Where is Lviv?
Lviv is the most European city in Ukraine with an old town that’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is 203 miles from Krakow, 336 miles from Warsaw and only 45 miles from the border with Poland. It is closer to the Polish capital than the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
Lviv is the cultural hub and educational center of Ukraine. Founded by Prince Danylo of Galicia in the 13th century, the Polish kings took control in the 14th century and the city was eventually ruled by the Austrians in 1772 until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.
After World War I, Lviv became the capital of the independent Republic of West Ukraine. But Lviv was taken over by the Polish for a brief period and went under the Soviet rule in 1944 until 1991. With such a rich history comes beautiful squares, cobblestone streets, religious institutions, opera house, and coffee houses.
There is so much to uncover when visiting Lviv. And here are 5 things you must do when in Lviv:
1. Discover the rich coffee culture
Coffee is an essential part of Lviv’s everyday life. Lviv’s coffee culture is closely linked to Vienna. In fact, legend has it that Jerzy Franciszek Kuczycki, a native of Lviv who served in the Polish-Hapsburg army was the conceiver of Viennese coffee culture.
One must-visit coffee place is Lvivska Kopalnya Kavy or Lviv Coffee Mine in English. This two-level coffee shop features an extensive coffee retail shop at the front end and a coffee shop at the backend of the shop, a courtyard for outdoor seats and a cellar.
The best part of this coffee place is the cellar, where each guest is given a hard hat to wear at the entrance. You’ll go through maze-like tunnels with tables and chairs. Choose wherever there’s an empty seat and order the shop’s signature Flaming Coffee. Watch as the waiter comes with a blowtorch and sets fire on the cup of coffee you just ordered.
For a fantastic caffeine fix and to experience the rich coffee culture of Lviv, try:
- Svit Kavy
- Plates and Cups
2. Enjoy the nightlife
Lviv has many exciting and unique bars that are worth visiting. The two most noteworthy places are Kryivka and Gasova Lampa.
Kryivka is an underground bunker where you need a password to get in. Just say “ Slava Ukraine,” and you’ll enter a real Ukrainian bunker complete with a shooting range and places to eat and drink. Gasova Lampa is located in the factory that belonged to an oil lamp inventor. Gasova Lampa serves a unique concoction of colorful drinks in test tubes.
3. Go to the opera house
There are eight main theaters in Lviv. If you have to choose one theater to visit or to watch a performance, go to the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. This beautifully designed theater was opened on October 4, 1900, during the Austro-Hungarian era.
Lviv Opera House offers several performances throughout the week. There are evenings and matinee performances available for purchase at the ticket office. See world-class ballet or opera at a fraction of the price you would pay at home. The opera house can accommodate 1,000 people. If you can’t get a ticket for the performance you like, get a ticket to tour the opera house at your own pace.
4. Take a walking tour of old town Lviv
There’s nowhere lovelier to learn about the history and to enjoy the best of Lviv than the old town. You can take time to wander on your own or join a guided walking tour. The tourism office in the city hall offers helpful maps, and you can tailor your walking tour according to your interests.
Some interesting places to visit:
- Rynok Square (Market Square)
- Armenian Cathedral
- House of Legends
- St. George’s Cathedral
- Ivan Franko Park
- Potocki Palace
- Boim Chapel
- Pharmacy Museum
5. Learn about beer in Lviv
Besides showcasing the art of brewing coffee, in Lviv, you will find notable venues to learn about beer. The Pravda Beer Theatre and the Beer Cultural Experience Center (Lvivarnya) are two places that beer lovers should visit. Pravda Beer Theatre offers fun souvenirs to bring home, like the Obama or the Trump beer.
The Beer Cultural Experience Center gives you an overall history of beer making, and at the end of the visit, you can enjoy a beer tasting time in the bar at a nominal fee.