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Even the most beautiful cities get a bit stifling after a while. After four weeks in Lviv, I was in major need of my old pal Mother Nature.
But, where to go hiking in Lviv?
A few quick Google searches turned up the answer: the Carpathian Mountains. I even read one quote saying that if you don’t visit the Carpathian mountains, you haven’t been to Ukraine. It was clearly time to get my butt in gear and see Ukraine’s mountains for myself, so that’s exactly what I did.
If you want to go hiking in Lviv but aren’t sure where to start, this guide has you covered. I’ll break down the exact steps we took to go hiking on Mount Parashka on a day trip from the city.
Let’s get started!
The start of the hike is steep, but you’ll quickly meet up with the main trail
Hiking on Mt. Parashka: The Stats
We decided to go hiking on Mount Parashka in the nearby town of Skole. Mount Parashka reaches an elevation of 1268 meters / 4162 feet and is easy to reach on an hour and 45-minute train ride from Lviv.
In total, the trek from the small town of Skole to the peak of Mount Parashka and back is about 20 km / 12 miles and the difficulty level is fairly moderate. The trail is wide, well-maintained, and well-marked, but there are some fairly steep uphill climbs at times.
Dan and I had to turn around before reaching the peak because my feet got too cold and wet from the snow, but we did 10 of the 12 miles and it took us about five hours. I’m a pretty slow hiker (or so Dan tells me – often) and the time to get to the peak and back will definitely depend on your fitness level, but I’d estimate spending somewhere around five to seven hours on the mountain.
It’s always good to be prepared when you go hiking – even just for a day trip – so I recommend taking along:
- Jacket in case the weather changes
- Hiking boots
- Water bottle (or two)
- Snacks or a packed lunch
- Cash for the trains or other small purchases
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How to Get to Mount Parashka
There are two ways to get to Skole, the town at the base of Mount Parashka.
The first is with a guided tour. Adventure Carpathians has an office in the Lviv city center and runs tours every weekend for 550 uah / 20 usd per person. You can also book private tours for an extra cost.
If you’re like me and would rather get lost a thousand times than pay good money for a hike, though, you can take the train and do it on your own. Keep reading because I’ve got all the info you need to know!
How to Get to the Lviv Train Station
Uber is available in Lviv and super cheap – a ride from the city center to the train station is about 10 minutes and costs about 50 uah / 2 usd.
You can also take the Tram 9 near Rynok Square (click here for a map to the tram stop) which costs 5 uah / 20 cents per person and will take about 20 minutes.
Train from Lviv to Skole
Trains from Lviv to Skole run every morning around 7 am, 8 am, and 10 am. But it’s really important to know that some of these trains are fast trains that’ll get you there in an hour and 45 minutes and some are slow trains that take up to three hours on the route. Obviously, you want the fast train. But how?
I couldn’t find timetables online so I recommend going to the Lviv Tourist Information Center in Rynok Square (the city center) a day or two before you go hiking and asking for the train times. They can even write down the train number for you to give to the ticket booth at the train station.
If you can’t/don’t want to do this, we got on a train at 10:11 on a Saturday morning, so you could try your hand at that as well (this was in late March 2019, I don’t know how often schedules change).
Train station in Skole, Ukraine
Three more things to note:
At the Lviv Tourist Info office, they told us the cashiers stop selling tickets 30 minutes before the train departs. We cut it pretty close (and were maybe a bit late) so I’m not sure how strictly they adhere to this, but it’s something to keep in mind.
The fast trains are usually cross country trains so Lviv and Skole are just stops in the middle. That means you’ll have to be a bit vigilant about where to get off – I usually just keep an eye on the GPS on my phone when I know we’re starting to get close. On our trip, we stopped once in a town called Stryi and then Skole was the second stop.
Second class tickets cost 50 uah / 2 usd per person. She asked us if we wanted top or bottom and I thought maybe it was like a double-decker bus and the top would have a good view, so I said top – big mistake. It was like riding in the luggage rack – we couldn’t even sit up! Next time I know to request the bottom level for sure, or upgrade to first class (which is probably only a couple dollars more).
The Town of Skole and Getting to the Trailhead
So, you’ve made it to Skole.
The trailhead is on one side of the railroad tracks and the town is on the other, so you can completely skip visiting the town if you want.
We went and had a peek inside just out of curiosity, and it was pretty average, to be honest. But if you’re hungry I recommend grabbing a bite to eat at the bakery on the main street in town (look for yellow signs) because the bread and cheese pastries were both exquisite.
To get to the trailhead, simply put Mount Parashka into Google Maps. You’ll head back to the train tracks (if you left them), cross to the other side and eventually come to the main highway that you’ll walk along for a few minutes.
Then, you’ll cross and start hiking up the mountain at the Kafe Kolbaya coffee shop. Google Maps told us to climb up the mountain on the right side of the coffee shop but a worker there pointed us to the left side. The trail is super hard to find and follow, but just keep going up and don’t worry – you’ll meet up with the main, wide, and well-marked trail in only a few minutes!
The main trail is wide and well-maintained throughout the hike
Hiking on Mount Parashka
The first hour or so of the climb was kind of boring – mostly just a rocky, uphill ascent. Then it flattens out for about an hour among some pine trees and it’s pretty nice. The trail is marked with bright yellow markers and doesn’t really ever branch off, so there are no worries of getting lost. Plus, the data on my phone continued to work so I could still access Google Maps if I needed it as well.
In our third hour we started going uphill again and this time we were in snow so it definitely slowed us down (and I fell about, oh, 15 times as well). This was the last weekend of March, so make sure you’re prepared for snow on the mountain if you go hiking in Lviv in the spring or fall!
Eventually, we came out in a clearing with a view of the peak (or what I’m telling myself was the peak, I’m not 100% sure) and we decided to turn around because our boots were completely soaked through. I think we still had about 30 to 45 minutes left to reach the peak from that point.
The way down was nice, especially as the light started changing in the mountains and filtered through the trees. It was absolutely gorgeous. We also caught glimpses here and here of the surrounding mountains that were nice as well.
My tip: take a picture of where you come out on the main trail when you first hike up onto it. We couldn’t figure out where to turn off and ended up sliding down a pretty steep part of the mountainside to get back to the coffee house.
(Possibly) the peak of Mount Parashka
Dinner in Skole
If you’re hungry after your hike, I recommend grabbing dinner at this small restaurant. While we were there the owner’s daughter and granddaughter were visiting from London and we had a nice chat with them.
More importantly, the Siberian dumplings with meat were phenomenal. Dan and I got two bowls of meat and potato stew, two coffees, and two plates of meat dumplings for 188 uah / 7 usd total. That’s a seriously good deal.
Absolutely delicious Siberian meat dumplings at a cafe in Skole
More to do in Skole
Remember when I said above that hiking in the Carpathian Mountains is one of Ukraine’s main tourist attractions? To be honest, when we first arrived in Skole, I wasn’t super impressed by them. I thought they were nice, but nothing exceptional.
But I learned my lesson when the light changed. Starting around 3 pm they just got more and more beautiful – I really don’t know what it was but it was kind of magical. Every time we looked they were a different color: first gold, then pink, then shades of purple and blue. I really recommend sticking around for a sunset in town if you can.
The Skole River runs through behind town so you can get some good views of the mountains from there as well.
Town of Skole and the surrounding Carpathian mountains
Train from Skole to Lviv
I recommend buying your tickets home when you first arrive in Skole.
There’s a lady at the train station and we communicated with her through the Google Translate app. She told us there was only one train back to Lviv that day at 7 pm – perfect right?
But then she continued to say it stopped in the nearby town of Stryi for an hour and we’d have to change trains, getting back to Lviv at 11:15 pm. Not so perfect, but doable. Plus, the whole trip back only cost 30 uah / 1.10 usd per person.
The town of Stryi was fine (we just grabbed a beer at a nearby bar while we waited) and then we called an Uber once we were back in Lviv and were home and cozy in our apartment by 11:30 pm.
Final Thoughts on Hiking in Lviv
It was a long day, but a good one. I got to breathe some fresh air, see some pretty mountains, and eat some delicious dumplings, what more could I need?
If you want to go hiking in Lviv, Skole is a good option. We didn’t make it to the top of Mount Parashka but the climb was still fun and the path was almost completely free of other tourists. The small town is cute and the day trip is incredibly affordable.
It’s definitely not the best hike I’ve ever done, but if you find yourself with some extra time in Lviv and an itch to see the Carpathian mountains, this guide to hiking in Lviv on Mount Parashka will get you there.
Looking for more day trips near Lviv? Click here to learn how to visit three castles in the famous Golden Horseshoe region around the city!