Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day Trips From Lviv, Ukraine - The Top 30 Destinations

Lviv is a gorgeous city of cobbled squares and laneways to wander in for a few days. Its crumbling buildings from the days of Austro-Hungary wouldn't look out of place in Krakow or Prague, but the absence of tourists in the old Galician capital lends it an authenticity which neither of those cities can offer nowadays. Beyond the historic centre there are two more worthwhile sights in the outskirts, the Lviv Outdoor Folk Architecture Museum and the highly atmospheric Lychakiv cemetery. There are also many attractive historic towns, monasteries, castles and wooden churches within range of a day trip by public transport. Natural attractions with potential for hiking lie to the south in the forested foothills of the Carpathian mountains. This list includes the top thirty day trips to make in the surrounding countryside of Lviv region, ranked in order of their general tourist appeal. The so-called "Golden Horseshoe" route, with a name which is reminiscent of Moscow's "Golden Ring" of historic towns, includes Olesko castle, Pidhirtsi castle and Zolochiv castle, which are among the most popular day trip destinations for tour groups. All of these destinations can be reached by train, bus or marshrutka with a little effort, so go ahead and try exploring a bit further afield.

1. Pochayiv Monastery - One of the finest monasteries in Ukraine, and the most important monastery of the Orthodox church in the western part of the country. It rivals the Pechersk monastery in Kyiv in size and historical significance. Since the monastery lies more than 100 kilometres east of Lviv this is a fairly long day trip by bus or marshrutka, but is certainly worth the effort to see one of the region's best attractions.

2. Zhovkva - This historic town to the north of Lviv boasts a castle, a historic central square and town centre packed with centuries-old churches, and a UNESCO-listed wooden church at the edge of town. There is also another impressive wooden church to see in the neighbouring village of Stara Skvaryana. This is one of the easiest day trips from Lviv and among the most enjoyable. Arriving by marshrutka is the fastest and easiest method.

3. Olesko Castle - This 14th-century hilltop castle east of Lviv forms part of the "Golden Horseshoe" sightseeing route and is one of the most visited castles in Lviv region.

4. Zolochiv Castle - This 17th-century castle (though it looks more like a palace) lies 60 kilometres east of Lviv. The Chinese Palace within the castle grounds is particularly impressive.

5. Ivano-Frankivsk - This city to the south of Lviv features a collection of architectural gems from its long history, including many buildings from the Austro-Hungarian period. The city's cathedral, Armenian church and unusual town hall are among the most impressive sights.

6. Lutsk - This historic city to the north-east of Lviv has an old town centre with many impressive churches and cathedrals and a large castle complex.

7. Pidhirtsi Castle - This 17th-century castle (though like Zolochiv castle it looks more like a palace) lies to the east of Lviv not far from Olesko castle.

8. Kremenets - A hilltop castle ruin and historic centre with many Orthodox churches and a monastery are the main draws in this town to the north-east of Lviv. Many people try to combine a visit here with Pochayiv monastery, though it would be ambitious to try to see both in a day by public transport.

9. Drohobych - This town south of Lviv features a clutch of Austro-Hungarian buildings, but its main attractions are its two outstanding wooden churches, including one with UNESCO heritage listing.

10. Tustan Rock Fortress - A castle stronghold which was carved out of towering sandstone rock outcrops near the village of Urych, to the south of Lviv near the town of Boryslav. This is one of the best natural attractions near Lviv and offers good hiking in the surrounding forested hills.

11. Univ Monastery - The only Lavra monastery of the Greek Catholic church in Ukraine. Its large white defensive walls surround a church, bell tower and ecclesiastical buildings. It lies in the village of Univ, which is 40 kilometres east of Lviv.

12. Svirzh Castle - A 15th-century fortified residence which is surrounded by a series of lakes which once helped to defend it from attack. This is a relatively easy day trip since the castle lies just 35 kilometres south-east of Lviv near the town of Bibrka.

13. Krekhiv Monastery - A 16th-century fortified Basilian monastery found to the north of Lviv near the town of Zhovkva.

14. Stare Selo castle - The sprawling ruins of this 17th-century castle lie in Stare Selo village, less than 20 kilometres south-east of Lviv. There is also a wooden church to see in the neighbouring village of Cherepyn.

15. Dovbush Rock Fortress - A fortress carved out of the tall sandstone rock outcrops near the village of Bubnyshche, lying to the south of the city of Stryi, near the town of Bolekhiv. Legends claim that this was once the hideout of the Carpathian outlaw Oleksa Dovbush.

16. Rozhirche Cave Monastery - A monastery in caves carved out of the rock of a hillside. Monks dug the series of tunnels and rooms between the 13th and 16th centuries. The village of Rozhirche is south of Lviv close to the Dovbush Rock Fortress, and both can be combined into a single day trip (if travelling by car).

17. Halych - This small town to the south-east of Lviv features a ruined castle, and the neighbouring village of Krylos contains an Outdoor Folk Architecture museum which includes a reconstructed wooden church among other historic farm buildings and cottages.

18. Sambir - A historic small town to the south-west of Lviv near the Polish border, with several beautiful old churches.

19. Rohatyn - This small town to the south-east of Lviv contains a very impressive UNESCO-listed wooden church.

20. Mount Parashka - This is the highest point in the Skole Beskids National Park at 1268 metres. The trail to the top makes for a very scenic day hike through mountain meadows full of wild flowers in the summer.

21. Truskavets - This picturesque spa town to the south of Lviv contains many 19th-century Austro-Hungarian buildings. The many wooden villas surround the source of fourteen mineral water springs.

22. Zymne Monastery - This is a 13th-century fortified Orthodox monastery to the north of Lviv. The thick walls, battlements and towers which surround the complex once provided formidable defensive capabilities.

23. Potelych - A small village with a UNESCO-listed wooden church near the Polish border to the north-west of Lviv.

24. Kuty - One of the finest wooden churches in Lviv region can be seen in the small village of Kuty, just north of Olesko Castle. It was constructed in 1697.

25. Pidkamin Monastery - This 17th-century fortified monastery lies east of Lviv in the village of Pidkamin. The village takes its name ('Pidkamin' means 'Below the Rock') from the huge boulder on the hilltop at the edge of the settlement.

26. Komarno - An 18th-century wooden church in the Boyko style lies in this small town south of Lviv. There is also another impressive wooden church in the neighbouring village of Klitsko, 2 kilometres away from Komarno.

27. Belz - A 17th-century wooden church can be seen in this town to the north-west of Lviv near the Polish border.

28. Cherche - This village to the south-east of Lviv on the road towards Rohatyn contains one of the oldest wooden churches in the region.

29. Berestechko - A collection of historic churches dominate this small town to the north-east from Lviv.

30. Kuhaiv - A very old wooden church stands in this small village 15 kilometres south of Lviv.


  1. I agree, Lviv is beautiful! Our daytrip involved renting a car and heading to a tiny community in the Carpathians, where we were "boiled" in a large caldron and "forced" into the adjacent freezing-cold creek. Great fun!

  2. Sounds like a great local experience!