LVIV: HOW 24 HOURS TURNED INTO 80

24 hours before arriving in Lviv, Ukraine; I purchased a last minute spur of the moment train ticket, packed my bags, traveled to the train station, got on the train only to realize I forgotten my passport (thank goodness I noticed before departure, that would have been VERY embarrassing if I realized at border patrol that I didn’t have my passport). I got off the train, went home, grabbed my passport, purchased a new ticket (bus this time around) to Lviv, and sat on the bus for 14 straight hours before arriving at this unique town that sucked me in enough to stay there for longer than originally planned.

One thing going wrong after another, I stepped foot off the bus and tried heading toward my hostel. Great! My Polish sim card doesn’t work here nor do my maps (usually I prepare myself by downloading my maps, but it was too much spur of the moment) so I tried to find the closest shop/café/anything that might have wifi. After walking around aimlessly for about 10 minutes I found a coffee shop that had wifi. Success! I’m able to get directions to my hostel!

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Lviv Tram

First Impressions

My first impression of Lviv was, “I’m not in Poland anymore”. It was dirty, I couldn’t read any of the letterings and it reminded me a lot of South East Asia. Hot, dirty, foreign, but with a slight charm that I just couldn’t put my finger on yet.

25 minutes later I stumbled into the Rynok Square (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and boy was I surprised and joyed to see such a beautiful area with many things to do. I literally felt like I crossed the diving line into Eastern Europe. Cobble stones, beautiful pastel colored buildings, coffee shops, bars, greenery, beautiful churches, and my hostel (Hollywood Hostel) nearby. I was excited to be staying near the center where everything is centralized, and looked so much more beautiful than where I was dropped off at.

Where to eat

After checking into my hostel I met a fellow Canadian and German that wanted to get food. We went over to Puzata Hata a traditional Ukrainian buffet. It reminded me of Milk Bars from Polish communist eras. The seating was cafeteria like and you just pointed at the food you wanted. Different traditional dishes served included borsch, cherry dumplings, assortments of veggies, traditional salads, meats, and fish.

Opera House Lviv

Playing tourist

Once fed it was time to get some exploring done. The National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet is a beautiful building with amazing architecture. Locals can often be found here hanging out, drinking beers or playing chess. Right outside the theatre is a beautiful water fountain that children play on/in and adults sit to people watch. Unfortunately there were no shows playing during the time I was there, but they have a variety of performances from opera to traditional folk Ukrainian dance. See the show schedule here.

Next I walked over to the Yard of Lost Toys. The collection began when a small boy of one of the surrounding apartments found two lost toys and placed them under a roof in the courtyard in case the owner returned and was looking for them. The owner never came back, and a shrine to lost things was born. Today it is the Yard of Lost Toys that constantly shifts and changes as more people add lost and old toys and others are retrieved by their owners. A bit creepy if you ask me but a nice gesture and photo opportunity overall.

Yard of Lost Toys

At this point, I went back toward the Rynok to my hostel and took a nap. I barely got any sleep on the very long and uncomfortable bus ride and needed some rest. There was talk of a self-guided pub crawl throughout the hostel so I wanted to be well rested.

What’s for dinner?

For dinner we went to Arsenal Ribs and Spirits. I am a pescatarian 90% of the time, but ribs have always been my guilty pleasure. This place was meat heaven for any carnivore. The ambiance was dark, seemed like an underground bunker turned restaurant, wood fired ribs everywhere, and people having fun. The staff was friendly, and offered English menus right away. There were three of us that went to dinner, each ordered a slab or ribs, and a side dish (grilled veggies, cabbage salad, mashed potato) and one alcoholic beverage each (two beers and a glass of wine). Our server placed a large paper tablecloth over our table and drew three plates, forks, and knives. This should be fun! Shortly after we were handed bibs with rib cages for the two guys, and boobies for me. The food came out on a wooden platter with sauces and the server cut up the ribs right in front of us using a small weapon. The food was DELICIOUS!!!!! This was also my first experience that put in perspective how cheap Ukraine really is. The total for all that we ordered was $23 USD. Like WHAT???? I’ve paid that for lunch at Whole Foods before! I ended up going back there another time with new friends from the hostel, the next time ordering the fish instead of the ribs, and it was one of the best fish I ever had.

Self-hosted pub-crawl

After dinner, we were ready to go out on a self-hosted bar crawl. We started the night at a place called Choven, they have about 20 different taps on beer and a cider that changes daily. The atmosphere is dim and underground like but it’s a great place to hangout. They have a lot of tables and an outside patio so it was great for a bigger group like ours. We also came back to this place several times as it was right by the hostel and stayed open fairly late. While sitting at Choven I was thinking about how much I don't want to sit on a bus or train for another 10 hours tomorrow afternoon. I decided to look at flights going back to Wroclaw. There were no flights on Monday, but there was a flight in the afternoon on Tuesday. Only an hour flight and $40 USD. I've met some incredible people and I was having too much fun with my new friends not to pass up this opportunity. I booked the flight for Tuesday and I was staying in Lviv for 2.5 more days.

We followed this by Pravade Beer Theatre, the place had a fun dark atmosphere to it with many levels. There were a few levels that played live music that got the crowd going and excited on a Friday night and MANY controversial political statements found throughout the restaurant that made the restaurant that much more fun and entertaining trying to look for them. They only had dark or light beer on tap, no ciders, many beer bottle options, and a wine for me.

Kryivka Lviv

We continued the night going to an underground bunker bar named Kryyivka. Greeted at the door by a man in uniform asking for the password, we timidly scream out “Slava Ukraina” (Glory to Ukraine). The man nodded his head and lets us in. There was another man right on the other side of the door preparing shots from a flask. We enter the bunker, take a shot, and continue into the deep layers of the bunker. There are several different rooms each looking slightly different. Looking all round, you can see rifles, old military clothing, and other military weapons from the war. How neat! We sat down at a table ordered a round of honey vodka and went to explore the different photo opportunities we can have. We stumble upon a part of the bar that had BB guns where you can shoot at Putin’s face, my friends were totally intrigued by this so we went to shoot. There was something about being in this country of conflict, deep in some military bunker, drinking beer and taking shots of vodka. One round led to another and it was time to leave.

We came across a bar called Masoch Café. It’s a BDSM bar dedicated to the man that came up with the terms sadists and masochists. He was originally from Lviv, Ukraine and there is now a bar dedicated to him, and you guessed it, sadists and masochists. There are two separate rooms to this bar. The first is extremely well lit and allows you to hang around before you go into the “dungeon”. You get whipped right before you enter and this is where the fun begins. The bar itself was extremely small, only about 15 tables total and there weren’t that many people there. We ordered our cocktails sat down and enjoyed the show. None of us from the group participated (other than the initial whip) but we did get to enjoy entertainment right in front of us. Without giving too much away, you can really test your pain tolerance here.

What’s for breakfast?

Starting the day off at a beautiful breakfast buffet called Baczewski Restaurant. We went there slightly late the first day and almost didn’t get in because the line was too long and the cut-off was 11. We learned our lesson the following day and came early in the morning. The restaurant itself is stunning! There were beautiful green plants, birds in cases, a pianist playing beautiful music and a glass roof that added to the beauty. I was stunned by this place. The actual food was delicious, full spreads of breakfast buffet ranging from cheeses, eggs, meats, vegetables, to a dessert table. Along with the buffer you also get a coffee or tea and a glass of champagne for breakfast. All of this in such a stunning café cost us only 4Euro. We definitely came back the following day.

Baczewski Restaurant Lviv

Not just another Cathedral.

I don’t often visit churches when I travel unless they’re remarkable. Once you’ve seen enough cathedrals you’ve seen most of them. The Armenian Cathedral of Lviv was an exception. I’ve never been to an Armenian church before so I wanted to see what how it looked. And I am very happy I went. The cathedral was remarkable. Beautiful colors peaking through the windows, the architecture was amazing, and the courtyard was lovely. I tried doing a guided tour but they didn’t speak any English, it was still amazing to view and something that showed how old and multiethnic Lviv is.

Armenian Church Lviv

Feel the music.

Some of my favorite things about traveling is going to see live music and finding the best speakeasies in town. So when I found a speakeasy that was playing live music I was all over that. Libriana Speak Easy is slightly hidden and hard to get to like most speak easies, you will walk into an alley, enter through a small courtyard, go up wooden stairs and enter a library like bar. The bar itself was really beautiful, books everywhere, dim lighting, and a beautiful ambiance. We were seated and there was already a jazz bar playing. Our waitress gave us our menu’s that were printed on hard cover books (great touch) and we looked through the variations of cocktails. I had the Polish and it was scrumptious! So delicious I wanted to eat the glass afterwords, I couldn’t get enough. We sipped out cocktails and enjoyed the amazing musicians, a perfect ending to the trip.

Library Speakeasy Lviv

I really enjoyed Lviv. Even though the start of my journey was very abrupt, I made the most of it. I made some awesome friends from all over the world and enjoyed my time eating, drinking, and sightseeing. Sometimes those hurdles that you go through that make the best situations at the end. What would be top of your list of things to do/see in Lviv, Ukraine?

Traveling to Lviv? Look for flights here.

Xoxo Ania Travels 💜


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From complete disaster to enjoying this unique town that sucked me in enough to stay there for longer than planned. Here is my experience with Lviv Ukraine. From complete disaster to enjoying this unique town that sucked me in enough to stay there for longer than planned. Here is my experience with Lviv Ukraine.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links which will earn me a few cents to contribute to the running of this site if you make a qualifying purchase at no extra cost to you.

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  • I just love all your photos. What an adventure! That Yard Of Lost Toys is creepy, but intriguing at the same time. I’m glad you had fun!

  • Kate AndKris

    There are some cool places to go out in Lviv. We’ve been to a couple of the ones you mention, but have many to try. There is a Pravda beer theatre near our flat here in Kyiv so maybe we’ll check that out tonight. Glad you liked Lviv!

  • It was really worth the 80 hours by the looks of your pics. Looks like such fun.

  • I feel you. I experienced the same when I arrived in Bratislava. It first took me forever to find the tourist office even though it was in the train station (how they can hide so well!). Then, while taking the bus to the town center I was sure it was a mistake to stop by for a day trip. Things were less than pretty. Then, we arrive to the Old Town and things completely changed. So, I first impressions can deceive. #feetdotravel

  • Your trip sounds so lovely , you have packed lots in a short space of time . The yard of lost toys sounds something from an Enid Blyton book. Interesting. I also love the cathedral nad the rest of the places too.

  • Ketki Sharangpani

    Wow Lviv sounds like a great place to visit. Loved the cages in the cafe and the cathedral is so beautiful

  • Jhilmil Bhansali

    Never heard of Lviv, but it seems you had a great fun after the initial hiccups you felt. Loved that open look cafe.

  • Cat

    I like how you share the bumps along the road! Sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I have never visited Ukraine before but having read this, I now want to. As a city Lviv looks and sounds so interesting and I just love that photo of the ceiling of the cathedral. Also how cheap things like food and plane tickets are…that’s amazing.

  • Such a shame you forgot your passport and had a few bad moments, but glad it turned around and got better! #feetdotravel

  • Maro Akamatra

    I didn’t know anything about Lviv before reading this post. It seems like a cool place to visit.

  • Flo’s Favorites Eat, Play, and

    Started with a few bumps in the beginning but it turned out well. You’re not only one creeped out by the lost toys spot! I’d definitely do a bar crawl and take in live music 🎶

  • I love visiting churches but have never been in an Armenian church. Very cool. I’d have to skip the toys though. That would creep me out!

  • Teona Mango

    It must have been though in the beginning of your trip, but definitely worth it. The photos you took are so nice, Lviv looks like an amazing place.

    http://teona.mk

  • Lviv sounds and looks like an exciting place.It’s nice to make friends while travelling. Eating at traditional places help us know about local culture.

  • Marlene

    I love finding little hidden gems like this. Livi sounds like such a beautiful area. I have never left the USA but some day I for sure. Until then I am so glad I get to live vicariously though blogger such as you!

  • Chelf Chelfdom

    That’s the best part of travelling I suppose.. Like you said, a place that might seem uninviting and strange at first may end up surprising you in the end with a charm that you did not expect..

  • CarrieEMann

    Lviv is one of my favorite cities in Europe! It’s so quirky and offbeat. The underground bunker bar was one of my favorite nightlife experiences…glad to see it’s still there.

  • Kallia Manika

    I love adventures like the one you had! It has been a little while since I just went to the bus station, purchased a ticket to anywhere and went! I miss it! Looks like a pretty place!

  • David Elliott

    On my favorite trips the parts that I do not plan in advance I enjoy the most. All the planned parts just don’t seem to hold a candle to the other great things that happen. This sounds like one of those trips. I can only imagine what the dungeon was like. Must have been quite an experience.

  • Lviv looks like a antique place with beautiful streets and rustic restaurants. The architecture of this place is splendid. I liked building of National Theatre of Opera.

  • Amila Wickramarachchi

    It seems Lviv is a attractive destination .I like all these pictures and details.The Yard of Lost Toys sounds interesting to visit!

  • Lviv looks like a very interesting place with so much to offer. Lucky for you that you realized missing passport before beginning your journey.

  • It definitely looks and sounds like a place with a lot of History and great places to explore. Glad you didn’t forget your passport, that’s always a worry of mine too.

  • Sonika Balyan

    I have never visited Ukraine before now it comes into my bucket list.
    The list shared by you is amazing, with help of them we can buy so much affordable things.

  • Good to know you had an amazing time despite the start of the journey being not so good. I am badly in need of a holiday.

  • I love that you say longer than you are going to initially. That means it was definitely a good trip.

  • EG Green

    The hurdles of travel are what truly make it come alive in my opinion. For me, the highlights would include the lost yard of toys and the underground bunker with the password!

  • Archivistlady

    I am absolutely enchanted by the idea of a lost toy garden.

  • Steph

    The yard of lost toys piqued my interest. Oh and the cathedral is beyond majestic!

  • Shannan Swindler Captivating C

    Lviv looks beautiful. Eastern Europe is on the list for us. Love your pictures. Makes me want to grab my passport and get going! Your post was an enjoyable read.Thanks!

  • Shona Grant

    Lviv looks like a great place to visit. Lots of underground entertainment, always the best kind!

  • Hang Around The World

    It was a good reading! The photos are really nice and with the text describe very well the situation. Love the location for the breakfast 🙂