Must see attractions in Western Ukraine

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    Lychakivsky Cemetery

    Don't leave town until you've seen this amazing 42-hectare cemetery, only a short ride on tram 7 from the centre. This is the Père Lachaise of Eastern Europe, with the same sort of overgrown grounds and Gothic aura as the famous Parisian necropolis (but containing less-well-known people). Laid out in the late 18th century, it's packed full of western Ukraine's great and good. Pride of place goes to the grave of revered nationalist poet Ivan Franko. Other tombs belong to Soviet gymnastics legend Viktor Chukarin, early-20th-century opera star Solomiya Krushelnytska, composer Volodymyr Ivasyuk and some 2000 Poles who died fighting Ukrainians and Bolsheviks from 1918 to 1920. There's also a memorial to the Ukrainian insurgent army (UPA), which fought for independence against both the Nazis and the Soviets, and a section for the victims of Stalin's famine in the 1930s. However, the most moving part of the cemetery contains the fresh graves of local soldiers and volunteers killed in the war with Russia in Ukraine's east, many of the plots bearing the photos of their often youthful occupants. A good strategy is to combine a trip to the cemetery with a visit to the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life. The cemetery is one tram stop past the stop for the open-air museum.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    National Museum and Memorial to the Victims of Occupation

    This infamous building on vul Bryullova was used as a prison by the Poles, Nazis and communists in turn, but the small and very moving exhibition over two floors focuses on Stalinist atrocities in the early years of WWII. Used as a prison right up to 1996, the brutally bare cells, horrific statistics posted throughout and Nazi newsreel from summer 1941 will leave few untouched. Some English explanations. In a despicable move, disgraced president Yanukovych instigated a campaign in 2010 to stop the museum's work, even opening a criminal case against the director for violating state secret laws. Today the archives have been flung wide open and the truth is at last being told about the NKVD/KGB and the crimes they committed on the local populace.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    Ploshcha Rynok

    Lviv was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1998, and this old market square lies at its heart. The square was progressively rebuilt after a major fire in the early 16th century destroyed the original. Around 40 townhouses hem the square's perimeter. Most of these three- and four-storey buildings have uniform dimensions, with three windows per storey overlooking the square. This was the maximum number of windows allowed tax free and those buildings with four or more belonged to the extremely wealthy. Pl Rynok is at its best on summer evenings when crowds of people emerge to enjoy the buskers, beer and generally good-natured atmosphere.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    Lvivarnya

    Revamped in 2017, the museum belonging to Lviv's brewery is an impressive, modern experience, a world away for the rickety post-Soviet repositories of the past found in many Ukrainian cities. The well-presented exhibits whet the appetite for the tasting session at the end, which takes place in an impressively renovated bar. To reach the museum, take tram 7 to St Anna Church (where vul Shevchenka peels away from vul Horodotska) then walk north along vul Kleparivska for around 600m. The displays in the renovated cellars start right at the beginning with Egypt's beer-brewing tradition from 5000 years ago. It then traces the history of European brewing and specifically the story of the Lviv brewery from its early days as a monastical institution to the present day, via Robert Doms' purchase of the business in 1861 and the Soviet era when a batch of Lvivske was airfreighted to the Kremlin on a daily basis. Visitors emerge from the cellars into the bright, dramatically ceilinged and imaginatively illuminated copper-hued bar where they are served four types of beer in a special rack. There's English throughout.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    High Castle Hill

    Around a 2km walk from pl Rynok, visiting the High Castle (Vysoky Zamok) on Castle Hill (Zamkova Hora) is a quintessential Lviv experience. There’s little evidence of the 14th-century ruined stone fort that was Lviv’s birthplace, but the summit mound sporting a mammoth Ukrainian flag thwacking in the wind offers 360-degree views of the city and the wooded hills between which it nestles. To reach Vysoky Zamok on foot head up vul Kryvonosa from Vul Pidvalna until you reach a cafe and toilets where you should take a left. After a few minutes you will see a set of metal steps on the right. If you're feeling lazy, you can take a taxi most of the way up, approaching from the east via vul Vysoky Zamok.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    Lviv History Museum – Rynok 24

    This branch of the Lviv History Museum expounds on the city's very early days starting with early cultures that inhabited Galicia and ending with the arrival of printing in the city in the 16th century. Highlights include 2nd-century glass from the Carpathian Kurhan culture (proof the region had contact with the Romans), Scythian gold and weapons, a panorama of late 18th-century Lviv, a section on Khmelnytsky and the Cossacks, plus copies of Apostle (the first book printed in Ukraine (in Lviv)) and the Ostroh Bible (the first translation of the holy book into Ukrainian).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    Ratusha

    The city fathers have occupied this location since the 14th century, but the present-day Italianate look dates to 1835. In a sign of openness and transparency, visitors are allowed to roam the corridors of power, but most of them do so on the arduous climb (305 steps from the 4th-floor ticket office) of the 65m-tall tower that looms over the Rynok. Noon is marked with a bugle call from one of the balconies on the southern side of the building.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lviv

    Apteka Museum

    This fascinating pharmacy museum is located inside a still-functioning chemist's shop dating from 1735. Buy a ticket from the pharmacist and head down into the pidval (cellar) via rooms filled with still medicinally aromatic amphorae, pestles, scales, pill-processing machines and old medicines from pre-WWII Lviv. The damp and musty cellars holds further exhibitions on medicinal themes.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Prospekt Svobody

    In summer the broad pavement in the middle of this wide prospekt is the town's main hang-out and a hub of Lviv life, where homegrown tourists pose for photos in front of the Shevchenko statue. Locals promenade along the strip of park, kids scoot around in rented electric cars, beggars politely hassle people sitting on the many park benches and wedding parties mill around barking photo instructions. It's also the venue for an endless (apparently men-only) chess competition. At the northern end of the boulevard is the 1897–1900 Solomiya Krushelnytska Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. At the southern end a statue of Adam Michiewicz, the Polish poet, stands in pl Mitskevycha.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Latin Cathedral

    With various chunks dating from between 1370 and 1480, this working cathedral is one of Lviv’s most impressive churches. The exterior is most definitely Gothic, while the heavily gilded interior, one of the city’s highlights, has a more baroque feel, with colourfully wreathed pillars hoisting frescoed vaulting and mysterious side chapels glowing in candlelit half-light. Services are in four languages, including English. If you walk around the outside of the cathedral, you'll eventually come to a relief of Pope John Paul II, erected to commemorate his visit to Lviv in 2001.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Museum of Folk Architecture and Life

    This open-air museum displays different regional styles of farmsteads, windmills, churches and schools, which dot a huge park to the east of the city centre. Everything is pretty spread out here and a visit involves a lot of footwork. As an exhibition, it doesn't hold a candle to Kyiv's Pyrohovo Museum, but it's worth checking out if you're not heading to the capital. To get to the museum, take tram 7 from vul Pidvalna up vul Lychakivska and get off at the corner of vul Mechnykova. From the stop, walk 600m north on vul Krupyarska, following the signs.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Lviv History Museum – Kornyakt Palace

    The smallest branch of the Lviv History Museum is housed in a palace, once a residence of the of Polish King Jan Sobieski III, which rises from the Renaissance Italian courtyard where arcading typical for the period is occupied by cafe and restaurant tables. Inside you can slide around in huge felt slippers on the intricately fashioned parquet floors as you admire period furniture and other antiques. It was here on 22 December 1686 that Poland and Russia signed the treaty that partitioned Ukraine.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Boyim Chapel

    The blackened facade of the burial chapel (1615), belonging to Hungarian merchant Georgi Boyim and his family, is covered in magnificent if somewhat morbid carvings. Atop the cupola is an unusual sculpture of Christ sitting with his head in one hand, pondering his sorrows. The interior is dizzying, featuring biblical reliefs with cameo appearances by members of the Boyim family. There are more images of the family patriarchs on the exterior above the door and on the wall flanking vul Halytska.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Dominican Cathedral

    Dominating a square to the east of pl Rynok is one of Lviv’s signature sights, the large dome of the 1764 Dominican Cathedral. Inside, the typical baroque oval nave rises to a seemingly weightless unadorned dome, the entire interior sporting a restrained, austere feel, characteristic of late-baroque structures. East of the cathedral is a square where you'll see a statue of a monk holding a book. This is Federov, who brought printing to Ukraine in the 16th century.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Armenian Cathedral

    One church you should not miss is the elegant 1363 Armenian Cathedral with its ancient-feeling interior. The placid cathedral courtyard is a maze of arched passageways and squat buildings festooned with intricate Caucasian detail. Stepping into the courtyard feels like entering another era – gravestones bearing inscriptions in the 54 letters of the Armenian alphabet pave the floor. Also here is a monument to the Armenian victims of genocide in Turkey. Enter at vul Krakivska 17.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Assumption Church

    This Ukrainian Orthodox church is easily distinguished by the 65m-high, triple-tiered Kornyakt bell tower rising beside it. The tower was named after its Greek benefactor, a merchant who was also the original owner of Kornyakt House on pl Rynok. Sadly it cannot be climbed. It’s well worth going inside the church to see the beautifully gilt interior. Normally access is through the delightful Three Saints Chapel with its three, highly ornate minicupolas.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Jesuit Church

    Only reconsecrated in 2011, Lviv's impressive Jesuit church (full name – Garrison Church of Sts Peter and Paul) was used as a book repository during the Soviet years. It was the first baroque building in the city centre, erected in the early 17th century by Jesuit Italian architect Jacomo Briani. The faded baroque interior, illuminated by shafts of dust-speckled light, is busy these days as this is a military church.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Bernardine Church and Monastery

    Lviv's most stunning baroque interior belongs to the 17th-century now Greek Catholic Church of St Andrew, part of the Bernadine Monastery. Populated with an army of cherubs and peppered with sunbursts, it's been painstakingly restored to its former splendour. There are usually more tourists here than worshippers, except on Sundays when mass draws the locals to prayer.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Museum of Ethnography, Arts & Crafts

    This underfunded, chaotically curated museum has a few interesting pieces of furniture, Czech glass, art nouveau posters (Mucha, Lautrec) and various 19th- and 20th-century decorative items from across Europe, the whole caboodle scattered throughout an interestingly run-down former bank. There's a large display of period clocks and the occasional well-conceived temporary exhibition.

  • Sights in Lviv

    Transfiguration Church

    The tall copper-domed church just west of the Armenian Cathedral is the late-17th-century, newly renovated Transfiguration Church, the first church in the city to revert to Greek Catholicism after Ukrainian independence in 1991. The bright, colourful interior is topped with a high dome lined with what look like Roman emperors. Particularly impressive during services.