Lviv’s Lake District
Lviv is becoming increasingly famed as one of the architectural pearls of Eastern Europe, but amid all the spires and dreamily crafted masonry of the Lviv skyline the city is still clearly missing one key element – a waterfront. Lviv simply has no river to speak of, and the city’s troubled water supply has been a thorny subject among local citizens for over a hundred years, with many residents still suffering from restricted supplies and regular cut-offs. This lack of waterways in the downtown area helps to create a pressure-cooker micro-climate in central Lviv which can quite literally turn the inner city into a sultry giant sauna on a summer’s afternoon. The only way you can hope to beat this relentless dry heat is by heading out of the city and refreshing yourself in the stunning countryside which rings the West Ukrainian capital. Lviv is unusual among Europe’ surviving medieval cities in that it no longer lies along the banks of a major river. This apparent disadvantage is a relatively new concern in the history of the city, but in truth even when a river did run through the city it was always Lviv’s convenient location in relation to the trade routes of the Carpathian mountains which safeguarded its place as a key regional trading post. Luckily the absence of rivers or other water sources in Lviv itself is more than made up for in the surrounding countryside, with a number of spots offering bathing and beach opportunities amid what is a rapidly improving hospitality infrastructure of health resorts and hotels.
With many Ukrainians looking to economise on their summer holidays, these local options are starting to receive more attention on the domestic tourism market, but at present they are relatively unknown among international tour operators. As the sector grows we can expect to witness the appearance of more and more three and four-star facilities seeking to capitalize on the beauty and spring water wealth of the Lviv countryside, but for the time being Lviv’s Lake District is a gem which remains largely undiscovered by the outside world.
The simple pleasures of Vynnyky Lake
Located just a ten minute drive from the Lviv city limits, the town of Vynnyky is a de facto suburb o f today’s Lviv, making its lake a conveniently placed spot for a summer afternoon away from the urban bustle. The large recreational area around the lake is modest but well looked after, while kids will love the inflatable slides located on a sandy beach adjourning the lake itself. Barbeque grills can be rented out if you have brought your own shashlyk with you, and we would certainly recommend that you do so as the only viable alternatives are likely to be bottom bracket kiosk snacks such as hot dogs, savoury wafers and ham flavoured peanuts. The wine list is also fairly restricted here, but revellers will be able to count on a wide range of tepid alcopops, sickly sweet champagnski and warm beer to wash down all those over-salted snacks. Buses run from Vynnyky Lake to Lviv every hour until 23.45. The journey takes about 40 minutes.
Healthy hotels looking to capitalise on medicinal tourism boom Brukhovychi Lake, which lies just six kilometres to the northwest of Lviv, is home to ‘Kolyba’ resort complex, which is one of a growing number of resorts looking to combine leisure with health tourism aspects. As the global market grows for medical tourism so the connected market for medicinal tourism is also expected to expand, and Lviv entrepreneurs are hopeful of becoming recipients
of the growing revenues this market is expected to generate. The resort is designed in a traditional Ukrainian rural style, with artefacts brought from Ukraine’s deep south Bukovina region including a 118 year old peasant hut which takes pride of place in the complex. Individual cottages are available for rent and are ideal for families with young children. A mini-zoo, meanwhile, will keep the little ones entertained once they’ve tired of water sports.
One of Lviv region’s most revered reports is the ‘Uzlissya’, a 30 year old legend which is located 25km from the city amid lakes. Covering an area of more the 22 hectares, ‘Uzlissya’ is one of the largest resort complexes in the region and offers an echo of the old centrally-planned leisure mammoths of the Soviet Empire, when entire factory workforces had to be catered for at giant complexes throughout the USSR. However, there is no longer a sense of shabby post-Soviet neglect ot much trace of the notorious Soviet-style ‘service with a scowl’ mentality at ‘Uzlissya’ thanks to a major overhaul and renovation programme initiated in 2004. As well as a wide range of standard water sports and beach activities, guests can also indulge in slightly more cutting edge activities such as paintballing,
mountain biking or sailing. Meanwhile, the jewel in the crown at ‘Uzlissya’ remains its revered bath house, which is located in fairytale style in the middle of the lake itself and which boasts massage rooms as well as a Russian sauna.
Rigorous souls should loan up their raiding parties and head to Lviv’s very own homage to Viking culture located in the forests close to Bibrka. ‘Buhta Vikingiv’ resort complex is a sports fan’s dream and a beach bum’s paradise, making it among the most popular options among Lviv locals who are not planning on an overseas beach holiday this year. A reconstruction of a Viking longboat sits in the lake, while the stunning surrounding countryside is utilized for everything from fishing lessons to mountain biking. Alpine cottages are available for rent close to the water’s edge, while wannabe Cossacks will be able to spend the day in the saddle courtesy of the resort’s nearby riding school.
There are even asphalt paths cut through sections of the forest to allow those on bicycles and roller blades to enjoy the experience. The emotively named ‘Magic Valley’ complex is yet another homage to outdoor pursuits and offers up a particularly picturesque environment set in countryside 30km from Lviv close to the village of Rodatychi close to two lakes. Novelties include mini-golf, tennis and even a football pitch, which will make this resort particularly
appealing to the crowds expected to attend Euro 2012. The twin lakes make this a popular spot with fishermen, and fishing kit can be hired in its entirety at the resort. If you are lucky enough to catch anything impressive, the hotel restaurant will prepare it for you and serve it up in style.
Perhaps the best known of Lviv’s out-of-town leisure options remains ‘Knyazhi Ozera’, which is located in a fast-developing dacha region on the Lviv outskirts and yet offers a window on the ancient Halychian countryside. Not everyone fancies swimming in the lakes around Lviv due to
concerns over water quality and waste management issues, but the lakes dotted around the ‘Knyazhi Ozera’ complex are thought to be among the ecologically cleanest in the region, while boasting some of the sandiest beaches.
Rowing boats are available for hire and a special children’s playground will help entertain kids on long, hot afternoons.
Lviv Lake District resorts
Tel: + 38 (0322) 59-31-41, + 38 (0322) 93-70-82
Теl.: +38 (050) 3171246, +38 (03263) 41658
Tel. + 38 (032) 240-34-28,
Mob.+38 (067) 512-55-55
1 Ozerna str.
Tel. +38 (098) 450-45-67
Knyazhy Mist village
Tel.+38 (03234) 346-84,
+38 (067) 28-22-300