Lviv, Ukraine 🇺🇦 2017

I lived in Lviv for 2 months, July and August of 2017.  Here’s my review for the traveling man.

LVIV BASICS

  • 728,000 people – 7th largest city in Ukraine, but largest city in Western Ukraine.
  • Lviv speaks Ukrainian.  Mid to east Ukraine speaks Russian.
  • Lviv is a small city, meaning friendlier people and more laid back compared to the business-paced capital Kiev.
  • Rynok Square and the Opera House are the center of the universe.
  • No metro system (except old trams).  No metro needed, Lviv is very condensed so everything is walking distance.  There’s also Uber and taxis.
  • Very low cost of living.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Lviv is a remarkably beautiful city!  Unlike Soviet style eastern Ukraine, Lviv is a picturesque European city.  Taking a photo anywhere in the center could make a postcard.

Coming from fast-paced Kiev, Lviv was a wonderful break.  As soon as my feet hit the ground, I felt a different vibe.  Kiev feels like a Russian version of Manhattan – where you have to look out for being overcharged for speaking English.

Lviv is much more laid back, cheerful, and friendly.  Ukraine in general seems to lack in a range of positive emotions (people mostly walk around with blank, indifferent, borderline-depressed expressions on their faces – a social conditioning I now refer to as PSG – Post-Soviet Gloom).

Lviv has the lowest levels of PSG, by far, in all of Ukraine. 😀

Lviv offers a world-class experience in cafes, restaurants, and chocolate.   Definitely a hidden gem for digital nomads looking to focus on work and leverage a very low cost of living.

WHERE TO STAY

Lviv has a small center area.  The epicenter is Rynok Square and the surrounding blocks which make up an “old town”.  The older buildings are well-preserved and gorgeous.

Below is my highly artistic map, which took hours to create:

The center purple circle is Rynok Square and the surrounding blocks.  This area is the absolute center of Lviv.  The second larger purple circle is the ideal area to stay, everything in this circle is a 5 minute walk to Rynok Square, yet just outside of it enough that you gain increased privacy and more quiet at night.

A side street near Rynok Square:

PARKS

Imeni Ivana Franka – Big and beautiful.  Directly across from Ivan Franko University.

Opera House – Lviv’s number one attraction, and it has a park in front which runs along Svobody avenue.

High Castle Park – Nice park, insane view of the city.

MALLS

Forum Lviv is the only mall in the center, and it’s the best.  Other malls a short taxi ride away are King Cross Leopolis (good), and Victoria Gardens (good).

Roksolana shopping center is in the center.  It has a big supermarket in the basement where most of the locals shop.  The rest of it is mostly useless crap.

Magnus mall is in the center and comes up on Google/travel sites.. too bad it’s a total joke (my apartment was bigger) and waste of time, about 5 shops each level with nothing of interest.

The following photos are Forum Lviv:

CAFES

Brown Tea & Coffee – Very friendly and helpful English-speaking staff.  Plays an interesting music combination of mainly 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s classics with random hip hop hits thrown in like DMX’s Ruff Ryders Anthem haha.

Svit Kavy – Popular cafe in Rynok Square.

Kredens Cafe – Think of Kredens as the Ukrainian version of Starbucks.. pay slightly premium prices for a premium environment and presentation.  Coffee is average quality.  I think there are 4 locations in Lviv.

GYMS

Sportlife – Multiple locations in Lviv and Ukraine.  The upscale gym where the hot girls go to take mirror selfies and pretend to workout.

Olympus Premium – Conveniently located gym in the center.  Hidden around the back of a building and downstairs in a basement.  This is the gym for actually working out, not staring at hot girls.

FOOD

Cukor – Best Food in Lviv!  2 locations.  Ridiculous breakfasts & burgers, friendly English-speaking staff, best value hands down.  When in Lviv, Cukor is part of my daily routine.  Check out some of their dishes:

The Burger Joint – Best burgers in town!

Open Quick Restaurant – Buffet style spot.  Great for when you want to eat quick and run.  Very affordable.  There’s one in the center and one inside Forum mall food court.

Puzata Hata – a very famous and popular Ukrainian restaurant.  Buffet style, think of it as the Ukrainian Applebee’s if that makes sense.  There are 2 in Lviv.

WOMEN

  • Intelligent and classy.  Put American women to shame in this respect. 
  • Beautiful, friendly, and cheerful.
  • Conservative dating culture.  Embrace traditional womanhood (aka being a wife and mother is a cherished and respected life path.  Unlike egalitarian, gender-neutral America where women are taught to compete with men, and prioritize career advancement over family life.  Feminists want to compete with men, foreign women want to collaborate with men.
  • Very cautious about meeting “strangers” in the day.
  • Language barrier is hit or miss. Some will speak basic English, some will not speak a word.

 

DATING APPS

Tinder – was decent considering the small size of Lviv.

Badoo – seems to be the most popular dating app in Ukraine.  It’s a confusing app that tries to upsell you on about 15 different premium features.  I’m still not sure which are worth it and which aren’t.

TopFace – found out about this on my last few days in Ukraine.  Seems to be a fairly popular app.

DAYTIME SPOTS

Simply walk around the center: Rynok Square, the park near Ivan Franko University, anywhere from Opera House to Forum mall, and inside the mall.

This is a small, cozy city, plenty of people walking around all the time.

NIGHTLIFE

I’m not a nightlife guy so these are a few places I noticed while walking around or heard about from talking to locals.

Fashion Club – One of the most upscale venues in center area.  This is definitely where the successful men and most beautiful women go.

Pravda Beer Theater – A very popular place in Rynok Square people go to grab beers and drink with friends.

There are a few nightclubs that come up in Google but I haven’t been to any and most have very mixed reviews so I won’t be linking any here.

CONCLUSION

Lviv is a beautiful city, friendly people, and very low cost of living.  The conservative dating culture and traditional values make it a horrible place for guys looking to “hook up” with lots of girls, but an amazing place for finding a classy woman for something long-term.

I get a very warm, relaxed feeling in Lviv.  The beauty of the architecture in the center isn’t done justice in photos.  In person it feels like being on a movie set or being back in time in an old village – it’s really cool.

I’d say Lviv is not the best city for a single guy, but perhaps the ultimate city to live in with a girlfriend/wife, or retire to.

WANT TO TRAVEL WITH ME?