Not far from the Polish border is the most beautiful city in Ukraine. At least that’s what guidebooks and other travel blogs praise. So we decided to have a family City Break in Lviv, no pressure, no rush. It was supposed to be peaceful, idyllic, and it came out a little different….
We invite you to read the post, in which we would like to focus on the list of places to see in Lviv, but we must, however, give the background of the trip and write a few words of explanation that made us perceive Lviv in such a way and not differently.
If you’ve been watching our InstaStories, you probably know that Lviv has somewhat… disappointed. Many aspects contributed to this, but perhaps most importantly our inflated expectations. We heard from everywhere that Lviv is the most beautiful city, compared to Krakow or Prague, the number of monuments is dizzying, the atmosphere of the city is magical, it is worth wandering the streets, trying the local cuisine, etc.
Well, yes, the city is beautiful, although in our subjective opinion it is far from those mentioned above. However, we try to look at each place completely independently. Different history, different culture, different monuments, different people, different economic situation. EVERY city is different and we are far from comparing, choosing, and certainly advising which city is best to go to. You just have to be aware of what awaits at the site, because not everyone’s climate of the place necessarily suits you.
So let’s start with the fact that Lviv is a good few decades behind Poland. We had a similar feeling in Budapest, but there it was about 10-15 years for us. Here, definitely more. It is apparent that in many respects time has stopped, which, it must be said, creates an interesting atmosphere that may interest many people. A bit of such a trip back in time :) Being in Lviv, we repeatedly recalled the times of our childhood, remembered what streetcars we used to ride, what sweets we could buy and how cheap it was in Poland! At the same time, forget about all the amenities for traveling families, which are almost commonplace in many countries. For us, it was not a problem that there are no ramps, elevators, changing tables, but we know that for many people these are quite important aspects.
Unfortunately, we hit the coldest autumn weekend, which also influenced a slight change of plans as to what we would do on the spot. During our stay it was about 3-5 degrees Celsius, and the weekend after that it was well over 20 degrees Celsius! :) So, unfortunately, further all-day walks with children who are not fans of low temperatures we let go. It’s also important to know that the district heating is not started until around mid-October, and until then you can forget about warm radiators…. also in hotels! Fortunately, in our hostel they had heaters, which helped as such.
So yes, every day we were freezing, struggling in the crowds to be able to walk or squeeze in a stroller, we had a hard time finding our way around the city culture, we were discouraged by the queues to popular restaurants, and yet we also managed to find a lot of positives! And it is on these positives that we want to focus further.
We liked that the city is full of interesting and surprising places to discover. Our hearts were stolen by cafes, or rather chocolatiers, with delicious hot chocolate and sweets. Queues at popular restaurants effectively discouraged us from visiting them, but this brought us to places that are modern, creative, with ideas and serve cool food. We were delighted to be able to climb on the roofs of buildings and see Lviv from a higher perspective (there are even special tours of Lviv rooftops). We were able to learn more about the history of the city and the Poles associated with it. Well, and you probably already know this, but Ukraine is cheap. SERIOUSLY, you can fly cheap, sleep cheap, eat cheap – so for people who travel on a budget, the perfect place.
Oh, an important thing before we move on to the most interesting objects. You need to plan your trip very wisely and it is best to know in advance where and when to enter. We were there from Saturday to Tuesday and during those four days it was only possible to enter the famous Lviv opera house on one day (skipping ticketed performances)! If we came only for the weekend, we could only admire it from the outside. The same goes for the most popular restaurants, such as the famous breakfasts at Baczewski’s or the ribs at Rebernia – here count with very long queues….
Table of contents
What to see in Lviv?
So here we go! The order is random, and below you will find a map with all the points marked :)
Lviv Opera House
More specifically Lviv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after the late Ivan Franko. Salomea Kruszelnicka This is definitely number one for us when it comes to Lviv! This majestic and beautifully decorated Opera House building is a real gem among other monuments. It should be added here that the building was designed by a Polish architect – Zygmunt Gorgolewski.
Be sure to take a look inside, only as we wrote: it’s worth figuring out in advance when the Opera House can be visited. Unfortunately, we did not find such information on the website beforehand, so on the first day we simply went to ask at the cashier’s office (we got along without any problems in Polish).
To cross the threshold of the theater is to enter another world. A world of wealth, splendor and art. You can tour the staircase, the corridors, the Hall of Mirrors, and you can even sit in the audience, on the balcony.
Before the trip, we read somewhere (unfortunately, we can’t get to the source) that the opera house is visited only with a guide, but this is not true. You can come when it’s open, buy a ticket (not for the show, just for the tour) and walk around the building on your own. In hindsight, however, we would have been much more likely to see the facility with a guide, as the interiors look in vain for descriptions or tips on what to look out for. Of course, you may also be tempted to buy tickets for the show, which are even cheaper than tickets for the tour!
We were a bit lucky, because we just happened to be at a rehearsal, so we were able to take a moment to look at the colorful costumes and decorations and the fantastic artists. Even Olive watched like magic ;) On the other hand, however, we could not admire the famous several-ton Siemiradzki curtain…. something for something.
Entrance costs 80 hryvnia, or about PLN 13. Children under 5 years of age enter for free. Prices for performances start at 50 hryvnias.
Walking the boulevard in Lviv
Just in front of the opera house there is a fountain, and further on there is a boulevard – Svobody Prospect, which you can use to reach the monument to Teras Shevchenko and further to the monument to Adam Mickiewicz, located on the Square…. Adam Mickiewicz.
This is a popular meeting place for Lviv residents, and especially young people have taken a liking to the Shevchenko monument, under which you will often meet guys jumping on skateboards and scooters ;-)
For us, the walk was an opportunity to take a break from the crowded, strict center of Lviv. It’s quieter, greener here, although remember that Svobody Prospect is located between two wide and busy streets.
In this area, we also ended up in a rather upscale shopping center – Opera Passage, and a larger, inexpensive Arsen supermarket.
Something for coffee fans! And even though it’s a cafe in name (no real mine there!), it’s worth a look here even if you don’t intend to drink coffee.
Immediately, upon crossing the threshold, you can smell the aromatic fragrance wafting through the crowd of visitors…. Because, unfortunately, it must be mentioned right away that this is one of the more besieged places. The cramped interiors, and the machines, queues and bustle there may make you want to evacuate quickly, but it’s worth at least looking around the premises.
The rooms and corridors, of which there are some, because it is the largest cafe in Lviv, but that does not mean that you will find a free table without problems. Nevertheless… we did not succeed, everything was busy, so we will not write about the taste qualities. The popularity of the place is certainly influenced by its location – it is located at Market Square (No. 10), so a lot of people go here.
However, go inside, walk through narrow corridors to the underground, and see a room with tables with a glass roof.
Of course, here you can not only drink coffee on site, but also stock up on coffee and many souvenirs and coffee-making supplies.
Entrance to the Coffee Mine is free.
Chocolate Manufactory in Lviv
And if not coffee then chocolate :) It’s hard to pass by chocolate, so as soon as we read about this place, we knew we had to look here.
And unfortunately, we once again dined on the taste! But why are we writing about this place? Because like the point above, even if you don’t like chocolate (SERIOUSLY?!), it’s worth pushing through the crowds to see the interiors and the great view from the roof.
However, we have to mention here that Lviv Handmade Chocolate has several outlets in Lviv, so if you feel like drinking delicious chocolate in many ways, just walk away from the center and there will be no need to stand in line (we write about the place we went to twice below).
However, as for this cafe most popular with tourists, it is located near the Coffee Mine, at 3 Serbskaya Street.
It is a several-story cafe with distinctive decorations on the building. If you don’t notice them, you’re sure to see a lot of people squeezing inside, or even standing in line outside.
Chocolate can already be purchased on the first floor, however, we recommend you go a few floors up. You just have to be careful, because it’s tight and crowded, so it can be dangerous at times. There are several floors where you can sit, enjoy chocolate or stock up on fancy sweets, even small works of art.
Unfortunately, we also ran out of free tables here. We regret it all the more, because it was one of the few places where there was a children’s corner, and a really great one.
However, everything was compensated by the view from the very top! Take a look at the roof, from where you can admire Lviv.
Entrance to the manufactory is free.
Lviv Market Square
This is where the heart of Lviv beats even on cold October mornings. As early as 7 a.m. we could hear the clatter of heels heading toward the market, and getting breakfast at popular restaurants in the area involves quite a queue.
The centerpiece is, of course, the city hall, and the tall city hall tower is a good landmark in the city. You can ascend the tower for a panoramic view of the city.
There are plenty of bars, restaurants around the market, you can grab a coffee on the run or…. a cherry ;) There are also souvenir stalls in the market. However, it is the townhouses that should receive the first attention. Some, inconspicuous, hide museums and interesting interiors.
Which ones to pay attention to? If only for the aforementioned Coffee Mine, but also for the Black House (unfortunately, during our visit it was under renovation and quite tightly covered) or the Royal House with its museum. And here let’s stop for a moment. Also known as Korniakt’s palace, the building conceals a beautiful Italianate courtyard with arcades on three levels. There is a fee to enter even the courtyard, but it is worth a look at least for a while, as it is one of the nicest places in Lviv.
What else to look out for in Lviv’s market square? On four fountains (located in the corners of the square), into which people eagerly throw money… a moment later equally eagerly come to them poor and homeless people, who sieve the money out. They are sure to bring luck to someone ;)
Churches in Lviv
There are several sites that you are sure to come across while roaming around the center of Lviv.
One of them, located very close to Market Square, is the Dominican Cathedral or Corpus Christi Church, now a Greek Catholic church. The dome of this Baroque structure can be seen from a distance. The interior is bright and spacious, and you can take a look for free.
The square in front of the cathedral is one of the favorite places for wedding sessions. In the 15 minutes or so that we circulated in front of the entrance there were two, independent sessions. A flea market is held at its back, where many historical souvenirs can be purchased. A distinctive red bus is anchored here, with tourist information.
Also in close proximity to Market Square is the Latin Cathedral, a place crowded with Poles. Not surprisingly, it is strongly connected with Polish history and has witnessed important events, and is now an important point on the map of Lviv for the Polish community. Many announcements are in Polish, and masses are also held here in our language.
Particularly noteworthy are the altar with theimage of Our Lady of Grace and the Boim Chapel next to the cathedral.
Less popular and located a piece further away Church of St. Andrew with the adjacent monastery buildings is also worth seeing. It hides beautiful interiors, which of course can be visited for free. To make the passage to these facilities a little more magical, you can approach from Vynnychenka Street and go through the Glinia Gate.
Moving even farther away from the center, this time in a westerly direction, you can come across the hill located on the hill council of st. Jura. The church is full of carvings, statues and ornaments, and visiting here, too, is free. It is also worth mentioning that the crypts are open to the public for tours.
House of Scientists
When we were planning the trip and reviewing photos taken in Lviv, our attention was immediately caught by the tall, wooden, ornate staircase in one of the buildings. We immediately searched for more information and already knew we had to see this place.
Once the Casino of the Nobility, now the House of Scientists is located at 6 Czynu Listopadowego Street. The tenement is easy to recognize, as there are two statues of Atlantes above the door.
Unfortunately, we were out of luck again, as the place turned out to be closed, and we were left watching the building from the outside and walking to the courtyard.
Lviv University and Kosciuszko Park
While in the vicinity of the House of Scientists or the Sobor of St. Nicholas. Jura you can relax a bit among the greenery in Kosciuszko Park (although officially it is Ivan Franko Park, Uncle Google insists that it is Kosciuszko, however, and under this name you will find it on Google maps). It is the oldest park in Lviv, and perhaps in all of Ukraine. For us, it was another nice break from the noise and bustle of the city center.
There is a playground in the park, which the little ones are sure to enjoy.
Opposite the park and the monument to Ivan Franko located here is the main building of Lviv University. And these are definitely student areas ;) You’ll find cheaper canteens like the recommended Puzata Cottage (we didn’t go inside, because the crowds of students effectively discouraged us from crossing its threshold ;-)).
As we mentioned earlier, Lviv can be viewed from many rooftops. However, if the rooftops are still too low for you, climb the castle hill from where you can see the entire city.
And it’s the views alone that are worth going in for, as little remains of the castle itself, only a poorly preserved section.
Entrance is free, most of the route is accessible for strollers, but there are more and more stairs towards the end, so with a stroller the tour is advised against.
Interesting restaurants and cafes in Lviv
Breakfast in Lviv
Everyone recommends going into Baczewski for breakfast. So we decided to give it a try. The restaurant was right next to the hostel where we spent the night, so for breakfast it was perfect – there’s a chance that we wouldn’t manage to get hungry before we got there :) Unfortunately, it was not the first time during this trip that the queue made us feel completely discouraged to eat…. Standing was quiet for an hour, and the queue ended outside! Fortunately, it turned out that with children under 3 years you can enter without a queue, and in this case we had no reluctance to take advantage of the privilege :)
So, we had breakfast at Baczewski. It is buffet style and beautifully served. The amount of food and choice does not knock you out, but that’s the point of better, quality food. The focus is on quality, fresh ingredients, not quantity. Beautiful interior, and live music!
The food is almost a pittance, as it costs about £24 per adult (children free)!
However, if you don’t have children and don’t want to stand in line, we can recommend you breakfast in a more modern setting, in the restaurant below our hostel – Druzi Cafe.
Perhaps the second most recommended place is the Arsenal Rebernia (Arsenal Ribs and Spirits). The first time, we gave up right away after seeing the queue outside. The second time there were far fewer people and after about 15 minutes of waiting we got a table. Important! Before you stand in line you need to approach the beginning and sign up. When a table is vacated they call out by name who is coming in now.
And how is the restaurant itself? Ribs are definitely not our fave ;) The atmosphere is interesting, bustling, a lot going on, cool atmosphere, but we, however (especially with children) prefer something quieter. We also don’t like to eat with our fingers, and here you won’t find cutlery (plus for the faucets and sinks on the restaurant section!). Prices are high for Ukraine :) but still quite cheap – a huge portion of ribs costs 149 hryvnias, or less than 25 zlotys. For a steak you have to pay 296 hryvnias, i.e. About 47 zlotys.
A place worth seeing if you have the time and do not travel with children (a! there is a changing table here… hidden and padlocked, but there it is! ;-)).
Cafes and chocolate pump rooms
With children (and, by the way, without them, too!) be sure to check out the cafe/chocolate bar. These are the few places where you can even experience a children’s corner. But not about that… Here you will drink delicious chocolate and eat something sweet. We have already mentioned the Chocolate Manufaktura in the center, at 3 Serbska Street, where we could not find a free table, but admired the interiors and views from the roof.
Without crowding, in peace and quiet, we were able to enjoy a delicious coffee and chocolate at their second establishment, a little away from the center, at 5 Sichovykh Striltsi Street.
Coffee drinkers will not be disappointed either. Lviv is full of atmospheric cafes, and it is also popular to buy takeaway coffee from small outlets selling hot drinks.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for something on the go and on a budget, not only coffee but also something to eat, you will easily find the Lviv Croissants chain. Here they serve croissants both salty and sweet. Their stores are scattered all over Lviv, even at the airport.
What else to see in Lviv?
As you have already read, not everything went according to plan. We didn’t manage to see everything we planned but also the aura was not very favorable.
What did we fail to see and leave for another trip?
- Cemeteries – yes, this is what we regret the most. Although we were here for a few days, we let go of going to Lviv’s cemeteries. We were aware that we would not see them in peace, so there was no point in flying at all costs, especially since we hit very cold weather.
- House of Scientists – maybe next time it will be open.
- Restaurants and cafes – we feel unsatisfied that we couldn’t go in everywhere and eat more locally. There are plenty of interesting, thematic and atmospheric restaurants and cafes in Lviv, but we let them go because we knew we wouldn’t be able to enjoy what was on the plate (or in the glass ;) ).
- A tour of the rooftops of Lviv – we decided that this is not the best idea when traveling with children ;)
Accommodation in Lviv
Sightseeing was made easier for us because our hostel was right in the center – we stayed overnight at DREAM Hostel Lviv. We recommend the night with a clear conscience. Other than the heating problem, it was really great. Great conditions, well-equipped kitchen, clean, quiet, and downstairs restaurant serving very good breakfasts.
Map of attractions in Lviv
We share with you a map where we marked the places we described:
Video about attractions in Lviv
We also invite you to watch our report on our stay in Lviv on YouTube –“Lviv – What to see in Lviv“:
Our opinion about Lviv
There were supposed to be walks, exploring the city on foot, relaxing, and often ended up running away from the crowd or the cold. Lviv disappointed us at first, but as time went on, it got better and better. We got to know the city, moved away from the center and looked at different faces of Lviv.
It is definitely a good destination for budget travel, but not recommended for traveling with a child. Many places are inaccessible to strollers, there are few attractions for children, making it mainly a trip for parents.
One thing is certain, however. It is a city with enormous potential. A potential that needs to be worked on a little more :)
See also: Lviv – practically tips before your trip.
We also recommend you a whole gallery of photos from our stay in Lviv: