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Lviv is the kind of place people return to.
During our stay, Dan and I met multiple travelers on their second trip to the city just because they couldn’t get enough the first time around. Now, I get it.
I’ve been to more than 70 new places around the world since I moved abroad five years ago, and yet I can still say with conviction that Lviv is one of my absolute favorites. These seven reasons to visit Lviv attempt to sum up exactly how and why this city captured my heart.
Sometimes, Lviv is just too cozy for words
1. There’s Something About the Atmosphere
Lviv has two seasons: Christmas or summer. We arrived in March, so we got to experience both. When it’s cold in Lviv it’s the coziest place on earth, the lights twinkle while the snow falls and, yes, we still saw Christmas decor up in mid-March.
Then, the second the sun comes out on April first, all of that changes. Awnings go up, tables come out, and the restaurants and cafes spill out onto the cobblestone streets under the sun.
In either season it’s festive and fun with street performers dotting the squares and cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops tempting you inside. Lviv just gives off a vibrant energy that makes you want to get outside and be a part of this big beautiful world.
Rynok Square and the streets around it are all closed for pedestrians
2. It’s Pedestrian Friendly
When I said the cafes spill out onto the streets in the spring, I wasn’t exaggerating. The center of historical Lviv is always closed to traffic so pedestrians can actually enjoy the streets and squares without being hemmed in by cars and trucks on all sides. Everything you could want is in the city center and we were able to visit all of the museums, churches, restaurants, and bars on foot before simply walking back home to curl up in our Airbnb for the night.
It’ll be impossible to stop taking photos of this city
3. Lviv is a Beautiful City for Photography Lovers
Lviv was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and was a Polish city before becoming part of Ukraine during World War II. So, it has less of the concrete Soviet block buildings you may be imagining right now and more of the colorful facades and charm of old Europe. A walk through central Lviv, especially during sunset, means repeated exclamations about how beautiful the city is and plenty of stops for photos.
Typical Ukrainian foods like dumplings, a cabbage roll, and sausage with onions at Baczewski Restaurant
4. The Food Is Delicious
Lviv is historically known for coffee, chocolate, and beer, which is pretty much all I needed to know to convince me to go. Beyond this, though, the food is just incredible. The streets are lined with bakeries serving fresh, hot bread and cases full of desserts (like my favorite delicate, multi-layered honey cake). Ukrainian cuisine is heavy but flavorful, made up mostly of meat and potatoes in various forms.
Visit Lviv to try varenyky (potato and meat-filled dumplings), borscht (beet soup), fried potato pancakes filled with meat, stuffed cabbage rolls, vorschmack (meat spread for bread), and of course chicken, pork, and beef cooked until tender and juicy and ready to enjoy. Along with this traditional Ukrainian cuisine you can also find modern restaurants serving burgers, Italian food, and all types of international cuisines as well.
Lviv has an especially interesting culinary scene because they have so many themed restaurants in the city. A company called !FEST Holding of Emotions runs 20 themed ‘concept’ restaurants in the city like the Post Office on Drukarska Street decorated floor to ceiling with Lviv postcards and Pretty High Kitchen, a restaurant without a menu, where guests can order anything they please, and Kryivka, a military-themed restaurant built into a World War II bunker.
5. The Cost of Living is Crazy Affordable
Lviv is one of the cheapest cities I’ve ever visited. Although their small housing market keeps rent prices similar to the rest of Eastern Europe, other costs of living in Ukraine are low and most food, drinks, and activities are incredibly budget-friendly.
For example, during our five-week stay we paid:
- $70 per month for a coworking space in the city center
- $24 per month for a gym membership
- $2 for craft beer
- $1 to $2 for a glass of wine
- $2 to $4 per person at budget restaurants
- $5 for a full rack of ribs at a restaurant
- $21 for an appetizer, two meals, and two drinks at an upscale restaurant
- $2 for a 10 minute Uber ride
- $1 to $2 for local train rides
- $2 for museum entrances
- $12 for the train from Kiev to Lviv
- 20 cents for public transport in the city
If you’re on a budget, visit Lviv because you’ll definitely be able to stretch your dollars further than many other places in Europe. Also, keep in mind that Kiev is more expensive than Lviv, so if you’re debating between which of the two Ukrainian cities to visit, Lviv will be easier on the wallet.
For craft beer lovers, there are multiple breweries and bars dedicated to the drink in Lviv
6. The Craft Beer Revolution is Already Here
Ukraine has some of the best craft beer that I’ve found outside of the US, and Lviv is home to Pravda, one of the biggest breweries in the country. Their head brewer from 2015 to 2018 was American so you can expect the same quality of beer that you would get in a US brewery and enjoy sours, stouts, porters, lagers, IPAs, APAs, red ales, and so much more at their modern bar in Rynok Square.
In Lviv, you should also visit the Tsypa and Kumpel craft breweries and visit the Varka and Choven craft beer bars to try more Ukrainian beer brands from around the country, like Varvar, a fantastic brewery (and one of my favorites) from Kiev.
Zolochiv Castle and the Chinese Palace in the Golden Horseshoe Region in Lviv
7. There’s Always Something New to Do
There is so much to see and do in Lviv to fill your time. My list of the 32 best things to do in Lviv covers outdoor activities, like enjoying the panoramic view from High Castle Hill or taking a stroll through the peaceful Lychakiv cemetery, along with plenty of places to experience the art and culture of the city like the Lviv Opera House or the ancient Armenian Church.
You can also take a tour through the Golden Horseshoe Region to visit three of the five famous castles dotting the countryside around Lviv or go hiking in the Carpathian mountains on a day trip from the city. Combine this with an ever-expanding list of restaurants, cafes, and bars that’ll catch your eye and you can be sure that there’s never a dull moment when you visit Lviv!