Lviv is the cultural capital of Ukraine and one of the must-see places in this country. And while Lviv is full of things to do, from the unique museums to the themed restaurants, there’s so much stuff off the beaten path for you to see. If you are staying long enough in Lviv and want to see the area around then you should take a few day trips. I have previously recommended a day trip “Castles of Lviv” during which you will see three beautiful castles around Lviv (Olesko Castle, Pidhirtsi Castle and Zlochev Castle.). Another great one is a day trip from Lviv to Zhovkva.
Zhovkva is a small town just outside Lviv. It was built as a private fortified town in 1597 that included a castle, churches, a town hall, and other structures. Luckily almost all the buildings were preserved until now and are open for visitors.
Zhovkva is located just 25 minutes’ drive from Lviv (about 40 minutes from the center of Lviv). To get to Zhovkva you can go by Uber or simply by bus. Cody and I decided to take a bus. I recommend to not leave your apartment earlier than 10 AM, so you don’t have to wake up early and will have more than enough time to explore Zhovkva.
The Uber taxi from the center of Lviv to the center of Zhovkva will cost you about 350 UAH ($13).
There are many buses that go to Zhovkva from Lviv, but I recommend taking bus #295 or S19 from the “Hotel Lviv”. The price is 20 UAH ($0.80) per person. You can pay directly to the driver. Just remember that the city buses in Ukraine are not the best in term of comfort, so it is going to be an adventure for you.
To get back you can go the same way you came to Zhovkva. At the very same spot where the bus stops in the center of Zhovkva there will be some busses that go back to Lviv. You just will need to ask the driver “Lviv?” and if he says “Da” or “Tak” then get on the bus and give him 20 UAH per person. I recommend leaving before 7 PM, although if you will want to stay longer you can just order a taxi in the Uber app which is very easy to do, or stay overnight at the hotel in Zhovkva.
Although Zhovkva is a small town, it is quite beautiful. There are some great cultural and historical structures that you must see during your day trip from Lviv to Zhovkva.
The first and the most important building to visit in Zhovkva is its castle. This is the oldest and the biggest structure in town. This was the home to famous hetman and town founder Stanisław Żółkiewski, and the Polish King John III Sobieski.
During my visit to the castle I had mixed feelings about this place. Why? Because it is a great structure, a beautiful castle that should be taken care of, but for some reason only a small part of the castle is repaired and most of the building is in bad shape, including the courtyard. It is a pity that the Ukrainian government is not interested in preserving cultural heritage. But even so the place is worth the visit.
To get inside the castle’s rooms and the courtyard you need to buy a ticket at the entrance (left door). The price per person is 60 UAH ($2.30). After buying the ticket one of the castle staff will show you around. Unfortunately, they do not speak English but even so the staff are very friendly and will be glad to show you around.
Hours: Every day except Monday, from 10 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 5 PM;
Price: 60 UAH ($2.30) per person;
Time needed for the excursion: 30 – 40 minutes (everything depends on you).
Location: пл. Вічева, 2, Zhovkva, 80300
The old town museum in Zhovkva is located inside the town hall (ratusha). It has a nice, although not a very tall clock tower.
To visit the Old Town Museum, get on the second floor of town hall and ring in the brown door on your right (that is the museum). Someone will come and open it for you. The entrance to museum is 30 UAH ($1.20).
This museum is quite unique and interesting. The expositions are located along the staircase that leads to the top of the clock tower. On the way to the top there will be a few black phones that you can check out and listen to the old records of Stepan Bandera, Winston Churchill and others.
At the top of the museum you will see a white door that leads to the outside balcony. You can open the door and let yourself outside. The top of the clock tower opens a fantastic view on the city and the castle that any visitor to Zhovkva has to experience.
I want to give you guys just one warning: please walk very carefully on the staircases to not ruin exhibitions and, of course, on the balcony as well.
Price: 30 UAH ($1.20) per person
Hours: open every day on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 AM to 5 PM, on the rest of the days from 10 AM to 6 PM. Lunch from 1 PM to 2 PM;
Time needed for the excursion: not more than 30 minutes;
St. Lawrence’s Church was built by an Italian architect as a pantheon of Stanisław Żółkiewski and his family sometime between 1606 and 1618. The church was later turned into a warehouse during the Soviet Union Regime.
The church is must visit place in Zhovkva. Although during our visit the gate door was closed, we were able to admire the inside beauty just through the metal bars.
Time needed: 10 – 15 minutes
Location: Т1425, Zhovkva, Lviv Oblast, 80300
The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most beautiful and unique churches in Zhovkva. The church was built even before the city was established. However, after the castle was built the old church was demolished and the new stone church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus rose over the city.
The new stone church is built in the Renaissance style with white outside walls and a dark rooftop. Next to the church is a bell tower built in the same style.
Time needed: 10 – 15 minutes.
Location: Zhovkva, Lviv Oblast, 80300
By the end of the 17th century, Zhovkva was the center of a growing Jewish community. In the 1690s the Synagogue was built and in the following century Zhovkva had become an important worship center.
It was a great city to protect the Jewish people, with surrounding walls and underground shelters that exist even now. The synagogue was a great example of late Renaissance and Baroque styles.
Unfortunately, during World War II, Zhovkva was under Nazi control and they detonated a bomb from inside the synagogue. This detonation ruined most of the interior and the roof, the outside walls for some reason survived the explosives.
After the war, the synagogue was used as a warehouse, which ruined the building even more. After Ukraine obtained independence there were a few attempts to restore the synagogue but unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough funding.
Nowadays the ruins of synagogue are gated, and people are not allowed to get to close to the building which can collapse. However even from behind the fence, the synagogue still looks impressive and gives you a feeling that it was once a great structure.
The Holy Trinity Church is a wooden church that was built in 1720 after the previous church burned down three years before. This wooden church contains more than 50 icons that were painted by the students of the Zhovkva Painting and Carving School. In 2013 this wooden church made the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Unfortunately, during our visit to Zhovkva, the Holy Trinity Church was under construction and we couldn’t go inside the church. But I can tell that even outside the walls look super old and timeless.
Location: Т1425, Zhovkva, Lviv Oblast, 80300
If you are going to Zhovkva for a day trip you probably are planning to get lunch somewhere. Here is a list of some places you might be interested to visit.
Kazemat is a restaurant where we got our lunch. It is located on the right side of the Town Hall (“Old Town Museum”) building. The restaurant has two halls: the first one looks like a basement and has the medieval vibe and the second is a glass terrace.
We chose this restaurant following great reviews from TripAdvisor and were not disappointed. The restaurant has quite a large menu with a good selection of meat dishes. The most recommended dish are the pork ribs, so that is what we got. The ribs had a great smoky flavour and were not too fatty which is what I like.
The restaurant also offers craft beer and hookah.
Price: our lunch for 3 people with beer cost us 500UAH ($18)
Hours: Monday – Thursday: from 11 AM to 11PM; Friday from 11 AM to 12 AM; Saturday, Sunday: from 12 PM to 1 AM
After wandering through the rooms of the Zhovkva castle we went to a coffee place that has pretty good reviews I must say that the place is tiny and is not what you expect from the café. The tall tables are located outside the café without chairs which is good for a quick break but not for a relaxing coffee break we all love.
The coffee though was very tasty. The place does focus on trendy Instagram worthy drinks, but they were delicious, nonetheless. We got one with whipped cream and marshmallows on top (you know, the kid’s style) and one simple cappuccino and both were very good. I do recommend this place for coffee lovers, just not for those who are looking for a cozy sitting area.
Price: cappuccino – 30 UAH ($1,2), coco with marshmallow – 40 UAH ($1,5);
Hours: every day from 9 AM to 9 PM;
Tsukernia is a small pastry shop for those who are looking for a quick snack. It was recommended to us by some locals, but unfortunately the place was closed during our visit and we were not able to try it. Maybe you guys will be luckier! Comment me your review, if you ever visit this place.
Hours: every day from 9 AM to 9 PM;
Location: Zhovkva, Lviv Oblast, 80300.
Although Zhovkva is a small town, there is a hotel where you can stay overnight if needed. Hotel Sobieski is ranked as 8.4 on booking and has great reviews (at least the ones I read). A room in this hotel costs around 600 UAH ($23). The hotel is located in the center of the city which is convenient for tourists.
Price: 600 UAH ($23);