Whether you pronounce it Lviv, Lvov or Львів, this fascinating city is currently a relatively hidden-gem visited by very few International tourists.
Situated in Western Ukraine (yes, the safe part!) right next to the Polish border, you’d presume it would be overrun with tourists. Sadly though the war in the Eastern region and the annexation of Crimea appears to have deterred tourists from visiting Ukraine completely.
Thankfully for the pioneers and those in-the-know Lviv is very safe and easy to visit.
Cheapest place in Europe?
Pre-war Ukraine was already very affordable, many things were much cheaper than Western Europe but due to the ongoing conflict Ukraine’s currency has collapsed and lost half of its value making it one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe.
Lviv is no exception, you can stay in a 4 or 5* hotel with incredible service from £30 per night, try finding prices like that in London, Paris or Rome and I guarantee all you’ll find is a hostel.
One of the reasons I visited Lviv was that you can easily visit on a long weekend city break, It could be romantic, touristy or just a drunken weekend.
Examples of prices;
- Hotel – Anything decent from £25 upwards per night
- Dinner – Our dinner in one of the nicest restaurants in Lviv cost £20 each for a 3-course meal with wine
- Transport – Trains and trams are incredibly cheap with tickets ranging from as little as £0.10
Incredible Food and Drink
When you think of Ukraine you don’t automatically think of quality food or wine, this is mostly due to snobbery I suppose but I can tell you there are some amazing gems in Lviv waiting to be found.
Just walking around the Old City I came across Lviv Chocolate Shop, It was really surprising as it looked like something you find it the heart of Belgium or Switzerland. I highly recommend buying some of their handmade treats and bringing them back as gifts, trust me they’ll be unique.
With the loss of Crimea the Ukrainian wine industry is facing a very uncertain future, there’s only a small number of producers near Kiev and also in the Western region near the disputed Transnistria region of Moldova. Sadly the country is restricted on the number of wine exports due to not being part of the European Union, hopefully this will be lifted within the near future.
During my visit in 2014 I was able to find wine in a supermarket for as little as £1 per bottle! Don’t worry it doesn’t taste like vinegar, I highly recommend you bring a few bottles back to spread the word that Ukrainian wine is actually really nice.
From personal experience it’s often a great experience to simply just arrive, put down your bags and go explore. Other than knowing roughly where I was walking it was a great feeling to feel like I’d stepped back in time in Lviv’s Old Town.
Some of the places I recommend visiting include the High Castle, which has one of the best views of Lviv. Also you could check out the Opera House or even visit a Russian Bania (sauna) to experience a very interesting side to Ukraine.
There’s many other places to seek out in the surrounding area, although sadly I didn’t chance to check them out on this trip.
Although there’s no direct flight from the UK to Lviv you can easily access the city in a number of ways;
- Fly to Kiev and then change for an internal flight to Lviv from £200 return
- Fly to Krakow and take a direct train (One per day) or an indirect bus to Lviv
- Fly to Budapest and take the direct overnight train to Lviv
Upon arrival in the city if you plan to take the tram don’t do what I did and just jump on the tram expecting to pay the driver. Sadly I was kicked off by three big burly men because I didn’t have a ticket. None of the men spoke English so they proceeded to fine me the grand total of 40 Hryvnia (approximately £2), so thankfully it wasn’t the end of the world.
What are you waiting for? Forget Prague, Budapest and Krakow! This place is teeming with ancient history and isn’t overrun by tourists yet…perfect for discovering.
If you have more time and plan to make a proper holiday from your trip to Lviv you can quickly get around Ukraine by train, bus or plane. I think many people forget how big the country is, what is happening on one side of the country really isn’t affecting the other.
Visit Lviv for yourself
I highly recommend a visit, to book your stay go to Booking.com and search for Lviv.
If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.