Lviv’s Walking Terrace Tour

Issue 79, May 2015.

Just as surely as trees and flowers blossoming, eggs being intricately decorated for Easter, and Leopolitans being freed from the constraining bonds of their winter parkas, a sure sign of spring in Lviv is the glorious opening of the city’s myriad, magical patios. Dotting the cobblestone streets of Lviv’s city centre like pawns on a chess board, the opening of the patios – or summer terraces as they’re known as here – is a sure sign that summer is just around the corner. With virtually every business in the downtown core offering some sort of sidewalk sanctuary, it can be difficult to decide where to spend your hard-earned money and leisure time. So Lviv Today has put together this guide – a walking terrace tour that will take you through some of the city’s most stunning scenery and sumptuous bistros.

First let it be said that while some cities have places you need to see, Lviv has places you need to be. So many places, in fact, that any list of favourites or recommendations is bound to overlook some mighty fine locales. In addition to the places we cover in this article, we wholeheartedly recommend stopping in at any place that looks interesting – dodge into those narrow alleyways, peek into those ancient courtyards, climb up those extra flights of stairs – you’re bound to find one of Lviv’s hidden gems that havn’t made this article. That being said, we believe we have you covered. So here it is: Lviv’s Walking Terrace Tour.

The Rynok Square Tour

Highlights: Terasa Na Rynku (1 Rynok Sq.), Lviv Coffee Manufacturer  (10 Rynok Sq.), Kryivka (14 Rynok Sq.), Italian Courtyard Café (6 Rynok Sq.)

Our tour begins in the heart of the city in Lviv’s UNESCO-recognized city centre, Ploshcha Rynok (Rynok Square). If you’re looking to enjoy the ambiance of a true European central market square, this is the place for you. With shops bustling with excited sightseers, streets lined with leisurely Leopolitans, and street performances that vary from fervently patriotic to cutting-edge artistic to quaintly clichéd, a seat on one of the square’s many patios is a treasured spot for locals and tourists alike. Why not start at Terasa Na Rynku (Terrace on the Market), in the shade of the City Tower? Located near Lviv’s newest must-see pub – the terrace-less Pravda Beer Theatre – this lush eatery features comfortable couches, fantastic sightlines, and traditional Galician cuisine. At the southeast corner of the square, near the 18th-Century statue of the Roman goddess Diana, sits the Lviv Coffee Manufacturer. This trendy place is always hopping – in fact, it is known for being the favourite place of Okean Elzy frontman, Lviv’s own Svyatoslav Vakharchuk. Besides a very cool tour through the underground coffee mine and a wonderful little shop that will satiate any of your coffee-related needs, the patio is one of the hippest places in Lviv’s city centre. Located right in the middle of the building, this trendy, little nook was recently given a covering, making it an ideal place for one of those warm, rainy Leopolitan afternoons. There is no smoking here, so it also makes it a nice place for those averse to the habit.

Next on our list is a place much more notable for its inside atmosphere than its outdoor terrace. But no Lviv experience is complete without a visit to Kryivka (Hideout). One of the most visited restaurants in all of Europe, you’re likely to have to wait in line to get inside (to get outside), but it is well worth the wait. The place is themed after the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and your table is sure to be checked for “Russian sympathisers” by one of the locale’s costumed actors, which has obviously taken on an entirely new meaning over the last year. You should also check out Lviv’s Italian Courtyard Café. One of the most romantic places in the city, the courtyard frequently offers live music and theatrical performances. You may want to try “Grandma’s Recipe”, a tasty specialty of vodka, cinnamon, and apple juice found at the café.

The City Centre Tour

Highlights: Try Mitly (1 Yavorsky Sq.), Café One (5 Katedralna Sq.), Dzyga (35 Virmenska St.),Kumpel (Mytna Sq.), Chleb I Wino (15 Virmenska St.), Royal Brewery (9 Staroyevreyska St.), Dim Lehenda (48 Staroyevreyska St.), Gazova Lampa (20 Virmenska St.)

Of course, there are plenty of other cool places in the City Centre that are just off the main square. Head just west of the square towards Hotel Leopolis to discover the quiet Stefan Yavorsky Square. There are a few patios located right next to each other, but we recommend Try Mitly (Three Broomsticks) – the Harry Potter-themed venue. Fans of the book and film series will love the interior, where you can don robes and wands for photos, but the outdoor terrace, located right in front of the 17th-Century, early baroque Jesuit Church, is one of the more relaxing spots for a coffee or a cold one. They also offer some of the tastiest appetizers in the city, including the mashed potato fries and the cheese log. Nearby, in Katedralna Square, you’ll find the cozy Café One. Located near Lviv’s oft-photographed “kissing sign”, it rests in a secluded spot that has long been a favourite haunt for locals. Their fine selection of European fare is highlighted by a range of French and Italian wines.

On the other side of Ploshcha Rynok, along Virmenska St., you’ll find the patio next to Dzyga. Dzyga has been the heart of Lviv’s artistic scene for well over a decade and offers an ever-changing art gallery inside and one of the coolest outdoor terraces in Lviv. As sponsor of several Leopolitan artistic festivals each year, including the popular Lviv Jazz Fest, it wouldn’t be surprising to run into a local (or even national) celebrity while sipping on some of Lviv’s tastiest coffee. One popular specialty, especially in darker hours, is their flaming coffee. Of course you’ll also want to check out Lviv’s first brew pub, Kumpel. Located near Lviv’s medieval Arsenal fortress, this is still a popular stop for thirsty locals. While there are plenty of other microbreweries in the city now, Kumpel is still known for its dark, light, and red brews that have become a staple of Lviv’s pub life.

On the other side of the square you’ll find two restaurants that offer a little peace and quiet from the busy crowds in Lviv’s central square. Chleb i Wino (Bread and Wine) offers visitors the unique atmosphere of an authentic 19th-Century Lviv Tavern, replete with uniformed trumpeter and a candlelit boutique interior designed to pay tribute to a more aristocratic time. The elegant terrace is located directly inside the crumbling walls of the old fortress. Not far away, you’ll find the regal Royal Brewery. Situated right in the heart of the old city, its outdoor terrace is located in a courtyard away from the street, allowing for a more relaxing atmosphere. Of course, the Gothic-style fountains and statues of goddesses only add to the ambiance. Relax near their burning fire while enjoying one of their exclusive, locally-brewed beers.

Of course, no tour of city centre would be complete without visiting two of Lviv’s most iconic restaurants – Dim Lehenda (The House of Legends) and Gazova Lampa (Gas Lamp). Dim Lehenda is one of the most popular places in the city. The eccentricity of this eclectic eatery begins as you are greeted by a chimneysweep at the door, continues through seven wildly varying themed floors, and continues right up to the antique car that sits on its rooftop patio. The views from the patio are stunning – part of the reason for its popularity – so be sure to make reservations if you want to find a table. Gazova Lampa provides another wonderful rooftop terrace and one of the largest collections of gas lamps in Europe to boot. This makes sense, seeing as though Lviv brought the world the handy lantern in the mid-19th-Century. Follow your vintage-dressed guide to the roof for one of the best views of the entire city.

The Prospekt Svoboda Tour

Highlights: Livyy Bereh (28 Svoboda Ave.), Panorama Hotel & Restaurant (45 Svoboda Ave.),Wien Hotel (12 Svoboda Ave.),Gloria Café (1 Mickiewicza Square), Dublin Irish Pub (5 Kryva Lypa Passage), Play Bar (6 Kryva Lypa Passage)

Another major tourist draw is Prospekt Svoboda and Lviv’s iconic Opera & Ballet Theatre situated at the end of the promenade. Both a major thoroughfare as well as a place to be seen, this is where many of the city’s most influential protests occurred, including for independence and during the Orange Revolution and EuroMaidan. You’ll need to have a drink on the Livyy Bereh (Left Bank) terrace located on either side of the fountain in front of the Opera House. From here you can watch as lovestruck young men wait patiently to present flowers to their doting sweethearts, enjoy children boogeying around the square in one of a dozen miniature vehicles, or join the locals in cooling off in the fountain. There may be no better people-watching patio in the entire city! Unless, of course, you prefer the bird’s-eye view; in which case head across the street to the Panorama Hotel’s rooftop patio. From the 7th-floor terrace, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the entire promenade, and it is well worth the price of a coffee.

From here, head on down the boulevard towards the Wien Hotel (Vienna Hotel) located behind the Shevchenko monument. Feel free to challenge one of the seniors on the walkway’s benches to a game of chess – a proud Leopolitan tradition. Then cool off on the hotel’s patio. Evenings see the patio behind you turn into one of Lviv’s hottest nightclubs, Fashion Club. The last must-see spot on the Prospekt is Gloria Café, located beside Hotel George. Considered to be the finest coffeehouse in the city, the café regularly wins competitions for its coffees. The relaxing atmosphere draws some of the city’s most influential movers-and-shakers, as well as some of its most beautiful. No patio tour is complete without a visit to Gloria.

For the final stop on the tour, head on over to the difficult-to-spot Kryva Lypa Passage. Located just off Prospekt Svoboda between Petra Doroshenka and Sichovykh Strilitsiv Streets, the five-minute walk will bring you to a wonderful alley oasis. This backstreet pedestrian promenade features several interesting places to visit, including the always popular Dublin’s Irish Pub and the upscale, trendy Play Bar. Dublin’s offers your standard Irish pub fare, complete with Guinness and Harp on draught, and one of the largest patios in the city. Play Bar is a café by day and thumping night club by night. Featuring a fine array of Western dishes, you’re likely to meet some of the city’s most well-dressed and attractive young lads and lasses.

No matter where you decide to sit down, lounging on one of Lviv’s ubiquitous summer terraces is one of Lviv’s most quintessential pasttimes. How many do you still need to see? 

Sky Dining in Magnificent Lviv:

Enjoy Delicious Galician Food with Unsurpassed Skyline Backdrop

The well-known first rule of real estate is “location, location, location” and you’ll note that all of these properties have this in common. Each of these restaurants is located in a prime Leopolitan location – so you’ll not only enjoy the food, but also the view, be it the wondrous nightlit landscape or the lush, natural landscape. The city is known just as much for its beautiful and historic architecture as it is for its cloudy, drizzly days, so if you find yourself looking for alternative sightseeing plans on a rainy, Leopolitan day, these offer some of the finest substitutes the city has to offer. Most visitors like to view the city from its most famous viewpoints – High Castle Park or the balcony at City Hall – but you can get similar views without from any of these locales without getting yourself or your camera wet! There are several restaurants in the city that offer panoramic views, which can save you some valuable sightseeing time as you enjoy our luscious, Galician cuisine. Here are the seven best that the city has to offer:

Panorama at Panorama Hotel (45 Svobody Ave.)

This is the place that every Leopolitan takes their foreign visitors and it’s understandable just why – it offers one of the best views in the entire city! This stylish and elegant restaurant is located right in the heart of the city on the 7th floor of the Panorama Lviv Hotel. The Panorama restaurant invites visitors to enjoy its exquisitely rich and tasty cuisine and unmatched view of the Opera House and Lviv’s historical centre.

The large panoramic terrace and window-side tables are extremely popular. You can enjoy the unique city landscape here even on a rainy day. The menu is an international fusion of flavours and the price includes the view. The delicious combination of Mediterranean and European fare cooked in the Spanish “Josper” oven makes Panorama among the most famous eateries in Lviv. The menu is based on light salads, refreshing soups, and dishes prepared in the restaurant’s special charcoal stoves. There are also delicious dishes of fish and meat, as well as exclusive chef-prepared light desserts. The refined atmosphere of the Panorama, the live music, the professional staff, and the breathtaking view will make your stay unforgettable!

Terazza at St. Feder Hotel (3 Zvenyhorodska Sq.)

Lviv’s St. Feder Hotel may not be the tallest building in the city centre, but its top-floor restaurant offers one of the best panoramic views of the city. Located in the city centre near Rynok Square and the Opera House, Terazza serves up a combination of succulent Mediterranean cuisine featuring traditional Italian and French dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. Known for being one of Lviv’s most ambitious restaurants – meaning it’s also on the pricey side – everything from the service to the food to the view are certainly worth the splurge. The best part – you don’t need to stay in the hotel to enjoy the wonderful view!

Valentino at the Swiss Hotel (20 Knyazya Romana St.)

From the very first impression, the Italian restaurant Valentino will immerse you into a friendly, artistic décor that elegantly combines large tables with more private alcoves. Undoubtedly the highlight of the venue is its glass-roofed hall; with plenty of light and greenery, it can make you feel as if you are in the Garden of Eden. The delectable and sophisticated cuisine is based on ultra-fresh products and traditional recipes. They haven’t forgotten the smallest ones here either, as there is a specially-designed menu and children’s room just for them. Surely the secure parking and free WiFi are also pleasant additions.

For couples looking for a romantic wedding locale there is a wonderful alternative – Valentino’s panoramic terrace. With its remarkable view of the city centre coupled with the magical domes of several churches, this fantastic place seems specially-made for romantic stories of love, passion, and happy endings.

Garmata at Citadel Inn Hotel (11 Hrabovskogo St.)

The top of the Citadel Inn Hotel was reserved to offer guests and non-guests alike with one of the finest views of Lviv, yet it remains a local secret tucked away from the beaten tourist beat. Spectacular views of the city combined with delectable European cuisine are set to pleasantly surprise and inspire each guest with thoughts of romantic splendour. Whether beginning your day with a tasty breakfast at Garmata, combining business with pleasure over a business lunch, or enjoying a romantic dinner or a cherished family celebration, the outstanding view of the city skyline will be well worth the extra fare.

PartyFon at TM Roksolana (14 Soborna Sq.)

There is always something going on at Lviv’s hip and stylish PartyFon; a luxury restaurant with a stunning interior, austere elegance, and gorgeous city view by day, it’s also a trendy club with brilliant programming by night. This glorious venue is one of Lviv’s most pleasant spots on warmer days, where you can enjoy an exciting a la carte menu from a seasoned chef, arrange a photo session on the terrace with its impressive views, or relax with your very own hookah. By night, the spot turns into a hopping club with girls’ nights, provocative theme parties, and special musical accompaniment by the all-girl house band PartyOn. No matter whether you have the most demanding gourmet tastes, or the need for a truly trendy clubbing experience, PartyFon is the place for you!

Rooftop Terrace at Leopolis Boutique Hotel (16 Teatralna St.)

Luxurious, top-notch, and hidden from everybody – the Leopolis Hotel’s Rooftop Terrace is the most exclusive place to dine in Lviv. This cosy venue serves upscale regional as well as traditional European fare in an upbeat, casual atmosphere. Although the ground-floor bar and midlevel dining areas are pleasant, diners clamour for a seat on the rooftop patio for its inspiring views of the ancient Leopolitan skyline and the glittering beauty of the stars. So popular that an advanced table booking is required, the food ranges from old standards to sophisticated dishes which are as light and airy as the view. The place is hopelessly romantic, but in a way that never feels mawkish, which gives this charming rooftop venue a claim as the most popular hotspot for both locals and guests of the city. With only four tables, you’ll be sure to get a little privacy – just remember to book in advance! Call (032) 295-9500 for reservations.

Dim Legend or House of Legends (48 Staroyevreyska St.)

The seven-storey restaurant known as Dim Legend (House of Legends) sits in the heart of the city centre and remains one of Lviv’s most popular tourist attractions. The facility is a project of the ‘!Fest’ network that consists of conceptual Ukrainian and European culinary fare. The restaurant offers unique dining experiences on each floor – including rooms dedicated to Time, Poltva, the Lion, Pavement, and the Library – but if you are really looking for knockout scenery, head up to the very top. The venue offers two terraces, one of which is located right on the roof and offers stunning views of the Old City (as well as a certain old car…). Don’t forget to climb into the chimney and throw some pennies into the hat of the little statue sitting nearby to be sure to leave with a little extra luck!

Chas Kavy or Coffee Time at TM Skrynya (179 Horodotska St.)

Fact: Coffee tastes better when you’re high. The seating at this small café, tucked just four stories up and overlooking Lviv’s statuesque Railway Station, is as old-world as it is enchanting. The service is more than friendly, there’s always an interesting conversation going on at the next table, and the delicious desserts of cakes and sweets are prepared with loving care. Offering a bird’s-eye view of the station’s platforms, relax with a warm cup of Leopolitan brew all the while watching the hectic atmosphere of the city’s busiest transit hub. The juxtaposition is as delicious as the cakes!