Ukraine is a country that been overlooked in terms of tourism. Not many of you probably have been to Ukraine or even thought once of going there as a tourist. In fact, people don’t really understand why you would want to go there. Perhaps it is due to a lack of information or due to a recent political events, I wouldn’t know. But although Ukraine is not as popular as Czech Republic or Poland it is definitely worth a visit. And the best place to start exploring Ukraine is Lviv. It is a cute old city with an interesting history, beautiful architecture, tasty food and friendly people. And in this article is all the information you need to know before travel in Lviv and Ukraine in general.
The national currency of Ukraine is the Ukrainian Hryvnia. Currency rate (as of publication): $ 1 = 25 UAH; 1€ = 37 UAH.
If you brought your dollars or euros with you, there will be no problems exchanging them. All over the city you will find exchange places. They usually located in souvenirs stores (in the centre) and don’t charge fees. But be aware that the exchange rate can be different everywhere, so just walk around and find the best one.
Time zone: GMT +2;
The hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 24° C (75,2° F); the coldest month is January, with an average temperature of -5°C (32° F) but in a bad winter it can get to -20°C (-4° F). The rainiest months in Lviv are October and November; the least rainy is July.
The best month to travel in Lviv is September, when days are warm and temperature is between 15° C to 20° C (59-68° F), and nights are cool. Interesting fact: In the middle or the end of September comes a short period (1 to 1,5 weeks) of sharp warming. This period is called “Babene Lito” (Grandma’s summer).
Ukrainian is the official language, but everyone knows Ukrainian and Russian perfectly. English is a language that is becoming more and more popular and in Lviv you would not have problems communicating in English. All the people that work in the service sector know some English. Plus, Lviv is a city of students (every 5th person in Lviv is a student) and young people tend to know English.
If you are going to Kyiv (Kiev) or other parts of Ukraine communicating in English might be difficult, but people will still try to help you and you of course, can use a translator app.
Most people in Ukraine are Christians (87,4%). Eastern Orthodox (67,3%), Greek Catholic (9,4%) and Latin Catholic (0,8%) and other types of Christianity. A small part is Jewish (0,4%) and Buddhist, Hindu and Pagan each is 0,1%.
Ukraine in general is a pretty safe place for tourists if you of course are not going to the very East (for now). And Lviv is probably one of the safest cities in Ukraine.
Tourists are treated well here, and you don’t need to be worried that you will get robbed. Although I haven’t heard about pickpockets in Lviv (and I live here), you still should be aware of your surroundings.
All the restaurants in Lviv will take the cards or Google Pay, but be sure that your card works in Ukraine. Cody has an American card that has one of the biggest Ukrainian banks “Privat Bank” in a risk zone and so he cannot do any transactions through it (all the other banks are fine). So, you better find out if your bank has any restrictions and if it does, just prepare enough cash before going to dinner.
Public transportation is not that great as I would want, but it is just fine. To use buses, trolleybuses or trams is very easy. You don’t need to buy any tickets in advance, just prepare change and pay for the driver. The ticket price is around 8 UAH ($0,32).
However, I don’t think you would need to use public transportation in Lviv at all. The city is extremely walkable and you can get to main tourist attractions in 15 – 20 minutes. And if you will need to go somewhere further uber is very cheap ($2 – $3). Even to get to the airport from the centre will be around $3 – $4.
To travel in Lviv with a comfort you can buy a Lviv City Card that includes free rides on trolleybuses and trams. To find out more about the city card click here!
I don’t really recommend to rent a car in Lviv, since you would not need it, but you can rent a bicycle and have a nice ride around the old part of the city.
If you want to rent a car to do day trips or drive around the country, you should either arrange it online with hertz or avis, or you can go to their kiosk at the airport. Even if you want to take day trips places or visit another city, the best way is to go by shuttle van or train. That way you are guaranteed not to get lost, and you don’t need to worry about accidents.
Lviv is not an expensive city compared to other European cities and you can get a bed in a hostel for quite cheap ($5 – $15). If you want some privacy to rent a nice apartment on AirBnB or a room in a nice hotel will cost around $40 – $50 a night.
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For a nice dinner at one of the popular Lviv restaurants you will have to pay $15 (appetizer, main, drinks, and tip). You can also get a tasty meal in one of Ukrainian fast food restaurants like Puzata Hata for about $3 (no alcohol).
Restaurants: as a general rule, you are expected to tip 10% in restaurants and bars if the service was good.
Hotels: at the hotel depending on the services the staff provide you can tip at the end your stay 100 UAH $4, although it is not expected and perfectly alright if you won’t tip at all.
Taxi: In Ukraine you don’t usually tip the taxi driver, although uber has this option and if you liked the taxi driver you can tip him/her.