There are a lot of small stores around Market Square where you can buy different Ukrainian souvenirs.
The choice is huge!
One bad news, though:
The City Council has adopted a resolution that forbids selling alcohol in the city stores and kiosks.
Starting with January 1, 2012 you can only buy some alcohol at a bar , a cafe or a restaurant.
The good old Dry Law is coming to Lviv.
We'll see what it leads to...
What to buy: Ukrainian embroidered shirts and blouses, pictures, postcards, dishes and what not.
What to pay: 50-200 UAH and more depending on your mood.
Probably the best selection of books in Lviv is available at the Dom Knigi (House of books).
The building is home to several book shops which are still Soviet style. This means that the shops consist of a few counters with shop assistants whom you have to ask for the book of your choice.
Besides all kinds of Ukrainian books, you also find many guide books and local maps in different languages here. On my fist visit to Lviv I got myself a Lviv Atlas for 8 UAH at the Dom Knigi.
The Dom Knigi can be found at the north-eastern end of the Adam Mickiewitz Square.
Address: Dom Knigi, Adam Mickiewitz pl. 8, Lviv
In a square just behind the Opera House is a small market with stalls selling traditional crafts as well as some flea-market items. It’s a good place to look for souvenirs, though like all such places you will find the quality variable and the prices likewise.
I particularly liked the various embroidered goods such as the traditional shirts and tablecloths. I was very tempted to buy but decided to wait until I’d seen more of what was available in the city. In fact I ended up buying a lovely table-runner the next day, but in a shop on Ploscha Rynok rather than here in the market.
My eye was also caught by some of the religious art on display. Some of the icons were lovely but most of the paintings too garish for my taste, as indeed were the non-religious ones. What caught my attention most however were several paintings of the Virgin Mary in a pose I had never before seen in a painting, natural though it is – see photo 2.
Other souvenirs you might buy include ceramics, sheepskin slippers and t-shirts.
What to pay: Prices are a lot cheaper than in the West, though you still need to check that you’re getting reasonable quality goods of course.
With only two days in Lviv, I didn't really have a lot of time to shop, but I did find a lovely open-air Market off a side street to the right of the Opera. There were many booths selling everything from souvenirs to beautiful paintings. One booth intrigued me, as she was selling many of those cute nesting dolls - five dolls all fitting into one large wooden doll. She was asking 45 hr for them which sounded like a fair price and I almost bought one - then I asked myself, what I would do with it? and decided not to.
Typical Ukrainian souvenirs include Ukrainian embroidered shirts and table cloths.
Krakivsky Outdoor Market located near Bazarna Street, northwest of the Opera House, is supposed to be typical of a "Russian" style market. It is said to have mostly dry goods, like clothing and shoes, but also a Farmer's Market with fresh produce - fruits & vegetables - and meat.
I can't tell you precisely where we came across these markets but there were several in the central part of Lviv where you'll find a large room with individual shopkeepers selling all kinds of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, chocolates, cookies, pastries etc. It's not a supermarket, each individual vendor sells a very specific narrow product line. On the outside of the central market there are stalls with people selling clothes, toys, beauty products, you name it, you'll find it here.
During our self guided walking tour of Lviv we stumbled on the book market which sits in the square underneath the statue of Ivan Fedorov, one of the fathers of Ukrainian printing. It's not a very formal market, just a bunch of people with tables set up selling mostly old books and vinyl records. Of course we weren't interested in Ukrainian books or records but rather in some of the other things they were selling, old Soviet pins, hats and other trinkets. David picked up a paperweight with Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet cosmonaut that was the first man in space, on it and I picked up a pin with a cartoon character on it.
Based on the Lonely Planet Guide idea, I visited the Krakivsky Market because it was supposed to be typical of a "Russian" style large market. I walked to the Market by foot from the Opera House. On the entire route, the streets were being completely dugged out and under construction. I had to jump over holes, walk across planks, cross the base-level of the dug-out street the opposite side etc. Everyone else was doing the same thing with not one person a big deal about it. This would NEVER happen in New York--what a difference!!!
The market is very large with paved walks and stands on both sides. In contrast to the farmers' market, most of the goods sold were dry goods, clothing, fabric, shoes; things that one needs for daily life. I bought three beautiful hand-woven table covering centerpiece. The vendor wanted 60 UAH apiece so I bargained and bought 3 pieces for 150 UAH (or about US$10/piece). In retrospect, I should have bought 10 at that price! They are simply beautiful. I could have spent hours shopping there but I ran out of time before my next appointment so I will be sure to visit during my next stay in Lviv.
What to buy: Cloth, embroidered table coverings, Ukrainian folk costumes
I visited a high-end Dior/Chanel/Armani perfume store on Prospect Svobody just to check out the prices. As in any large city with "chic" boutique stores, the salespeople were smartly dressed in "blackish" uniform. The interior was very similar to any of this type of store in New York City, Tokyo, or Paris. The prices were similar or higher than in New York City. Given the fact that the average annual wage is about $3000-4000 in Lviv, the relative prices are exhorbitant!!!
The customers in general appeared relatively young and I really wondered how they could afford such luxury items. The only three possible explanations that came to my mind were that people were buying for (1) "very special occasion or person" (2) "sugardaddies" (3) there is only a few of these stores so there are enough wealthy people in Lviv (population-one million) around to keep a few of these thriving.
Farmers' markets were everywhere. Typically, the vendors were middle-aged to elderly women. Almost all of them had scarves on. The most prominent things on sale were vegetables, mushrooms, berries, and milk. Most vendors seem to be selling similar things. Most buyers were women. I presume people come to shop here because it's cheaper and more fresh. Apparently, these markets are open every day, not just on market days.
If you like bustling outdoor markets, then you shouldn't miss a visit of Lviv's Krakivsky Market.
It is mainly for fresh products such as fruits, vegetables and meat, but cheap clothes and all sorts of bric-a-brac can be found here as well.
The Krakivsky Market is located near Bazarna Street, just about 15 minutes on foot northwest
of the Opera House.
It is not really huge, but there you will find large assortment of true ukrainian national stuff - household things, clothes, carpets, towels, art, jewelry etc etc. And all /I guess so/ hand-made.
Also, there lots of USSR stuff, same as (if you know) Kyiv's Andrievsky Uzviz, but about 5 times cheaper.
What to buy: Embroidered shirts and towels, bright-colored belts and laces, bags, woolen blankets.
I am sure you will find something for you!
What to pay: Belts and laces - are about $3-4.
Towels - differ in price, about $20-50.
Shirts - $40-50.
Woolen blankets - 40-60$
a popular place for souvenir and local crafts shopping conviniently located in the very center of the city (in a side street of the Opera across Zankovetska Drama Theatre)
What to buy: you can find authentic rags made of goat wool from Carpathians, Ukrainian beaded necklaces called gerdans, wooden boxes and plates, painted eggs and various embroidery items.
What to buy:
There is plenty of Lviv plans in the shops, but in my opinion this one (with the bue-green cover) is the best one. It's only in Ukrainian, what helps you to get accustomed to the cirillic writing and it's easier to compare witht he original street names; what makes it different to the Western plans in latin alphabet.
Besides in the appendix you will find the schema of tram, trolleybus and bus/marshrutka's routes.
It's really useful and I recommand it :)
What to pay: Less than 8 hr ($2)
Grocery shops in Ukraine are mostly not self-service. They are shops where you approach the seller and tell him or her what to buy. Ukrainians who enter the shop usually just start talking and the seller responds. If you don't speak Ukrainian that shouldn't be too much of problem. I think it is the best if you start talking in your own language and if seller doesn't understand you point at what you are looking for.
Prices in Ukraine are low so so there are many thing worth buying. One of the things to try are Svitoch candies. Also votka is cheap in Ukraine - just don't buy the cheapest. Also in Ukraine there are many brands of beer well worth trying.