As well as being beautiful there are many quirky things to do in Lviv. It is by far the quirkiest city that I have visited so far. It was very cheap and there wasn’t as much of a language barrier as I expected, all of the menus were available in English. There were so many unusual experiences and themed restaurants that you can only find in Lviv.
Coffee Mining Manufacture
Lviv is a great destination for coffee lovers and Coffee Mining Manufacture was our favourite, we loved it so much that we went 3 times. It isn’t just a cafe, it has lots of different sections including: a gift shop; a pretty courtyard area and an underground mine!
The underground mine is a seating area under that coffee shop that is very dimly lit. You are given a hard hat at the entrance and walk through the passages until you reach the seating areas where you can order drink if you wish.
We had their famous ‘flaming coffee’ (around £1.50) which was a small coffee in a metal tin cup that had a layer of sugar on top. Then one of the waiters caramelises it with a huge blow torch in front of you in a very theatrical way. The flames go across the table and in some areas there are even scorch marks on the wall! Health and safety policies in Lviv seem very relaxed. Even though this is a very touristy cafe it is incredibly fun and very entertaining.
Yard of Lost Toys
This unique concept started when a resident found 2 lost toys and left them in the communal courtyard for the owner to reclaim. Instead more and more people started leaving lost or unwanted toys there. It is constantly changing as new ones are added and old ones are either claimed or make their way to a new home.
It has a bit of an eerie feel to it (not helped by the fact that we went when it was getting dark). It feels like a bizarre playground and there is even a red swing.
This underground bunker really encompasses the Ukrainian national spirit. Is the last hiding place of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army from world war II. Even on the official website for the address it says ‘somewhere at Rynok square’. It is unmarked however if you go during the evening there is often a queue outside.
We went in the afternoon and eventually located the inconspicuous door. We knocked and a man in uniform answered and asked for the password. We replied with “Slava Ukraini” which means glory to Ukraine. Then you walk down steps that lead to the underground bunker decorated with historical artefacts (shown in the video below). The day we went there was a band playing what we assumed were national songs and everyone was singing along. It was such a fun and surreal experience, Slava Ukraini!
The Most Expensive Galatian Restaurant
This is by far the most quirky restaurant I have ever been to, not because of the food (even though it was the best we had in food) but the theme and the way it is executed. It is based on the illuminati and has Masonic themed décor.
The first unusual thing is that the entrance is through a plain residential looking door. It is in the same complex as Kryjivka but up the stairs and immediately on the left. We knocked on the door and it was answered by a man in a dressing gown and pyjamas. He asked why we were there and we answered ‘this restaurant was recommended to us, we have heard you serve good food’, at which point we were invited in.
The room looks like a tiny apartment and he even had a pet rabbit. He got out a frying pan containing some potatoes and vegetables and said we could all have a meal. He then asked if we could count to 10 in any other language and after doing so in french we were told we could go through to the restaurant as long as we kept it a secret and pointed to a door at the back of the apartment.
Stepping through into the well decorated restaurant after the apartment felt very surreal. We sat down and were given the menu, which shows the price as 10 times its actual price (this is where the name Most Expensive Galician Restaurant comes from). Prior to going we had read that you need to pick up a special card from Kryjivka or the house of legends to get the discounted price. However they don’t seem to do this anymore. Just say that it is too expensive and they will divide the prices by 10. The meal has a fine dining feel to it and the food is even served covered with dinner plates.
Also at the back of the restaurant is a toilet that looks like a bank vault from the outside and on the inside was covered with stacks of fake money.
House of Legends
This building itself is very unique with lots of different small rooms, each have a theme based on the many legends of the city. There are 7 floors with narrow stairs leading all the way up to the rooftop with a view of the city, there is also a car with oars and a propeller that you can sit inside.
A statue of a chimney sweep hold his hat sits opposite. It is said to be good luck if you manage to flick a coin into his hat, which is a lot harder than it looks. Unfortunately we left without any extra luck because we didn’t manage it.
The best time to visit the observation deck is early. The first time we went it was the afternoon and the rooftop was so crowded that we decided to come back the following day at 10:00 when it opened. The only other people there were a few photography students.
The front of the restaurant is very interesting as well. At 9:25 every night a large crowd gathers to watch the model train go across the building. Once it reaches the other side the dragon at the top of the building breathes fire from its mouth.
Meat and Justice
Another one of Lviv’s unusual restaurants that specialises in barbecued meat dishes. The theme and décor is medieval, with wooden benches, tables and lots of torture devices on display. It is inspired by the first municipal employee in Lviv who was an executioner. When a constitutional state arrived he lost his job and decided to set up his own meat restaurant.
When you go inside you are greeted by a man dressed as an executioner as homage to the original owner. The service was great and they even put on a birthday song for my husband and brought him a slice cake. The bill is presented on a big piece of wood which they then hit with an axe, yes an axe. There is a show at 9pm which involve ceremonial gongs and a guillotine. We arrived at 8:15 to miss the queue as you can’t reserve seats for Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights.
Golden Navel Statue
Whose belly button is it? Why is it there? Did they like beer? Unfortunately I didn’t find out the answer to any of these questions, but I’m guessing they liked beer.
There is some graffiti art around the city but this was our favourite and was outside Leopolis chocolate shop.
Monument to inventors of Petroleum Lamp
Lviv is the city where the kerosine lamp was invented and this monument is dedicated to it. It is outside the Pub-Museum Gas Lamp.
Chapel of the Boim family
A striking 17th century chapel covered with sandstone carvings, found off Rynok square.
Next to the Chapel of the Boim family is this cafe with some quirky decorations including the Kiss place street sign.
Monument to Ivan Pidkova
We managed to find different types of Putin toilet paper, and even a topless Putin beermat. The whole city is very proud of their Ukrainian heritage.
A less unusual souvenir is a chocolate postcard from Lviv handmade chocolate shop. It’s a seven story chocolate factory that sells different chocolate themed gifts, all which are delicious (we kept eating our souvenirs and having to go back for more).
Where to stay: Lviv Loft prison
This very quirky hostel is budget friendly, there are dorms and one double room that we stayed in. It was basic (in line with the prison theme) but very fun to stay at, there were different props and even somewhere to take your mug shots before going to your cell. It was only £18 a night and is about a 20 minute walk from the centre.
Visited: 4 days at the end of November 2018