Lviv, Lvov, Lemberg, Lwow - Ukraine

Old Sep 26th, 2012, 09:59 PM
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Lviv, Lvov, Lemberg, Lwow - Ukraine

It is actually Lviv.

Of course, I will be biased because Lviv is the city where I was born and lived for quite some time. Years later, when I’m no longer its resident, I continue to discover something new each time I visit.

This year I visited Lviv in August, after Euro Cup 2012 fever was already gone. The festive atmosphere gained a bit serious tone – the city is preparing for the upcoming elections. While the rest of the Old Town is sipping cappuccino at the cute cafes, the center (Svoboda Avenue), covered with Ukrainian flags and public speakers, is demonstrating to the rest of the country its desire to remain Ukrainian and speak its traditional Ukrainian language (vs. Russian).

In fact, most of the events (political or social) take place in the Old Town. Lviv is divided to the New City, Old Town and a segment, often referred to as a “Sleeping Region”, which is a purely residential area, full of apartments high-rises, and far from the rest of Lviv’s world.

As a tourist, you’d want to stay in the Old Town. It’s beautiful, convenient, and walkable. Founded in the middle of the 13th century and added to the UNESCO world heritage list in late 90’s, the city is full of history. Not really sure about the quality of the museums as many historical items were sold after the collapse of the Soviet empire. Last time I checked Lviv’s museums in the Old Town was 3+ years ago and I remember not being impressed.

However, Lviv’s churches, cathedrals, and old buildings around Market Square alone can easily substitute the museums. Most remarkable places of historical importance located in the area of the Old Town include Armenian Cathedral (14th century); Latin Cathedral (15th century); The Boim's Chapel (17th century); Church of the Assumption (16th century); Church of Body of Christ of the Dominican Order (18th century); St. George Cathedral (19th century).

History is also intertwined with contemporary, creating an intricate pattern in Lviv’s artsy scene. The Opera House is outstanding not only because of its stunning building (and a famous mirror room), but also because of its classical performances. The House is pretty inactive during the summer when the traditional performers are vacationing somewhere outside Lviv, so be sure to check the schedule. Across the street, right by Zankovetska Theater there is an open-air art market, Vernisaz, where local artists sell their work. Buying art at the market is often less expensive than buying it at the local galleries. However, I highly recommend exploring both – Green Sofa Gallery (or Zelena Kanapa in Ukrainian) is my favorite.

Lviv is all about coffee and chocolate. Every café around Market Square offers different kinds of coffee and freshly baked delicious desserts. Lviv Handmade Chocolate Factory actually makes chocolate in any form and shape in front of you. You can taste it first at the café and then buy your favorite box of chocolate or coffee from the shop.

Outside of the sweets world, local cuisine is delicious as well, especially at my favorite restaurants: Panorama that sits atop of the hotel Opera and in addition to delectable food offers great views of the Old Town; Amadeus is in the square surrounded by 3 different churches has a great patio, music, and menu (fondue, risotto, local dumplings); Chorniy Kit (located on the outskirts of the Old Town in an upscale residential area); Veronika (on Shevchenko Ave); Kryjivka, a restaurant where you’ll learn a lot about Ukrainian history through a witty set of glasses; Tsukernya.

Quality of customer service is improving with every year I visit – Lviv has been under a communistic rule for 70 years where such a concept did not exist. Today, waiting personnel is trained not to bother customers and you’d have to ask for a check once you are ready to leave. Tipping is not mandatory at the restaurants, but I usually leave a few hryvnya.

The highest point in the city is Vysokiy Zamok (translates to High Castle) and a path to it runs through the streets of the Old Town. An observation area sits atop the hill and opens beautiful views of the entire city.

A few practical points:

1) Best time to visit Lviv is mid to late August when the weather is soft without too much rain.

2) You can easily stay in a hotel, hostel or rent an apartment depending on your budget. You should stay in the Old Town.

3) If you have an unlocked cell-phone, get a local SIM card as there are no contracts for the cell phone services – you pay as you go.

4) ATM machines and banks are everywhere so you can either exchange money or get it directly from your card in a local currency.

5) You can get to Lviv by train, a car, or flying – the new airport is quite nice with a free Wifi. If you are staying in Lviv only – you can walk everywhere or take a taxi – there is no need to rent a car. Note that taxis are less expensive if you book them via phone vs. catching one on the streets.

6) It is worth doing a guided walking tour of the Old Town. I actually enjoyed the stories shared by my guide.

7) When you go out – don’t forget to dress to impress – no sneakers and shorts.

8) Night life is fun – all depends on the amounts of cash you are willing to spend☺
bachity is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2012, 10:09 PM
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I loved Lviv when I was there in 2006. Glad to hear Amadeus is still there.

Can't believe you didn't mention the totally awesome cemetery, Go here for some pix:
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2012, 01:40 AM
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Thanks for the insider's view! I think I did most of those activities when I visited last summer. My favourite was probably the Boim Chapel, which I had to myself for about half an hour despite it being August. I also really loved the Armenian Cathedral.

Also good to know is you can get by in Lviv on very little money (even by Eastern Europe standards). I went over my cash withdrawal limit set by my bank and they froze my card, leaving me with only about 100 hryvnya for a few days.

I just had a look on my blog (, and I see that on one day "I managed to spend only the equivalent of about 5.50 euros, which included dining out for lunch and dinner (with a glass of wine), the phone calls to my bank in France, buying several bottles of water, and visiting a cathedral (the Armenian Cathedral, which charges an entry fee)." Not bad!
gwan is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2012, 01:48 AM
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Sorry, it seems the fee at the Armenian Cathedral would have been for taking photos, not an entry fee.
gwan is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2012, 11:34 AM
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Must put this on my list. It sounds delightful!
castlevisitor is offline  
Old Sep 28th, 2012, 10:43 AM
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Since Bachity did not mention any houses of worship aside from the beautiful old churches, may I add:

Singled out and woefully devastated by the invading Nazi hordes, the very substantial(50%+)Jewish population was almost 100% wiped out between 1941-42. Unfortunately, many Ukrainians in the region were among Hitler's hilfwiligers..."willing helpers"...

Here, I'll let Steven Spielberg's Film Archives tell you something more about that now beautiful city.

Stuart Tower
tower is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 07:16 AM
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thursdaysd - great photos! yes, Lychakivske Cemetery is beautiful!

gwan - I can't open a link to your blog - says that this post does not exist. I'd like to read it through.

tower - Darwinism prevails, I suppose.... horrible times because many and many Ukrainians died in the camps as well...
bachity is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 07:51 AM
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Sounnds wonderful, bachity. Please write how to correctly pronounce Lviv and hryvnya--thanks!
TDudette is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 08:33 AM
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This sounds like a winning vacation spot! You mentioned the food but mostly sweets and pastas/dumplings. What are the meat dishes like? Is the food similar to Poland's?

How are the prices (food and lodging)? Relatively inexpensive for Americans?

Mid to late August? What are the temps like? I prefer temps in the 60s. When I visited Poland last fall the weather was perfect - cool and dry (late Sept, early Oct).

How much time in Lviv (5 days?) and are there interesting sights to see just outside the city or should one focus solely on the city.

thursday - great photos, as always. I'll have to read the trip report at a later date when I have time.
adrienne is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 02:54 PM
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TDudette - Lviv is pronounced as it's written. You can also hear it here:

hryvnya - pronounced [ˈɦrɪu̯ɲɑ]
bachity is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 03:13 PM
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adrienne -- Ukrainian cuisine includes meats and fish. Meat can be either chicken, beaf, or pork. There is also veal and lamb - but, personally, I am not a big fan. Meat can be roasted, frilled, fried, kebobs are popular as well. In fact, in Ukraine, tradition was that men made kebobs As for fish, salmon is probably the most popular among tourists. I also like local fish. If you like spicy food - Ukraine is not the best country for that.

Food is relatively inexpensive for Americans. Lodging prices are rising every year.

Temperatures in August is in 70's. September weather is tricky - it can be rainy or sunny. Past September gets rainy and not my favorite time to visit.

I'd say 3 days in Lviv and then take side trips to the neighboring towns/places. Visit Shevchenkivskiy Gai, Truskavets, etc. You can even go the Carpathian mountains. It all depends on your preferences when you travel
bachity is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 04:38 PM
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Thanks, bachity. I do not eat spicy food so Ukranian food will be perfect for me. I will keep it in mind that August, beginning of September is the best time. I like looking at buildings when I travel rather than nature so usually stick to cities and towns.
adrienne is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 05:54 PM
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Not only the Carpathians - keep going south and you get to Odessa, and then the Crimean peninsula....
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2012, 08:24 PM
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Spent a week in Lviv and few years ago.

Loved everything in the city,

The Ivan Franko University is very nice and ornate inside.

I agree the Cemetery is a must place to see.

I climbed the City Hall Tower at Rynok Square, great views from here.

I stayed at the Grand Hotel on Svobody Avenue across from the Taras Shevschenko Monument.
Lviv is a great place.

What is the City doing with the Potocki Palace now. ?
Percy is online now  
Old Sep 30th, 2012, 03:17 PM
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thursdaysd - agree. If one has time, then visiting Crimea is a must, city of Yalta in particular. Crimea even produces its own champagne called Crimean Champagne.

Percy - love that you loved my city! City Hall Tower was temporarily closed when I was in Lviv this time, but agree that views from there are fantastic! Potocki Palace now is owned by Lviv National Art Gallery and it functions as a museum-gallery of European Art Collection dated XIV-XVIII century. (I hated when it was turned into one of the ukr.president's residencies!).

Did you visit Italian Courtyard (Italiyskiy dvorik) on Rynok Square when you were in Lviv? It's small but so cozy and beautiful - like it very much.
bachity is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2012, 11:44 AM
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Sorry, the parenthesis got stuck on the end of the address, here you go:

There are several other posts about Lviv as well.
gwan is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 11:14 AM
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Question: I am planning to go to Ukraine, the Lviv area in September. My grandparents villages are Turka, and Rohatyn. (This is the main reason of my visit). Is there a book I can get? I will probably hire a tour guide/translator as well. Thanks!
Karenchader is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 12:51 PM
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Welcome to Fodors, Karen. This is an old thread - we wouldn't be recommending Crimea right now! You will likely get more answers if you start a new thread.
thursdaysd is offline  
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