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Lviv is the city in the western Ukraine. Its population is approximately 800.000. It was founded in the middle of the 13th century by Prince Danylo Galytskiy, and named after his son Leo. In different periods of its existence Lviv was a part of Poland, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Russian empire and the USSR.

The stormy and extremely interesting history of the unique Ukrainian city Lviv is seven and a half centuries long. Lviv emerged in mid-13th century as the capital of the powerful Eastern European state – the Halychyna-Volyn Principality. Owing to its unique geographical location at the intersection of the main trade routes between the West and the East, in the 15th-17th centuries Lviv became the leading trade centre of the Eastern Europe and the largest city in Ukraine. Having spent half of a millennium in the European cultural space, the city turned into a genuine architectural gem, the centre of book printing, crafts and arts.

In the 18th-20th centuries Lviv as a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire became known as the city of technical innovations. For instance, kerosene and the kerosene lamp were invented here. In the early 20th century Lviv became the capital of the third largest oil producing region after the USA and Russia. Lviv stayed under the reign of totalitarian Soviet Union in the period between 1939 and 1991. From the first days of Ukraine’s independence Lviv has obtained the status of the cultural and spiritual capital of the state of Ukraine. In 2004 Lviv played its role as the principal social catalyst of the democratic Orange Revolution.

The Climate of Lviv is moderate continental, you will get a snowy winter, the spring is beautiful, summers are well-stocked with sunshine, and autumns are probably the best time to visit the City.

Getting to Lviv

By train
If you travel to Lviv by train from the Western and Central Europe, the most convenient route for you is to get to Polish cities of Warsaw or Krakow and then take a direct train to Lviv. You can also take a train that runs to Lviv several times a day in the Polish border city of Przemysl. For a long time different gauge width in Ukraine and Europe was an obstacle to quick and comfortable border crossing.

If you are travelling from the Southern Europe we recommend that you come to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries. As a rule, trains coming from Slovakia and Hungary also stop in Lviv. For those travelling from the Middle Asia we recommend getting to Kiev and boarding one of the trains which run to Lviv several times per day. Besides, some of the cities from those parts have direct rail service to Lviv.

By plane
Lviv has a modest international airport with connections to Warsaw, Toronto, Manchester, Frankfurt, Moscow, and several other airports in the former USSR, which is several kilometers away from the city. Domestic flights (from Kiev to Lviv) are operated by Ukrainian International Airlines and Aerosvit; these companies also operate flights to and from other major Ukrainian cities. Flight tickets can be purchased online or via travel agents. It is also possible to fly directly to Kiev and then take train or a bus to Lviv.

Lviv International Airport is situated just 7km from downtown Lviv; although it is a modest one, travelers have access to ATM machines, coffee shops, currency exchange; there is also a tourist information bureau, where tourists can get information about the city, book hotel rooms, tours, dining and other useful information. The easiest way to reach the airport is taking a taxi, another option are taking the trolleybus number 9 or the marshrutka (minibus) number 95.

By bus
Buses connect Lviv with surrounding countries, but they are invariably uncomfortable for longer trips. Many regular bus routes in Western Ukraine (both direct or transit) run to Lviv from virtually every city, town or village.

As a rule, they start at bus stations in large cities and railroad stations or other important administrative buildings in small towns and villages. Therefore, we recommend that those travelling from the eastern directions inquire about the situation in the nearest town or city.

A number of regular bus routes run from the largest cities of the European Union to Lviv. It is the easiest way to get to Lviv from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries. For instance, you can ride a regular bus to Lviv from such cities of Poland as Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Katowice, Rzeszow, Lublin, Tomaszow Lubelski, and Przemysl.

By car
If you travel to Lviv by your own car, it will be the best for you to follow E-40 International Highway (from the western border to Lviv it is M-11 Ukrainian Highway, and from Kiev it is M-06). E-50 International Highway and its part E573 may also suit you, especially if you are travelling from the direction of Hungary. Speed limit within towns and cities is 60 km/h.
In all other areas it is usually set to 90 km/h, but we still recommend following the road signs carefully. International automobile routes run from Lviv to Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Belarus, and other countries. There are 8 border crossing points between Ukraine and the European Union.

Tram and mini-bus network of Lviv:

•   • Mini-buses (1.75 UAH) are known as marshrutky and follow a set route, but have no fixed schedule or stops. To indicate a desire to get on, raise one arm as the marshrutka approaches; simply ask the driver to stop when you would like to get off.
• Trams and trolleybuses cost 1 UAH (tickets for students are 0,5 UAH). You can purchase tickets from any newsstand or from a driver in a tram. Ask for a "tramvainyi bilet". Keep in mind that if you are carrying a piece of luggage larger than a backpack you will need to purchase a ticket for it as well. Once you are inside the tram, be sure to validate your ticket(s) by punching it/them in one of the metal punches mounted on the walls. An inspector may come to check your ticket - these people do not wear uniorms but bear a little badge. It's interesting to note that almost all drivers of the trams and ticket inspectors are women.
• Taxis are available throughout the city, and the city center is overfilled with them at night. When they aren't equipped with a meter you must agree on a price with the driver in advance. It's usually cheaper when taxi do have a meter.

Restaurants & Cafes

Visitors can find a wide choice of cafes, bars, and restaurants in Lviv; the variety of choice is growing, as many international restaurants arrive to the city. Most tourist-oriented eating places are located near the major tourist sights and in all important points of the city including the city centre. Tips (5%) are usually included in the Restaurant bill; however a small extra can make your dining experience a lot more enjoyable.

Both European and Ukrainian cuisines are well represented in Lviv, for example you can easily find a plate of the legendary Varenyky or any other delicious Ukrainian dish you may wish to try. Chinese and Asian restaurants are not numerous but available.

Lviv has rich and sweet pastries’ traditions; you will enjoy some of the most delicious desserts that you can recall. You can visit one of the stylish cafes, enjoy a great coffee and admire the beauty of the streets of Lviv. Lviv also produces excellent beer, you shouldn’t miss a pint. Vodka is great also.

What to see
Lviv’s old town is so densely packed with mesmerizing, inspiring and unique attractions that travellers often become paralyzed with fascination and never leave. Known as the centre of Ukrainian art and culture, the city boasts many of the country’s brightest and best museums, art galleries and theatres. The uncommonly preserved Renaissance architecture, gently bending streets and hidden ancient niches are sure to propel your mind through a vivid collage of centuries gone by.

There are many places that are worth to visit in Lviv. One that simply must not be missed is the Lviv High Castle. This attraction is the sort of place you visit for for the pure pleasure of the experience. In order to reach the entrance of the High Castle Park, you would need to walk up the steep road of Zamkova Street. The alternative route can be taken through Maxima Krivonosa Street. The Lviv High Castle was constructed in 1360 by the King of Poland Kazimierz.

The High Castle in Lviv has been a garrison, treasury and prison dungeon for centuries. The castle is believed to have many tunnels which still exist deep underground. The filthy dungeons of the castle were even used to hold prisoners for ransom for a few years during the Battle of Grunwald. General Maxim Crookednose, with his army of peasants, Cossacks and Mongol-Turks, penetrated the High castle walls in 1648, ending three centuries of Polish rule. More than fifty years later the Swedish army completely destroyed the castle, leveling it to the ground here and there, leaving only a few traces which help one to imagine the tremendous scale of its past life.

The High Castle park entrance is surrounded with small trees, and it is generally well kept with some greenery and shrubs; the grounds are relatively well kept and unspoiled. There are a few curio shops so you can enjoy shopping for souvenirs whilst visiting the area around the High castle park. There is also a delightful restaurant known for its polite and helpful service.

If you take a walk up to the top of the hill where the Lviv High Castle is situated, you will find a well-hidden old cottage. The walkways around the Lviv High Castle have a sort-of Soviet style and take you through the park in various directions. There are also concrete benches where you can sit down for a quiet rest. These are placed around virtually every corner.

To reach the Lviv High Castle, one would have to climb over 300 rusty old steps on a winding metal stairs. This means that it requires some effort to visit the actual castle. The climb includes a walk on a narrow path which winds its way around the steep hill and takes you to the High Castle Lviv’s highest point. So don’t forget to put your best walking shoes on.

Olesko Castle
The Olesko Castle is a fascinating attraction to visit; you will be amazed by the rich history of this structure. Olesko castle is built on top of the hill that is situated several miles away from Lviv in the small village of Olesko. Dating back to the 13th and 18th century, the Olesko Castle is a historical architectural attraction. It served primarily as a protective fortress during the 15th and 18th century. However, the Olesko Castle near Lviv now serves as an exhibition site for the Lviv Gallery of Arts. The museum has about five hundred of paintings, sculptures and works of art from the 10th to the 18th centuries. You will see beautiful parks and amazing sculptures, surrounding the Castle. There is also a lovely pond in the garden complemented with beautiful ancient statutes.

Today the Olesko Castle has a rich collection of ancient furniture and paintings, which are proudly on display. You will be fascinated by the interesting pieces of art, dating back to centuries ago, displayed in the castle’s museum. One exhibit hall describes the castle's history from the time of its foundation to the present days. It also explains in detail how the restoration of the Castle was carried out. The first floor exposition hall showcases works of art, which are on display here for the first time.

There are also some beautiful pieces of jewelry, glass-blown artworks and ornamental molding displayed in the exposition hall. The Olesko Castle Museum is a unique treasure-house with collections that attract many visitors. There is also the town's cemetery with many interesting ancient monuments near the castle. The Olesko Castle has become a noteworthy centre of education for the people, and it is worth visiting to experience its rich culture.

The Dominican Cathedral
The foundation of the Dominican Monastery dates back to the second half of the 13th century, when Constance, the wife of Lev I of Galicia, commissioned to start the construction of a small wooden church as the sign of gratitude for the generosity of the local Dominican monks. Eventually destroyed by fire in 1408, it was replaced by the Gothic-era stone church constructed in its place. The monastery, which could accommodate more than 100 monks, experienced its heyday in 1612, when it became the central monastery of the Eastern European Dominican Order. In 1742 cracks were detected in the cathedral’s arch. An emergency meeting was convened and all rescue options were exhausted. Demolition commenced in 1749. The construction of a new cathedral, designed by an architect Jan de Witte, began shortly after. The belfry was constructed in 1865. During the Soviet era the site was used as a regional archive and as a school for future workers of publishing. After the restoration in 1972 the Dominican Monastery opened as a museum, dedicated to the history of religion and atheism; the atheists have since left the building. Religious services have also been resumed.

The Lviv Art Gallery

With 24 halls and more than 400 works from the leading French, Italian, Austrian, German, Russian, Polish and Ukrainian masters, this is the largest and probably the finest art museum in Ukraine. The collection of the Polish art is unmatched outside of Poland. The pieces of this collection date from the 16th to 20th centuries and include impressive works by the leading 19th century masters Artur Grottger and Jan Matejko. Two world art masterpieces, Georges de La Tour’s “Payment of Dues” and Tiziano Vecellio’s “Portrait of a Man” are the pride of the museum. The halls on the first floor regularly host thematic exhibitions. The last entry is allowed one hour before closing.

The Pharmacy Museum “Pid Chornym Orlom”
If you still haven’t noticed, Ukrainians love pharmaceuticals. There’s a drug store on practically every corner of every city! The foundation of a museum dedicated to the apothecary is very appropriate. The Pharmacy Museum is located in a drugstore established in 1735 by a military pharmacist. The drugstore still operates and continues to mix its special “Iron wine” used to treat an anemia. This distinctive angular house on the corner of Drukars’ka and Stavropihiyska streets hosts an exposition of more than 3,000 exhibits. The most curious of them are the pharmaceutical scales located in the opening hall. The second hall was originally used as a stockroom and currently displays pharmaceutical instruments from a various epochs. Within the third hall you’ll discover an ancient laboratory that was reproduced on the basis of pictures and engravings. An apartment house belonging to one of Lviv’s 16th century’s petty bourgeois has been reconstructed in the internal court yard.

The Rynok Square

The Rynok Square has been the centre of political, public, cultural, and commercial life of the city for 500 years; it is the heart of Lviv, the scene of the historic beginning of the Europeanization of Ukraine. About fifty unique architectural monuments, dating back to the 16-20th centuries, surround it. The Rynok Square in Lviv has retained its name since the 14th century. It originates from the German “der Ring” (ring, circle), which had been the principle of construction of central squares in German medieval cities.

The Rynok Square in its current appearance represents later developments of architectural ideas of many artists and of many centuries; all of these have one common feature – a permanent concordance and harmony. Here all the buildings convey the feeling of peace, confidence, optimism, and humanism of the European Renaissance. All the stone buildings of the square are different and unique, but at the same time look as if they were combined with each other by a single idea. Each house presents a separate and complete image. The size of the buildings is phenomenally proportionate to a human’s height, and we feel ourselves comfortable in a cosy interior. The buildings are neither too high, nor too short; none stands out of the total ensemble with its size, height, or style. The Lviv Renaissance houses convey genuine music. Asymmetrically located windows – two alongside and the third, as if aloof – serve very practical purposes: two windows look into the main reception hall, and the third looks into a utility room. However, this asymmetry has its own rhythm – as though two half-notes sound first, and then the whole note does. This ‘sound’ of the Rynok Square is unique.
The Lviv Opera House is an architectural gem of Lviv, built in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1901, and it is one of the most beautiful theatres in Europe. Constructed at the beginning of the 20th century and designed by an architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski, the Grand Theatre in Lviv has been compared to the Paris and Vienna opera houses. Standing in front of the magnificent façade of this marvellous building, one can feel the overwhelming power of art, its eternity in contrast with the transience of a human’s life. This building comprises various European architectural styles fashioned in all their lavishness.

The facade forms are very complicated and diverse: columns, balustrades, and niches filled with allegorical sculptures. Statues of eight muses rise above the main cornice of the facade, and the grand ten-figure composition of The Joys and Miseries of Life stands above them. The fronton above is completed with a sculptural triad of the winged bronze figures of the genii of Drama, Comedy and Tragedy, and in the centre the Glory stands with a gold palm branch in her hand. These sculptures were created by the hands of the outstanding Lvov artists Popiel, Baroncz, and Viytovych.

The interior of the Lviv Opera House is no less amazing than the exterior. The internal decoration is gilded (with a few kilograms of gold), and adorned with different-colored marble, decorative paintings, and sculptures. The four-circled lyre-shaped hall accommodates over a thousand people. Embellishing the stage, the decorative curtain Parnassus (1900), painted by Henryk Siemiradzki, represents an allegorical image of the meaning of life in the Parnassus figures. The hall of the Lviv Opera House is remarkable for its perfect acoustics. Performances by celebrated opera and ballet troupes of Ukraine as well as distinguished guest performers from abroad are held in the Opera House. The Lviv Opera House is the host venue for the recently revived Vienna Balls.

The St. George's Cathedral
Located on St. George’s Hill and overlooking the city of Lviv, the church was the perfect target for the destruction in the past. At least two versions of the St. George Cathedral were built before the final construction of the church appeared, as it is seen today. The Cathedral of St. George became the mother of the congregation of the Greek-Catholic religion in Ukraine.

The St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv is home to one of the most treasured relics, which was brought to the cathedral by Bishop Jiseph Shumlianskyi in 1674. It is the Icon of the Virgin Mary, which is a spectacular and preserved artifact. The interior of the cathedral was decorated with luxurious embellishments created by the local artistic talents of Lviv. Pinsel, the sculptor of the cathedral, created the spectacular St. George (known as the Dragon Slayer) statue. The St. George statue can be viewed in the attic of the cathedral, while the intimidating statues of St. Athanasius and St. Leo protect the portal.

Renovations to the St. George Cathedral took place in the 1996, restoring the original beauty of the cathedral. Tourists, visiting this amazing historical masterpiece will not be disappointed. Visitors can also visit the belfry, walk through the peaceful gardens or enter the final resting place of many important figures of the past in the tombs below the cathedral.

You can find real treasures in Lviv, as there is a wide variety of traditional artifacts and crafts on offer, you can purchase interesting goods such as hand-painted Pysanky eggs, traditional Ukrainian necklaces called gerdans, beautiful wooden boxes, paintings from the local Lviv’s artists, rags made of goat wool, bright-colored belts, jewelry, USSR stuff, woolen blankets, Ukrainian blouses with embroidery, linen shirts, or kvass. Haggling is expected. You can also purchase kvass; a popular beverage made of Caraway oil, grain and malt, almost all shops sell this drink which is widely enjoyed by Ukrainians.

There is a book market taking place everyday around the monument of Ivan Fedorov. Dom Knigi (House of books) houses probably the best selection of books in Lviv. The Art Market is located at Lesi Ukrayinky, near The Market Square; it is an open air bazaar where you can purchase traditional costumes, antique books, stamps, old money, pins and paintings. Antykvar (Antiques) sells exquisite antiquities and modern arts.

There are many shops around the city and especially near the Old Town. One of the well-known venues to purchase traditional crafts is the Vernisazh Souvenir Market located near Opera House, in front of the Zankovetska Theatre. Krakivsky Market and Lvivsky Rinok are another interesting Ukrainian markets situated in Lviv.

The nightlife in Lviv is thriving, with many options ranging from popular dance clubs to more intimate pubs and bars; there are probably enough places to suit your needs but they can be hard to find; the biggest and the most famous is the Millennium club, which has digital cinema centre and billiard.

The Lyalka Club offers unusual shows based on the classic pop, rock or techno music in a unique atmosphere. The Dublin Irish Pub is a reasonably priced Irish pub. The Korzo Pub is an Irish Pub style restaurant and bar. The Piano bar located at the Grand Hotel is perfect if you are looking for coffee, desserts and relaxation.

The Prague Pub offers more than 15 different brands of beer. The Club Metro and Picasso are popular among young people. The Robert Doms Beer House located in the Lviv Museum of Beer & Brewing is one of the well-known bars of Lviv. Nightspots usually have entry charges but in many cases you can entry free if buy a bottle of a drink.

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