At the beginning of June 2010 we decided very spontaneously to join the post VT meeting in Lviv, after we had attended the fabulous VT Euromeet in Krakow.
Now the question was only how to get there. The evening before the meeting we stayed one night in Przemysl (PL), where we had already stayed on this trip before. We knew about a Ukrainian bus which should leave at 9:00 a.m. from Przemysl to Lviv. Only this bus didn't arrive from Ukraine this morning.
We had heard about another option on how to get to Lviv from Przemysl: We took a marshrutka (minibus) to the Polish border town Medyka from where we crossed the border on foot to the Ukrainian border town Shehyni.
From Shehyni we took another marshrutka to Lviv. All this cost less than 2,50 Euro, took only about 3,5 hours and was a travel experience not to miss.
It is possible to make day trips to Zhovkva and Olesko. The service is provided by looking very old marsrutkas (such mini - buses). It is one of "back to Soviet Union" moments for me, as I still remember older trolleybuses of such style.
A mini bus to Zhovkva could be cached in Kulish street a few blocks behind Lviv Theater in Svobody avenue. I can't remember the number, but it is always written that it goes to Zhovkva. Trip takes about 30 minutes and costs really not so much, around 5 grivens.
Mini bus to Olesko is running from Bus Station nr. 2, that is on Khmelnytsky str. 225, so if you live in center, you also need to use public transportation for about 15 - 20 min to get to that adress. Journey took a bit more than 1 hour and cost 10 grivens.
Public transportation in Lviv is quite flexible in time and locations of stations, but just old one. They have buses, trolleybuses, trams.
If you use bus, it cost you 2 grivens for one ride, just give grivens to driver. It is strange, as driver don't give you any ticket, just if you ask so. Sometimes it looked like they could tell: "hey, you have no ticket, I don't remember you paid or not", so few times I asked for ticket.
If you go by trolleybus or tram, you need a ticket from kiosk or driver, it is cheaper, 1,5 grivens. Actually I used public transportation to my host place, to Lychakiv cemetery, to the main and Nr. 2 bus stations.
I was lucky to find out, that there are two trips bus bus per week from Vilnius to Lviv. It was just for summer season, that ended in end of September. Usually there are only one trip, that is not so comfortable if you stay in Lviv a bit less than a week.
I started my trip at 17:40 and ended up in the morning 08:00 in Lviv. This time was with frontier check (as Ukraine already not in EU). Coming back was also like that, just a bit longer. The price for return ticket was 276 lt (it is around 80 euros).
The central bus station is quite far away from center, so I needed to catch a bus and trip to center took around 20-30 minutes.
If you are travelling around Ukraine by car or other motor vehicle the estimated time to travel to L'viv from other western city Ivano-Frankivsk is between 5-6 hours and that includes time to stop for lunch and the odd toilet break. Ukrainian roads can be very treacherous especially the further out of the city you are so take care especially if using a hire car.
An easy and cheap way to travel to and from L'viv from other major cities is to travel by train. Train tickets can be bought on the day (if available) from the train station or can be booked in advance through websites. (I use http://www.e-kvytok.com.ua/wps/portal - please see other tip for guidance with booking tickets through this way) Ukrainian trains usually offer 3 different types of accommodation.
1st Class - 2 beds with a table, storage facility above.
2nd Class- 4 beds (bunk beds)
3rd Class- Dormitory style beds leading down the wagon.
I travelled from L'viv to Kyiv, We boarded the night train at approx 10:00 in the evening and departed around 45 minutes after that. There will be a steward who shows you to your cabin and roughly half an hour into your travel she will offer you tea, coffee and juice (which you will pay for before you arrive at your destination the following morning). There may also be some biscuits, crisps and other snacks waiting for you in your cabin but these must also be paid for before you arrive at your destination.
During my trip from L'viv to Kyiv I stayed in the 1st class cabin and found it to be very comfortable, of course I was woken a little during the night when we passed other trains or we went over a bumpy track but all in all I really enjoyed the trip and it is a very easy way to travel from one city to the other without cutting into your vacation time.
The steward on our train wagon was very friendly and polite, she could not speak English which didn't really matter because we didn't need her for anything other than ordering tea or coffee. The cabins were well presented, clean and tidy. I would highly recommend this form of travel.
I would highly recommend buying drinks and snacks for your journey before you arrive at the train station as the kiosks on the platforms are quite expensive.
During my stay in Lviv I had several cab service numbers stored in my phone book and they came in handy.
Here are some phone numbers for you:
+38 032 270 36 44
+38 032 295 00 00
+38 032 221 65 65
+38 032 297 14 38.
The cab fare was from 25 UAH to 40 UAH depending on the distance and the time of the day.
As of October 2011, the prices might reach 50 or 60 UAH.
We took streetcar # 2 and #7 when it was necessary.
All in all there are nine streetcar routes in Lviv.
Here's a map of the routes (in Ukrainian):
The entire length of streetcar routes of Lviv is 67 kilometers.
There are three types of streetcars.
The fare is 1 UAH (as of May 2010).
You can buy tickets at a kiosk in the street or from the streetcar driver, if you enter the first door. Don't forget to validate your ticket at once. If you do not validate your ticket before the next stop, you can be fined. The fine is 20 UAH.
May 31, 1894 is the birthday of Lviv streetcars.
As of today, there are seventy-eight bus routes, nine tram routes and ten trolley-bus routes in Lviv. Now the program of reorganization of the city transport is under way. Next time I arrive to Lviv, I will see fewer buses in the city center and a more effective transport system.
Travelling by train in the Ukraine is very cheap, but due to this, trains are often fully booked. This means you should buy your tickets well in advance, especially in the summer season.
Many long distance trains go overnight and usually have 3 types of classes:
- 2-berth compartment (Spalny, 1st class)
- 4-berth compartment (Kupe, 2nd class)
- open-plan compartment (Platskartny, 3rd class)
Probably the best and cheapest option is to buy your tickets in the train booking office at Hnatyuka Street 20, which is one of the side streets heading west from Svobody Prospekt.
Of course you also get train tickets at some travel agencies and the train station, but here you might be charged an extra booking fee.
Among others I have bought the following tickets in the Ukraine:
Lviv -> Kiev: 81,45 UAH (06.2007)
Ternopil -> Lviv: 24,14 UAH (05.2008)
Lviv -> Budapest (H); 283,08 UAH (05.2008).
Just as an example, the train Lviv to Kiev was an overnight train (#82) leaving Lviv at 23:20 h and arriving in Kiev at 9:58 h the next morning. We stayed in a 4-berth compartment (Kupe, 2nd class).
There are flights to twelve different destination abroad from the airport.
Eleven airlines provide the flights.
Also, there are four flights to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, and one flight to Simferopol, the capital of Crimea.
Lviv International Airport for Euro-2012
On November 9, 2011 Lviv airport was named after King Daniel.
So Lviv has King Daniel Aiport now.
On our trips to Lviv in 2007 and 2008 we arrived and left the city by train. Lviv is a major railway hub and you can get to almost everywhere in the Ukraine as well as to many big cities in other European countries.
Among them are Vienna (A), Budapest (H), Kosice (SK), Warsaw (PL), Moscow (RUS) and many more.
Travelling by train within the Ukraine is still very cheap, but also very slow. Most important it is always interesting and exciting, especially when arriving from a western European country because then the bogeys of the carriages have to be changed at the border.
Please also read my "Buying a train ticket in the Ukraine" tip for more info on this subject.
Lviv's main train station can be found approximately 2 km east of the city centre at Dvirtseva Square 1. Trams no. 1, 6 and 9 serve the route to the train station.
Lviv's public transport system consists of trams, trolley buses and buses. During our visits of Lviv, we mostly used the trams as they cover most of the city.
The tram tracks and the vehicles themselves are in a really bad condition, but honestly speaking this adds up to the special charm of Lviv.
Tickets cost 0,75 UAH (2008) and can directly be bought from a conductor who is usually on the vehicle. If for any reason there isn't a conductor then you can also buy the ticket from the driver.
If the vehicle is crowded then just hand the money to the person next to you and so on. After a certain time a ticket will come back on the same way.
Nowadays tickets have to be validated in one of the provided stamp machines. On each vehicle a new ticket has to be bought.
Lviv is connected with several European cities by rail:
The railway station building is protected by law as an architectural monument called the Railway Palace.
There is a good waiting room with a bar inside the railway station.
The cab fare to the railway station from downtown may vary from 25 to 40 UAH depending on the time of the day.
New Krakow-Lviv Train
One day when the weather was rainy, we decided to continue our exploration and took a city tour bus from Market Square.
It cost 30 UAH for one hour.
The carriages have microphones for simultaneous translation of the excursion (we did not check them out, though).
Every passenger can listen to the excursion in four languages through headphones: Ukrainian, English, Russian, German and Italian.
It was great to see a lot of streets and buildings that we would not have seen otherwise.
We also managed to take several pictures, although it was not easy on the way.
The address of the bus stop is 7 Market Square.
The company name Chudo means miracle in English.
So I can say our bus tour was a real miracle then.
The Wonder Train is indeed a unique excursion bus in Ukraine.
This first sightseeing train began its service in 2008 and has been very popular since that time.
The train can seat up to 56 passengers.
The train has a transparent glass roof and big windows for a better view.
The train departs every hour from Market Square from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m.
Wonder Train in Lviv
Lviv is the most important hub for all visiting Western Ukraine by train.
If you want to buy your train tickets more comfortably you may do it in the booking office in the city (Hnatyuka 20) or in the nice and almost empty lounge upstairs in the railway station building. Be prepared to pay an extra 5 UAH for entering this room - and if you dont speak Ukrainian or Russian it might still be difficult to get what you want if you do not do it the way which is always best: to write the destination (you may do it even in Latin characters), the train number, the class and the travel day on a piece of paper and hand the paper over to the lady in the ticket booth.
And keep always in mind that you may ONLY buy tickets and make reservations for trains to foreign destinations as far as post-Soviet trains or carriages are running.