Lviv, Ukraine: The Best Place You’ve Never Been

by Brendan Monroe

Nestled northeast of the Carpathian mountains, Lviv is a city forgotten, or it would be, if it was ever in the collective consciousness to begin with. Ukraine has never been a hot tourist destination, otherwise Lviv would rival the well known destinations of Prague and Krakow in terms of visitors. Both these cities are larger and have a higher population than Lviv’s roughly 750,000 residents, but in terms of what it has to offer, Lviv is far and away number one. Somehow this magical destination has remained a secret, tucked away in the peaks of Ukraine.

The City Of Lviv
The City Of Lviv

Lviv stands in stark contrast to those who believe that all the best corners of Europe have already been heavily tread by tourists. This is not the case with this western Ukrainian city. Regardless of the season, it is rarely crowded despite having perhaps Europe’s most charming Old Town and an amazing assortment of offerings to entertain even the most hard to please traveler.

Its assortment of unique, absolutely marvelous (and delicious) cafes is unrivaled! Everywhere you look, whether in the Old Town or the city proper, you’ll spot one, usually in accordance to some specific theme. Try the following to get you started on a tour of the town’s delectable variety, including their local specialties chocolate and coffee.

The Red Cat Café On Drukarska Street

The location is surprisingly devoid of any red cats but makes up for it by offering some of the best omelettes you will ever taste. The key ingredient is flour, which gives the fashionable breakfast item a lighter, more fulfilling taste. The Chicken and Cheese Omelette is so divinely spectacular it’s like a heavenly trio in a scrumptious sea of cheese and butter.

Taras Shevchenko Monument
Taras Shevchenko Monument

The Gold Ducat On Ivana Fedorova Street

This cafe is divinely inspired and offers the best cakes and widest variety of exotic coffees of any café in the city or maybe even the world. Kiss of a Virgin is like a white chocolate dream that takes you further and further into a mythical paradise. Be warned, the Homemade Cheesecake is so good it may induce comas! Save yourself the price of a ticket to heaven and take a trip here instead.

Café 1 Off Rynok Square

This café has earned its name and epitomizes what the true café experience is all about. Whether it’s the lively atmosphere which boasts a “Kissing Place” street sign at the front entrance, the friendly staff, or the riotously good food Café 1 is the first place to visit upon arrival. Try the Tagliatelle with Salmon and Shrimp to really delve head first into their amazing dishes.

Lviv Handmade Chocolate

It’s all in the name. Lviv has some of the best chocolate in Europe alongside the chocolate meccas of Belgium and Switzerland. For half an hour on Friday and Saturday afternoon bars of the blissful white, dark, and milk chocolate can be had at the delicious chocolatier on Serbska Street for half price. Just make sure to bring a big bag to carry them all.

Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv Coffee Manufacture in Rynok Square

The liquid beans can be found anywhere, whether at hastily assembled kiosks in Rynok Square in the morning or at any number of restaurants and cafes, one cannot go to Lviv without sampling the coffee. Lviv Coffee Manufacture is the perfect place to do that. It takes your experience to a whole new level...literally.

Visitors travel below ground into an actual coffee mine to see how the world’s favorite bean goes from a pod to your cup. Seeing the magic happen with a miner’s helmet strapped to your priceless noggin only serves to make the coffee taste that much better once you emerge to sit at a table by the window.

It’s simply not possible to encompass all the truly amazing things this city has seen in its illustrious past or offers at present. 

From the endless lists of cafés to the steaming Banyas, or bathhouses, this town is a great trip for volunteers in the Ukraine.