Lviv, Ukraine - First Impressions

At some points during my stay in Lviv I forgot and felt like I'm somewhere in Lithuania, just less blocky USSR buildings and different language. Expectations are a big part of having a hard life. Before arriving here got a lot of suggestions/vibes that this is the great city, those expectations might have skewed my opinion of it, but I just had a hard time finding something what would make me want to come back to this city or stay in it for longer than a week.

Check the Kiev first impressions article for some of the tips that could be applied to Ukraine.


The currency is Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH). The rate is about 30 UAH for a 1 EUR, 300 UAH for 10 €, 1000 UAH for 30 €.

For when you need cash I found this ATM a good choice. Added fees are reasonable, no limit on withdraw, can do your business without someone standing behind your back.


I had problems finding a very good place to eat, this finally lead to making dinners at home during the last week, it was just easier that way.

In Lviv there are some project which has themed restaurants. Each of them provides unique atmosphere, menu, check. You can try visit all of them to see if any of them will work for you.

Masoch cafe is probably the only place where food is good where I thought I found a place for my every dinner. The atmosphere is also close to heart, blue-red light, bras & other sex stuff as decorations, waitresses in old-school night gowns. The problem is that waitresses have leather whips and they are not afraid to use them (and they hurt, like a lot). It's also a fun gimmick getting whipped. Not sure if the waitress did not like me so much, or she liked so much that I felt more about being in some movie about slaves than in an adult movie. Especially when whip "missed" and hit me straight on the spine, my knees almost stopped working. For that reason I'm not sure I would be able to go there more than once a month.

Gas Lamp is one of themed restaurants. Nothing out of ordinary, but everything was good enough that if I really wanted to eat out this one was the most often chosen option. While getting the check they put it in the small wooden barrel and blow it with gunpowder. I liked that because the gunpowder smell always reminds me of the childhood (I still have all the fingers). I still don't have an idea how waiters survive all those steps in there.

Lviv Handmade Chocolate has nice teas, might be a good choice if you want to do some work and enjoy something sweet.

Some other places you might try: Kebab boss (decent kebabs when you just want to go back home and eat while watching a movie), Baczewski Restaurant, Open. Quick Restaurant, Ribs Restaurant "At Arsenal" (good ribs), Meat and Justice (good steaks), Art Restaurant "Salo", Meat & Burger (decent burgers).


OK Factory co-working space with an industrial feel. Fluffy cat included. Comfortable enough work places. Can get a bit cold (before it started using the heater) and work hours are limited. Gyms nearby to split your work day with some exercise.

Lviv Handmade Chocolate used this one while waiting for my evening flight. Has good tasting tea and big tables with sofa-benches. Can be a good choice as long as you stay away from kids or disappearing electricity.

There are also two "Communa" co-working places, any of them could be chosen if you have no other choice (but probably first try to look for some cafe). The one which is just for co-working makes you feel like some kennel - no natural light, locked in the box (which is even more annoying if someone is walking upstairs), the table-chair is comfortable enough, but just after a few hours wanted to run outside to enjoy my freedom. The anti-cafe one has no comfortable working place and just finding some cafe would be a better choice.


Park im. I. Franka this was close to my airbnb, it was always enjoyable to get some nature while going somewhere. Might want to it during evenings as it's badly lit. You can see a good amount of drunk/drinking people (especially around the weekend), which is not a surprise seeing the amount of alcohol shops through the city.

Stryiskyi Park big park.

Zalizna Voda Park small park, but I liked it because you can take un-official paths. It feels really nice when you don't meet any people, surrounded by trees, and can try your luck swinging on the rope attached to tree branches.


Фітнес назавжди basic gym, nothing fancy, some equipment newish some rusty. That is exactly why I liked it. After some time from exercising it was just good to pick some weights and lift them without any trainers getting in your face or any similar issues you will get in other gyms. The price is 50 UAH for a single time (~1.6€).

If you need something fancier there is a "Eurosport" gym nearby. It has new equipment, trainers, pool (which I did not try), etc. Costs 200 UAH (~6.67€) for single use, only cash. I stopped going after the first time because I did not enjoy being told to leave because I have no shoes. Don't need any of that bullshit, just some weights to lift without anyone getting in my face.


American Medical Centers is a place I visited after three weeks of the cold which just didn't go away. The place is easy to find, clean looking, without much people (at least during my visit). Was able to find all the information while chatting on-line, registered during the same chat (on the same day). Staff speaks fluent English. The doctor was very friendly and helpful (even after my visit through email). Just wish it didn't cost so much (105 USD), but at that point I just didn't care about having to deal with my useless insurance company or some public hospital where no-one speaks English.

Traffic / Walking

The good part about Lviv is that it looks big, but you can walk to most places in about 10-30 minutes.

That walking is not always comfortable, streets seen better days and sometimes walking can be painful. The big problem is that streets are small and people are logically blind (stopping at random) or with their noses in the phone screen. This makes it very hard to walk without having to constantly slow down or stop. It does not help that there are a lot of smokers.

There are some newish looking cars, but a lot of them are something that should have been destroyed as metal waste 10-30 years ago. You would think "who cares", but then you have to sludge (yes, the air feel like jam) through their exhausts it's just not worth it.

You will want to avoid public transport, have not used it myself, but from looking at others my reaction is "hell no". Outdated transport with people waiting in lines to cram into them. No no no. Good thing that you can reach a lot of places by foot, because there are also a lot of traffic jams. Worst case you can call an Uber, but during a month I only used it to get to/from airport.


Eko-lavka store for getting natural products (kefir, coconut oil, chia seeds, eggs, etc).

Gorgany good shop if you need to upgrade/add to your gear (back-packs, merino socks, jacket, packing cubes, etc).

Eva cosmetics shop to get the stuff you don't want to take with you (slippers, scissors, creams, toothpaste, razors, etc).

Entertainment / Visit

Museum-Arsenal to see some weapons and armors you probably only seen in video games or movies.

Museum of Ancient History good place to see some old stuff.

National Museum of Natural History good place to learn about some animals.

For other locations in the world see intro article.

Posted in: Personal, Tips, Travel