Walking Tour: Lviv's Historical Centre

  • Start Shevchenko Statue
  • End Dominican Cathedral
  • Length 5.3km; two hours

Lviv's relatively compact centre makes for a pleasant walking tour that will get you to most of the major sites. This tour will take approximately two hours – three hours if the Castle Hill loop is included. It starts at the spiritual centre of modern-day Lviv, the Taras Shevchenko statue on pr Svobody, and ends at vul Virmenska in the Old Town.

With your back to the Shevchenko statue, start walking right, glancing up at the interesting cast of stone-carved characters (one resembling New York's Statue of Liberty) on the parapet of the Museum of Ethnography, Arts & Crafts. Continue north on pr Svobody towards the Solomiya Krushelnytska Lviv Theatre of Opera & Ballet. Skirt right around the theatre, then take a right on vul Horodotska and carry on for about 250m until you reach the St Mary of the Snows Church, parts of which date to 1340. Carry on past the church up vul Snizhna then take a right into vul Chornomorska, scene of Cold War tragedy. Vibration from Soviet tanks heading to Hungary in 1956 shook several houses to the ground, hence the gap now occupied by a children's playground. A few steps further bring you to pl Stary Rynok, where there's pleasant parkland and a few kiosks selling cheap food.

Glance up at the old buildings around pl Stary Rynok before performing a quick there-and-back movement up vul Pylnykarska to see the St Nicholas Church. Local historians claim this is Lviv's oldest church – elements of the building date back to the 13th century. Back on pl Stary Rynok head east, passing the normally closed neo-Renaissance Church of St John the Baptist on your left, then bear right on vul Uzhhorodska. Continue uphill about 200m to the corner of vul Zamkova. From here you can easily spot the TV tower that tops Castle Hill. High Castle (Vysoky Zamok) is about a one-hour round-trip walk from here, and it's worth it for the views across the city. If you're not up for the climb, take a right on vul Zamkova, which leads to the Old Town.

Proceed about 300m on vul Zamkova to a three-way intersection and bear right down vul Vynnychenka. In the park on your right is the 16th-century Gunpowder Tower, part of the old system of walls and bastions. The twin-spired church looming up the hill on your left rises the grand facade of the Greek Catholic St Michael's Church. It's worth taking a peek inside to see its striking trompe l'oeil ceiling decoration. Continue south to vul Valova at the southern end of the park.

If you need a breather, Cabinet cafe is a fancy place for coffee. If not, backtrack about 30 paces and cross the park and tram tracks. You will see No. 20 Bapova on your left. Skirt inside the fenced sidewalk and continue along the old brick walls on your right. This is the last standing section of Lviv's medieval fortifications. Go down the steps and duck right through the arched passageway. You are in the yard of the splendid Bernardine Church and Monastery.

Head north across the square in front of the church's entrance, cross vul Valova and continue north on vul Fedorova for about 200m until you reach vul Ruska. The Assumption Church and its Kornyakt bell tower loom on your right. Go left on vul Ruska, keeping the Ratusha on your right as you cross pl Rynok. Look for the black facade of Boyim Chapel, on pl Katedralna, and check inside. When you exit, head straight down the path in front of you, keeping the Latin Cathedral on your right, and take the next right on vul Teatralna.

You're now close to where you started, walking north parallel to pr Svobody. Continue past the Jesuit Church, stopping to admire its interesting baroque and Renaissance facade. Your home stretch, vul Virmenska, is easy to spot – it's Lviv's prettiest street. Hang a right and aim for the eastern terminus of the street, where Dzyga awaits. Before you get there, pop your head into the courtyard of the Armenian Cathedral. At the Dzyga cafe, choose an outdoor table with a view of the Dominican Cathedral and order yourself a well-deserved Lvivske beer, or a cup of Lviv's legendary coffee.