The large country nestled in what was once known as Eastern Europe, Ukraine is still an under-the-radar travel destination rich in tradition and beautiful sights. Lviv is one of those beautiful gems – a city in western Ukraine with gorgeous architecture and its moments of glory as a part of Austrian-Hungarian empire, our guest blogger, a Ukraine native, chooses her favourite spots.
Lviv is amazing coffee houses, narrow streets, ancient architecture, and unexpected gastronomical delights all rolled into one. There is no other such place in all of Ukraine. Here, every house, quarter, and alley breathes history. The unmatchable charm, opportunity to come into contact with history and many irresistible sights draw in tourists from all over the world. Check out my countdown of Lviv’s fascinating attractions you wouldn’t dare to miss…
Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok)
Ploshcha Rynok, Lviv’s most famous square, has been nestled in the heart of the city since the 13th century. For many years, it served as a marketplace as well as a site for various events and processions. Today, this cosy area is surrounded by colourful 300-year old buildings that are tightly pressed against each other. You will see life in full swing here – coffee houses exude the aroma of fragrant coffee, people chat at the tables of street cafes, and a mass of authentic shops and unique museums lure tourists in. The City Hall dominates in the very centre of the square. It is the duty of every visitor to look at the old quarters from the Hall’s tower. By the way, with its respectful 65 meters in height, Lviv City Hall is the tallest among its Ukrainian peers.
This is a gorgeous restaurant to add to your list when visiting the city. The Baczewski restaurant place takes inspiration from when Lviv was a casino city in the golden era of the 1920’s and the 1930’s. It also celebrates the history of the Baczewski clan, a wealthy family of both philanthropists and big foodies, they even owned a major distillery during the Austro Hungarian Empire, which exported the Baczewski all over the world. With its fabulous eclectic, vintage style decoration and cuisine which is much raved about by food critics, the restaurant is one of the most sought after locations in town. Expect piano music, champagne and a beautiful garden – just remember to get there early and be prepared to queue!
Opera and Ballet Theatre
Lviv owes such a majestic building to architect Zigmund Gorgolevsky who’s created many iconic buildings in Poland and Germany in the 19th century. The Opera House is striking outside and inside alike. Its facade is adorned with statues of Love, Life, Glory, Art, and Victory. Inside, you will be greeted by a large mirror hall embellished with paintings symbolizing the change of the year. The interiors scream luxury and wealth. The walls are decorated with stucco and gilt and the exquisitely painted ceiling holds a huge chandelier of precious materials. The bedchamber of Emperor Franz Joseph is preserved on the second floor. Don’t miss your chance to immerse yourself in this magnificence experience while taking a tour or watching one of the performances.
This splendid Classicism-style palace was built in the 19th century on the initiative of the noble Potocki family. Previously, the site housed a small hunting house but the family needed a sumptuous place to throw balls and receive well-born guests. Today, the palace accommodates the collection of the Lviv Art Gallery. Its interiors flaunt luxurious furnishings, stucco, gilding, and marble decor. The highlight of this place is the Mirror Dance Hall, which often hosts solemn events, concerts, and art shows. Next to the spot, you will find the Park of miniature castles, which exhibits copies of famous fortresses and buildings on a small scale.
Boasting a height of 413 meters, the High Castle is the highest point of Lviv. In the 13th century, the top of a hill accommodated a castle noticeable from kilometres away. In the 17th century, a Swedish army stormed the stronghold and destroyed it. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to restore it. The citizens dismantled the ruins to build houses and brick the streets. Today, only a small fragment of a wall reminds of the castle’s past grandeur. Every day hundreds of tourists conquer the Castle Hill for spectacular panoramic views of the city.
Under the Black Eagle Pharmacy Museum
While Lviv opens dozens of new sights every year, the pharmacy museum holds the title of one of the most unique tourist attractions. For many years, the showplace has been successfully blending the pharmaceutical aspect with the tourist component. Despite the fact that hundreds of tourists flock to its showrooms, it hasn’t ceased selling drugs. While travellers are enthusiastically examining ancient flasks, cutters, and tablet machines, citizens come here to get their medicine. The oldest Ukrainian chemists has been operating since 1735. The authentic apothecary atmosphere and fancy exhibits will send you back several centuries ago when modern medicine was in its infancy.
Lviv Beer Museum Lvivarnya
If you’re a beer enthusiast, the glorious Lvivarnya museum is waiting for you. Occupying the facilities of the Lviv brewery, the museum boasts various beer-themed exhibits including bottles, barrels, mugs, old books of beer recipes and all that jazz. In 2017, its collection and premises were significantly expanded. Today, the museum consists of 10 exhibition halls hosting expositions inspired by the intoxicating drink. There is even a tasting room to enjoy the original flavour of Lviv-brewed beer while listening to the legends associated with the sudsy beverage. Besides beer, Lvivarna is famous for contemporary art exhibitions and cultural events.
Museum of National Folk Architecture and Rural Life «Shevchenkivsky Hay»
If you are a history buff, Shevchenkivsky Hay will surely satisfy your thirst for unique items featuring national flavour. The famous open-air museum has collected over 20 thousand exhibits, namely ancient icons, furniture, dishes, jewellery, clothing, and numerous items of peasant life. The main proud of the museum is folk wooden architecture gathered from all over Ukraine, transferred to Lviv, and reassembled in this ample park. The oldest hut was built in 1749 and the one-of-a-kind wooden church of St. Nicholas, brought from the village Krivka, is more than 250 years old.
Where to stay in Lviv – The Leopolis Hotel
I would recommend staying in one of the most popular hotels in town, the romantic and historic Leopolis Hotel which is wonderfully positioned right in the heart of the bohemian historic centre – within walking distance of the best attractions such as the Market Place, the Opera Theatre, Vernissage, and St. George’s Cathedral. Housed in an 18th century restored UNESCO listed building, it offers stunning individually designed guest rooms complete with a well-stocked minibar, elegant furniture and an Italian-marble bathroom with underfloor heating. Little details count at this place so also expect flat screen TVs, luxurious cosmetic sets and attentive round-the-clock room service. There are also excellent facilities such as a new spa/fitness area in the cellars and a brasserie. This is a hotel that oozes charm and class – I couldn’t recommend it enough! To book a stay visit their website here.
Written by Ukraine native Viktoriia Shaiimova.