Lviv is a very reasonably priced city for a City Break. Both the access and the prices on the ground make many people decide to spend at least a weekend in our eastern neighbors. What do you need to know before you buy hryvnias and head out?
We invite you to read, you will find here a lot of practical advice to help you prepare for your trip to Lviv.
Table of contents
Travel – how to get to Lviv?
There are many ways to get to Lviv, and it all comes down to how much you care about time and how much you care about a low price ;)
You can go by car, which, for a family of 4, can come out the most cost-effective. Uncle Google suggests that the route from the center of Poland, i.e. from Lodz, takes about 6-7 hours and is about 500 kilometers long. A one-way trip would cost us about 250 zlotys and, of course, would take longer than even those 7 hours. And even this length of the trip did not worry us, but we were concerned by the accounts of other people who crossed the border with Ukraine…. Unfortunately, you have to reckon with several hours of standing at the border! 2 hours of standing is reportedly standard. You can combine – cross the border on foot and continue catching marshrutkas to Lviv, but we didn’t want to risk it with children.
Another option is to travel by train. And this option we considered for quite a long time…. From Lodz, get to Warsaw or Koluszki, there change trains and take an overnight train to Przemysl and then to Lviv. Alternatively, get to Krakow and there change to a train to Lviv. There are quite a few options, and on top of that, they are not that expensive – one way we would pay about 220 zlotys, with the trip taking 10-13 hours.
We also looked at the bus, although without enthusiasm…. The 15-hour bus trip came out the least affordable, as we would have to pay almost 800 zloty for a one-way trip! Probably masters of bargain catching and people who are more flexible in terms of dates will find a way to get cheaper tickets ;)
In the end, we chose the plane. A flight from Warsaw to Lviv, bought two weeks before the trip, cost us PLN 1,500 round trip. We flew LOT because it worked out more favorably than on a low-cost airline ;) Our ticket did not include checked baggage, but we had as many as 4 carry-on luggage, because each child is also entitled to luggage (plus we took a stroller in addition). In the end, we managed to pack in two backpacks and two small suitcases, and we still had some free space. The flight lasted 38 minutes! Add to that the commute to Warsaw and time at the airport, but it was still the fastest and most comfortable travel option for the family. Of course, it is worth hunting for promotions and cheap tickets, then the option of a plane will come out more favorably priced.
Money and payments
Since money was already called out in the introduction to this post…. Ukraine’s currency is the hryvnia, and the current exchange rate is as follows: 1 UAH = 0.16 PLN.
In Poland, you can easily buy hryvnias in exchange offices or order online (it’s the umpteenth time we’ve ordered currency online and this option came out cheaper than in traditional exchange offices).
For this, we used a Revolut card and an mBank currency card. In general, we try to pay in most places cashless and in Lviv there was no major problem with this. In some places like stalls, small stores, entrances to some attractions only cash was accepted.
How much does it cost to stay in Lviv?
Lviv IS Cheap. I think this is the first time we can write on our blog that we were in a place where we stayed much cheaper than during a weekend in Poland or could eat a delicious dinner and breakfast much cheaper than in Lodz. And we didn’t have to look for such places for a long time at all :)
Accommodation in Lviv
We spent the night in a hostel in the very center of Lviv – click to our accommodation. Overnight accommodation cost us £760 for 3 nights. It may not sound super cheap, but we weren’t looking for budget accommodation either. It was to be in the center, in good conditions, and for this price in the center of Krakow or Wroclaw we would not have such accommodation.
And the conditions were pretty cool! :) Of course, we had a room with a bathroom, which can easily sleep 4 adults. There was a well-equipped kitchen and a seating area.
The only major drawback is the heating – in the city it is only turned on in mid-October! We were fortunately given an extra heater at the hostel, which warmed us as such when it was only a few degrees outside.
Restaurants and cafes in Lviv
You can eat cheaply and deliciously in Lviv. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, ranging from cheap canteens to themed restaurants and more upscale ones.
Going to Lviv, we had a few places marked on the map where we wanted to try local specialties, but in practice we didn’t plan each day in terms of food and often stopped for food or coffee simply in the immediate area.
We have already written about several restaurants in an earlier post, where you will also find a map with marked restaurants in Lviv. Here we will focus on prices.
Breakfast – the buffet breakfast at Baczewski’s, recommended by many people, costs about PLN 25 per person! It’s really not much looking at the quality of the products, the beautiful interiors and the live music. Served breakfasts, in a more modern style, cost about 15-20 zlotys to that coffee/tea for 5-10 zlotys.
You can also have breakfast on a more budget, such as eating warm croissants at Lviv Croissants. Sandwiches cost about 10 zl, coffee is for 4-5 zl.
Lunch or dinner and the choice of restaurant is a higher school of travel ;) Using the example of the restaurants we have been to, here are sample prices: beef burger – 20 zlotys, ribs at a popular restaurant near the Arsenal – 25 zlotys, steak – 47 zlotys, dumplings (serving – 12 pieces) – 10 zlotys. We give approximate prices, because depending on the restaurant, they will obviously vary, well, and we will emphasize here that we were not guided by price in choosing a restaurant.
In cafes you will drink good coffee for about 5-10 zloty, and you will drink hot, delicious chocolate for less than 10 zloty. On top of that, a piece of cake is another 10 zlotys (but it’s not a good idea to order a cake to go with the real hot chocolate ;-)).
Here we went crazy and ordered a transfer to the hostel for a killer 40 zloty for our whole family (with seats included!).
Public transport rides are mega cheap. We, admittedly, did not drive, because we had no need to do so, but we did some research and yes, for example, the ride from the airport is only 4-5 hryvnias, or less than a zloty. YES 1 GOLD! But you can go even cheaper – a trolleybus is 3 hryvnias :)
Language on the ground
Ukrainian is the official language in Ukraine. Some people warned us that with scant knowledge of Ukrainian/Russian we might have problems communicating. We also read that not all Ukrainians like to be spoken to in Polish.
How was it in reality? Intermittently, but always managed to get along either in Polish or English. On our way we came across people who just wanted to get along, so we tried different ways and always succeeded. If we were to be tempted to make a confident generalization, with older people we tried Polish first, and with younger people we started with English.
The biggest problem was understanding what is written, although we have mastered Cyrillic to a basic degree. Fortunately, in many places you can ask for menus or flyers in English, which cut down on our tedium ;)
Internet in Ukraine
Remember that Ukraine is not in the European Union, and thus not covered by free roaming. Both calls, texts and data transfer are quite expensive.
Wi-Fi is available in many places, but if you value security and independence it is worth buying a SIM card right away.
It is best still in Poland, before you leave, to compare operators’ offers. Take a look at Kyivstar and Lifecell. We chose the second option – a SIM card for a month with 7 GB cost us 150 UAH, or less than 25 zlotys. We inserted the card into the modem and were both able to use the network on our phones throughout our stay.
The card should be purchased at the operator’s point of sale and preferably they should activate it for you right away. In contrast to the requirements we have in Poland, in Ukraine nothing has to be given, nothing has to be registered. The gentleman from the service put the card into some kind of phone, called the hotline and within literally 3 minutes we could use the card.
Sightseeing in Lviv
We have already written an entry about places of interest in Lviv, which you can find here. Here, however, we would like to draw your attention to confidently plan the venues in advance. If you want to go to the Opera House check when what performances are on, or go up on the first day and ask when it can be visited. Make sure on the sites or on Facebook that the places you go to are open.
Like never, here we kissed the doorknob a few times.
Some practical information
Below you will find some more advice on what to keep in mind before traveling to Lviv:
- As we wrote above, Ukraine is not a member of the European Union, so you will pay much, much more here for phone, text messages or Internet. This is worth emphasizing again :)
- To enter Ukraine you need a passport (an ID card is not enough!). Visas are not needed.
- As always, it’s a good idea to get additional travel insurance.
- As for safety, we generally felt safe, but we didn’t walk particularly after dusk. As everywhere, you have to watch out for pickpockets and generally be careful. Especially in a crowd.
- We had the impression that the tourist information was not very well stocked…. Maybe we ended up that way, but still, it’s good to have our map.
- Many places are not adapted for both wheelchairs and baby carriages.
- Electrical outlets in Ukraine are identical to those in Poland, as is the amperage. So you can use your equipment on site without fear.
A weekend in Lviv is a good idea, especially if you want to go somewhere low-cost. You just need to prepare well for the trip, discern the possibilities of traveling to Lviv, be patient and find the places you want to see in advance.
If the crowds don’t scare you and you hit the cool weather, you will definitely be satisfied :)
>> We also recommend our post
What to see in Lviv!