Top 20 Things to See and Do in Lviv, Ukraine

Located on the edge of the Roztochia Upland, just 43 miles from the Polish border in western Ukraine, is the city of Lviv. A former walled city along the River Poltva, Lviv is the largest city in the western part of the country. It’s also a bastion for food, history, and culture. Most of the top things to do in Lviv, Ukraine center around one of the three.

The city dates back to the year 1256, when it was founded and named in honor of King Leo I of Galicia. It served as the capital of the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia until the mid-14th century before it was conquered by Poland in 1349. In the inciting event of World War II, the German-Soviet invasion of Poland, Lviv switched hands to the Soviet Union. It remained in Soviet hands until its fall in 1991 when it became part of the newly independent nation of Ukraine.

Lviv is a city that means a lot to me. My father’s family is from Hungary, literally just a few hundred miles away from the city. Because of that, a lot of the dishes I ate in Lviv share similarities with ones my grandmother made me as a child. I also unexpectedly reconnected with a good travel buddy of mine who happened to be in town at the same time as me, which further tightened our bond as brothers.

The city is gorgeous. I got to explore it with my amazing guide, Diana, from Tours by Locals. Her expertise in local food and history was incredibly valuable to me. From the mouthwatering cuisine to the overwhelming amount of history lining its streets, Lviv was everything I could have asked for and so much more. These are the top things to see and do in Lviv, Ukraine.

Explore the Old Town

As the historic center and oldest part of Lviv, the Old Town is a must for any traveler visiting the city. The area’s preservation of history and culture is so significant, it was first named a State Historic-Architectural Sanctuary in 1975. Then, in 1998, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its “fusion of architectural and artistic traditions of eastern Europe,” as well as other criteria.

The Old Town covers about 7,400 acres in the middle of town and is home to over 2,000 historical landmarks. They include Rynok Square, High Castle, the Church of St. Nicholas, the Ensemble of Dominican Church, the Gunpowder Tower, St. George’s Cathedral, and the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet.

One of the Old Town’s most prominent meeting places, Rynok Square, has been considered the heart and soul of Lviv since the Middle Ages. It’s a great place to start a walking tour of the area. My visit started there and took me past the 14th century Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and a Hungarian family’s burial chapel called Boim Chapel.

The Catholic and Jewish Quarters

The area is also home to countless coffee shops, museums, and restaurants, as well as four distinct quarters. Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and Boim Chapel are located in the Catholic Quarter.

A walk down Lesi Ukrainky Street will take you past the 14th-century Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in the Armenian Quarter. You can also find a Jewish Quarter and an Orthodox Quarter.

Some of my other favorite sites included the Ensemble of Dominican Church. This beautiful church was originally built in the 13th century, but the Baroque-style church that stands today dates back to the 18th century. And one of my favorite spots to grab a bite to eat in the area is a VIP restaurant called Amadeus.

Dine at Amadeus

The first place my guide Diana took me in Lviv was to Amadeus. This upscale yet traditional restaurant is housed in a building that once belonged to the Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. It used to be the monks’ quarters!

There, you can enjoy delicious Galician food. For those of you who know about European culture and geography, that may sound odd, but don’t mistake this for the Galician food you can try in Galicia in northwestern Spain. This Galician food is in reference to a historical region of the same name that is made up of parts of present-day Poland and Ukraine.

This Galician cuisine is heavy and hearty, and like much of the cuisine in central and eastern Europe, is designed to keep you full and warm during the cold winter months. I recommend their incredible beef roast, tender duck, beet-rich borscht, and Yorkshire pudding! The heavier elements of the meal are balanced out by a crisp European salad, garlic toast, and homemade vodka made with honey. They’re all delicious! Visiting is one of my favorite things to see and do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Amadeus

Katedralna Square, 7

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 322 356 316

Visit Under the Golden Star

One of the Old Town’s most unique eateries is a spot called Under the Golden Star. This restaurant is a former pharmacy, and is where the kerosene lamp was invented in 1853! It has a warm, cozy atmosphere and is a great place to enjoy some Ukrainian cakes and sweets.

Longtime readers will know that I’m not much of a sweets guy—I like to stay away from sugar as much as I can. But their citrusy Galician cheesecake was too irresistible. It contains chocolate, raisins, and lemon peel, and is downright heavenly!

You can also try their rich chocolate cake and fruity strawberry eclair. The rum balls are a nice snack for the adults, as is the cherry liqueur, which comes in a chocolate cup! If you have a sweet tooth, Under the Golden Star is easily one of the top things you need to see and do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Check out Lviv Coffee Manufacture

In the Rynok Square area is Lviv Coffee Manufacture, one of the most surprising locations in the city. Its main floor is quite unassuming and looks like your typical coffee shop, where you can buy coffee, snacks, and souvenirs. But the thing that makes this place so unique is downstairs in the subterranean tunnels running under the building. There, you’ll find their coffee mines!

Yes, you heard that right. They actually mine coffee beans in these tunnels! The practice began when Yuriy Kulchytsky set coffee beans in the mines in 1675, as if they were gold or silver. The beans give the mines the aroma of fresh coffee. It smells amazing down there!

If you wear a hard hat, you can visit the mines, watch the beans be harvested, and even drink a coffee nuked with a blowtorch! Enjoying a nuked coffee in the dark, atmospheric mines is one of the more bizarre experiences I had in Ukraine and easily among my top things to do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Lviv Coffee Manufacture

Rynok Square, 10

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 67 670 6106

Try Ukrainian Chocolate at Lviv Handmade Chocolate

I may not be that into sweets, but my weakness is chocolate. So I knew I was in trouble when Diana took me to Lviv Handmade Chocolate in the Old Town. This incredible shop sells dozens of types of chocolate in their kitchens.

If you’re a chocoholic or know one, this is the perfect place to buy boxes of chocolates to take back home with you. With dozens of varieties, there’s something there for everyone, no matter your tastes. But, after having some restraint, I settled on just a hot chocolate with almond shavings.

If you only get one thing at Lviv Handmade Chocolate, make it their hot chocolate. It’s thick, creamy, and ultra-rich, and is exactly what you’d need to warm up on a winter day. The drink is decadent without being too sweet, and even comes with melted chocolate artfully dripping down one side of your cup!

Lviv Handmade Chocolate

Serbska St, 3

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 50 430 6033

Get Kinky at Masoch Café

Lviv is known as Ukraine’s most progressive city, and nowhere is that more apparent at Masoch Café just off Rynok Square. As its name might suggest, this spot is not appropriate for children and should be visited by couples after the kids have been put to bed.

As you might have guessed, the “café” is actually a masochism shop where you can buy whips, chains, ball gags, and countless other sex-related items. The female employees even whip you when you go inside!

The shop is attached to a hotel and a coffee shop, and if you want to hold a sexy adult party, there’s a lounge area on the lower level. So if you’re looking for a place where you and your significant other can spice things up, Masoch Café is the best place to do that in Lviv, Ukraine!

Masoch Hotel & Café

Serbska St, 7

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 50 371 0440

Try Cherry Liqueur at Piana Vyshnia

Long before I arrived in Lviv, I kept hearing wonderful things about the cherry liqueur there. I learned that there’s a local hotspot called Piana Vysnia in the Old Town that is famous for their cherry liqueur, so I knew I had to try it.

Besides their expertise in the fruity alcoholic beverage, the shop is also known for their massive red chandelier, which is made from bottles of alcohol! It’s such a cool sight and was overall another of my favorite things to do in Lviv, Ukraine!

The cherry liqueur itself was rich in cherry flavor. I was told that it’s second only to beer in popularity in Ukraine, and after one sip, I could see why. The deep, fruity flavor is something I won’t forget for a very long time!

Piana Vyshnia

Kam’yanytsya Haslyarivsʹka

Rynok Square, 11

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 50 377 7914

Visit the Craft Beer and Vinyl Music Festival

If you’re a craft beer lover and find yourself in Lviv in mid-May, be sure to check out the Craft Beer and Vinyl Music Festival. When I attended the festival on May 15, 2021, I got to see and sample the works of a number of craft brewers and homebrewers!

My guide Diana and friend Taras joined me on this craft beer adventure, which begins with getting a glass and a cloth holder. The holder has a comic-book-style image of a woman on it. You then use your glass to sample all the different beers offered. With 46 craft brewers and another 10 homebrewers there that year, there are a lot of options!

From the Amnesia Haze New England IPA at Underwood Brewery’s booth to the saison farmhouse ale by Pravda Brewery, this festival is a must for any beer lover. They’re all so different from one another, but they all have that signature crafty feel that I love so much.

When you get hungry, you can check out the food section, where you can buy a number of bar-style foods. From chicken to pizza to hot dogs to sandwiches, the options are varied and pretty expansive. The toasted roast beef bagel with spinach, sour cream, cucumbers, tomatoes, and sprouts, is the perfect thing to fill your belly with as you drink!

Craft Beer and Vinyl Music Festival

24, Staroznesenska St, 24-26

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

Enjoy the View at High Castle Hill

If you want to see all of Lviv from the city’s highest point, you’ll have to head up to High Castle Hill. The hill used to be home to a castle, but various invaders destroyed it over the years, and now only a small amount of ruins are left.

Even without the castle, the hill is still well worth a visit, as it offers magnificent panoramic views of the entire city. From the top, you can see the Old Town spread out below you, as well as the rest of the city and the surrounding hills.

I learned that there’s a tradition where graduates from the local universities climb up the hill at sunrise or sunset. They also say that, if you don’t come to High Castle Hill, you didn’t really experience Lviv. I have to agree; the views are breathtaking. It’s definitely one of the top things to see and do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Try Galician Food at Baczewski Restaurant

After getting a taste of Galician cuisine at Amadeus, the best place to experience even more of it is Baczewski Restaurant. The most famous Galician buffet in the city, the restaurant is a favorite among locals. The queue often stretches out the door and down the block on Sundays, which is a surefire sign that the food is top-notch!

The restaurant is bright and open, with lots of natural light coming in through its windows. There’s also lots of greenery and even live birds! Live musicians also play instrumental takes on popular songs, including “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele! It really feels like a high-end brunch location.

Unlike American buffets, the cooks make your plate here. I recommend their excellent caviar bruschetta, creamy eggplant, potato vareniki, and crispy fried cauliflower. Their shakshouka (a tomato-based North African stew with fried eggs) was a pleasant surprise, as was their potato salad.

They have a large dessert selection, but I recommend their cheese-stuffed crepes drizzled with caramel. They’re sweet and decadent, and the perfect way to end a Galician-style breakfast. If you don’t mind alcohol in the morning, try their black currant vodka and vodka with honey. But if you’re taking it easy, their fresh cherry juice is also phenomenal!

Braczewski Restaurant

Shevska St, 8

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 98 224 4444

Visit Grand Café Leopolis

In the Old Town, near Rynok Square, you can find another amazing dessert spot in Grand Café Leopolis. The eatery’s name pays tribute to Lviv’s name, which translates to “City of Lions.” Inside, it looks very much like a 19th-century cafe that sells a number of liqueurs and cakes. The cake we want to try is their famous Leopolis Napoleon Cake.

This fluffy, creamy, layered confection comes doused in cream, with a dollop of rich meringue on top. The pillowy cake, paired with the heavier cream and cloud-like meringue, is a match made in Galician heaven! Enjoy it with some of their floral rose lemonade or rose coffee! It’s an absolute must and one of my favorite things to do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Grand Café Leopolis

Rynok Square, 1

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 97 997 5565

Stop at Shtrudel’

If a big, rich piece of cake isn’t your thing, you can also stop by Shtrudel’ near Rynok Square. This small coffeehouse sells a number of strudels, including sweet and savory variations. You can get fruity ones like apple and cherry, as well as heartier ones like chicken and salmon, spinach, and cheese.

You can also buy Galician cheesecake there if you want. But if you’re looking for a refreshment, they also have a light, fresh lemonade that really hits the spot on a warm day!

Shtrudel’

Tarasa Shevchenka St, Drohobych

Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 82100

Get a Bird’s Eye View of Lviv atop the Town Hall Tower

As many of you probably know by now, I love seeing the cities I visit from above. Viewing cities from different vantage points gives you a real lay of the land and what the city is all about. One of the best places to do that in Lviv is from the top of the Town Hall tower!

The town hall itself is cool and accessible, as any local can schedule a meeting with any local official. Inside, you pay 40 hryvnia, or about $2 USD to buy a ticket to the top of the tower. It’s a workout, though, as you have to climb 408 wooden steps to the very top. The final section is a tight, winding spiral staircase that only fits one person at a time!

The tight fit is more than worth it, though. From the top, you get to enjoy unspoiled views of Lviv from roughly 213 feet above the city! It’s a gorgeous view that gives you a great look at the Old City and the city’s vibrant greenery. It’s also one of the best places in Lviv to take photos!

Lviv City Council

Rynok Square, 1

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79008

+380 322 975 900

Visit Lviv’s Secret World War II Restaurant

Located in the former Venetian Consulate in Rynok Square is another of Lviv’s most incredible gems. The building is now known as the Holding of Emotion Complex, which is home to three unique restaurants. The one on the ground floor, Kryivka Restaurant, is arguably the most famous of the three, and the most unique, as it’s a World War II-themed restaurant!

Gaining Entry

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that this is no ordinary restaurant as you approach the front door. Instead of a host or hostess, you’ll be greeted by a “guard” who demands to know a password. He’ll greet you with the phrase “Slava Ukraini,” the national slogan, which translates to “Glory to Ukraine.” In order to gain passage from him, you must first respond “Heroyam Slava,” which means “Glory to its heroes.”

This is a reference to the way Ukrainian Insurgent Army sympathizers proved that they weren’t Russian in wartimes. Then, you just drink the drink he gives you. Legend has it, it’s poisonous to Russians. It’s all a bit of fun, of course, and is an immersive and history-based way to begin your experience there.

The Restaurant

Inside, Kryivka is built like a World War II bunker. In fact, Ukrainian nationalists hid from the Soviets there! Inside, you’ll find displays of Ukrainian army uniforms, displays of medals and war hero photos, a motorcycle with an attached gun, and a gift shop selling war-inspired souvenirs. You can even take part in an air fighting simulation!

The dark, immersive space has a bar and several small dining halls where you can enjoy food and drink. I suggest the horilka, which is a Ukrainian spirit similar to moonshine. Try the cranberry and horseradish varieties. The horseradish one is insanely strong!

As one of Europe’s most popular restaurants, Kryivka is an entire experience in itself. As someone whose grandparents fought and met in World War II, I have a special connection to that time period. Even if you don’t, visiting Kryivka is easily one of the top things to do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Kryivka

Rynok Square, 14

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 67 310 3145

Check out the Freemasons Lodge

From Kryivka Restaurant on the lower level of the Holding of Emotion Complex, head upstairs to get to the Freemason’s Lodge. Like Kryivka below it, you must go through a trial of sorts before you’re allowed inside.

This time, the trial involves passing through the apartment of a Ukrainian bachelor. The apartment looks like a tiny, Soviet-era apartment, complete with a tiny bed, an old-school TV, and peeled potatoes in the sink. The man who lets you in will ask you how you got there, and must approve of you before he lets you through to the Freemasons Lodge beyond the apartment.

Inside Freemasons Lodge

Once he approves of you, you’ll pass into a modern restaurant that features paintings of U.S. Presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on the walls. As you look around, you’ll notice lots of Freemasons imagery, including a U.S. Dollar on the wall. I’d never seen anything like it!

There, you can enjoy some food and enjoy a drink at their bar or in the sunroom. As you walk around, you’ll find images of 19th-century Ukrainian Freemasons on the walls, and even a BMW from the 1920s. Their bathroom is also a wild sight, as it’s plastered in money!

Keep in mind that eating here is not cheap, as their menu prices are up to 10 times higher than they are anywhere else. It’s known as the most expensive Galician restaurant in the world, but luckily, you can show a special card to get a 90% discount! It’s a great place to chill with a Cabernet Grande Reserve wine and enjoy the views of the city!

Freemasons Lodge

Rynok Square, 14

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

Enjoy Modern Ukrainian Food at Pretty High Kitchen

Upstairs from Freemasons Lounge is the third and final restaurant in the Holding of Emotion Complex, Pretty High Kitchen. Built to resemble a spacious, industrial loft with exposed brick, high ceilings, skylights, and vinyl records on the walls, it’s a beautiful, airy restaurant.

Outside of its aesthetic, Pretty High Kitchen continues the trend of unique restaurants in the building. There’s no trial to pass for you to get in, but once inside, you’ll realize there’s no menu. Instead, your waiter will ask you what you like and he’ll make suggestions based on that.

The Food

I started with a James Bond Martini as a nod to my grandmother, who drank one with two olives every day and lived to be 97! Diana went with a Violet Spritzer, and then chose the sea bass, while I got some incredible pulled pork with blue cabbage, greens, and cheese from the Carpathian Mountains.

Even though I was half a world away from the U.S., the pork reminded me of Texas barbecue. I loved how moist and juicy it was, and the crispness of the fresh ingredients. They coupled well with the creamy cheese and the unique addition of cinnamon to the marinated blue cabbage. I couldn’t get over how inventive the dish was!

If you want, you can dine inside, in their main dining hall like Diana and I did. You can also eat al fresco on their rooftop terrace. As there’s no menu, there are no set prices that I know of, but I was told that every dish will run you roughly 300 hryvnia, or about $12 USD. It’s a steal for one of the top things to do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Pretty High Kitchen

Kryivka

Rynok Square, 14

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 67 314 1071

Visit Lvivarnia Brewery & Museum

Of course, as a country with a thriving beer culture, there was no way I could visit Lviv without checking out a local brewery. Thankfully, my guide Diana had me covered and took me to Lvivarnia, a brewery and museum in the city’s Austrian area. It’s one of the oldest municipal areas in all of Europe!

The brewery and museum date back to 1715 and are made up of five rooms. It only costs 150 hryvnia, or roughly $6 USD, to enter. Inside, you’ll get to learn about the history of beer, from where it was invented and how it developed and traveled around the world.

You’ll even learn cool facts about the differences in ingredients used to make it—in Mexico, it came from maize, while China made beer from rice. European beers derived from wheat and barley. Other displays teach you about different guilds and craft workshops, the history of Lvivarnia, and much more!

You can also check out the bottling system, and in the taproom upstairs, you can try a flight. I loved the Brown, which was sweet and contained hints of warming spices, while the Dunkel was a delicious, chocolatey cross between a brow and a porter. I loved it!

Beer Cultural Experience Center Lviv

Прохідна ВАТ “Львівська пивоварня”, вул. Клепарівська, 18

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 322 948 065

Eat Ukrainian Barbecue at Rebernya Restaurant

Lviv has a booming food culture and a number of extremely popular restaurants. One of them is Rebernya Restaurant in the city center, where you’ll find most of the local eateries and attractions. The restaurant is famous for its Ukrainian barbecue, and the queue that regularly snakes out its door is an indication of the quality of food you’ll enjoy there.

The restaurant sells over a ton of ribs per day! You can watch them being cooked on two enormous, rotating grills. Each grill is packed with slabs of meaty, mouthwatering ribs. It’s heaven for any barbecue lover and among the top things to do in Lviv, Ukraine!

Rebernya may be one of Lviv’s top restaurants, but don’t expect them to give you cutlery or even plates. Instead, they serve your ribs on a wooden board with two dipping sauces. There’s no eating daintily here. You just have to go in with your hands and go to town on them!

The ribs are utter perfection. They have an incredible, smoky flavor and still retain all of their fats and juices, which only add to the flavor. The fatty, tender meat is honestly best by itself, but the honey mustard and barbecue sauces are really nice. And if you’re not into ribs, you can get steak, burgers, potatoes, mackerel, and grilled vegetables.

Enjoy your Ukrainian barbecue with a nice stout. But whatever you do, don’t think about wearing a tie there. If the employees see you wearing one, they’ll cut it off your neck and hang it from their chandelier!

Rebernya

Staroznesenska St, 24-26

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79018

+380 67 719 7880

Visit Kumpel Brewery

If you pass through Lviv’s historic Hlyniany Gate, you’ll find another of the city’s breweries, Kumpel Brewery. Continuing the city’s more progressive attitudes is the bust inside its doors, which looks like a woman’s naked torso. If you want to drink beer there, you have to massage the statue’s breasts!

Once you’ve done that, you can check out their facility, which produces two beers, an amber, and a lager. Their main facility makes a lot more, with 12 on their menu. After you check out their fermentation tanks, you can enjoy their beers with some food.

The in-house-produced amber and lager are both very nice, and there’s also an amber/lager mix, a bronze ale, a golden ale, and a golden ale/bronze ale mix. They all go well with their menu, which is full of dishes from the Carpathian Mountains: spicy lamb vareniki, earthy cream of mushroom soup, and banush.

Banush is a polenta-like dish made from corn, often topped with meat, cheese, or vegetables. We had one topped with bacon, a classic banush topped with cheese, and another topped with pork rinds and cheese. Each one was quite different but very flavorful. I could see why it’s such a popular dish. It’s hearty and is basically Ukrainian comfort food!

Kumpel

вулиця Володимира Винниченка, Ploshcha Mytna, 6

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 68 998 9994

Eat Ukrainian Barbecue at re:bro

Just in case you didn’t get your fill of Ukrainian barbecue at Rebernia, you can go for round two at re:bro. This amazing barbecue joint’s aesthetic is what I like to call “industrial-chic,” and offers tables and private booths.

One of the many highlights on their menu is something I’ve loved forever but can be an acquired taste for some: chicken hearts. They’re dense and chewy, with a bit of earthiness and gaminess, which counter the glaze-like sauce on them. I also liked the cheese balls, which reminded me of the pão de queijo, or bread balls stuffed with cheese that I ate in Brazil.

The pork ribs are unbelievable and come with three insanely tasty sauces. The sweet and sour berry sauce was my favorite, but the orange-chili was really unique, with a kick of tangy citrus and a bit of heat. The barbecue was also nice! The ribs alone are easily among the best things to see and do in Lviv, Ukraine!

They also have thick, juicy burger that contains beef, pork lard, and vegetables, all mixed together. You can’t go wrong with a meaty burger! To balance it out, try their crisp and fresh chicken salad with tomatoes. Wash it all down with their Spicy Sour Gose beer, which contains hot chili peppers and has a bit of a burn to it! I love spicy foods, but this beer was too hot, even for me!

re:bro

Heroiv UPA St, 73

Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, 79000

+380 68 919 9302

Conclusion

For many reasons, Ukraine is often overlooked as far as European travel destinations go. The conflicts in the area and the political climate often drive Westerners away, but I’m here to tell you that the country, especially Lviv, is a delightful travel destination. It’s beautiful and safe, and full of friendly and helpful locals at every turn. Its thriving food culture took me back to my childhood again and again, and the amount of history along its streets is truly mind-blowing. It’s a must for anyone looking for unique travel destinations in eastern Europe. Book a trip today to experience the top things to see and do in Lviv, Ukraine, for yourself!

NOTE: If you need to check the visa requirements of a particular country, click here. To apply for a visa, find up-to-date visa information for different countries, and calculate the cost of a particular visa, click here!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.