Lviv (also spelled L'viv and Львів; Polish: Lwów, German: Lemberg, Russian: Lvov, Latin: Leopolis) is in Western Ukraine and used to be the Capital of East Galicia. The biggest city of the region and major Ukrainian cultural center. The historic city center is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The city has a multicultural history. It was founded in 1256 by King Daniel of Galicia (Ukrainian: Король Данило Галицький - Korol' Danylo Galyckyy) and fell under Polish control in the 14th century. Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Germans and others lived there together for centuries. This multicultural experience came to an end during and after WWII. Germans killed with the help of Ukrainian nationalists most of the Jews (about one third of Lviv's population at that time), and at the end and in the direct aftermath of the war the Polish population (about 50 % of the population) was first partly driven out by nationalist terror, then "repatriated" to Poland in its new borders by the Soviet government. The Polish and Jewish heritage is hardly preserved, but one can find some inscriptions on former shops in Polish, Yiddish and German.
The Polish king John II Casimir founded the Lviv University in the 17th century and Lviv (known as Lwów) was by that time one of the most important cities in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, along with Kraków, Warsaw, Gdańsk and Vilnius.
In 1772 the city was taken by the Habsburgs and in Austrian times it was known under the name of Lemberg, the capital of Galicia. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, it was returned to Poland.
As result of World War II Stalin moved the Soviet frontier westward so Lviv became part of the USSR, as Lvov (still widely frequent, even locally). With the Ukrainian independence in 1991, the name was officially changed to Lviv (Львів).
Lviv is located in the most Ukrainian region of Ukraine; as a Soviet province, most signs were put only in Ukrainian, and only a few also in Russian. Because of its Polish and Austro-Hungarian history, Lviv has a Central European flair in its architecture that makes it one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
Its tourist potential is yet undiscovered because infrastructure is rather undeveloped and most people don't speak any foreign languages except Polish and/or Russian. This is changing among young people, some of whom will speak English. Nevertheless, visiting Lviv is very rewarding for the pioneer traveller, as living is extremely cheap here and the place has a truly authentic feeling, unlike places like Kraków or Prague, which are swamped with tourists.
Lviv international airport' (IATA: LWO) is within the city border just 7 km from the beautiful downtown. Its brand-new terminal building replaced the cramped old one, which is still seen nearby (check it as well, the old building is a sublime example of Stalinist architecture, with gorgeous sculptures that are, unfortunately, visible from the airfield only).
Lviv is served via direct international routes including daily flights from Vienna (Austrian Airlines), Munich (Lufthansa), Warsaw (LOT Polish Airlines). You can also fly from Kiev (4-5 daily flights by UIA, UTair Ukraine, Dniproavia) and Moscow (1-2 flights a day by UTAir and Yamal airlines). Wizz Air is the only budget carrier flying to Lviv (Dortmund, Venice-Treviso, Milan). Other options are Istanbul by Turkish Airlines or Pegasus, and Timisoara, Romania by Carpatair. Czech Airlines operates flights to Prague during the summer months.
Taxi from the airport to town (or vice versa) should cost around 45UAH, depending on the time of day. Negotiate prior to departure. There is line 9 operated by trolleybuses from Airport to city center (1.25UAH, also available 50% discounts for students), and line 48 operated by buses (2 UAH, without discounts) from the airport. Both are frequent (every 10–15 minutes).
- There are trains coming from throughout Ukraine, including multiple daily trains (including 3-4 overnight trains) from Kyiv. The timings can be inconvenient - one night train from Kyiv gets in at 4:20am, the one back to Kiev gets there at 7am - and hotels in Kyiv really like to book that pair of trains for their clients. For better options, check the timetables at poezda.net  or poezda.org.ua  and buy the ticket at any train station in Ukraine.
- There is a direct train from Kraków to L'viv once a day, plus one with a change. A sleeper berth is required on the train, as only sleeping cars are carried across the border to Ukraine. DO NOT pay a cash 'reservation charge' to the Ukrainian conductor on the second train. Ensure you have your reservations for the second train in your possession and fully identifiable.
- Trains from Hungary and Slovakia come through Lviv, usually on their way to Kyiv. Train-fare from both countries is approx $80 per person for a bed in a sleeping car. On the MAV website the round-trip price from Budapest is quoted at €64.40,  but, when contacting the international rail office by phone in Budapest, the one-way fare was quoted at 12,600 Ft ($75/€50), however, when purchased at Keleti train station the price was reduced to roughly 11,700 Ft ($62/€44) (1.1.09). Make sure to bring enough food and water for at least 12 hours (15 hours from Budapest).
From Przemyśl there are 2 types of buses that regularly travel to L'viv. The first is the PKS (Polish Coach Buses) and the second is private buses.
There is a daily night bus service provided by Eurobus from Kraków bus station to Lviv, departing at 21.50 from Kraków and supposed to arrive at 6.00 in Lviv (depending on delays at the border . The price is around 90 PLN (October 2011). There is also a Eurolines bus (but not every day) from Kraków, departing at 11:30 to Lviv, arriving at 21:10 . This bus continues onwards to Kiev to arrive at around 6:00 the next morning. The price to Lviv is around 75 PLN and discounts (ISIC etc.) apply(October 2011). The bus from Brest (Belarus) to Lviv departs every day on 08.45 AM from platform 7 and arrives in Lviv at 17.33 PM. The price is around 20 USD. Most of international buses arrive at Stryisky bus station, on the outskirts of Lviv. To get to the centre you take trolleybus 5. Ticket - 1,25 UAH (you need another one for big luggage) can be bought in a kiosk or from the driver.
From the Czech Republic
Countless buses connect Lviv directly with Prague and some other Czech cities, passing through Poland, but mostly not stopping there to take passengers. These can be best viewed using the Czech integrated timetable at http://jizdnirady.idnes.cz (English version also available and working). Advance reservation is recommended and for some buses also possible online, at the bus operator's website. Although these buses can get you from the West to Lviv far faster than trains, keep in mind they are not meant for western tourists. Instead, they are targeted primarily at Ukrainian emigrant workers earning their living in the Czech Republic. As such, brace yourself for at least 10 hours in the jolly company of drinking and smoking (!) workers returning with their hard-earned cash back home.
From Poland: take the E40, this will end at the city center. Keep in mind that all formalities at the border take from one hour upwards. There will be a long line for trucks, which you can pass if you travel by car. Don't expect the border police to treat you respectfully, or speak any language other than Ukrainian, Polish or Russian. In fact, expect the very opposite regarding both.
Ukrainian roads are bad, and Ukrainian drivers have an aggressive driving style. When you drive into Lviv, make sure you have a good map because getting lost in this town is very easy.
Pay close attention to speed limits (which are often badly marked, with signs far off the road, covered with branches etc.), but the speeding fines are usually low if nothing else is wrong with your car. In towns, the speed limit is usually 60 km/h (40 mph). Speed limits on "nationals" (single carriageway countryside roads) is 90 km/h (55 mph). The poor average quality of the roads already acts as a speed checker. Speed limits on highways (motorways) is 110–120 km/h (75 mph).
It is also illegal to drive in the city center (including Prospekt Svobody) on Sundays and Holidays. This is signposted in Cyrillic only, and there is always some police present to catch some unsuspecting foreigners, so keep this in mind.
Be aware that corruption is widespread among Ukrainian police. When you are stopped for speeding or other violations, officers might aggressively try and extract ridiculous sums of money from you (€100 and up), offering "reductions" if you pay on the spot (the proposed alternative being some unpleasant and more expensive way, all made up).
The highest actual legal fine in the Ukraine is the equivalent of about $200. But the fine should be paid in the bank, not directly to police officer! So if you're asked for fine demand a written ticket for you to pay later instead. Don't let them intimidate you. It's very useful to have an embassy phone number handy for these cases (you should NOT under any circumstances travel around Ukraine without your embassy/consulate number handy anyway). If you mention your embassy/consulate, they'll let you off the hook quicker than you know it. At any rate, write down the officers' badge numbers, rank, plate number of the police car, and notify the nearest embassy/consulate in detail, to help fight these corrupt practices.
Take a train to Przemyśl near the Polish-Ukrainian border. From Kraków it costs about ~50 PLN and takes between 4 and 5 hours. From Przemyśl you take a bus to Medyka at the border ('granica' in Polish) for 2 zł. Private buses are found just outside of the train station on the opposite side from the main bus station. They head to the border when they are full, which can take a while at night and travel to the border is about 15 minutes (about 10 km of rough road). The mini-buses drop you off at the foot way to the pedestrian crossing Medyka-Shehyni.
- PEDESTRIAN CROSSING: Queues at the border crossings can be unpredictable and hellish. If you do encounter a queue and are in a hurry, get the guards attention, explain your situation and they will more than likely let you go through immediately. Be polite! 30 minutes from Medyka to Sheheni (Шегині) on foot is now the norm.
- There are lots of "ants" - these are people who cross into Poland with relatively cheap Ukrainian cigarettes and spirits, then buy meats and cheeses at low EU prices and return to Ukraine to sell them for a profit. Everyone has to pass through a turnstile and the bulky bags and suitcases they carry are too big to fit. There is a huge log jam of people trying to fit their bags through that turnstile and ugly words are common. Tourists with backpacks are sometimes let through by the "ants".
On the Ukraine side private buses can be taken to Lviv; these take app. 1.5 hours, and can be found at the bus station around 300 meters up the main road, past all the shops, on the first major road to your left. Right outside the border you will probably meet touts who will tell you that they have best prices and invite to their cars and buses, this option may be faster but is definitely more expensive. The price for a bus from the station is 24.5 UAH (April 2013); the buses are often packed and can be uncomfortable at times. Be aware that there are NO ATMs in Sheheni, period. However, there are lots of money changers, so make sure you bring enough currency of some sort to pay for your ticket to L'viv.The bus from Shehyni will most likely arrive next to the main train station in Lviv.
The total cost for this route is approximately €15 and maybe less if you have a student card. It is around half the price of the next cheapest option. Whether to take it depends on your stress tolerance, Polish language skills and ability to push and shove at the border, but it's an adventure!
Smuggling is a fact of life between Eastern Poland and Western Ukraine. The harsh economic situation in these two respective regions forces many into the trade, involving people of all ages. You may witness individuals unscrewing panels and pulling out plastic wrapped cigarette cartons, and may even be asked to politely move to enable access to a hidden cavity. Similarly if you decide to use the toilet you may find it blocked with cartons of cigarettes and your seat may feel uncomfortable if someone's removed the soft filling and replaced it with cigarettes. The key here is to exercise your common sense. These people are only doing their 'job' and thus should be treated with respect. There is no need for alarm! In fact it can be fascinating watching just how many cigarettes a single train carriage can hold and later watching as everything is removed on arrival in the EU. Border guards may ask you if anyone has been smuggling but the best response is to claim that you were sleeping or pretend not to understand.
You are legally allowed to bring through the EU border 40 cigarettes (two packs) or 20 cigarillos or 10 cigars or 50g of smoking tobacco and 1 liter of spirits (above 22% alcohol) or 2 liters of alcohol (e.g. sparkling wine below 22% alcohol) and 4 liters of non-sparkling wine and 16 liters of beer. If you are below 17 years old it's half of these amounts. (source - European Commission )
Lviv has an extensive tram and mini-bus network.
- Mini-buses (2 UAH) are known as marshrutky and follow a set route, but without a fixed timetable. To indicate a desire to board, extend one arm as the marshrutka approaches; simply ask the driver to stop when you would like to get off. However some drivers can will to stop the bus for you on the nearest stop only because of fear of tickets from police.
- Trams and trolleybuses cost 1.50 UAH (tickets for students are 0.75 UAH) (June 2012). You can purchase tickets from any news kiosk or from driver in tram. Ask for a "tramvainyi bilet". Keep in mind that if you are carrying a piece of luggage larger than a backpack you will need to purchase a second ticket for it. Once inside the tram, be sure to validate your ticket(s) by punching them in one of the metal punches mounted on the walls. An inspector may come around to check your ticket - these people do not wear uniforms but flash a little badge. It's interesting to note that mostly all of the drivers of the trams and ticket checkers are women.
- Taxis are available throughout the city, and the city center is swarming with them at night. When they aren't equipped with a meter you must agree on a price with the driver ahead of time. It's usually cheaper when taxi do have meter, but even then they may not to turn it on for you. It is usually cheaper to order a taxi by phone than catch a taxi on the street.
Churches and Synagogues
- Latin Cathedral (Roman Catholic) in the south western corner of Market Square.
- St. George's Cathedral (Greek Catholic) baroque-rococo cathedral located an the hill
- Armenian Cathedral (Armenian Apostolic) built between 1363 and 1370, later remodeled few times. Very interesting interior.
- Dormition Cathedral (Orthodox) built between 16th and 17th century i Renaissance style. Next to it stands 65 meter high Korniakt Tower.
- Dominican Church Impressive Baroque temple built for Dominicans in 18th century. Resembles the church of St. Charles Borromeus in Vienna with its concave façade and huge elliptical dome. After WW2 the building served as a warehouse and later Museum of Religion and Atheism, now it is a Greek Catholic parish church.
- The Bernardine Church and Monastery
- Jesuit Church based on Rome's Il Gesu church.
- Chapel of the Boim family a mannerist architecture marvel all made of black stone located next to the Latin Cathedral.
- Russian Orthodox Cathedral
- Tsori Gilod Synagogue, vul. Bratya Mikhnovskie, built in 1925, during the German occupation a warehouse, returned to the Jewish community in 1989, then renovated.
- Golden Rose Synagogue was the oldest synagogue in Ukraine. In 1941 the Nazi invaders destroyed the building together with other synagogues. Today one can visit the foundations and one remained wall, also there is a commemorative plaque. All this is hidden behind a high fence and can be approached only when one crosses the terrace of a restaurant that claims to be Jewish, but is not - the "Golden Rose". It looks as if the restaurant's outer part were build especially to hide the historical Jewish place as well as the commemoration site.
- Lychakivsky Tsvyntar (Lychakiv Cemetery). There are about four hundred thousand people buried here, including Ukrainian heroes such as Ivan Franko; the park is enormous, and very pleasant to wander around on a network of variously-maintained paths. At the back of the cemetery are a moving series of recently-built war memorials, in the same style as Western World War One cemeteries, to the dead of the 1918-1921 Ukrainian civil wars.
- Union of Lublin mound, High Castle (Vysokyi zamok); The place where a historic castle used to stand and now stands a mound built in 1869 to commemorate 300th anniversary of Lublin Union. On the mound there is an observation platform with nice views of the city and another sandy mound, which you can also climb, and which has a cross devoted to the dead of the war in Afghanistan. From the mound you can walk around the whole central hill-park of the town.
- Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok). You can climb the tower of the town hall: go in via the main entrance, wander about until you see a sign 'вхид на вежу', then follow those signs up 103 steps to a ticket-office and up 305 more steps to the top of the tower. There's a great view of the Old Town, and this is clearly one of the romantic spots of the city: I saw a marriage-proposal there. (The tower is closed until December 2013.)
- Shevchenko Monument, donated by members of the Argentine Ukrainian diaspora, and absolutely unmistakable in the centre of town; a sculpture of the writer, and a wave-shaped monument with Ukrainian folk-art motifs rising to his side. Sometimes seems to be used by locals as a climbing-wall, but I would advise foreigners against this.
- Lviv Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre, 28 Svobody ave.
- Lviv Municipal Theatre, 36 Horodotska str.
- Lviv University (named after Ivan Franko)
- Lviv National Polytechnic University
- Lviv Rail Terminal built in 1904 Art Nouveau wonder.
- Pharmacy Museum, ☎ (032) 272-00-41. "Under the Black Eagle" 2 Drukarska str. The oldest pharmacy in Lviv, opened in 1735 (Sadly the custodian can be extremely impolite, including banging the door behind you.) Admission 8 UAH.
- Museum of the History of Religion, ☎ (032) 272-91-00. 1 Musejna sq., An interesting museum documenting both Jewish and Christian history of Lviv in one of Lviv's biggest and most beautiful churches. Tickets: 10 UAH normal, 5 UAH discount.
- The L'viv Art Gallery, 3 Stefanyka st. Divided into several departments the central of which is on display at Potoskiy Palace showing mainly Renaissance and Baroque European art (for Ukrainian art see National Museum). Nearby is the Palace of Arts where changing contemporary art exhibitions take place. Other interesting branches of the Lviv Gallery are the Museum of Ancient Books, Museum of Relics and Pinsel Museum (dedicated to the local Baroque wood carver).
- The Lviv Historical Museum divided into many departments most of which are in the old town displaying archeology, history from medieval times up to the Ukrainian struggle for nationalism, as well as jewellery and armoury.
- Museum of Ethnography and Arts and Crafts, 15 Svobody ave. Tickets: 5 UAH normal, 2 UAH discount.
- The Lviv National Museum, 20 Svobody ave. The main building displays Ukrainian Art from the Middle Ages up to the 19th Century. Note that the Lviv Art Gallery mainly shows foreign art in its art collections so if you are more interested in Ukrainian art you should definitely visit this museum. Admission: 1 -10 UAH.
- Museum of National Folk Architecture and Rural Life «Shevchenkivsky Hay». 1 Chernecha Gora str. On the central hill about a half-hour walk from the Lychakivskiy Cemetery. This is a collection of wooden buildings from all over Western Ukraine, dismantled and reassembled here; the multi-tiered churches are the most spectacular buildings, and are all still working churches. Tickets: 10 UAH normal, 5 UAH discount.
- Beer Brewing Museum. Renovated in 2009. Tickets: 15 UAH normal, 10 UAH discount.
- Natural History Museum
- The History of Printing Museum
- Museum of Meteorology
- Panchyshyn Museum of the History of Medicine
- Museum of Embroidered Icons
- Arsenal Museum Weapons and armour from medieval times to the beginning of 20th century. The museum is located in the oldest (16th century) of three historic arsenal buildings in Lviv.
- Visit the Bania, a Russian style sauna for men and women (non-communal). There are a few located in L'viv and well worth the trip. The experience can be mildly confronting for the prudish Westerner, as all activities are conducted in the nude but don't worry, it is a highly civilized environment.
- S. Krushelnytska Opera House, Svobody Ave. In the very heart of L'viv the historic opera house offers regular performances of various operas and ballets. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre cashier ("Kaca") ranging in price from 50UAH to 80UAH. Even if opera and ballet is not your cup of tea, a night at the theatre is worthwhile, at the very least, to enjoy this spectacular venue.
- Gutsulsky Dvir (Lviv restaurant). (36 Schyretska str.) is one of the most picturesque ethnic restaurants in the city. Ukrainian ethnic cuisine, great atmosphere of wooden restaurant with lots of trees around is a must to visit while staying in L'viv.
For more information on currency see here
Both ATMs (known as "bankomats") and currency exchanges ("obmin valyuti") are ubiquitous throughout Lviv, particularly in the city center. Most, but not all, ATMs will accept Visa and MasterCard. Currency exchanges will often only accept foreign currency in pristine condition. Travellers' checks are not very useful in Lviv; however, there are still a few hotels and banks that will cash them for you.
Credit cards are now widely accepted in many of the city center restaurants, cafes, hotels and some hostels. Also at the main bus station and long distance train station. Surprisingly, lots of small grocery stores now also accept plastic.
You should be aware that attempting to pay for something inexpensive with a large denomination (50 UAH and above) will often at the very least annoy the shopkeeper; salespeople may even refuse to sell to you if you do not have any smaller denominations. Grocery stores and other high-volume shops are an exception to this rule.
Life in Lviv is very cheap. It's not difficult to find a place where you can have a full meal for €2. The challenge is rather ordering if you don't speak Ukrainian.
- Acropolis Tavern, just off Rynok Square. A Greek casual diner that has authentic dishes such as Gyros and Souvlaki for $3. The staff speak English and may well start dancing, in traditional style, given any amount of encouragement.
- Idalnia #1 Gurman (Gourmet), on Doroshenka 7. They are cooking only from Ukrainian products.
- Puzata Hata. On Sichovykh Striltsiv. Lviv branch of this restaurant chain offers hearty Ukrainian smörgåsbord. Cafeteria style eatery has a selection of traditional Ukrainian food mixed with some other food found around the area.
- Bäckerei Videnski bulochky (бекерай-кав'ярня Віденські Булочки), Katedralna Sqr. 3, ☎ . 08:00-22:00, Sat 08:00-23:00. Traditional Austrian cafe-bakery. Freshly baked French croissants, real German pretzel, Italian focaccia and ciabatta. Full menu featuring a selection of hot sandwich-baguettes, salads and soups.
- Cafe 1, sq. Katedralna 5, just off Rynok Square, in a sort of alley way, adjacent to the cathedral. A very cosy cafe / casual dining restaurant that offers a varied range of modern cuisine. It has a warm atmosphere with non-smoking and smoking areas plus friendly and thoughtful staff.
- Kavkaz (or Kaukaz) serves up Georgian cuisine on Zelena street. Try harcho soup and fig salad.
- Kupol, ☎ . Chaikovskogo 37. Has a touch of understated Habsburg grandeur. Homestyle quality.
- Museum of Ideas (Музей Ідей), Valova 18A, a kind of cultural centre located in Bernardine monastery cellars, with hand-made glass souvenirs gallery, exhibition space, sculptures and movie screenings. There's a good small restaurant there and in summer also a beer garden.
- New York Street Pizza. 5, Sichovys Striltciv Str, 51, Volodymyra Velykogo Str, 37, Patona Str, 4, Stefanyka Str, 36, Generala Chuprynky Str, 5, Tershakovtciv Str, 59, Grushevskogo Str, 1, Valova Str, 51, Chervonoi Kalyny pr, 2, Sv. Teodora pl. Tasty pizza, soups, salads, cakes and beverages.
- Pid Kelpsydroyu (Under Clepsydra). Vir’menska 35. In front of the entrance to the Dzyga Cultural Centre, you'll see about 15 large tables with patio umbrellas crowding the street. You'll also see the city's sophisticated set sipping Under Clepsydra's famous forest tea. Under Clepsydra has three sections. The indoor café/restaurant inspired by the Parisian brasseries of the left bank has two sections, smoking and non-smoking, that share a soundtrack of classic French jazz and folk music. Upstairs you’ll find the more popular late-night section of the establishment. But what really sets it apart from other Lviv hangouts is the menu. Vegetarian restaurants in Lviv are, well, non-existent, but Under Clepsydra you’ll find a collection of fresh, meat-free dishes made with local ingredients. Potato and mushroom crepes are less than €2, and fresh soups and salads are anywhere between €1-2. Menus are in English. The carnivorous set has plenty of options as well. Few dishes run more than €5, and entrees include duck, pork, grilled chicken, smoked salmon.
- Tsukerna, pr. Staroevraiski. Viennese-style cake and coffee.
- Amadeus has a broad European and Ukrainian menu in a 5 star environment with 4 star food and 2.5 star prices.
- Viden’ska Kavyarnia (Viennese Café), on the Svobody Prospect right side if you are facing the Opera House. This place has menus in English and English-speaking staff. A main course is around €3-4, a three-course meal €6-7. The Wiener Schnitzel is great, so are all the soups, the breakfasts, the potato pancakes and the Apfelstrudel.
- Veronica, on the Shevchenko Prospect is both a French style cafe (upstairs) and stylish restaurant downstairs.
- Mapa. (Map), Halyc'ka 4, a quiet café with a special atmosphere and tasty Italian coffee. There are three large rooms for visitors: a large room on the first floor, and old-style rooms in the basement.
- Rodzinka, near Saharova. It's a cafe.
- Pid Synioyu Plyashkoyu (Under the Blue Bottle), Ruska 4. Intimate, medieval.
- Hasova Lyampa (Kerosene Lamp). Virmenska 20. You’ll most likely see a man dressed in Olde Tyme regalia pacing in front of the entrance, beckoning people inside. If he’s not there another greeter awaits in the form of a metal statue sitting at a desk with a… you guessed it, lit gas lamp. Once inside you’ll find a spiral staircase ascending up three flights of dining space. Each floor is cozy, candle lit, and decorated with classic gas lamps. Gas Lamp also has one of Lviv’s best patios, in the form of their rooftop dining section. While the entrees are standard, the snacks that go with beer are real standouts. Try the seasoned croutons, chips and a variety of dipping sauces they’re the perfect accompaniment for their wide selection of cold local brews.
- House of Legends, Staroevreyska 48. A bar with small staircase connecting few floors and a roof terrace (great views!), where each room is differently designed around a theme of a Lvivian 'legend'.
- Kriyivka (Hiding Place in Ukrainian). “Slava Ukrayini” - the phrase means ‘Glory to Ukraine,’ and it’s your ticket to this underground, unmarked bar called Kryivka. When you do finally find it, state the password to a man toting a prop vintage machine gun, receive your shot of medovukha, and descend into the cozy wooden dining room you’ll be glad you took the time to find. This Ukrainian Independence themed bar is decorated with artifacts from Ukraine’s valiant struggle to stay autonomous - with guns, maps and posters lining the walls. You’ll also notice the names of dishes on the English menu harken back to a military tradition stretching back to the Austrian Empire. Culinary highlights include a half-metre long sausage, pickles soaked in honey and savory vereniky. There is also a bit of theatre during a dinner at Kryivka. If you’re lucky, a “Russian spy” may have snuck in to the restaurant and the brave staff will turn off the lights, grab a flashlight, root out this spy and serve him a healthy portion of justice. Once the intruder has been detached, celebratory live music erupts in the basement venue and locals burst into traditional songs of freedom.
- Masoch café, Serbska 7. A place where you get whipped by the bar staff. Yes, seriously.
- Robert Doms Beer House. Kleparivs'ka 18. Follow the tree lined street of Kleparivska as it winds up and down hills until you reach the easy to spot entrance of this beer hall and concert venue. It’s attached to the Lvivske Brewery. Depending on the nights festivities you may have to pay a small cover charge, but it’s well worth it, as early evening acts often include international Jazz bands, and late evening events often fall into the feverish dance music category. Descend a flight of stairs past a little merchandise stand to the cavernous first room. Sit down at a long beer garten style table and order a giant stein of the Lvivske beer. The name, Robert Doms comes from the man who founded the brewery in 1715 (also the name of their signature brew). The underground location and stone walls give Robert Doms Beer House great acoustics and an intimate feel. Or, if you’re not in the mood for music, head to the adjoining Austrian style pub room. Plush, wooden and well lit, this is a great place to watch a game of football with friends as the giant TV at the end of the room has a habit of sucking in people's attention.
- Kumpel. Vynnychenka 6. Mini-brewery and a beer restaurant on Mytna square.
- Kult. Cool underground bar.
- Pub Filharmonia above Kult, very cool underground feel.
- Franz Josef The twilight zone. 24 hour outdoor freak show. See the local intelligentsia acting rather unintelligent.
- Dublin Irish Pub. Kryva Lypa 5 in the busy courtyard just off Doroshenka St. The name is written in Cyrillic as well as Latin, so have no fears there. Dublin does a good job of not packing the tables in too tightly, you after you’ve grabbed a seat, don’t be shy to get up and wander around a little bit with a pint of any of their host of international beers in hand. If you happen to be hungry, you’ll be glad to know that the menu is in English (though the staff don’t speak English), and features many of the pub favourites you would expect at home. However, you’ll find that many of these dishes have been modified slightly as local ingredients are substituted for traditional ones. If football is your thing, Dublin Pub spares no expense. If there is a game on, anywhere in the world, chances are Dublin Pub will be showing it live. However, if your side happens to be playing at the same time as any of Ukraine’s club, or national teams you might want swallow your pride and join in, as you’re not likely to find anyone here who will permit you to change the channel.
- Korzo Irish Pub Though it may sometimes seem like it, not every bar or restaurant in Lviv has some kind of theme or hook, and Korzo Pub is one of these places. Located in the narrow Brativ Rohatinskiv street just off the main Rynok, Korzo is as close to your local pub as you’ll find in Lviv. Nothing too fancy here, just an oak bar, brass taps and well worn tables that have eavesdropped on hundreds of conversations, arguments and romantic encounters. Korzo also has a great selection of international spirits, so if you’re the kind of person who needs a shot of tequila to get the night going, this is your place. As the beer flows, you might want to try the fish soup, hearty and robust, locals say it is the perfect ballast to prevent a hangover the next morning. If quenching your thirst on a sunny afternoon of exploring is your goal, Korzo has one of Lviv’s largest patios.
The club scene in Lviv is thriving; with many options ranging from the cavernous clubs Metro and Millenium to the intimate and upmarket Zanzibar. There are usually entry charges but drink prices more than make up for this. In most clubs you are able to buy bottles of vodka for a reasonable price and simply chill at a table all evening.
- Fashion Club. Sq. Pidkovy 1. Bizarre nouveau riche.
- Club Metro (Нiчний клуб), Zelena 14, ☎ . Located on the outskirts of the centre, Metro isn’t the easiest place to spot during the day, but at night, just follow the hordes of fabulously dressed young people as they make their way there. Entrance will probably set you back about €3 and once inside the first thing you’ll see is a large disco. A raised platform in the centre of the dance floor features male and female go-go dancers (and any braves who decide to join them on stage). A bar opposite provides local beers, vodka and champagne. For a change of pace, head downstairs where you’ll find two more bars. One serves the techno and house room, the other the lounge, private rooms and the hip hop dance floor. To cool off from all of the dancing, hit the giant upstairs patio with its heat lamps during winter and umbrellas for those rainy Lviv nights.
- Millennium Club (Міленіум), Chornovola 2, ☎ . Featuring the restaurant "Tequila Bum", a casino, a state-of-the-art movie theatre, billiards and video games, it has something for everyone. As the largest disco in Western Ukraine, the entrance fee is a little steep compared to other local bars, but it rarely tops €5. Once inside, grab a table and sit back as bottles of vodka are delivered to your table or sidle up to any of four cocktail bars for a beer, mixed drink or shot. DJs from all over Eastern Europe come to Millennium to spin house, retro, electro and rock tunes. Guys should be prepared to wear dress shoes, pressed slacks and a dress shirt. Ladies, Lviv girls are some of the most stylish in the world, so dress like you mean it. You might get into the club in your street clothes - but you’ll feel out of place.
- Picasso (Пікассо), 88 Zelena St., ☎ . Picasso aims to be a relaxed alternative, it is located just up the road from Metro on Zelena St. in a large corner building. Getting in can be a little confusing. The door staff will point you to a door at the side of the building where you pay your entrance fee, usually between €3 and 5, and get a ticket. The first thing you’ll notice once inside is a giant vaulted ceiling with a ring of balconies surrounding the venue. Really, it looks more like a church than a club. At the far end is a massive stage, and below that, a roomy dance floor. Beers here run a little bit more than standard, but their selection caters to a more refined palate. The music and dress code here are also a bit more relaxed. Tunes range from disco to rock, with a little techno and house thrown in. One distinguishing feature of the music is volume; not cranked so loud you can’t hear yourself think, but not a library either. There is free coat check, and most patrons are dressed casually, which in Lviv means like models on their day off. The stellar lighting also makes this place a popular venue for concerts. As Lviv does not currently have a large music venue, many acts play Picasso if they can secure a night. The club also hosts private parties and events, so call ahead to make sure you can get in that night.
- Pozitiff, 14 Zelena St., ☎ . If you’ve been to Metro Club you may have noticed a long line of locals trying to gain access to Pozitiff. This place is not easy to get into, and there are no guarantees that your money, passport or even begging can ensure you gain entrance. It’s all the bouncers call. Your best bet is to arrive with a small group of the most attractive people you can find. At this point the door man will either let you in, or not. If he does you’ll have negotiate an entrance fee. This cover charge usually depends on how cool and attractive your group is: The better-looking, the lower the fee. Expect to pay close to €6 for entrance. As entrance is so difficult, some patrons make the most of their trial, floating through the bar mingling, chatting and flirting. Others, displaying the icy confidence that got them in in the first place simply recline in their booth and radiate cool. No matter how you choose to play this one you’ll find enough friendly professionals to chat with and if you need to check your email, the Internet café section remains operational even into the wee hours of a rocking party.
- Zanzibar. Cool, funky.
- Leroy Upmarket, mature crowd
L'viv has a variety of hotels, hostels and apartments to suit all budgets and needs. The best deals for budget travellers (2-3 people) are found with the lovely apartments for rent all over town - These can be found online (preferably in Russian) or on arrival at the train station. Expect to pay around 150-200 USD/mo. for a nice studio apartment with a kitchen, TV and a nice warm-water bathroom.
The hostel scene is quite new in L'viv so be sure to check reviews of hostels using well known booking agents and forums.
- Cats' house hostel, 20 Saksaganskoho St., apt. 4 (Second Floor) - вул. Саксаганського, 20, кв. 4, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 20 beds, 24 hour reception, English, Ukrainian, Russian speaking staff, free Wi-Fi, tea, coffee, breakfast, bed linen, towels, slippers included, washing machine, library, tourist assistance – information, maps, luggage storage. Hostel is in the old Austrian house in the middle of the city near tram and bus stop. From €6.
- Central Square Hostel, 5 Rynok Square, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12.00, check-out: 11.30. Cozy hostel located in the heart of the city - 18 beds, English, Polish, Russian speaking staff, free Wi-Fi, tourist information, free maps, coffee & tea, linens & towels included, washing machine. Also will show you the city. Bed in dorm 95 UAH, double room 350 UAH.
- Coffee Home Hostel, 1 Yavorskogo (Яворського) street, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 11AM. Located right next to main square. Chamber hostel — 20 beds, English, Spanish, Russian speaking staff, free Wi-Fi, touristic information, free maps, breakfast, coffee & tea, linens & towels included, laundry. Coffee interior style. From €8.
- Host Families Association (HOFA). Based in St. Petersburg, HOFA will find you accommodations with an English-speaking host family. From €19.
- The Georgehouse Hostel, 1 Ustyjanovycha 8 (Устияновича 8), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 11AM. 4-bed and 8-bed mixed dormitories, free wi-fi, maps, breakfast, linens & towels included, modern colourful design. Free bed on your birthday (with minimum stay two nights). From 95 UAH.
- The Kosmonaut Hostel, 4 Tomashivskoho St., apt. 5 (Second Floor) - вул. Томашівського, 4, кв. 5, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 20 beds, 24 hour reception, English speaking staff. Free Wi-Fi, tea, coffee, washing machine, rated the Best Hostel in Ukraine by Hostelworld.com 2008. For good reason too. With a central location, hot powerful showers and a friendly common room perfect for meeting other travellers, this hostel has it all. Some additional attractions like bania, AK-47 shooting trips etc. Staff are very helpful. From €7.
- Mini Hostel Lviv, Sichovyh Streltsov St., 12, Ap. 16, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 11:00. Close to the Opera House. Free wi-fi, maps, coffee, tea, and free pub crawls. Guests get discounts for stay in the Mini Hostel Kiev. From €5.
- Old Ukrainian Home Hostel, 12 Lepkogo (Лепкого) street, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 11AM. Located in the centre of the city near the Lviv National University. Chamber hostel — 20 beds, English, Spanish, Russian speaking staff, free wi-fi, touristic information, free maps, breakfast, coffee & tea, linens & towels included, laundry. Old Ukrainian interior style. One bathroom with three showers, one kitchen with some dishes. A very neat and clean place, with a cosy backpacking atmosphere to it, kept by a very friendly young staff! From €8.
- Retro Hostel Shevchenko, Shevchenka prosp. 16, ☎ . One of the biggest and most centrally located hostels. Every room has a bathroom. Privates and dorms on few floors, with outdoor common area (table tennis, billiards, barbecue available free of charge). Residents get a discount at Metro Club. From €5.50.
- Roxelana Hostel (Lviv Backpackers Roxelana), Generala Chuprenke 50/4, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 12:00. Accommodation within a majestic historical castle. This castle was once inhabited by a famous Count. We are very near to the train station. Offers discounts to nightclubs in town. Offers deals on city tours, pub crawls, gun shooting experiences and famous Russian saunas. Helpful and friendly English staff. From €7.
- Soviet Home Hostel, Drukarska 3, top floor, door code 250, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 12AM, check-out: 11AM. - 2 $ Discount for Peace Corps volunteers! Comfortable beds, hot shower, breakfast and Soviet interior. From €10.
- Hotel Dnister (Дністер), Mateyka st. 6, ☎ . $80–$260.
- Hotel George (Жорж), Pl. Mickiewicz 1, ☎ . Only some rooms have private bathrooms (from $73). $38–$121.
- Hotel NTON (Готель НТОН), Shevchenka 154b (вул.Шевченка 154б) (3 km from the downtown), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel "NTON" has been in operation since January 2001. Offers more than 70 modern comfortable rooms equipped with phones, TV-sat, showers and bathrooms, air conditioning, hairdryers, refrigerators with mini-bars. Hot & cold water is around a clock, heating is autonomous. Services include restaurant, guarded parking place, 4 conference halls, business center and free wireless Internet. The hotel transfer service brings you to the hotel and any destination point in the downtown or behind the city at any time. Moreover the hotel also has fitness complex 'Pharaoh' (offering pharaonic massage, fitness gym, solarium, sauna, Turkish bath, jacuzzi, IR-sweating). €28-€55 (breakfast included).
- Hotel Volter (Готель Волтер), Lypynskoho 60a (3 km from the downtown), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Offers 56 comfortable rooms of different categories, namely, standard, superior, semi-suite, Deluxe suite, equipped according to modern norms and standards. Includes round-the-clock hot and cold water supply, installed independent heating system, satellite television, telephone, hair-drier and mini-safe in each room. The restaurant's staff is available round-the-clock. €33-70 (breakfast included).
- Reikartz Dworzec Lviv, Gorodotskaya Street, 107, ☎ 00 38 (032) 235 0 888. It offers rooms with modern ambience, all of which have a private toilet and shower with bathtub, cable TV, Internet access, and mini-bar. Some of its amenities are fitness room/gym, a swimming pool, and a sauna. While staying here you can visit some tourist spots like Church of St. Olha and Elizabeth, Pharmacy Museum, and The High Castle Park. Best rates on official website start at €55.
- Wien Hotel (Відень Готел), Pl. Svobody 12, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $70–$140 (breakfast included).
- Lion's Castle Hotel (Готель Замок Лева), Glinka str. 7, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. $80–$160 (breakfast included).
- Park-hotel “Drevny Grad” (Древній Град), 81123, Pustomyty region, camping, 7th km of Kyiv Highway, ☎ 00-38-(032)235-10-05, fax: 00-38-032 2351011, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 50-90$ (breakfast included).
- Opera Leopolis (Готель Леополіс), Teatralna Str. 17. Prestigious Leopolis Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel in the heart of the city center.
- Grand Hotel (Гранд Готель), pl. Svobody 13, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Absolutely central - right in front of the Teras Shevchenko statue. $126–$360 (breakfast included).
- Opera Hotel (Готель Опера), Pl. Svobody 45, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $96–$336 (breakfast included).
- Citadel Inn (Citadel Inn), Hrabovskoho street 11, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The hotel is located in an ancient building of an old citadel. In the very building where the guests sleep, Germans murdered tens of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war and others during WWII. $150–$430 (breakfast included).
- Guest house Andriivskyi (Гостинний дім), . Levyts'koho street 112., ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. $150–$300 (breakfast included).
The dialing code for Lviv is +380 32(2). The telephone system was recently modified; thus, to dial 6-digit numbers, use the city prefix 322, but for 7-digit numbers, use only 32.
All calls to and from cell phones are treated as long distance calls. The telephone system was recently modified one more time, thus, you must not dial an 8 followed by the city/mobile prefix, followed by the phone number. Some frequent mobile prefixes are 050, 067, 066, 096, and 097. The main mobile operators are Kyivstar, MTS, and Life. You can buy a SIM card or a balance replenishment card at many stores throughout Lviv.
Internet cafes are plentiful. Centrally located is Chorna Medeia on Kryva Lypa.
Ukrainian cities are not dangerous, though a bit more precaution is required. Common tricks include impersonating a police officer. In doubt ask an officer or tell him you're not following him. The first thing they try is to get you out of the tourists places in to areas where they can 'acquire' a fine. Openly robbing you or pick-pocketing happens less as the risks are bigger.
It is essential to learn some Ukrainian before visiting, or at the very least, learn the Cyrillic alphabet. Everyone can also read, speak and write in Russian and aren't so prickly about it, although they'd appreciate that you learn a few basic phrases in Ukrainian as well. Learn the Cyrillic alphabet (both the Russian and Ukrainian versions) way in advance until you can write words with perfection, as many do not know the Latin alphabet. German and, especially, Polish (as Lvov used to part of Poland) is spoken well among people with mature memories of the interwar era.
People selling you tickets at the train station will most likely not speak anything other than Ukrainian or Russian and may have no patience nor sympathy for you. (Neither will the people waiting behind you in line). If you speak Polish then surviving in Lviv shouldn't be a problem, as many people understand it since it's quite close to Ukrainian. Some sales people will not know the Latin alphabet, so make sure to carry a small note with your name written in Cyrillic! Queues in Ukraine tend to be a chaotic mess, especially at stations. Assert your place with an elbow and mean stare, because everyone else will, including the fifteen babushki pushing you to the side. Make sure you get in the line for foreigners when you want to buy train tickets. No, the cashier will NOT speak English, but if you know the details of the train you want, just write them down! But if you go to a different line they'll just tell you to go to the foreigner's line, and then you will have wasted a lot of time waiting for nothing.
There are many possible day trips from Lviv. Some options include nearby monasteries Krekhiv and Univ; the beautiful Carpathian mountains and their accompanying ski resorts are also not far.
For people who want to head south to Transylvania, this is best done jumping buses to Chernivtsi (a bumpy 6,5 hrs ride, or you can take one of overnight trains). Near Chernivtsi, you can visit the lovely Kamyanets-Podilsky with its ancient castle. To Suceava, the bus takes around 4 hours with border formalities. From Suceava to Bacau and finally to Braşov, each bus will take about 4 hours on very bumpy roads.
A quick and direct way to get to Romania is to take the 601L train from Lviv to Solotvino (Transcarpathia Oblast); it departs Lviv at 20:23 and arrives in Solotvino at 9:47. Cost of ticket costs less than €10 depending on whether one chooses 2nd class "kupet" or 3rd class "platzkart". Solotvino is a very small town, and the border station (which will be on the other side of the Tisa river, or the right hand side of the train) is not too hard to locate: when exiting the train, take a left until you approach the first road. At the road, take a right, and walk about 100m before coming to a three-way intersection (there will be a monument in the middle. Take a left onto the road that heads down into the river valley, and you'll come straight to the border station. You'll be treated very professionally, and possibly with preference over the Romanian majority who cross the border to take advantage of the lower Ukrainian prices. Once you cross the border, you'll be in Sighetu Marmaţiei, a charming and secluded town, and from here one can take advantage of the direct train to Braşov/Bucharest that leaves that afternoon around 4-5ish. UPDATE: Starting December 2011 the train from Sighetu Marmatiei to Brasov / Bucharest is found under two different train numbers, but it is still a direct train - you don't have to change trains. The train leaves Sighetu Marmatiei at 17:11 (local time) and arrives to Bucharest at 09:56. You can gett off at Brasov at 04:22. For more info check the Romanian Railways official website: www.infofer.ro)