Beat the crowds to Lviv, Ukraine

Tom Masters | Issue 100 | December/January 2009

The city panorama

The remains of Lviv’s 14th-century Vysoky Zamok (High Castle) stand on the city’s highest point. It’s a steep climb or short taxi-ride up, but well worth it for the views of the old town’s cupolas and spires. Come in the evening when the sunlight on the city’s painted roofs is at its most sublime, or in winter, when the trees are bare and the views at their best.

The hidden coffeehouse

Catch a slice of laid-back Lviv life in dreamily relaxed and cosy cafés – locals are fanatical about good coffee and passionate about pastries. Cult favourite is dark and brooding Under the Blue Bottle (Pid Synoyu Plyashkoyu; vul Ruska 4), five seconds from Ploshcha Rynok but so well hidden you’re likely to be the only foreigner. For sinfully delicious cakes, grand style and outdoor seating, head south to Veronika (pr Shevchenka 21).

The atmospheric cemetery

On the outskirts of Lviv, Lychakivske Cemetery is an overgrown but ornate mausoleum packed with literary legends, star gymnasts and freedom fighters from all over Eastern and Central Europe – but you don’t need to name-check to soak up the Gothic atmosphere. Come early in the day to have the place to yourself. To get there take tram 2 or 7 four stops from vul Lychakivska and walk 300m down the hill. 

The 14th-century survivor 

A pillar of Lviv’s Armenian community since the 14th century, the beautiful Armenian Cathedral has miraculously survived centuries of war. Today it’s usually only open for services, though its headstone-paved courtyard and large 150-year-old wooden statue of Christ on the cross can be seen from the street. 

The bustling square

Ploshcha Rynok is the old market square and heart of the old town; museums and cafés cluster around its Greek-god-fountained town hall. Follow winding cobbled arteries to tiny churches, forgotten grand mansions and yet more caffeine-fuelled drinking holes, or climb the town hall’s tower for a bird’s eye view of the action below. 

The cheap-as-chips Opera

The city’s most celebrated building is the exuberant Viennese-style Solomiya Krushelnytska Opera and Ballet Theatre. Marvel at the ornately gilded, marbled and mirrored interior during an evening show – tickets start from as little as 25 hryvnia (£2.65), rising to just 125 hryvnia (£13.25) for the best seats. 

The lavish cathedral

The green dome landmark of the Dominican Cathedral and Monastery (below), now a Greek Catholic church, dominates Lviv’s skyline. The gloomy Museum of Religion in its basement was a museum of atheism in Soviet times and provides a stark contrast to the interior’s gilded statues.

The quirky museum 

A working pharmacy for over 250 years, the Apteka Museum (vul Drukarska 2) still boasts the original wooden counter, pestle and mortar and terrifying potion-filled vials of yesteryear. Be spooked and get to view the interior of an old Lviv house at the same time.

The locals’ market 

If you want a change of pace from the ornate old town, head west from the opera house to bustling Krakivsky Market. This mercantile maze of free enterprise touts everything from honey, cheese, fresh fruit and raw meat to DVDs, clothing and general junk. 

The best facade

Don’t be surprised if your jaw drops at the heavily carved black-stone front of the Boyim Chapel. The Boyim family’s idea of a small shrine, it took the wealthy 17th-century vintners six years to build. Don’t confine yourself to gawping at its incredible exterior, though; for a small fee you can go inside and see the intricate dome, complete with mouldings of 36 Catholic saints. 


Tom Masters, author of several books on former Soviet states

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!

 Your Comments (0)

MAKE IT HAPPEN

loading...

Key Facts

  • Ukraine

    Ukraine travel guide, including map of Ukraine, top Ukraine travel experiences, tips for travel and the best time to go to Ukraine

  • Short breaks

    Guide to short breaks, European mini-breaks, long weekend trips, city breaks, short break ideas, where to go on short breaks, mini-break travel advice and more

  • More Experiences

Destinations

  • What to do on a short break in Bath, UK

    Bath’s Royal Crescent celebrates its 250th anniversary this summer. The city has plenty of historic sites to explore, from crescents and curves to baths and Roman ruins, not to mention foodie pleasures...

  • Short break in Bratislava, Slovakia

    Whether palace-hopping, crypt-gazing or tasting the city at June’s Food Festival, there’s more to the Slovakian capital than its much-visited historic centre, says Sarah Reid

  • How to spend the first 24 hours in Austin, Texas

    While Texas might not strike you as the heart of liberal, laid-back America, Austin is busy keeping it hip and weird for the rest of the state. Phoebe Smith takes in the best of the city's Downtown district

  • More Destinations

Inspire Me

  • 5 new skills you can learn in Lisbon

    Lisbon isn’t just the hottest destination in Europe. It’s also a great place to pick up new skills, with local experts on hand to teach you the secrets of Portuguese cooking, fado, surfing and more...

  • 5 alternative reasons to visit Copenhagen

    There’s more to Copenhagen than the Tivoli Gardens and the colourful harbour of Nyhavn. Here are five off-beat reasons to visit the Danish capital and experience it like a local

  • More Inspiration

Blogs

select
select
select
select
Departure date:
RadDatePicker
RadDatePicker
Open the calendar popup.
Return date:
RadDatePicker
RadDatePicker
Open the calendar popup.
Date flexibility:
Spin UpSpin Down
Search

Need some travel planning inspiration?

Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.

Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking. Enjoy!

Search
Email

Wanderlust in your inbox

Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!





I have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions

Submit