speed trains running daily which take about 6 hours, and there is one bus a day running from Kiev's Moscow Square Bus Terminal that takes about 8 hours.

Q: If I only had 1 free day in Lviv, what are the best places to check out?

A: The Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Rynok Square are the two must sees for any visitor to Lviv.

Each traveler has unique tastes, so our answers may not be universally accepted, but other favorite stops include Shevchenko Monument near Vienna Coffeehouse on Prospect Svobody, the Arsenal Museum, and High Castle Hill.

For us, some of the hidden gems that we recommend that you should squeeze into your itinerary include Pinzel Museum, Potocki Palace and a stop at Strudelhaus for some delicious strudel!.

The Museum of Folk Architecture is one of our favorite spots but you may not have time to see it if just in the city for one day.

But is 1 or 2 days really enough for Lviv? For us it certainly isn't!!

Q: When is the best time of year to visit Lviv?

A: Our first visit to Lviv was in the midst of a blizzard! It was early March and two unexpected storms hit Western Ukraine that week. Regardless we still fell in love with the city! For those visiting Ukraine in the winter, there are a few ski resorts down by the Carpathian mountains including Bukovel, which is Ukraine's largest ski area.

However, the majority of visitors prefer Lviv in the warmer months and for good reason...Lviv comes alive in the summer with their outdoor cafes, beer gardens and parks.

The end of May and late September may see slightly less competition for lodging. We loved our last visit in September to Lviv, including seeing the colors in the trees.

Popular events to consider planning trips around include Fashion Week (usually in April), Jazz Fest (June), Coffee Fest (September) and Christmas (Jan 10).

Q: Are there any excursions worth considering just outside of Lviv?

A: The closest "excursion" from the old town of Lviv is the Lviv Museum of Folk Architecture and Culture located just 10 minutes east of the downtown by taxi. For us, the outdoor museum is a can't miss. Check out our video in our "Things to do" category.

Several tour companies offer 1 day tours of the region to some of the more popular castles. We have not yet had a chance to visit any of them yet, but its on our "bucket list" for sure.

Olesko, Zhovkva-Zolkkiew and Zolochiv are the more popular of the castle sites to visit.

Plan your days accordingly, some tours only run on specific days.

The Lviv Railway (Train) Station

The Lviv Railway (Train) Station handles most domestic travel


Ukraine Video Guide offers ten unique and interesting facts about Lviv:

  1. The world's first kerosene lamp was invented in Lviv in 1853. Today you can visit Pub-Museum Gas Lamp, a restaurant-pub dedicated to kerosene lamps. No flashlights required! As the story goes, a couple of pharmacists were trying to create some moonshine alcohol. Cheers!
  2. Alcohol also made history in 1527, when part of the city was burned down in a blazing fire that totaled much of the city center. The fire apparently started at a local brewery.
  3. The historic city center of Lviv (also known as old town) was named an UNESCO world heritage site.
  4. Lviv's city center is built on top of a river! In the 1800's the Poltav river flowed right through the city centre. Along with the surround hills, the river helped protect against insurgencies. In 1900, with the city growing quickly, the Lviv Opera & Ballet Theatre was constructed on top of the river. Today you can still view the river if you visit the Left Bank restaurant located in the basement level of the Opera House.
  5. Very little is known about the city prior to 1256 – this is the date of its first mention in old medieval writings. Ironically, the oldest functioning printing press house of East Europe is in Lviv, dating back to 1585.
  6. There are approximately 275 churches in Lviv
  7. For business, Lviv has gained quite a reputation as a leading city for IT talent. Much of this can be attributed to the top-notch universities that the Soviet Union set up in Lviv to focus on engineering and technology. We personally know a graduate from the Lviv Polytechnical National School who is considered to be one of the best in his industry!
  8. In the heart of the city on Prospect Svobody you can find "the brewer statue". At 17:15 (pm) each night the clock on the barrel plays a tune. 1715 is Lviv's largest brand of beer and was named for the year that brewery was founded. Beer brewing goes back as far as 1425 in Lviv.
  9. Over its history the city has been under rule from Poland, Polish-Lithuanian, Austrian, Austro-Hungarian, German and Soviet rule. This does not include fending off attacks also from Swedes and Ottoman Turks!
  10. Lviv was named after King Daniel of Galicia's son, Lev. The name translates more or less to "Leo's city", or Leopolis. But its also noted that "Lev" in the Russian word for "Lion". So this will explain the countless statues of Lion's in the city including in front of city hall.
Lviv Nightlife Pub

Lviv has ample pubs, lounges, micro-breweries and nightclubs that attract Ukraine women and men

The Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University

Higher education options include the Lviv Danylo Hatytsky Medical University, the Polytechnical Institute and the Ivan Franko National University (pictured)

Lwow's demographic population in 1900

Lwow's Ethnic Demographics - 1900

Lvov's demographic population in 1950

Lvov's Ethnic Demographics - 1950

Lviv's demographic population in 2001

Lviv's Ethnic Demographics - 2001

Lviv History

Lviv's history has been full of twists and turns. Entire books are dedicated to its unique place in East European history.

Today, the city is on the UNESCO world heritage list and it celebrated its 750 anniversary in 2006.

Much is unknown about the early settlers in this region, but the first setttlements may date back to the 5th century.

The first written references to Lviv were found in medieval publications dated 1256. This is a common date for Lviv's official time of foundation, by King Daniel of Galicia part of the Kievian Rus empire.

As fate would have it just 5 years later, Lviv's first of many attackers would enter the city, this time being the Tatars.

Over time Lviv would see its fate change hands numerous times.

After a short rule by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1340, the Polish King Casimir III gained control of the city. The city (known by the Poles as Lwów) had gained great importance in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

However, the (Austrian) Habsburgs gained control of the city by 1772, in which they referred to the city as Lemberg. Upon the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Poland took back control.

In 1914 during World War I, the city was captured by the Russian army, but was later taken back in 1915 by Austria-Hungary. At the end of World War I, the local Ukrainian population proclaimed Lviv as the capital of the West Ukrainian People's Republic on November 1, 1918. With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian government, the Ukrainian National Council (Rada) was formed in the city, consisting of Ukrainian members of the Austrian parliament and leaders of the various Ukrainian political parties.

The proclamation of independence conflicted with the views of the Poles, who constituted a majority in the city. The large Polish community combatted a small group of Ukrainian nationalists, with the Poles taking control back as they greatly outnumbered them.

During the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 the city was attacked by the Russians. The city was defended by an equivalent of three Polish divisions aided by one Ukrainian infantry division. Despite the large Red Army infantry and aided with Red Cossacks, the Red Army eventually retreated.

Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 including the city of Lwow. The Soviet and Nazi forces divided the lands of Poland, with Lwow being absorbed into what was called the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Huge numbers of Poles and Jews were deported into the Soviet Union. In June 1941, the first day of the German occupation, part of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) declared Ukraine as an independent state. This declaration was made without any approval from the Germans. As a consequence the organizers, including Stepan Bandera, were arrested by the Nazis. Many of the Ukrainian nationalists were driven underground, where they fought against the Nazis, but continued also to fight against Poles and Soviet forces. This is where the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) gained their fame.

By 1944, the Soviet Union again gained control of the city, and became known as Lvov, its Russian name, until Ukraine gained their independence in 1991.

Today, Lviv has turned into a popular tourist city due to its incredible history, architecture, and culture. Despite its challenging past, the city has a bright future, having recently been a host city for the 2012 Euro Cup Football (Soccer) tournament and is bidding to be the host of the 2022 Winter Olympics

For those looking for more detailed accounts of Lviv's history there are numerous sources on the internet; we encourage you to read up on Wikipedia or Center of Urban History of East Central Europe

Lwow's demographic population in 1900

Lwow's Ethnic Demographics - 1900

Lvov's demographic population in 1950

Lvov's Ethnic Demographics - 1950

Lviv's demographic population in 2001

Lviv's Ethnic Demographics - 2001