One day in Lviv in winter
Our school has an AGM for all the managers every year in a different city. This year we headed to Lviv in western Ukraine for a couple of days of presentations and discussions, followed by a day exploring Lviv. I spent that one day in Lviv with a group of my Ukrainian colleagues and saw a different side to exploring the city. Although it was March, there was snow on the ground so I was most definately spending one day in Lviv in winter. However, the sun did come out and it looks like Spring is finally on its way. So here are my suggestions for how to spend one day in Lviv in winter.
Explore the city on one day in Lviv
Lviv was formally part of Galicia, a region which includes Poland and west Ukraine. Because of this history, it’s very Central European in appearance, resembling cities in Poland and the Czech Republic. Rynok Square is a square of multicoloured buildings with City Hall in the middle. These buildings are now home to various restaurants, bars and interesting museums. You can climb the tower of City Hall to look over the city.
Beyond Rynok Square, the cobbled streets stretch off in all directions, several with tram lines carrying both modern and old trams around. The opera house is as stunning as those in Odessa and Kyiv.
Visit the churches in Lviv in winter
As you walk around Lviv, you’ll see lots of impressive churches. Its history as a multicultural city means that there were lots of religions and thus lots of different places of worship. Many of them are really spectacular inside.
Experience the history of pharmacies
Ukraine is generally a bit obsessed with pharmacies. There are ‘aptekas’ on every street, many of them 24 hours. If we sneeze in a lesson, our students will start recommending medicine to take. Lviv’s location both near the Carpathian mountains and on the Silk Road means there were many pharmacies in Lviv throughout history. Mineral water from the mountains was thought to have healing properties, and pharmacies sold not only medicinal products but also foods from Central Asia.
The first pharmacy in Lviv, Under the Black Eagle, is still a working pharmacy but also has a museum inside about the history of pharmacy that you can visit for 20 grivna.
There is also the Secret Pharmacy which you can do a tour of in English for 55 grivna. Another old pharmacy, it still sells medicines but gives a great tour explaining the history and then showing you the secret room they found underneath. It was a secret laboratory, used for alchemy. Now its a secret laboratory again, where the pharmacist’s assistant shows you some experiments and the pharmacist himself talks about its history.
The tours only take about an hour, so plenty of time during your one day in Lviv.
Did you know that the paraffin/kerosene lamp was invented in Lviv?
Drink coffee in Lviv
In the 18th century, the Austrian Empire took over Lviv and brought with it coffee. The taste for the beverage took off and coffee shops opened all over the city.
Imagine their surprise when coffee was found underground under the main square! Now you can visit the coffee mine that supplies the city with its beans at Lviv Coffee Mine. If you go inside, you’re given a hard hat to descend into the mine below. You come out at a cafe where you can try lots of different types of Lviv coffee.
The first coffee shop in Lviv was apparently ‘Under the blue bottle’ Pid Synoyu Plyashkoyu, down an alleyway opposite the Lviv Coffee Mine. With a domed roof, brick floor and low lighting, it’s got a great atmosphere and a long list of different coffees and drinks.
Another popular coffee shop is the Golden Ducat, just along from the first two, recognisable by the statue of the lion outside.
In summer, a lot of the cafes have terraces so you can drink outside, but in Lviv in winter, you need to sit cosily inside.
Eat Lviv chocolate
As well as coffee, Lviv is famous in Ukraine for chocolate. The pharmacies mentioned before used to sell various sweet things, which came in along the trade routes on the Silk Road. The Austrians introduced more of a love for confectionery and chocolate. Lviv Handmade Chocolate is now in many cities in Ukraine, but the seven-floor branch in Lviv must be the biggest! There’s a cafe with lots of chocolate treats, and a whole range of handmade chocolates, both traditional and quirky – like chili chocolate and chocolate shoes and models of Putin.
Eat in a quirky restaurant
Lviv is full of interesting themed restaurants, so you have a wide choice of where to eat. Baczewski’s serves Galician cuisine, so a cross between Polish and Ukrainian, and as the original family owned the first mass-produced spirit factory in the world, it serves over 80 types. Inside it’s like a greenhouse, with plants lining the walls and roof and birds in cages around.
Champagneria X and X – Hot Dogs and Khatchapuri serves exactly that – several types of hot dogs, modern versions of Georgian khatchapuri, and a long list of local and international fizzy wines.
Drink Lviv Tinctures
All over Ukraine, you can find tinctures, made of herbs, berries, vegetables and other things. You may remember that we had some interesting ones at Last Barricade restaurant in Kyiv. Lviv is the original home of Drunk Cherry bar Pyana Vyshnya. It specialises in cherry liquor, which comes either hot or cold.
If you want some to take away, Nalivky Lviv sells a range of bottles of its tinctures and you can try them in the shop. Like the chocolate and coffee, there are Nalivky shops in other cities in Ukraine, but this is the original.
And that’s the end of your one day in Lviv. Despite visiting Lviv in winter, you can still experience what makes the city famous in Ukraine.
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